My youngest son recently began his foray into the college world with an introductory course on his major subject. Introductory courses, often designated with a 101 number, are the first level courses that give an overview of the subject. These types of courses introduce concepts, terminology, and basic subject matter that will be used as a basis for building upon for future courses associated with that degree. I enjoy seeing his interest and his confidence increase as he takes this course. Starting with the basics in an area of interest is like whetting your appetite. You get a little taste and it makes you yearn for more.
Now, think of life as a 101 course. You begin your journey with interest but you lack knowledge. As you go through life, you begin to build knowledge through experience. Because none of us have the same experiences in the same order, we each get to where we’re going differently and at different times. Sometimes, (in continuing with the school analogy), we fail to learn the lesson and are subjected to repeating it until it is learned. As we all know, that can happen more than once. Some lessons are more difficult than others and sometimes we are not even sure of the subject. Those are the type of lessons that I want to discuss today. How do we begin to grasp the concept of the learning when we don’t understand the subject? The first step is awareness.
Self-awareness is the ability to notice one’s self from the point of an observer. It includes the knowledge of what is important to you, your emotions, your thoughts and feelings. As we go through our lives, we begin to pull away from ourselves and process our thoughts and feelings according to the feedback we receive from others. The more we believe what we hear, the less we know of ourselves. In Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements Companion Book, he talks about this lack of self awareness as “dreaming”. He states, “We are living in a world of billions of our kind who don’t know they are dreaming. Everyone is also participating in a bigger dream, a society dream. Our dreams overlap and we each dream a part of the entire dream, the dream of the plant, which is made by the projection of billions of personal dreams.”
Think about it. When we are young, we hear what we are told by others and believe it to be the truth about ourselves. Sometimes we hear positive statements, but often we hear the negative. Either way, it is information coming from sources external to us. Whether we are called lazy, stupid, pretty, or smart, it has nothing to do with who we really are. These are just labels given to us by others according to their self-beliefs. Over the course of our lives, we take these labels and incorporate them into what we believe about who we are. This leads us on to a path on which we feel we have no control over what we do. This is the part where we lose track of the subject matter. We operate blindly through a course determined by forces other than ourselves. You can recognize this when you hear yourself making excuses. I can’t do ….. because of ….. I can never be like …. because of ….. I will never be like…. because of …. We form a list of reasons why we can’t do things according to the dream. Does this sound familiar to you?
Yesterday, while talking with a friend, I heard myself justifying why I wasn’t doing something that I supposedly “wanted” to do . I had an extensive list of reasons why this particular task wasn’t getting done. I heard myself talking and was immediately aware that each of those “reasons” was just an excuse. If I truly wanted to get this done, it would be happening. Later on, I asked myself what is the real reason I am not motivated to make this happen. In order to answer the question, I will have to spend some time in self-reflection. I will need to dig below the surface of excuses and listen to what is really driving me to make this choice. Sometimes there are many layers that will need to be peeled away before the truth is revealed. It is important to be kind and patient with yourself when going through this process. The truth can be masked by many layers of the dream, each one seeming real until it is challenged. Once uncovered, you can begin to build your life according to this new base of knowledge. This is your Life, 101.
Just as my son felt the excitement of new knowledge when taking his introductory course, you can feel it when beginning your journey of self-awareness. Don Miguel Ruiz states, “It can be very exciting when we understand that we are dreaming…We know that we can change our beliefs any time we need to change them because they are no longer rigid. The worries in our life don’t look real anymore; we know that it’s a dream and it can shift.” Start at the beginning and get excited about where you can go with your new knowledge. Challenge each thought that comes in the form of an excuse. Peel away the layers and look into who you truly are and know all that you can do with that new information. The possibilities are limitless! It is time to begin your journey with Awareness, 101.
Yours in transformation,