The importance of knowing your Self



Each individual that finds meaning for their life addresses the four fundamental questions of life: Who am I? Where do I come from? Why am I here? What will happen when I die?

The answer to all four questions exists inherently in discovering your true Self.

Happiness, inner peace, healing and wellbeing, effectiveness in what you do as well as your ability to bond with others and enjoy intimacy. All these are inseparable from a strong and clearly defined identity. An identity is the reality of being who you are.

 

How you define yourself, to yourself, depend on your core beliefs, the level of personal development you are at and the stage of life you are in. In other words, your identity changes and evolves over time. Most people enter adulthood with unresolved inner conflicts that remain unresolved out of ignorance of who they are, including an inability to function as a whole person. Self-Awareness is the process of discovering your true Self by means of Self-observation and assimilating and implementing accurate information about you.

 

The Dimensions of a whole person:

 

•Spirit: non-physical consciousness. It is the benevolent, creative intelligence source of all existence. Spirit is realized through direct experience as an ever-expanding awareness.

 

•Soul: the medium for Spirit life’s experiences. Also known as the immortal personality because it transcends death, your Soul records all events and distills the essence of what is experienced into common sense wisdom. The Soul is a non-physical organ of perception for Spirit. Your Soul feels deeply and it embodies the pure essence of qualities of being: love, joy, peace, creativity, power, strength etc. Your Soul knows intuitively what is true and appropriate in every situation. It functions as a guide whose knowledge is accessed through sensing the body instead of relying on the intellect.

 

•Mind: or intellect is the capacity for thinking residing within consciousness. In other words, consciousness knows while mind thinks, one is a state of being the other is a mental activity that generates emotional states. You have a mind instead of being a mind. Your mind is the process of decoding information picked up by the senses in the brain.  It constructs its own separate identity known as ego by assembling a personality. When you engage in personal development you begin to function as an aware-ego: you recognize being aware and present yet you still identify as being your ego. Personal development process uses psychotherapy to heal emotional trauma and Spiritual/religious practices for direct connection to Spirit. Both psychotherapy and spirituality expand consciousness and increase Self-awareness.

 

•Body: the living vehicle for Spirit’s experience of physical reality. In knowing your Self it is essential that you understand you have a body instead of believing you are a body. The body expresses life’s intelligence as a self-organizing entity that is subject to mind. The body’s wellbeing or lack of it is a reflection of the subconscious mind and unconscious core beliefs.

 

Self-Awareness

 

To be Self-aware is to know yourself as a conscious and integrated Being: Spirit-Soul-mind-body. As a human being you are a unique individual distinct yet interconnected with others. Awareness knows that it knows and it is an effortless capacity of Spirit/consciousness to observe and pay attention.

 

Some fundamental characteristics of being Self-aware are knowing that you have a mind instead of believing you are a mind, distinguishing being from thinking by recognizing your internal space which is silent and, recapturing the capacity to be natural, loving and at peace with yourself.

 

Today most people are mentally conditioned to live life primarily by thinking. In westernized cultures it is normal to live life identified with a conflicting mind chatter that generates negative emotions, this is unnatural!

 

The process of knowing yourself includes dis-identifying from your mind, resolving mental inner conflicts, fulfilling the desire for Self-expression and, realizing your life purpose.

 

Facts about not knowing your Self

 

When you don’t know your Self and are able to function as a whole person, you are bound to live life under the control of your ego. Your effectiveness in life is compromised by your ego scattering energy and vitality in different and often opposite directions. The ego’s personality emerges out of childhood with competing core beliefs. This inner conflict is painful and maintains a background low-level inner anxiety as if you are always in a state of survival. In fact, your ego lives in an unconscious state of survival.

 

Understanding the sources of inner conflict:

 

Spirit chooses a particular set of experiences that define your life purpose and destiny.

 

Your Soul is compelled to fulfill its destiny by creating a blue print or map for this life’s journey. The sign post along the path are inspirations from Spirit that awaken deep desires that your soul longs to fulfill. Powerful desires are aligned with your destiny. Desires come through and are felt through, your heart. A desire brings a sense of fullness by the energy of excitement it contains.

 

Mental conditioning in the form of core beliefs drives your ego to perpetuate a state of wanting, which is an emotional state of lack. To want is to desire without having which feels uncomfortably empty.

