The journey towards knowing better who we are.
This may seem like a bit of an ‘odd-ball’ after Celebrating Ben and Ranger on Monday and Celebrating Pharaoh yesterday. Indeed, when I had in mind those two posts, writing about self-awareness was nowhere on my mental horizon. Then along came Shakti Ghosal after Monday’s post who left this comment:
Just came a visiting and was halted by these glorious photographs. Horses embody such great qualities of trust, grace and power don’t they? What is it that makes them such a great friend of Man, I wonder? Specially when the latter species, as we know it (and we should know!), can choose to behave quite contrary to those Equine qualities above….
About Shakti Ghosal
Born in New Delhi, India, Shakti Ghosal is an Engineer and Management Post Graduate from IIM, Bangalore. Apart from Management theory, Shakti remains fascinated with diverse areas ranging from World History, Global trends to Human Psychology & Development.
I was intrigued and starting reading some of Shakti’s posts. That is how I came across The Audacity of Who I am and a day later had been offered permission to republish it.
However, before going on to Shakti’s post let me recap a little from yesterday’s post Celebrating Pharaoh. This section:
The biggest, single reward of having Pharaoh as my friend goes back a few years. Back to my Devon days and the time when Jon Lavin and I used to spend hours talking together. Pharaoh always contentedly asleep in the same room as the two of us. It was Jon who introduced me to Dr. David Hawkins and his Map of Consciousness. It was Jon one day who looking down at the sleeping Pharaoh pointed out that Dr. Hawkins offered evidence that dogs are integrous creatures with a ‘score’ on that Map of between 205 and 210. (Background story is here.)
So this blog, Learning from Dogs, and my attempt to write a book of the same name flow from that awareness of what dogs mean to human consciousness and what Pharaoh means to me. No, more than that! From that mix of Jon, Dr. David Hawkins, and experiencing the power of unconditional love from an animal living with me day-in, day-out, came a journey into my self. Came the self-awareness that allowed me to like who I was, be openly loved by this dog of mine, and be able to love in return. As is said: “You cannot love another until you love yourself.“
I will speak a little more about this but, first, to Shakti’s post.
The Audacity of Who I am
“High above the noise and fear mongering of critics and cynics softly speaks your true self.”
– Mollie Marti, Psychologist, Lawyer & Coach, USA
The other day, I watched the Bollywood movie Queen. In it Rani, a girl from Delhi, travels to Europe after being spurned by her fiancé. The movie then goes on to explore Rani’s ‘World view’ as dictated by her Indian middle class values and how that alters, as her biases and prejudices fall away, as she is confronted by radically different value systems and perspectives. A journey of self discovery in surroundings where she is no longer weighed down by others’ expectations and diktats. As she morphs, she confuses and pisses off many people including herself. Rani emerges from this crucible of experience as a more authentic human being. As she chooses to be ‘who she is for herself and for others’, she symbolises courage as well as resistance. Walking out of the theatre, I could not help but acknowledge how Rani’s awareness and acceptance of ‘who she is for herself and for others’ left her more empowered and in control of her destiny.
Who I am for myself and for others? How many of us are willing to make this query a daily practice as we loosen the constraints imposed by our world-view, let go of who we believe we should show up as and embrace who we really are?
What is it that makes me avoid being who I am for myself and for others? I can see this stemming from my desperation to be admired, liked and looking good. My life experiences have conditioned me to avoid being straightforward and veer towards being diplomatic if I perceive it is the latter which makes me look good. I have also been guilty of the corporate lie. On occasions I have stretched the truth about my company and its services, hidden what could have been embarrassing. On other occasions I have manipulated situations and people. All this to succeed, be admired, look good.
I muse. Have my efforts to gain admiration and look good empowered me to greater heights? Have I succeeded in engaging in my life from a place of worthiness? I remain increasingly unsure.
So if avoiding ‘who I am for myself and for others’ has not worked for me, how could I embrace it? As I think of this, I begin to see what being who I am for myself and for others could mean for me.
It would mean the audacity to show up as the ‘imperfect me’ that I am and the willingness to be vulnerable.
It would mean the audacity to let my hair down and allow myself to truly belong with the folks I choose.
It would mean the audacity to be compassionate and loving even when I hold the fear of not being good enough.
It would mean the audacity to be authentic about my own inauthenticities.
Am I committed to being this audacious?
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse.’ It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Excerpt from ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ by Margery Williams
In Learning….. Shakti Ghosal
Now Shatki’s post is spot on. But it assumes one thing. That is that each of us has sufficient self-awareness “to show up as the ‘imperfect me’”. Sometimes, as in my case, that ‘imperfect me’ was well-hidden from the self. Stay with me a little longer.
My father died of cancer in 1956. Just 5 days before Christmas, 1956. He was 55 and I had turned 12 just 6 weeks previously. I had completed my first term at the local (Preston Road, Wembley) grammar school.
For many reasons that do not need to be shared here, the effect of my father’s death and my subsequent decline in my school performance, left me with a long-term psychological ‘dysfunction’; namely a feeling that I had been emotionally rejected. But that feeling was deeply hidden from me. In fact, that hidden belief remained with me until 2007 when Jon Lavin brought it to the surface. (Jon is a UKCP accredited therapist and NLP Practitioner).
Reflect on that for just a moment. For the thick end of fifty years, this psychological characteristic remained totally below my consciousness yet, nonetheless, influenced me in very real and tangible ways.
The negative influence was that I was drawn to any woman who offered me love and affection and, therefore, was emotionally unable to understand how good a partner she might or might not be for me. (Jean is my fourth wife!)
The positive influence was that I tried very hard to please others, to avoid their rejection, and had successful careers in selling for IBM UK, starting and building a successful business in the early days of personal computing and, later, when my company was sold in 1986 becoming a freelance journalist and business coach.
So back to Shakti’s essay.
I agree one-hundred-percent with what he says. With the proviso that in certain cases, spending time with a qualified counsellor could be your best investment ever.
How to round this off.
If you have been influenced by any of this then do give yourself time and space to counsel yourself. Let your inner person reach out in peace to your outer person.
If that inner person suggests you could be a happier, more peaceful person then reach out to someone properly qualified to hold your hand as you open up to your inner feelings.
Which is why loving a dog and being loved in return by that beautiful creature means so much. For in that private bond that animals offer us lays the truth.
I can do no better than offer this personal reason why being audacious about who you are is the supreme ‘investment’ of all in yourself.
A few months after Jon Lavin brought my fear of emotional rejection to my conscious surface, I met Jean in Mexico, Christmas 2007. I have never loved a person as I love Jean. I have never been loved by a person as Jean loves me.
Being at peace with who you are is the most important celebration.
Say no more!