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self help

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Know Thyself: Awareness Comes First


Something I’ve been tossing around and chewing on for quite some time now is the concept of self-awareness and its role in the psychology of change, healing and wellness. My slight obsession with it came as the result of my search for meaning and understanding around the elusive, hard-to-grasp topic of self-love. Something I speak often about, and also something, I would argue, we all want to feel, but aren’t entirely sure how to go about accomplishing.

 

To me, then, it became apparent that before self-love, before self-compassion, and absolutely before self-understanding, there must be something else. Something more substantial and foundational. Something that would catch you as you fall and provide a landing net of sorts to direct you through your darkest and most pivotal moments, and what I’ve found is that it is self-awareness.

 

As I’ve become more enamored with this idea, I’ve come to believe that self-awareness is one of the most important traits a human being can embody, because without it, we will never really know ourselves, and therefore anyone else – essentially, leaving us devoid of the connection we’re hardwired to seek. Without it, we also become destined to continue loops of mistakes, behaviors and habits in perpetuity, equaling ourselves to a mouse on a hamster wheel (laughably of course). Whether its diets we start and fail endlessly, relationship arguments we rinse and repeat or an inability to find a meaningful career we enjoy, all of it points back to the same thing: the lack of self-awareness to change it.

 

But why does this matter? Why should we want, or need, to change the parts of our lives that don’t appear to be working in our favor? Well:

 

 A. Because they aren’t working (obviously)

 B. Because generally, we aren’t always the ones doing the “choosing” of these patterns, habits and beliefs, meaning the software we’re operating on is somewhat outdated, un-useful and un-applicable to who we are, what we want and where we’re going.

 

Sometimes this software comes from our parents, sometimes the culture we live in, sometimes its just an amalgamation of all our life experiences, but nonetheless, it’s often not directly chosen, and therefore, not directly applicable, leaving us stuck in a weird, self-perpetuating cycle we rarely stop to question, let alone change.

 

The key to any kind of lasting change then is simply awareness. Awareness of self and the ability to introspectively mine your inner landscape for information you can then use to move forward, both incrementally and insightfully. To understand your feelings, emotions, thoughts and motivations and then act accordingly. In other words, to “know thyself,” as was subscribed in Ancient Greece, written with conviction on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, is to understand the world around you, as the world around you is a reality of your own making.

 

However, it is here that I find it equally important to throw in a word of caution. Because, for all that I speak of self-awareness, I do find that it can easily become pathological in nature, and therefore, occasionally, negates its own purpose. Let me explain…

Often times, as we become more aware of ourselves (perhaps through counseling, prayer, meditation, or something else entirely), we get a bit obsessive with viewing our life through this new lens. When I, as a newly self-aware person, start to notice all the ways my behavior, beliefs and habits of thought affect my daily experience, it’s easy to myopically zoom in on all that is ME and forget that the reason I wanted to become aware in the first place was so that I could more easily interact with the world around me. I see this evidenced time and time again as clients, friends and family (including myself at one point) become ever-obsessed with finding the next level of ascension, the next layer to peel back or the next roadblock to uncover. And while I clearly promote and agree with knowing oneself, I think it’s worth mentioning that the reason to know oneself IS to be more happy. More free. More content. So, if awareness is leading you away from those states of being, it’s perhaps time to reconsider your approach.

 

 So, how to cultivate awareness without simultaneously getting caught in self-absorption? More awareness. And I say that laughing, with a smile on my face, yet entirely serious. That’s it. Simply to know that this could possibly, potentially be a problem is enough. Simply to know that you are eating handfuls of chips straight from the bag because you are stressed is enough. Simply to know that you’re over-reacting to something your husband or boyfriend said because it triggered your abandonment issues is enough. Simply to know that your feeling irritable and snappy because you’re scared is enough. Its enough just to know. Because once you know, you can’t unknow. And one of those times, after you’ve known it long enough, you’ll make a new choice that IS directly applicable, and you will have started the process of change so organically, you’ll hardly notice it’s presence.

 

Start by asking questions. Who am I? What do I believe? Why do I believe it? Where am I going? Why am I feeling this way? What happens when I feel this way? Who would I like to be instead? Is there a reason for this behavior? Do the way I see myself and the way others see me match? Do I care? Who is doing the thinking here? Do my thoughts matter? What are my habits around X? What are my patterns around Y?

 

Ask. Ask. Ask. Get curious, then sit back and watch the answers unfold. They will. They do every time. And eventually, if you ask enough questions, you’ll get a really good answer.

 

THIS is why I self-awareness is key to change. Key to self-love, key to transformation. It is a powerful, foundational, absolutely necessary and vital component to obtaining all that you seek. And the best part is, you can start right here, right now, today – for free.

 

Until next time,

Sy 

 

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Inspired Action Vs. Action: What's the Difference and How Can You Tell?

So, have you ever felt the pressure to get something done, or to check something off your list, but felt totally uninspired to do it and let procrastination suck the life out of you? Yeah, me too. In fact, I started going down that familiar path today, but was luckily interrupted by a phone call from a friend that lasted well over an hour and took my mind out of forcing myself to write this blog and into talking and laughing and connecting. Afterward, not only did I feel inspired with tons of new thoughts and energies buzzing through my brain, but I felt excited to sit down and jam out this post because the lesson is applicable to so many of us. When we force our way through life, we get tired and burned out, but when we tap into the source of never-ending energy within us, life flows effortlessly and easily. And this applies to everything from our closest relationships to writing weekly blog posts. The rules never change. Hold on too tightly, and the sand falls out. Open your hand and let it sit, and it can remain indefinitely.

