“The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them. " Albert Einstein
We allow our thinking to get in the way. For most of our dreams and goals, it is our self-limiting belief that can be our greatest obstacle to overcome. If we could get out of our own way, our satisfaction in life could certainly be greater than how we see it at this moment.
It’s not a simple thing to do, to just step aside and let our strengths and gifts, natural abilities and uniqueness shine through. It is easy to say that learning to love oneself is necessary in order to fully accept the love of another, or to truly understand how to love another. It’s a harder thing to do. I know.
It doesn’t have to be difficult. It starts with a decision, a conscious choice to expand our own awareness and challenge the way we think, see, feel, believe and ultimately behave.
Actually, that’s not that new of a concept either. In fact, professionals in the fields of psychology, counselling and coaching for example, have been working with clients on that very thing for decades. So why don’t we get it?
There are far too many reasons to list. In fact for every person alive there’s a uniquely different set of reasons or even excuses. But there are trends we can briefly look at for us to begin our intensive journey toward greater awareness.
The first of these trends is that we’ve been taught how to think and what to believe. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle designed fundamental thinking technologies and strategies 2500 years ago, and have formed the way Western civilisation would think up until now. Once someone claims to have proven they have found the “truth" of something, then it becomes very difficult for anyone else to disprove that truth and offer a new perspective without getting a lot of resistance.
Socrates invented the interrogatory style of argument involving strings of questions seeking either a YES or NO response. Plato continued from there, with his original idea that there IS such a thing as absolute truth. Our thinking since has been closely bound by these ideals, and to our detriment.
Take Galileo for example. In the early 1600’s he designed a telescope to prove that the Earth revolved around the sun. This disproved the “truth" of Copernicus hypothesis that it was the other way around. This created so much controversy that people were actually afraid to look into Galileo’s telescope for fear of what they might actually discover.
This is called cognitive dissonance. It refers to what happens in your brain when information is presented to it which doesn’t seem to fit. Sometimes information may seem so obviously different from what we’ve already been taught to be the truth and we struggle to know how to respond to this new information. And we can find it even more difficult to accept it simply as another perspective to explore versus having to adopt it as a truth, because we’re also taught to only accept well-established truths.
This way of trained thinking can cause serious consequences. In 1633, when Galileo was 70 years old, sick and completely blind, he was forced by Pope Urban VIII to make the arduous journey to Rome to stand trial for heresy. The pope accused Galileo of causing “the greatest scandal in Christendom" for contradicting the scriptures. On June 21, after a long trial, he was found guilty of heresy by the Inquisition and forced into covering up his own evidence. Weary and broken, the old man knelt before the pope and made his confession, “I, Galileo, son of the late Vincent Galilea, Florentine, aged 70 years… must altogether abandon the false opinion that the sun is the centre of the world and immobile. "
The second trend follows from the above. 2500 years after Plato, much of Western society still behaves as though there actually is such a thing as absolute truth and clear cut black and white answers to everything. How bound are we now by words and discussions around “truth", “right", “wrong", “good" and “evil"?
We’re taught by our family, religions, governments, business and society in general what to believe. We’re handed down our values and belief systems, instructed what behaviours are appropriate or not, and provided strict examples to follow in terms of our own development.
And it doesn’t matter how much information is available to us today through a variety of mediums, by the time we have learned how to read and write, the foundations of our belief systems are already set.
For example, by the time we’re seven, we’ve already learned 90 percent of our adult responses in life. This makes a lot of sense as by this age, we’ve already understood quite well the meanings of words like “no", “you can’t", “you shouldn’t" and “that’s wrong. "
Combine this with the fact that by age ten we’ve developed the majority of our language skills, so we’re very aware of how language forms communication and is used to say what we want or don’t want. We also have learnt by this age when we’re allowed to speak and when we’re not, all based on someone else’s rules.
It’s no wonder then that by puberty and all the hormonal changes we go through, that our self image and esteem is in such a delicate place that we’re that much more susceptible to conforming with what our society states we must become.
And finally, we’re instructed by society, the church and even our friends and family about what’s possible (and not) and how limited our potential is. We are generally not encouraged to dream, or examine perspectives beyond our current view. We are seldom invited to look inward and become more aware of our own strengths and celebrate them.
What seems most extraordinary is that we’re taught at some levels to love ourselves, but not instructed how or supported to do that. Most personal development material today comments on the importance of truly loving oneself in order to fully accept and experience the love of another, or to have the resourcefulness to fully love another. Yet this premise, as easy as it may sound, is incredibly difficult for us because our society, in general, doesn’t support it.
For example, nearly every religion and philosophy has some form of the Golden Rule, which equates basically to treat others the same as you wish to be treated. However, it doesn’t matter how many times it’s written about or preached, we still don’t seem to be able to get it. We’re back to cognitive dissonance again. The idea of being good to others, or of loving ourselves fully, doesn’t match with what we see around us.
Some cultures seem to make a point of knocking down anyone who either thinks highly of themselves or is achieving remarkable things. The reasons for this all come down to one emotion, Fear.
There is so much we’re afraid of, and all of it is based in our thoughts, and what we think is the “truth. "
I firmly believe that if I can you become more aware of yourself, starting with the way you think, then this will have a dynamic effect on what you believe. Once you have a stronger grasp of your own values and belief systems, then you will be in a better place to review your own emotions and behaviours. You may choose to let go of the fear you’re holding on to.
We have to start somewhere, and the best place it would seem to start is to simply focus on ourselves in a very selfish manner. And by the way, being incredibly selfish is a good thing.
How can being selfish be a good thing?
If you are willing to suspend what you’ve been taught about that word for a moment, I’ll explain. To be honest, you spend more time thinking about you than anyone else will ever think about you. It’s just natural. Your conscious and subconscious mind is devoted to you, not someone else. If we accept this as a reasonable position, then wouldn’t it make sense to put some structure around that? This is a selfish or self-focused position.
Also, being selfish doesn’t mean that someone else’s needs aren’t also important. Consider how much more resourceful we can be to others, if we are first fully resourceful within ourselves? Take care of the self in order to take care of others.
The above is an excerpt from “30 Days of Incredible Awareness". In its entirety, this inspiring and challenging e-book works as a personal, daily programme to assist you on your own journey of self discovery and awareness. To receive your own copy in full, visit http://www.incredibleawareness.com/ . For more information, contact Noel directly by email on email@example.com, or visit his website http://www.noelposus.com/
Noel Posus (Master Coach, BFA, MH (Edu), FALCS, AFAIM, MAHRI). Author, instructor, trainer and master coach with a highly successful personal, small business, executive and mentoring practice, Noel is one of the global coaching industry’s great resources. He is the Master Coach at the Life Coaching Institute of Australia and the Principal Coach and Head of Human Resources, Training and Coaching Services with Masters Le Mesurier, Noel is also the host of CoachRadio, Vice President of the Australian Life Coaching Society and NSW Leader of the Australian Life Coaching Association. Personal development is his lifelong passion, and his vision of coaching is quite simply, “Eliciting your Greatness!"