There are times when we begin to be, or have long been aware that something is inconsistent with what we want to be, how we want to live. It is difficult to ‘own’ ourselves and make a personal claim to parts of us that we’d rather ignore.
In an effort to help bridge the questions and the answers, I have some experience with efforts at self-awareness and revealing what is unacknowledgeable. I hope this provides a surer footing for those who feel the calling of self-knowledge.
The process of becoming aware can be likened to an egg. A successful hatching of this metaphorical egg is a result of proper conditions, intention, and a supportive enviroment. The better these three factors are met, the better the chance we have of a successful “hatch”. Awareness of long standing self-deceptions can happen suddenly, but chances of success go up if certain steps are followed.
The answers or awareness we are looking for have a better chance of being shown after self-reflection. It takes time for the deeper psyche to process the questions we have for ourselves. We have to be persistent and patient enough to encourage results. If my question for myself is something I *truly* want, I will make the effort. I don’t need to beat myself up if I don’t stick with any particular line of inquiry. Deeper parts of me are in charge of the growth process; my conscious actions are more for steering than initiation.
I know of two sure ways to gain perspective on my problem. These are detachment and knowledge of my personal symbology.
Detachment will give us a better view of what really is going on, because we are going to be less invested in recycling both the same emotional states and lines of thought that occupy us when we are in the problem.
Maybe detachment is impossible. Another option (this takes TIME and EFFORT) is to learn the symbols your psyche delivers to you. It’s been said elsewhere that the unconscious mind is a symbol generator. If you learn even some of what the symbols mean that your psyche provides to you, you have a potent weapon against ignorance of self. Don’t take the easy way out: You must be aware of what these symbols mean to you, about you. Be able to rely on yourself to decode yourself.
Here is a basic template that has worked for me, with mental imagery.
- Log important dreams. You don’t need to drive yourself crazy with the duty of recording all dreams. The dreams where you are shocked awake because of it and will not be going back to sleep soon are the important dreams. The stronger the “shock” of the dream, the stronger the message for you.
- I Purchased A Dictionary of Symbols by J.E. Cirlot to learn the basics of symbology. This book is more valuable than a dream dictionary and is more of a textbook of accepted meanings and correlations of symbols across history and cultures. Be aware, this book has traces of a Judeo-Christian mindset, but is not dogmatic or moralistic.
- I Put the book down and began to flex my own mind to process meanings. What mood is expressed in your internal imagery? what items? Is the imagery confusing, does it make you feel calmer, or frightened? Don’t only rely on your natural responses, also give a detached analysis a try.
The symbols in dreams and imagination are multi-leveled and you will benefit by trying on different viewpoints.
Now let’s try something else. These ones are fun, and can provide not only stimulus but also catharsis and/or inspiration. Allowing brief separations from your baseline, everyday reality will provide nourishment for your mind and broaden your range of knowledge about yourself and your world. Some ideas for separations from the reality you usually inhabit include:
- art appreciation
- nature appreciation
- emotional indulgences like what we get from good music. Be aware that things like drama movies are not a good choice in this endeavour. Movies control too tightly your attention and responses. Find a ‘looser fit’, that allows you to fill in the experience with your own concepts and feelings. :)
Try different things until you find what fits; you will have no doubt when you find something effective for you.