 

Your body and your Soul have needs that are not negotiable, they must be satisfied. During infancy the Soul experiences itself as a body and it needs nurturing attention in the form of tender contact, holding and a quiet peaceful environment. From childhood on your Soul needs to express its creativity and have intimate relationships with others. For its entire existence the body requires adequate amounts of food, a safe shelter, daily movement and enough consistent sleep for self-repair.

 

The deepest and most devastating inner conflict is excluding your Soul and Spirit out of your awareness. When you are only identified with your ego “it” has internal conflicts regarding choosing what is most valuable to pay attention to: desires, wants or needs.

 

These are some of the ego’s inner conflicts:

Indecision

Procrastination
Perfectionism
Helplessness/hopeplesness/dispair 

Self-control and need to control others or situations
Doubt/worry/anxiety/fear/terror

Self-punishment/self hatred
Frustration/anger/rage/fury/hatred
CowardiceMediocrity

Dis-harmony in relationships 

Struggle with authority
Confusion

Isolation/clinginess/neediness

 

Your life purpose contains the solutions to eliminate all your inner conflicts and, move steadily in the direction of fulfilling your desires. As you complete the different stages of development in the different stages of your life by following your common sense your life purpose reveals itself.



Your Ego Identity



Becoming Self-Aware requires that you master recognizing your ego and that you understand ego is a functional part of your mind, instead of the essence of who you are. The challenge of being aware of your ego is that your mind has been programmed to believe it (ego) is you.


Every one constructs a personal identity as part of normal human development. You need an identity to be able to learn to function in the world and, recognize yourself as a unique distinct person. Once you know how to function the importance of your identity changes, it becomes less important. What allows the transformation of your humanity into expressing true greatness is letting go of your attachment to a fixed personal identity. Instead you identify with the dynamic presence of your Being. Your personal identity perceives everything as separate while presence of being knows the essence of everything is interconnected.


What is ego?

The human ego is the leading edge of biological evolution. Ego carries out life’s mandate to survive danger by adapting to adverse environmental conditions. From plants to bacteria to humans, all living organisms are endowed with intelligence to learn to respond to external circumstances, your ego is an expert at this. Learning involves having the capacity for memory. You must remember what hurts and what feels good! Memory records what supports life and what doesn’t.


Ego is the animal nature in humans that has learned to survive external hostility through aggression, competition and being territorial. Ego’s aggression arises in order to protect itself and, “get” what is needed to survive. Your ego is not your enemy! The level of tenacity with which your ego embodies its inherent traits determines your success in physically surviving dangerous circumstances and, providing for what you need to live. You also benefit from developing a strong enough personality to not be pushed around in social interactions.


What is your ego identity?

Your ego identity is a series of core beliefs (self-definitions) that also function as a defense/protection mechanism. Now that you have a technical description let’s acknowledge the obvious: your ego identity is who you think you are as well as familiar feelings and emotions you identify with yourself. One of the most familiar and unconscious (out of awareness) emotions that confirm everyone’s ego identity is nervous anxiety.


Your ego identity is a mental and emotional construct held together by core beliefs. A belief is a firmly held opinion that is taken as truth. Beliefs are necessary to build a workable understanding of life, explain your relationship to people and develop a way to recognize who you are, during childhood. Beliefs are unquestioned assumptions that are taken for granted. In contrast, knowingness emerges from common sense wisdom. Knowingness is derived directly from experiences once the brain has fully developed and, abstract reasoning is available and functioning well. Children believe beliefs while adults have the capacity to Know, provided they are psychologically matured.


Core beliefs are primitive (before reason and logic are possible), interpretations of repeated experiences that left a strong painful or pleasurable impression during childhood. Beliefs arbitrarily assign meaning to experiences. A child needs to understand why something happens in order to repeat it, if it feels good, or avoid it if it hurts. Core beliefs are instructions for how to behave in specific familiar situations. For more information regarding the impact of core beliefs read, “what if your beliefs are wrong” article.


When is the ego identity constructed?  Ego development parallels the physiological development of the body. The ego identity begins around two years of age when the child understands simple language and the child begins to associate names with objects, including the body. The ego identity solidifies as a mental structure around 7 to 9 years old.



