A Road to Consciousness
I built a reputation for being wise, having sound morals, being a great coach, intelligent, and in general an upright citizen who was respected. I relished this reputation and constantly took care to ensure it remained intact and unsullied. In those moments when I risked tarnishing it by losing my temper, being nasty, putting others down and failing, I became accomplished at apologising and criticising myself. Those who knew and loved me were quick to acknowledge that this was not the real me. I even believed this myself, which in an ambivalent way allowed me to feel genuine and honest, but at a deeper level still believed I was not talented enough but by working hard, everything would improve. “Not good enough” and “Not smart enough” were my internal mantras. In summary I considered myself to be an imperfect being trying to be and look perfect, and not seeing the limiting grip of this approach. The risk of losing my reputation was always the senior consideration over taking the risk of being and behaving differently.
It wasn’t until I was in my sixties that I took some time out to reflect on my life and was able to distinguish a new level of consciousness, hitherto obscured by my “busyness” and efforts to keep improving and developing. Simply described, I was able to distinguish the difference between “me” and my “mind”. In everyday vernacular, for the first time I could hear all my thoughts as internal conversations, generated from the thousands of experiences that shaped my engagement and response to the prevailing circumstances and situations. Also, even more impactful, I saw that the mind is a continuous, powerful and unquestioned survival mechanism and its principal function is to maintain who I considered myself to be.
This level of consciousness felt truly liberating, giving me a conscious choice for the first time in my life for what I said and did, and how I engaged with myself and others. Quite startling and energizing, like a new awakening. However I began to also notice that, energising as this was, I started to make this survival trait of the mind wrong, and tried to nullify or suppress its reaction-based interpretations. This frustrated me and had me wonder if I could ever escape the grip of my mind’s limiting nature.