The extent of the psychological and or emotional damage we sustain from the process of growing up in, and adapting to, a dysfunctional society, will determine the level of damage control and difficulty in overcoming the effects of those early influences. Here are a few guidelines that helped me get past the more difficult challenges.
The Dysfunctional Landscape
It should be stated from the start that the obstacles mentioned in this article are those of a severe nature. I share the strategies and techniques for dealing with them because they are the same for minor dysfunctionality as they are for major train wrecks, the difference is only in degrees and depth. Also, one of the most common questions people ask concerning self improvement is "how can things that happened to us so long ago still affect us now?" and the second most common question is "how do you know if something is wrong in the first place?" The answer to the first question is, those things are still playing out in our lives, we just don't recognize their existence because we closed off the awareness of them long ago. The second question leads to the first door in the journey of self healing, self awareness.
We live with the effects of damage because we no longer recognize them for what they are. We take them for granted, we've become accustomed to them, we are comfortable with them and so, we do not question them. Even the physical component of damage is hidden from us because we have become numb to the pain of severely tensed muscular systems. Yes, there is no separating the mind from the body, we can separate them intellectually for the purposes of talking about them and studying them, but in the real actual world, damage to the mind has a collateral effect on the body, a fact that will come in handy later on. For now though, just know that the effects of damage take the form of self deceit and denial as well as numb areas of our bodies that we are no longer aware of.
Self Awareness, The First Door
Of course this is the first door because of the hidden nature of the problems. Hardly anyone realizes that they have sustained any damage in the first place so why would we need to fix what we don't think is broken? The truth here is that we have become so good at self deception that we can now almost get away with anything and the only price we need to pay seems to be awareness. Ah yes, self deception and awareness cannot share the same space. This is the first and one of the most difficult obstacles we will face.
First we need to arm ourselves with some information, a little prep work so to speak. By it's very nature, the journey of self healing is a journey into unknown and unfamiliar territory. Think about what that is going to mean in terms of our comfortable feelings of security, the security built on the foundation of our denial. Prepare to feel threatened, prepare to feel uncomfortable, prepare to encounter the specter of occasional feelings of panic. So, how do we prepare ourselves against these experiences? We stop at the pump and fill up on compassion, forgiveness and patience.
The Lights Are On But Are We Home?
In a world oriented to the instant gratification of every whim, desire and impulse, which is reinforced by the merchant agenda which serves the best interests of an economic system rather than the interests of a species of life, is it any wonder that self awareness efforts, if begun at all, rarely get past the first encounter with frustration? The idea that we don't live in the here and now rarely occurs to most of us, so we don't realize that we live mostly in the past and future and fantasy land.
Our success in this journey will depend a great deal on our ability to understand our enormous power, which in itself is sometimes a big challenge. We must understand that while thoughts are a part of that power, thinking is not knowing, that thoughts alone are sterile and have little power to effect anything. We must bring the power of intense feelings into the equation. The first feelings need to be the desire to change and the will to see it through.
Armed with these, we can begin our journey of self discovery, and the first and most powerful tool for this will be meditation. The concept of meditation has become associated with various religions because it is a great tool for developing the particular skills necessary to the achievement of spiritual awareness and enlightenment. But meditation is a multi benefit tool that develops focus, concentration, awareness, silence and the ability to remain in the here and now. It is also the mechanism by which we can get in touch with our physical bodies in such a way that will result in deep psychological and/or emotional issues being revealed, that otherwise might be out of our reach.
The objective of meditation, of course, is to get ourselves to the only place and time that truly exists actually, the here and now, and it is only here that we can learn about ourselves and realize what needs to be worked on and what is just fine.
Power And Rebuilding
Eventually we reach a point where we need to replace the bad with the good, the negative with the positive, the dysfunctional with harmony and rhythm. We need to find our way back to the rhythm of life.
This part is not easy either, but if you did the self awareness challenge well enough, at least you have some definite targets to work with and there are proven tools out there that we can use to put ourselves back together according to new knowledge and understanding. The main essential objective in self change is the process of changing fundamental beliefs about ourselves, our world and reality.
When we leverage the power of conditioning through the use of tools like affirmations, visualization and meditation and bring the power of belief to the table, we can implement fundamental changes that will result in system wide changes that will roll over and manifest in every detail of life. These tools are designed to help us achieve a level of consciousness that will allow us to work with the extraordinary power of the subconscious mind. Once we tap into this power, most things will seem to fall into place like magic.
It is essential therefore that we have a clear, well described and well defined ideal or image of what we want to be before we start this stage or we may well be simply putting a new face on the same reality. Just another clever act of self manipulation and deception designed to allow us to avoid the real, without having to be conscious of, and responsible for doing so.
Essentially we have the power to change ourselves and our world by changing what we believe. The journey of self change may include other journeys such as the exploration of new and unfamiliar perspectives which have the potential for introducing us to new ideas and perceptions which in turn have the power to open our minds to more new ideas. Suddenly life is again a series of adventures that unfolds with the rising of the sun each day, just as it was before we sustained any damage, when we were new human life forms known as children.