What is the personality?

The personality is a mental “protective” shell that guards the delicate, pure, innocent essence that humans are when they are young. It is assembled by associating positive and negative self images inside a core self–concept, a core belief the child has acquired about who she is. For example, “I am a good girl” is a positive self-image that is attached to a negative self-image such as “I’m stupid”.


The mind “thinks” in pictures. A self-concept is an inner picture that literally represents how the child sees themselves in relationship to their parents and other caretaker.


Building a personality is an intricate process beyond what I can describe here. What is important to know is that it functions mechanically like a machine. The instructions for this machine are contained in the core beliefs that make up the ego identity. Each core belief generates an emotional atmosphere representative of the many similar experiences that created it. The collective core belief “I’m not good enough” has the common origin of a child being criticized harshly many times. This form of devaluing is a judgment against how they perform a task or a tendency for cruel comparisons to others or simply criticizing the child for just being themselves. All these different attacks generate painful shame and humiliation. This treatment conditions the child to react by adjusting her behavior and meet her parent expectations. The end result is internalizing their idea of “how she should and should not be.”


The personality produces a fragmented existence

Before a child develops the protective shield of a personality they are a powerful authentic being with no hidden agendas. Once the personality takes over behavior self-expression is unnatural. The terrible twos are an example of how difficult it is for both children and parents to agree on rules of behavior. However the civilizing process unfolds, the child is forced to suppress their emotions and do as they are told.


When a child is not given any rules they become aggressive because they don’t have a boundary to push against and know whom they are. Children need to learn what is acceptable behavior in their community. A child conforms by learning what is to him a very unnatural behavior.


This process, which goes on for a few years, leaves profound emotional wounds.



The shadow self

Every personality contains within it fragments of disowned ego identity. These fragments consist of negative self-images that compete for control of behavior against positive self-images. The shadow is made up of repressed strong emotions including overwhelming sorrow and grief, paralyzing terror, deep-seated hatred, rage, and fury.


During periods of high stress or prolonged crisis the normal ego defenses weaken and the ego gets out of its own control. When the shadow takes over all kinds of self-sabotage are acted out. The most normal is telling lies and withholding information and other forms of self-deception including fun-hunger (one my personal favorites), where a drive to resist responsibility is acted out by an appetite for feeling good activities.


When too much pain has been suppressed this internal crisis becomes normal and people’s behavior becomes continually self-destructive. Examples of these are addictions of all kinds including addiction to dysfunctional relationships where misery is the normal atmosphere. What cover these painful emotional states are acceptable unauthentic fits of hurt, fear and anger. This is the mechanical acting out of pseudo-emotions. You know, when people get instantly sad or insecure or angry and appear to be out of control except it happens regularly.



The aware ego

Just as the body is endowed with self-organizing intelligence that knows how to repair and heal itself so does your mind. Within you live a knowingness of harmony and peace. It may start as a faint whisper of hope that awakens a remembrance that there is more to life than meaningless suffering and false happiness.


Your ego’s tenacity can be inspired by the presence of your Being, the higher Self, to transform suffering through forgiveness and a willingness to listen to the inner guidance of your common sense. The aware ego responds by engaging in the path of personal development and emotional integration. When your ego surrenders control of its life to something greater than itself, it has emerged out of complete unconsciousness and entered the path towards Self-awareness. The aware ego is a stage of personal development where your desire to overcome limitations and experience love changes you. This stage inspires you to learn to take responsibility for your thoughts, emotions and behavior. The aware ego is characterized by pursuing access to the presence of unconditional love within you.





Higher Self



There is more to life than the material world. A non-physical dimension of energy and information is where physical forms are conceived and birth into existence. Your body and mind are contained within an intelligent, alive and infinite space. Modern science calls this space the quantum field, religious traditions call it the world of Sprit, which in our modern language translate as consciousness: a state of being awake and aware. Consciousness is connectedness to everything including knowledge.


Higher Self is the consciousness that created you.  There are Higher Selves to Higher Selves connecting all levels of creation. In our human form the essence of our consciousness is Lovingness: an intelligent state of being characterized by the presence of unity. Whatever love loves it is connected to. The concept of connecting to Higher Self means the experience of connecting to the source of love that sustains your life. I use the words consciousness and spirit interchangeably.


