Lately I have come across more than a few comments that have made me think about my own spiritual past, and I see where had someone let me know something, my life may have been better, sooner.
The first thing is that no one told me it was okay to not believe in superior or supreme beings–the Abrahamic God, for instance. God was presented as a real being, no doubt whatsoever he existed. The only question was to believe in him or not, which meant heaven or hell. I wanted to choose hell, it was better than my life, but my fear level was far too high. Had someone told me it was okay to not believe, that heaven and hell were just bullying tactics–in nicer words, of course–I could have saved myself from years of terror, and stress. Stress shows up in me as disease. Maybe I would have been healthier, physically and mentally, a whole lot sooner.
But that is not the main purpose of this post. Maybe prior to, but getting serious attention in the later 60s and ever since, was the question, Who am I? What that really meant was, what kind of person am I? Do I want to be that kind of person? How can I change if I want to? The ultimate search for self!
In a way this sounds like a simple thing to do. But if you have ever asked these questions seriously, the answers are not so simple to find. Why not?
My main position is a cultural one. When we want to learn something, we are taught to look for answers outside of ourselves. Our whole education system is built on the fact that others know more than we do. We call these people experts, and we are taught to consult them when we want to know something. It was bad enough in my generation: you had a question, you asked someone, or you went to the library and looked it up in a book, or journal. The general sense was, if you could find it in print it was believable. Seeing is believing is one of the oldest adages foist upon us as children. Only, anyone could say anything in a book, and get away with it. As children we are not told that. In school, books held all the knowledge in the world. Nowadays, books have changed into the Internet. Yes, we still have books, can still buy books, but most of them exist on the Internet. We can find anything on the Internet–including lies, conspiracy theories, graphic pornography–even love–whatever you want you can find.
Except, you cannot find out anything real about you. There are no experts on the Internet about you. Oh, there are those who will pretend to be! They will tell us they understand all about the human body, about the human mind, even about the human spirit. You can probably find a million and more websites explaining life, the universe, and everything. But you can find not one website about you, unless you built it. So, if you want to learn about yourself, where do you go. I want to tell you, it is okay to seek answers about yourself from yourself. Think about it. If there is one expert in this world, in this universe, on you, it can only be you!
But you are doing the seeking, how can you give yourself answers you don’t know. If I may, because I found this out by looking for me, the answers about you are inside you. The main question is, when you think you see something about yourself, will you believe yourself? Is there any reason not to?
Okay, so I have given you a place to look, but how do you do that? How can you, the seeker, become you, the observer? I cannot tell you what will work for you. Everyone is an individual, nothing works for everyone. But I can tell you what worked for me. Maybe something similar will work for you.
I had to figure this out for myself, so there was no uniform process, no step-by-step organized method. Approaches came, approaches went. Some stayed. My first breakthrough was realising I could observe myself living my life. The best way I can desctibe that is creating a watcher me, like a person with a video camera recording my life. I was constantly asking myself, what am I doing, and why am I doing that. Probably you are all familiar with the cartoons of a person with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. That is the best analogy I can think of. Except, on the one shoulder was the guy recording my life, and on the other shoulder was a guy narrating my life, and wondering what was driving me to make the choices I was making. I was doing the living, don’t get me wrong, I was still the star, the lead character. Everything was about me, and how I conducted myself in my relationships with people and/or other living things, and/or just other things. The more I did this the more I was able to do it in real time, and then surprise, I started doing it a split second in advance of doing whatever the living me was doing. Why am I going to tell her I love her when I don’t? Or, why am I not telling her I love her when I do? Why am I about to lie to this person (to avoid being responsible for something I know I did). Or, why don’t I want someone to know the truth about me?
The questions didn’t start out to be so serious, but they quickly became that way. It just made sense. After all, I wanted to know who I was, who I wanted to be! If I could not ask myself the big questions, who could? Who else would? No, I had to not only ask big questions, but I also had to provide honest answers. And that was the hardest part.
My childhood was not easy, let me just say that. I learned to avoid situations that would result in harm to me, either physically or mentally. I learned to lie to avoid punishment. (Whether I deserved it or not does not matter.) And I learned how to be nice even when I wanted to strike out. To be seen when what I really wanted was to be heard. I learned how not to be myself, to suppress myself. That was the worst discovery I made. I was not being me!
I still had no idea who I was, but I was learning who I was not, and that turned out to be as important as who I was.
I hope you get the picture. I could rattle on about discovering myself, but I’ve already talked enough about me. I would rather talk about you. The first thing you might want to learn is how to observe yourself, how to split one into two, in a good healthy way. Later you can split yourself even more, but the two is probably a necessity. And I think, I do not know this will work for everyone but it worked for me, my way was asking the why questions as quickly as I could after doing something I did not always understand why I was doing it in the first place. At first I waited till I was by myself to do this. I compartmentalized things for later introspection, but in the time in-between I found I was losing or missing the nuances, the little things that caused me to make the choices I was making. Maybe you can do this more successfully than me, and good for you if you can. But be careful you are not lieing to yourself to make things seem different than they are. Be honest with yourself, but also be gentle. Don’t chastise yourself, always remember to love yourself.
And respect yourself.
Hopefully, if you don’t already have some kind of process of your own, and you want to learn more about yourself, you can develop a method for yourself, similar or disimilar to what I did. Truly, I don’t care how you do it. But I hope you will want to do this, discover yourself. And I hope you will learn to look inside, not outside, because that is where the real answers already exist. They just need to be discovered.
What is the best possible result? For me, it was getting to know me, and to love me. When it comes right down to the nitty gritty, I have to be my own best friend. I will always be with myself, beside myself, inside myself! I am going to be with me the whole of my life. I find it best to be a person I want to be around.
If you have questions, please feel free to ask them. I will, as always, answer all questions as honestly as I know how. I have nothing to hide. If I can help you accomplish getting you to know yourself, I will. If you want my email address, you can have it, to keep things private.
Good luck, and good self-searching.