I don't intend to preach, or to make the impression that I've got everything figured out (I don't). My only aim here is to help one awaken valuable, health-promoting, self-empowering insights, in the direction of enhancing every aspect of one's life, by sharing my own perspective on how to achieve these things.
Sometimes what we need in order to make progress is a contrasting or challenging perspective to our own. Alternatively, reinforcement of one's own perspectives/ beliefs may be the more effective path.
Point being, regardless of whether my perspective differs from your own, it may prove to be exactly what you need to read, in this very moment, in order to get you "over the hump"... or it may not. But you can only know for sure by moving forward...
Starting from "KISS"
I'm a big advocate of KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid), as I'm of the opinion that the last thing we need in our path to living our best life is an over-complication of what is required to achieve it.
Coming from that framework, I arrive at my theory:
If one, in any way, shape or form, feels a sense of lack or short-coming in their life, it's either because they're too sure that they have the right ANSWERS, or because they aren't asking the right QUESTIONS, but likely BOTH.
I'm of the view that almost everything that one experiences (particularly the QUALITY of one's experiences) is a direct consequence of what one has concluded to be true about oneself (aforementioned "answers"), to include poor conditions of life and suboptimal mental health (up to a point, as there are some things in life that we can't control).
Answers and questions to what? One's own identity. One's own capabilities - their self-perceived strengths and weaknesses. One's own self-worth. How one compares to others. How to interpret/ judge current conditions. What it looks and feels like to experience/ have X, Y, Z qualities. What qualities and/or experiences one should desire, in the first place. etc.
We're too sure that we've solved the mystery of "self" - that we've successfully answered the question "who am I?". In doing so, we're very likely to impose what may seem like insurmountable limitations on ourselves, that seemingly make it impossible to improve our situation beyond a certain unsatisfactory level, when, in fact, those limitations aren't real to begin with - they only exist because we've become too convinced, too certain, that it's a truth of our being.
One approach to fixing this situation is to challenge the belief with an opposing affirmation - replacing a harmful "answer" (see above) with a more health promoting answer.
We might take a harmful belief like "I'm inadequate" and try to replace it with the alternative, more health-promoting belief, "I'm more than adequate". One approach to achieving this is to simply affirm the desired way of looking/ thinking/ feeling, by repeating a "positive affirmation" (eg "I'm more than adequate") or by reinforcing that perspective with one's own imagination, through the use of something like visualization, or hypnosis.
My feeling on this is that it CAN work, at least to some degree, if one can manage to be persistent in doing the work - setting aside time everyday to reinforce the affirmation(s).
However, I'm unconvinced that it's the most effective approach. In fact, I'm quite confident that positive affirmations, whether through repeating them verbally or trying to affirm them visually, are doomed to failure, UNLESS specific techniques are utilized, such as previously establishing a "frame" (prior to repeating the affirmations) that encourages openness to alternative ways of thinking about yourself, or seeing yourself (such as this approach that I covered in an earlier post). Otherwise, we're likely to hear the words that we're repeating to ourselves as nothing more than echoing lies. And this will only have the opposite effect of what we intend, causing us to become that much more convinced that we are the lacking, limited person that we've always taken ourselves to be.
Perhaps, instead of trying to change the answers, we can come from the frame of searching for, and/or asking, the important questions. Maybe we're not ready for asking what most in the "spiritual seeker" community would have us believe is the MOST important question ("who am I, really?"), but, in all likelihood, we're ready to answer questions like "how much joy am I capable of feeling?", "how confident/ competent can I be, when at my best?", "what is it like to feel satisfied with my career path?", "what path brings me to financial freedom the quickest, and with the least amount of risks/ suffering along the way?", "how can I be of the greatest service to my own well-being and the well-being of the people that I love and care about?", etc.
Instead of being convinced that we have the answers, all the while feeling some sense of lack inside, why not see if we can arrive at more satisfactory answers, by asking a question that might get us there? We can at least admit that we don't have ALL the answers, right? Can we admit that we have no way of knowing for sure whether we do, or don't, have a reliable way to find answers for ourselves (even within ourselves)? I know I can. I'm not God, and I'm no fool. Of course, I don't have all the answers, far from. If anything, I'm lost. There's hardly anything that I know with certainty. And there's even a decent chance that things I feel "certain" about aren't even true!
So why not explore this a bit? Why not see for ourselves just how many answers we can find by simply asking the question(s) and searching a bit for the solution(s)? Why not experiment a bit with just how much we do know? What is there to lose? More importantly, what is there to gain?
After experimenting a bit with this approach for myself, I'm quite convinced that this is a more promising approach to positive self-transformation than the self-affirmation path, even when done the "right" way, but I can obviously only speak for myself, here.
That's not to say that there aren't benefits to be had from repeating positive affirmations or practicing visualization, because I'm quite certain that they can be effective, as well. It just appears to me that there are more things that can go wrong with that route. Furthermore, my own experience says that "holding important questions" while being more open to answers (I'll go into this a bit more in a moment) is a more potent formula to positive evolution than trying to manually replace beliefs.
How to ask the important question(s) and find the important answer(s)
Regarding my earlier mention of "holding important questions", I feel like there's a wrong way and a right way to ask the question(s). The wrong way is to "ask the ego", and the right way is to "ask the silence beyond the known". That's to say, one shouldn't search for the solution in one's already-formed world/ self concepts and beliefs (the ego), but rather in the "unknown" world of the unconscious mind (that part of our consciousness that is outside of the boundaries of "mind-chatter", or thoughts, and familiar sensations/ emotions).
The question is to be posed to the "space" inside our own consciousness that is "untouched" by thoughts/ beliefs/ concepts, to include our memories and current self-image. We have to find a quality of "inner-silence", or space within which we are aware of thoughts/ sensations, but not feeling solely "contained" in them, defined by them, or identified with them. Only when there, as the "non-identified awareness", should we ask the question that we desire to answer. That's how we deliver it to that part of our own consciousness that is unaffected (untainted, really) by those thought/ belief patterns, outside of the closed walls of feeling like we already have the answers.
But we can't just deliver the question, we also must "sit" with it and "feel it out". We have to hold the question inside of ourselves, in that silent space, untouched by thoughts and the like. We have to hold onto the question, keeping the unconscious mind focused on answering the question, by holding the feeling of posing the question to that space, and feeling out that space for any forthcoming answers.
As far as I'm aware, the key is to come from the frame of "what if I've got it all wrong?", "what if I'm more [name the qualities that you most value and desire to improve] than I've given myself credit for?", and then to search inside, beyond the "known" (what you've convinced yourself to be true about yourself), to that space (the unconscious mind), which you can only discern by sensing as awareness "between", or "around", thoughts/ sensations, always holding that question with you, regardless of "where" the search takes you (into your own body/ mind awareness).
The idea here is that doing this for long enough will naturally awaken the proper insight that will allow for the desired solution to arise (from within). It's just a question of how persistent we can be in sticking to the practice of holding the question - resting in that "space" with the question - and learning to trust our own intuition and the innate intelligence of our unconscious mind a bit more. That, and asking the "right" questions.
But how can we know what questions are best to ask? Well, I suppose we can pose that question to our unconscious mind, too. We can ask, "what are the right questions to answer, in order to live my best life?" or something along those lines. Then await the answer in the same way that I described above.
I plan to share some of my own questions that I've posed to myself, along with some examples of how I've went about putting what I've shared here into practice but, alas, I've got other things to take care of.
Until next time, peace, love and happiness to you and yours :)
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