Earth is a school of spiritual forgetfulness where the curriculum is having experiences that awaken remembrance of your spiritual essence. Your spirit is ever-present, always piercing through forms to see essence.


Spirit sees possibilities while external appearances determine what ego perceives as reality. By seeing a possibility spirit energizes it and bring it alive through the power of focus intention. A universal law of existence is that energy follows attention. Ego is a lens spirit uses to focus attention in the physical world. One of the gifts we have as humans, and there are many, is the freedom to choose where and how we focus our attention.


The consequences of choice

What is real about reality is you experience of it, and all experiences are subjective. Every one is unique, two people experiencing the same event interpret it differently and therefore experience it differently.


What determines how you interpret life experiences is what you know or what you believe. Connecting to you Higher Self is the process of mastering choosing Love’s interpretation of an event instead of the human tendency of choosing a fear base interpretation.


The function of fear

Fear is a state of consciousness only possible in the physical world. This is because only physical form allows for the experience of separation, which is the essence of fear.


Spirit’s essence divides and differentiates itself by extending itself into different forms performing different roles yet always maintaining the connectedness of unity. This miracle is present as your body. Your body is one entity made out of trillions of parts each of which is aware of its function in relation to the whole. Each cell in your body knows it is interconnected to something greater than itself and the connection is realized by performing its role, beautiful yes?


Fear’s main function is to bring awareness that you are identified with something other than your true nature, when you are in a state of fear you are identified with your ego identity. The experience of fear also serves as a contrast to make obvious the choice of Love. Fear also weighs you down, contracts you into tension patterns that make your physical experience uncomfortably painful.


Another function of fear is that it triggers pain and pain triggers fear. This pain-fear cycle turns on aggression which when there is a “real” cause for danger or pain drives you to take some form of action and, if that is not possible the choice to surrender and find inner peace. This is a valid spiritual experience that just about all human are subject to, sooner or later, is part of the curriculum!


The consequences of Fear

The consciousness of fear is determined to preserve itself. Fear inhabits your mind and love inhabits your heart, choose your master wisely!


The presence of fear brings the automatic behavior of compulsion, neurosis (irrational anxiety) and pathology, all of which block awareness of love and goodness.


“All neurosis is a substitute for legitimate suffering”

Carl Jung


 

All pathological tendencies represent distorted energy of unprocessed pain. During childhood there is no other option but to suppress what is unbearable. This mechanism of self-preservation fragments your ego into conscious and unconscious parts. The unconscious part forms itself into what is called the shadow self, a reservoir of pain, fear and aggression that in its ignorance and desperation acts out suppressed aggression in the form of self-hatred. This can take the form of hatred of people we love adding another dimension of self-sabotage.


The consequence of choosing love

The consequence of choosing love is becoming more of who you are. When fear is your master your inner authority is a tyrant that uses your aggression to focus attention on negativity. This is how neurosis is maintained. Negative self-talk is accompanied by negative self-images that trigger toxic beliefs against your self-worth. This is illegitimate suffering, it does not liberate your consciousness from pain. Avoidance of legitimate suffering uses up your vitality and leaves you weak.


To regain inner authority of you choose to cultivate an attitude of self-love. Love your shadow and it transforms, deny it or reject it and you strengthen it. What you don’t love you can’t understand and what you can’t understand you can’t communicate with. You must take responsibility to be aware of inner negativity and practice aligning your thoughts and behavior with the consciousness of love: compassion, forgiveness, responsibility, acceptance, appreciation, respect, allowing, humility and surrender to truth.


Love builds a relationship within all aspects of you that are separated by walls of fear. Love connects what feels separate and thus transforms an experience of fear into an experience of safety and belonging. The experience your ego is longing for is to be loved and appreciated, give in to it. The simple and profound attitude of cultivating self-love brings emotional nourishment from within you, one moment at a time.


The healing power of love

Love brings up every thing that is not love in you. This is natural and is part of the process of emotional integration, don’t despair everything eventually dissolves. Pathology heals when you allow yourself to feel everything that is seeking expression in you. Healing is a process of integration that leads to self-understanding, growth and expansion of your awareness. People are afraid to feel what they carry inside because ego is afraid to loose control. The irony is that feeling your pain is what dissolves its many forms. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings until there is nothing left to feel. This is an act of love that engages your courage, which, acts as a bridge to cross from insecurity to confidence. Allowing the full experience of sorrow and grief acts as an emotional immune system response.


