by Erica Boucher –
So many of us are moving through life unconscious… sleeping. When a woman in one of my self-awareness workshops was asked to answer the question “Who Am I?” for herself, she became very frustrated and agitated before grumbling, “I don’t know!” My response was, “doesn’t that bother you?” She looked at me rather puzzled before I saw a spark of recognition in her eyes. She was coming to the realization that she didn’t know who she was and, at 73 years old, perhaps it was about time to find out.
When we wake up, get in touch with who we are, and start seeing everything for what feels like the first time, that is what is meant by the terms “awakening” and “enlightenment”. It is as if a light has suddenly been turned on and we can see clearly for the first time.
The process is actually very simple, yet it takes extreme courage. Journal writing and meditation are the keys to help us get there. It starts with a decision to go within and become brutally honest with ourselves about everything. Using your journal answer the question, “Who Am I?” Admit all that you accept as good about you, your strengths, accomplishments and positive habits. Then be willing to accept those “negative” traits and habits that you may have denied for so long. These are the things we so vehemently defend when confronted with this information by others.
To really appreciate the benefits of this exercise, you must be willing to be completely honest with yourself about all of it and be willing to own it. It is very difficult to come to a place of complete honesty with self, but when you have the courage to go to that place, you are on your way to finding an inner strength that can only come from a strong, solid inner core which is your authentic self.
Once we have reached a place of complete honesty and truth with ourselves, and if the decision is made to continue this journey of self-discovery, the next step is to begin to recognize and heal the emotional wounds that subconsciously control all of our thoughts, emotions, decisions and behaviors.
This is accomplished by learning and being willing to recognize the emotions that are coming up for us in any given moment. Here, too, is where journal writing and meditation are effective tools.
Give Yourself Permission to Feel It
Once we are able to become honest enough with ourselves to recognize what we are feeling, we can then choose to allow ourselves to feel it. This is rather difficult because we have never been given permission to fully feel whatever it is that we are feeling. As children we received subtle messages that others loved us and wanted to be around us when we were happy, pleasant and cheerful. When we were angry, sad or despondent we were given messages that those feelings were not good or acceptable. Some of us were sent to our rooms until we “got over it” or were flat out told not to be angry or not to cry.
However that showed up for you, you probably learned that anything less than joy and peace was wrong. As a result we have learned to disown our true feelings of anger, sadness and resentment. We attempt to deny them and to pretend we are not feeling them. Because once again to feel them would be wrong and unacceptable and then we would feel guilty. So we start out feeling whatever it is that we are feeling, and then we add to it guilt for feeling something other than happiness, gratitude and peace.
Learn From It
When we are getting in touch with what it is we are feeling, the next question to ask ourselves is where is that feeling coming from. A Course in Miracles, a self study program on spiritual psychotherapy, teaches that there are really only two emotions, love and fear. In other words, all emotions come from a choice we make, usually unconsciously, based on a perception of love or of fear.
Anger, resentment, sorrow, frustration and anxiety are among the emotions that stem from a thought system based on fear. Peace, serenity, acceptance, joy and ecstasy are among the emotions that stem from a thought system based on love. If we can get clear on what it is we are feeling, then we can pin point what is our current thought system.
What is Our Fear?
If we determine that we are experiencing emotions stemming from fear, than what is our fear? Use your journals to help you move through this process. Ask yourself the question, what am I thinking about? What am I feeling about it in this moment? Is this feeling based on love or fear?
If the feeling is based on fear, what is the fear? When getting in touch with the fear, it is important that we don’t stop before getting to the core issue. For instance, if we are agonizing because we are afraid that we may be losing our job, the feeling of anxiety, discomfort, agony, insecurity, etc., are fear-based emotions.
What Does It Really Mean?
On the surface it is simply a fear of losing a job and not being able to pay the bills. But taking it to another level, the real fear, the core fear, is likely a fear of rejection if we are to lose the job, and a fear of failure if we are to be unable to survive financially.
Those are the real, genuine fears with which we are struggling. When we can touch that level of honesty within ourselves, only then are we able to gather our inner strength to realize that no matter what happens to us, we can handle it.
Let It Go
Once we recognize what we are feeling and allowing ourselves to fully feel it, then and only then will we be able to move through it and come out on the other side. It is not drugs, antidepressants or some other distraction that is needed to keep us from feeling our pain, but rather a willingness to actually feel the pain that is the answer.
When you are done feeling all of what is coming up for you (and this is not a process you can rush, it takes as long as it takes), then you can grieve for that part that you choose to no longer hold on to and let it go. This is an act of forgiveness, of the person, place or thing that caused you pain, and then of yourself, for your experience of it.
The result of this letting go, or forgiveness, is a feeling of lightness and freedom that escaped us long ago, for many of us we were children when we last felt that level of freedom and lightness. It is an awakening. We wake back up, heal our emotional and spiritual wounds, and start living again. Everyone has someone, something or some event to forgive. Everyone can benefit from this process. There is nobody this cannot touch.