Wednesday, March 30, 2005


It's pretty hard to change a behavior or life experience when you don't even recognize you are doing the behavior or have a part in creating the life experience. Under those conditions, you are liable to believe that stuff is just happening to you, and you are going along for the ride, like it or not. That is to say, you are playing out a victim role. Remember, the victim not only doesn't recognize h/ir role in a situation, s/he actually refuses to recognize it at some level, in principle.

Take some little annoying habit, like biting your nails. You might not even know you do it until someone points it out to you. If you want to stop, you'll have to recognize yourself in the pattern as well. If you never notice yourself biting your nails, you will in all likelihood keep on chewin'. Or how about something bigger. Say you have the pattern of tossing out hurtful comments to someone you are in a position to love (a friend, spouse, child, parent, co-worker). You don't even notice you do it, and you percieve that person as "hyper-sensitive" because they are forever going into a snit over things you "only meant as a joke." When we commit to self mastery and service as a path and passion, we will want to start recognizing the behaviors in our lives which are generating distance in our relationships, or which consistently induce painful experiences otherwise, for ourselves or for others. Some things are easier to recognize than others, and recognition does not represent healing of the issue. It rather represents a starting point for transforming a particular pattern.

Introspection is when we allow events and experiences to pass through our minds, or when we bring them up in conversation with a friend, in order to study them and grow from the process. When we practice introspection, we give ourselves the chance to recognize patterns that are part of our day to day experience. Before beginning the practice of introspection, we may have taken our experiences for granted, assuming "that's just the way things are." Having committed to the practice, all of our experiences are open for consideration as lesson books written by us which teach us about the story we are lately telling about ourself. When we read those lessons, we will often find stories that repeat over and over again, and they are often painful stories. It's quite a different thing to say "Why does This always happen to me?" from the victim consciousness, and to actually begin to recognize the exact circumstances and conditions under which I generate This, in the pursuit of self mastery.

It's not only behaviors, but false beliefs as well, that need to be recognized through introspection. False beliefs generate all sorts of misery. Say I believe that I should pretend I'm something I'm not, because if I act the way I really am, no one will love me. That one popular false belief has ruined more lives than most, sadly. It has created our world of masked people. That's grist for several other posts. For now, let's just say that when we practice introspection, all of our beliefs and experiences are lessons we may learn from. So as not to overwhelm, it's usually best to start with just one experience, type of experience, or belief at a time.

Returning to the example above, say that, given the momentum generated by your commitment to self mastery and service, you look back over your day and you recall someone saying to you, "When you say such and such to me, I feel XYZ." This was something someone said in the past, but you always blew it off, since "they are so hypersensitive." You slow down and think about what you said. You may flash for a moment on the notion that "gosh, what I said was sort of mean." You may promptly excuse yourself for it and justify it as a joke, or you may think, "maybe I might phrase that differently next time, since they didn't think my joke was funny." How you react to your own recognition will likely change over time, as you become practiced in the process. In any event, upon this intial recognition you may build additional recognitions of the same pattern, until you habitually recognize yourself to be playing this pattern out. Recognition is rarely if ever accomplished in a singular flash of insight, but arises from practice and the desire to get to the roots of your life experience.


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