What do you trust?

Do you have more trust in you as a limited form or you as a form-less essence that creates and experiences forms? Thought are forms in the space of inner awareness. Trust in the invisible is called faith and it manifest as real the more you give attention to it. To trust the intangible is to access inner knowing.


When you trust your fears and doubts you are trusting thought forms rooted in the past. Love is a state of being accessed and experienced in present time. Do you trust the present or the past?


Spiritual development is a journey that engages your willingness to trust the unknown. When you focus your attention inward you travel into the darkness of unconsciousness to discover the light of awareness. This is a process you grow into not speed through and it requires love and dedication to your life.


Spiritual practices in the form of awareness training such as mindfulness, meditation, contemplation, self-less service etc, are setting up patterns of light that shine through and the darkness of unconscious self-hatred.


Your Higher Self is a being of light with no material density. The more you identify with the light of your being the lighter you shall feel! Love lightens you up. Love makes it possible to heal your body and fills it up with light when your mind is also filled with light, dispel negative thinking by invoking the presence of love.


Invoking your spiritual substance

Self-hatred has many rituals, become aware of yours. What rituals of self-love will you commit to?

To call on the presence of your Higher self use and expand your imagination in a way that it evokes a feeling response. Your shadow is very good at this, it can create strong negative emotions by imagining worse case scenarios and revisiting past painful memories.


Imagine yourself being and feeling beautiful, sensitive and sensual, strong and tender, clear, powerful, confident, capable and response-able.


Practice seeing this version of you interacting with the people and circumstances that normally bring hurt, fear and aggression. Next, take every opportunity in real life to behave this way and challenge all your fear by choosing to trust in love.





Your life purpose


 

What is your deepest longing? What challenge are you facing now that needs resolution? Who would you be when these are realized?


There is a paradigm shift regarding the popular concepts of life purpose. In the past people have been conditioned to focus their attention and efforts in seeking personal happiness and security through affecting external circumstances.


The realization of these goals tends to create denial of current difficulties or denial of internal unfinished business causing painful patterns to repeat over and over. These painful patterns are your life lessons.


In the new paradigm your life purpose is dealing with what is in front of you, now. When you learn to address difficulties successfully you are evolving and your life is on purpose. Addressing challenges is your modern spiritual practice.


From the perspective of becoming a whole person meaning integrating Spirit, Soul, mind and body, your life purpose is to transform your human nature into your Divine nature. The essence of this self-transformation is overriding and overcoming your animal nature, this is not easy!


Human life is a school for learning how to create responsibly by embracing the consequences of actions and translating them into wisdom.


You were born ignorant of who you are and what you are capable of for a reason: To discover yourself by learning your difficult life lessons. The difficult challenges you encounter in life are opportunities for growth and evolution.  Challenges shape your character and, challenges are overcome by accessing hidden potentials latent within you.


Once a life lesson is learned and integrated you have greater strength, love, power and wisdom available to “see” more resourceful perspectives for addressing the next difficult challenge. This is a sign that you are growing and evolving and moving towards fulfilling your life purpose.

 

 

Modern life

Life is accelerating. This increasing rate of change and transformation is inevitable due to more information and more sources of information being available. Modern life is confusing, stressful and fast paced unless, you are clear and grounded living by your core values.


To have direction in life there must be a compelling destination. The goal of reaching your chosen destination requires a purpose that gives meaning and value for overcoming difficult challenges along the way.


Growing up: from clarity to confusion

In childhood desires are clear, simple and palpable through the conduit of imagination. Desires are inspirations, messages from your spirit that focus your attention to act and be what is desired until you realize it.


During adolescence accumulated trauma from childhood, hormonal changes, peer and family pressure to conform to society, these factors make life increasingly complicated. Knowing your desires becomes confusing and your instinct of self-preservation drives you to rebel against external authority and submit to it, your inner conflict is born. Adolescence is confusing and many adults are stuck in this stage of development.


