Awareness Is Enough to Banish Self-Betrayal and Create the Change Your Soul Craves
The most common form of despair is not being who you are.― Søren Kierkegaard
My basketball teammates were doing circuit training exercises, pushing themselves to be better athletes so we can be a better team and win the national championship.
But instead of joining in with my teammates, I was moseying around the gym, halfway doing the exercises, making it obvious I cared very little about becoming a better athlete for the team or myself.
My teammates gave me dirty looks that said, “Why are you even here if you’re just going to let us and yourself down?”
Even still, I didn’t put forth any more effort. I’d never felt so alone and frustrated with myself for being so lazy, yet there was something blocking me from trying harder.
It was a purgatory of self-betrayal and my only responses were to make excuses and try to numb myself to my teammate’s glares and the icky feeling in my belly so I could keep taking the easy route.
On and on the circuit drills went — it felt like they would last forever — and even though I hated myself for it, I couldn’t stop half-assing every exercise I was stuck doing.
And then I woke up.
There is little worse than the feeling of self-betrayal.
Waking up from this dream did nothing to quell the icky feeling of self-betrayal in my belly. The glares from my dream-teammates were scorched in my psyche no matter how hard I tried to wipe the sleep from my eyes.
I know those glares well. Not because other people have given them to me, but because I have given them to myself. I’ve been giving them to myself for months, actually, so it is no wonder they are starting to show up in my dreams as well.
Dreams are often analyzed through the lens that everyone and everything inside of the dream represents a part of the dreamer.
In this dream, my teammates represent the part of me that is craving to do the hard work I know I need to do in order to live a more fulfilling life, myself in the dream represents the part of me who is refusing to work hard in favor of numb comfort, and the circuit drills represent the hard work my soul is called to do.
Framed in this light, this dream was a clear picture of what I had been doing for the past year. And I didn’t like what I was seeing.
I quit my engineering job over a year ago in order to pursue a career in writing and life coaching. During the time away from the 9–5, I have very little to show for myself. Not because I’ve failed, but because I’ve hardly really tried — which is the worst failure of all.
I’ve been more interested in staying comfortable, making excuses, and standing still instead of doing the work I need to do in order to become the person I want to become.
This dream was the wake-up call I needed to stop-betraying myself and start showing up for myself.
There is nothing worse than the feeling of self-betrayal and I am sick of it. So sick of it, that the first thing I did when I got up from this dream was create a goal-tracking spreadsheet that outlined everything I need to do to show up for myself in the next 30 days and then I immediately took action on those goals (writing this, for example).
This dream showed me how much my soul was craving a challenge and finally — FINALLY— I am giving myself one.
What was so special about this dream, though?
I mean, out of all the things I used to motivate myself over the past year — positive and negative reinforcement, my desire to achieve success and admiration, even needing money so I don’t go broke — why was this short dream enough to light the fire in my belly again?
One word: awareness.
Awareness is enough to create the change your soul craves.
We’ve all heard of those smokers who know their habits are killing them, but aren’t aware their habits are killing them. These are the people who might say, “Well, everybody is going to die one day — even the people who don’t smoke. No point in quitting now.”
And then a medical scan or a tragedy forces them to become fully aware of their own demise and how fleeting their life is, and they all of a sudden have a renewed fervor to stop killing themselves even faster through smoking.
Knowing is one thing. Awareness is another.
In my dream, I knew I should get my ass into gear and stop betraying myself and my teammates, but I was too busy making excuses and playing the victim.
When I woke up from this dream, I suddenly became fully aware of the consequences of my self-betrayal — not just letting my team and myself down, but that icky, icky feeling I get in my belly when I know I am not showing up for myself in the way my soul is craving me to.
There is a gap between knowing and action. Awareness is the bridge.
Awareness is the only fuel for sustainable change.
Nothing I did to motivate myself over the past year proved sustainable because it wasn’t rooted in awareness. I would try them out for a bit, only to fall back into old habits of self-betrayal because I never really faced how painful it was to betray myself through taking the easy way out.
Implementing productivity hacks can only take you so far if you aren’t fully aware of how much betraying yourself sucks.
In other words, becoming fully aware of the pain of self-betrayal is enough of a motivator to show up for yourself every day.
Every day is either a new opportunity to give yourself your best, or a new opportunity to betray yourself.
Become aware of this fact every morning and it becomes easy to do everything you can to avoid the pain of self-betrayal and to feel the peace that comes when you show up for yourself in the way you need to.
This is the secret to sustainable change:
You don’t create sustainable change through forcing your behavior with suface “hacks.” You create sustainable change by bringing your full awareness to the self-betrayal that is prohibiting you from making the changes your soul is craving and then letting your awareness naturally fuel your behavior.
The bottom line, you are worthy enough to give yourself your best every single day.
Sure, your best is going to look different every day. Some days you’ll get more done and some days giving yourself your best looks like taking a mental health day — you’re heart will know what your soul is craving that day. It’s just up to you to listen to it.
What does it mean to “become aware?”
“Becoming aware” means embodying the problem in every aspect of your being — mind, body, and heart.
You‘ve felt that heavy feeling in your body when you’ve failed yourself. You’ve felt the lingering heartache of saying yes when you really want to say no. You’ve felt the anxiety that takes over your mind when you’re too preoccupied with playing the victim, blaming others, or making excuses for yourself.
Fully embodying the icky feelings you feel after betraying yourself is how you become fully aware of the pain of self-betrayal.
What you’ll find, just as I did after waking up from that dream, is that awareness of the pain of self-betrayal makes it harder to not listen to what your soul needs from you that day.
With awareness, it becomes easier to do the hard work than to make excuses, and therein lies it’s magic.
But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself.