The challenge of self-awareness

“Although our desire to grow is genuine and pure, it often gets mixed with lesser motivations, including the wish to be loved, the desire to belong, the need to fill our internal emptiness, the belief that the spiritual path will remove our suffering and spiritual ambition, the wish to be special, to be better than, to be ‘the one.'” ~Mariana Caplan, PhD (from 10 Spiritually Transmitted Diseases)

While I know I still have my blind spots, I am quite self-aware—in fact, often much more self-aware than I let on—and I find this to be as much a curse as a blessing. Although the quote above is specifically talking about our mixed motivations in our pursuit of spirituality, I am always aware of a similar level of mixed motivations taking place in everything I do.

It makes every decision a challenge because I can see all of the not-so-admirable motivations mixed into even the most pure motivation, so how can I trust any decision I make when I’m so aware of these swirls of darkness feeding into it? It makes every interaction a challenge in the moment when I’m observing all of these no-so-lovely undercurrents in my every word and every action. It’s paralyzing sometimes to see so clearly and be so completely unable to separate the higher motivations from the lower ones in any given situation. I can see each strand, but there is no way of unraveling them to act, speak, or choose for a pure place in the moment when I must do so.

I often think that it would be a blessing to be as blissfully unaware of these murky undercurrents as much of the general population seems to be. It would make it so much easier to make decisions or to have uncomplicated interactions with people. I certainly would be less inclined to over-think things as much as I do now! There are many people I know who advocate for the importance of doing depth work and spending more time and effort excavating these dark corners of our personal interiors, and I can see the value in that.

But for me personally, I so often long to find a way to come up to the surface. I can only imagine what it must be like to fully stand in the sunshine and not be constantly aware of the presence of my multitude of shadows and faults. I don’t need a tour guide to lead me into the depths; I know that territory well. I need a tour guide to show me the surface and teach me how to visit there.

As with so many things in life, the key is really balance. For some, that does mean learning to be as comfortable in the depths as they are on the surface. I appear to be one of the rare birds that needs to learn to be as comfortable on the surface an in the depths. I wonder where I find a tour guide for that.

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.


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  1. Pingback: Choosing consciously in the now « Journey Through the Chrysalis

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