Thursday, March 31, 2005


Let's say you have an initial recognition of a belief or behavior. We have already noted that a single recognition, while a step in the right direction, should hardly be mistaken for a transformation. In the example from yesterday, we have a person in the habit of putting down a loved one, seemingly in jest. Upon reflection, this person says, well, sure I said something mean, but I was only kidding--so and so is too sensitive. Here, the movement towards responsibility is initiated with the recognition that the comment was hurtful, but that movement is quickly cut short with an excuse--I was only kidding--and a shifting of blame (demonstrating a victim mentality) from self to other--"since it's not my fault, it must be her fault." Someone is always to blame in the victim consciousness.

On this scenario, what this beginner in the practice of introspection failed to do is to acknowledge what he recognized. He recognized a behavior, in this instance making the put-down type comment, but dismissed it. The step which must follow upon recognition is acknowledgement. In this instance, an acknowledgement could have manifested as a simple mental nod to the event: ok, that happened that way--as opposed to slathering it with spin and fighting over who gets to play the victim. It may take a few recognitions of the pattern before an acknowledgement is forthcoming. It may come after the first recognition. Or, it might take many repetitions of recognition and dismissal, that is, starting and stalling, before the beginner at introspection both recognizes and acknowledges the behavior. It all depends on where the person is in their life, their level of commitment to the process of growth, and the strength and rootedness of the particular pattern.

People sometimes become discouraged when, even after recognizing a behavior once or twice, they still find themselves doing it. Or folks become impatient with a loved one who, while beginining to recognize their role in the events of the relationship, keep repeating a behavior. Well, habits are patterns of action deeply rooted in repetition. To begin transforming yourself, allow yourself (or your loved one) some time/space to recognize the pattern over and over again, and to come into the practice of acknowledging the pattern over and over again. Many also get an immediate intellectual grasp on what I'm talking about here, and stop their progress immediately! That's because an intellectual grasp of what it means to recognize and acknowledge some pattern isn't worth a hill of beans if it is not accompanied by some sort of emotional connection to it is well. You need to recognize something in your gut, and not just in your head. Otherwise, progress is stopped by failing to integrate the process as an increasingly whole person. One level (the intellectual) does not make for a whole person!

In fact, quite a few different sorts of problems manifest when a person learns a bunch of stuff like this at a head level, without connecting to it more deeply from an emotional place as well, or integrating it even physically. Such a one begins to assemble a sort of ideal presentation of himself based on the knowledge, and may believe himself a real master. Ultimately his behavior will betray him, but often not without fooling a few and hurting some more along the way. Flee from anyone calling themselves the master! Any one involved in the process of self mastery for a while knows that it's pretty much always too early to call oneself a master, though it's always safe to identify oneself as a fellow student of life, perhaps more engaged in some subject matter or further along in a particular course of study than another, and therefore ready to help others who want to learn as well

Acknowledgement, can of course go deeper than a mere nod of the the "inner" head in introspection. It can even well up within your heart as gratitude. Gratitude, that is, for finally recognizing your pattern of behavior or false belief. Thank goodness, I've finally spotted what's going on! This is certainly a step beyond a mere wispy intellectual acknowledgement, though we'll take just about anything for starters! We needn't shame ourselves for the fleetingness of our intial recognitions or the timidity of our first acknowledgement. But someday you might surprise yourself when you actually break out in a smile at yourself in introspection or conversation with a friend or group when upon recognizing a behavior once again, you experience it as if you were a parent watching with some reserved (or unreserved) amusement as the child makes for the cookie jar once again as if no one were looking. :-)


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