Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Importance of Being Aware.

Take a look at your life right now. What emotions are evoked when thinking about the day ahead of or behind you? How do you feel when you think about waking up tomorrow? Are you excited to jump out of bed or do you groan when reviewing your obligations for the day?
As human beings (or working cogs in the great machine that is America) we all, to some degree, accept obligations we'd rather not do as inevitable. For example, I bet you've met some people who were less than excited to get their wisdom teeth removed, or for the proverbial blues-inducing Monday.
Do I believe the time we spend drudging through activities we hate should be limited? Yes... but how do we make those obligations we tried to escape and saw no way out of more manageable?

What makes these obligations groan or not groan worthy is our attitude about them. Yes, I'm stating the obvious here, but hear me out. Where do attitudes start? Certainly not the moment they enter your consciousness. They go much deeper than that. Your brain makes thousands of associations a day, many of them subconscious. These may come from friends giving you opinions, the way your parents raised you, a television program you follow, the music you listen to, etc, etc, you get the idea. Every attitude you currently hold is due to a previous association. Are you one of the many who find themselves in a slump and wonder how they got there, feeling powerless to get out of it? Do you get lost in thoughts and seem to "wake up" from them, realizing that you just spent the last 35 minutes entertaining self reinforcing and circular thoughts? Perhaps you find yourself going on autopilot, or "zombie mode" when completing monotonous tasks. You are not alone and this is normal... For people who are not mindful.

To rid yourself of painful associations, to cure bad moods, to kick a habit you've been wrestling, you name it, you must start with identifying your thought patterns. No exceptions! Changing something about yourself that you don't like is so much easier than it is made out to be. Awareness does wonders. Simply acknowledging your thoughts(without judging yourself, this is key) consistently will make the less than beneficial ones disappear.
The reason why you have associations or attitudes that you feel are hardwired into your being is because you've spent so much time being unmindful and have no idea how those attitudes came to be. You just attribute them to your personality, or in other words, accept them as inevitable. In staying mindful and aware of your thoughts, you never have to demolish a building of negativity surrounding a core idea you hold because you'll stop the seed of the idea from being covered in soil and nourished unwittingly. In being unaware of each thought you have, you are unknowingly serving thoughts that you have no control over.

"A wise man will be the master of his mind, a fool will be its slave."

In truly acknowledging each thought as it crosses your mind rather than having a knee jerk reaction to it, you can decide which ones are worth covering with soil and watering. You will have many thoughts a day that are not worth nourishing. That's okay. In a world of constant external stimuli, you're bound to soak up some of the rays every now and again... but don't rent space in your head to just any idea! Make it a good one. Encourage empowering ideas and question ones that try to steal your joy or confidence. Question the less than satisfactory ones until they show themselves for what they are, flimsy, no-good notions that don't deserve any more of your head space than necessary.
We have all had thoughts that rob us of our personal power, and I probably wouldn't be venturing too far to say that we've all attempted to suppress those thoughts. It makes enough sense, right? Bad thought, don't want thought, terminate thought. Wrong. The trick is, that trying to squash or resist or combat a foe of a notion is only going to reinforce it. You must accept the craving, the jealous pang, the insecure emotion, for what it is, and deal with it from there. Telling yourself it doesn't exist isn't going to get you anywhere(not for long at least).
Get to the root of why these thoughts come up so much. How did this habit form? Trace it back to it's logical starting point and tackle it from there. Each idea has equal merit at it's presentation. It is what you do with these ideas that counts, for those ideas will soon be you.

 "Fill your head with what's important, and forget the rest."

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