This confusion about who you are, why you are here and where your life is going becomes a normal part of adult life. Until pain and frustration are strong enough to get your attention to realize that your life is off- course you will recreate the same life experiences.


When you are faced with unbearable discomfort desires are reborn. If you have matured and are willing to change who you are and how you do things, you will discover good enough and clear enough reasons to fulfill your current desires.


If only following your desires was easy…and it is not. Between childhood and adolescence individuals get mentally conditioned by internalizing other people’s expectations about how they “should and should not be”. Everyone internalizes positive and negative expectations that become positive and negative self-images. In the end it doesn’t matter, both types of self-images lack clarity as to why these expectations are so and why it is important to behave that way.


What happens is that you doubt your desires and mistrust your capacity to fulfill them, until you let go of your self-images.



Your life lessons“The wise learn from adversity the foolish repeat it”

Life lessons repeat and intensify themselves until they are learned. The pain of not learning is the greatest motivation to change you and your behavior. Every adversity has a hidden gift to bring you closer to your True Self. St Augustine declared:

“ Lord, I ask not for a lighter load, but for stronger shoulders to carry what is given to me”

Earth isn’t a place to have an easy life unless you hope for a dull inconsequential small life. Many of your life lessons are obvious others are obscured. The easiest way to identify your life lessons is to recognize what is it that you most desire that you can’t be or have or what lies underneath the painful patterns that repeat in your life.


There are five basic areas of human life that offer life lessons:

Your identity: Who you take yourself to be determines how you approach your life. If you are an adult and are stuck in emotional patterns then you are identified with your ego. From this perspective your life purpose is to avoid pain and seek pleasure, at all cost. Either drive is motivated by the need to feel safe and to avoid addressing your ego’s inevitable fear of death. Your basic life lesson is to integrate and transform the unconscious parts of you that have not matured and you disown, your shadow self.


Relationships: There are two seemingly opposite drives in humans, the need to belong and the need to be autonomous. In its immature form these are acted out as the need to merge and the need to separate from others or tendencies to cling to others or isolate. All relationship challenges are derived from a distorted perception of your Self worth. When Self-worth is lacking individuals are insecure and give in to the ego drives for control and manipulation that result in the painful victim-perpetrator game of relationships and self-sabotage.


Work: This is an important part of life. It gives immediate feedback about your life lessons regarding Self worth, discipline, core values and what kind of meaning you derive from what you do. There are two crucial distinctions, your career: a service you perform in exchange for a salary or other benefit and, your calling: a primary interest you can’t resist doing. Your calling in life expresses your creativity, passion, and imagination. It gives meaning to your life and, it captures your attention so completely that you dis-identify from your ego and become your living presence. Some examples are: raising children, any modality of healing, arts, crafts, writing, painting, designing, music, volunteering for an organization or cause that naturally matters to you. Your calling is not a hobby unless it is a service in the form of you extending yourself to others. For instance, when you perform or teach a hobby to others then your hobby is both your career and your calling because it is a source of learning and growth.


Security: The need for security brings up life lessons regarding being responsible, disciplined and courageous to face your fears. Being safe is a matter of utilizing your common sense to act on what you know. Normally people act without thinking or think and not act.


Health: challenges can be utilized to expose toxic unconscious beliefs that promote an unhealthy life style. At a deeper level “genetic conditions” as well as other chronic conditions where suffering is involved are opportunities to focus attention inward and creatively reframe the meaning of the condition so that “it” becomes a source of inspiration and purpose.


Summary: Your life purpose is Self-discovery and becoming your full potential by embracing difficult experiences. This attitude leads to Growth and transformation. For an experience to facilitate your personal evolution it must include some difficulty that expands your Self-awareness. For example, transforming fear into courage, anger into strength, force into power, confusion into clarity, resistance into acceptance, hurt/resentment into forgiveness and doubt into trust, all of these require self-reflection and a willingness to become greater.


When a life lesson is learned it transform into living wisdom. Here is an example: the life lesson of loyalty and betrayal. When the cheating partner matures to take responsibility for how their behavior hurts their beloved the next time they are tempted to sabotage the relationship they will know to decline their drive for selfish careless behavior. The cheater has transformed into a lover aligned with a higher purpose than short-term gratification. The lover that was betrayed can transform their resentment and mistrust into forgiveness and trust.