I'm a scholar of my own psyche, making a sport of deep diving into its darkest, hushed corners to emerge with some glimmering gem of insight to share. The process of crafting a beautiful question, of going within, and of listening for the answer is my life-long practice. And from this ongoing quest towards a more complete self-knowing, I've come up with some techniques that work and many, many that haven't.
One I particularly have found to be a catalyst for quantum leaps in growth (and what is growth but a march towards more and more freedom, a more easeful way of living?) involves self-reflection. It demands courage. And it results in love, from our more compassionate mind to our broken-hearted places.
Here, roughly, are the steps that work well for me.
- Identify who you are trying to project to the world. What do you spend an inordinate amount of time trying to become? What do you most fear people will think of you? What do you judge most harshly and irrationally in others? Who are you most jealous of?
- Inquire into why you want people to see you that way. What do you think you will gain if people do see you as impressive, successful, intelligent, pretty, masculine, or confident? What do you expect to find on the other side of achieving that thing?
- Feel into how it feels to long for that reputation, that validation.What does that deep wanting feel like? Where do feel the sensations? What does it make you want to say or do?
- Uncover the heartbreak beneath that longing, and go into it deeply.What is the sadness lingering beneath the clutching desire? What does your inner child want to say from that place of heartbreak? Can you inhabit this place with your breath just for now, without seeking relief or a solution? Can you sit with yourself in this place?
- Learn to look at your behavioral and social patterns in the context of any unexamined, unconscious longings. Can you now see the underlying yearning that has been driving your ego’s pursuit? Can you now pause and offer it love before you continue to chase this image of who you think you should be? Can you love and forgive yourself for trying to become what you think is necessary to attract love and lovability?
My patterns of wanting always To Be Someone, to be special, to be loved, to be worthy and to be successful are just as entrenched and consuming as they are for many other people. But I’ve slowly learned to make them hurt less and to drive less of my behavior. And this practice lets me do this not with force but with a gentle awareness of what my patterns are, where they live and when they arise.
To examine the most tender, ego-driven parts of what drives us can often be the catalyst for a quantum leap in self-understanding, and I’ve found that this is a doorway to just a little bit more inner peace.