 

But, the key is recognizing this, because as we all probably know, it’s easier said than done when we’re up against a deadline or when our partner is drifting further and further away or when we don’t know whether we should quit the job or stay. I get it. I LOVE making lists and checking items off. I love certainty and am terrified by change. I find it so satisfying in the part of my brain that likes things orderly and organized – the part that feels safer when things are under control. But when our lists and expectations and goals become more harmful than helpful, it’s worth stepping back and taking a look at how our forcefulness is actually the cause of our discomfort, NOT the thing we think needs changes or fixing or completing.

 

Recently, I had a wonderful experience I’d like the share that demonstrates this beautifully. I’ve often heard from spiritual teachers that when we align with the universe and our intuition, projects, experiences and relationships all flow effortlessly, almost like divine inspiration flowing THROUGH them. And while I’ve certainly experienced many moments of peace and clarity, I’d never really had that deep knowing about something that made it feel like I was floating on clouds. I’ve always been the push-through-it type where it takes me 3 days to painfully hack out a blog post filled with more edits, typos and rewritten sentences than not and by the end of it I feel mentally and emotionally drained. It was the same for programs I’d put out, coaching follow ups or big ideas that flowed through my brain. I loved them, but I equally hated them because they felt hard and overwhelming and stressful. But recently, I’ve been leaning into the idea of divine inspiration and letting the work flow through me instead of wrangling it out, and I finally came to a personal understanding of this with a small e-recipe book I co-authored.

 

One of my favorite teachers talks about how meditation allows the brain to slow down and turn off long enough that we are no longer blocking our internal guidance. Up until the past few months, I’d always used meditation in a very physically-focused way as a tool for calming down my nervous system and squelching stress. But, lately, I started focusing my attention on it’s more spiritual attributes. Namely, as a way to connect to my inner guidance system and source.  So, one day, after a nice, but not out of the normal, meditation, I got an Instagram notification from a friend whose recipe I’d cooked and photographed that said, “You always make them look so pretty.” Not thinking anything of it, I laughingly wrote back, “you cook em, I’ll make em look pretty!” and then, right then and there it was as if I was handed an idea that felt so natural and logical, it was hardly a big deal, but I knew deep in my soul that it was inspired. I shot her a text and said, “Hey, what if we actually do that and create a book together. You cook, I shoot?” To which she replied, “Let’s do it.” And the Simple Summer E-Recipe Book you’ve been hearing me talk about for weeks now was born. But not only was the idea born, the entire project flowed so seamlessly it felt as if I knew all along how to put together and craft an e-book. Then the emails began flowing in and the each and every picture turned out perfectly with one or two shots. The recipes were delicious and easily perfected in less than a week and every phone and brainstorming session was smooth like butter! THIS is what we mean when we talk of divine guidance and inspiration. THIS is what it feels like when the energy of the universe is flowing through you and into your creations, experiences and relationships. THIS is what alignment feels like and what it means to let go and let god – or the universe – or Buddha – or source, or whatever you call it.

 

When we take time to meditate, to slow down, to enjoy our life, to connect and live calmly, we are then open and receptive to these energies. Had I not taken the time to meditate and slow down my restless mind, and instead, pushed through my day without stopping until my head hit the pillow, I would never have seen that path unfolding right before my eyes, nor had the good sense to take it! In fact, I probably would have written it off as a silly passion and convinced myself I didn’t have time for it. And how much I would have missed! From that idea sprang forth four others, including an actual cookbook and new podcast. This is what it means to sync up with the universe, let go of the control and let divine guidance have its way with you.

 

Sure we can push and grind and manipulate our world so that we reach our goals and make ourselves heard, but we can also relax into them and get the same, if not better, results. Having done it both ways, I can tell you that this is one the best things I’ve ever created because of how it felt while I was doing it. There was no stress, no angst, no overwhelm – only joy, excitement and fun along the way and when it was done, I looked at it and smiled grateful for the adventure it took me on during those weeks.

 

If you’re the kind of person who is used to #nodaysoff and #hustling and #workgrind, I urge you in this moment to consider whether or not that mentality is actually serving you? Are you feeling burned out, uninspired and busy? If so, take some time to replenish and sit your ass down for a meditation. If you can’t possibly bare the idea of that (we’ll have to chat about that another time), then do something, anything, to unplug.

 

Go on a walk outside, chat with a dear friend, get a massage, go on a long drive, watch a sunset, even have a glass of wine. Keep unplugging for as long as you need until you feel so inspired to do something you couldn’t possibly ignore it and when that happens, notice the ease with which you get it done. This is how we find our joy and inspiration my friends. It’s not through hard effort, it’s not through control and it’s certainly not through grinding it out. Sure you can get things done that way, but they will probably be half of your genius at best and leave you feeling exhausted and in need of a vacation. Whereas divine inspiration actually bolsters our energy and fills us with delight.

 

Have you ever had an experience with divine guidance? Do you live in flow with the universe? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Until next time,

Sy 


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