I recently posted a blog called Bring Your light into the Darkness and one of my illustrious followers commented that it was a great article but wanted to know how to do it. Oops! I sometimes leave important things out of my blogs! (And I appreciate it when one or more of you call me on it!) So I told her I would put together a series of blogs explaining the ins-and-outs of self-exploration.
These are my ‘ground rules’ for self-exploration:
1.) Spending time in silence is mandatory. You cannot talk and listen at the same time so you must learn to be silent… and listen.
2.) It’s not about you so don’t take anything personally. Even if it is about you it’s not about you, so don’t make it about you! What is “it?” It is anything and everything. It is someone else’s moods, comments, insults or compliments. This is your new mantra: It’s. Not. About. Me.
3.) Be open to hearing what others think of you.
4.) Be honest, straightforward, direct and kind.
Now then, having explained the rules I want to say that if something that I say doesn’t work for you, find something that will. For example, many people find it very difficult to be silent. This is due in part to a lack of patience with the process required to learn how to be silent. If this is a deal-breaker for you, find the closest thing to silence that does work for you.
The point is to find something that brings you clarity of thought and the ability to be open to what comes. Silence works best but can also be anything from a hot bath, time with your dog or a bike ride. There should not be much actual activity as this should be a relatively (i.e. mostly) solitary activity. The goal is to slow down and listen to your own voice and to be open to those deeper aspects of yourself that emerge in the silence.
While the point with rule #2 is to not take anything personally – and this is vital to the process – you must guard against the “to-hell-with-it” attitude. Just because it’s not about you that does not give you license to be indifferent or callous to those around you. An important aspect of self-exploration is understanding your place in the world. When you hear an opinion of yourself do not give it power over you but allow yourself to sit with it long enough to explore any truth in it.
This is where rule #3 ties in. Don’t take anything personally, but be open to hearing what others say about you. Why? Because it matters how people perceive you. This does not mean that you have to take what they say to heart and make it about you, because as rule #2 states, it’s not about you. What it means is that there is value in how others see you and what they say to or about you. (For more on this please see Look so hard you break the Mold.)
Hearing what people think of you means having the strength to listen to how you come across to the world and the people in it. It means being open to the fact that you cannot please everybody, not everybody likes you and that’s okay. Sometimes the way another sees you can shed light on those caverns of your soul that you are eager to explore. Take a minute to examine the truth of what others say. If it’s true and not good, make some personal adjustments. If it’s false, disregard it and move on. If it’s true and good, do more of it!
Rule #4 brings them all together. At the end of the day you are responsible for your actions regardless of everything else that happens. Coming to a deeper understanding of self does not mean disregarding other people. In fact, as you become more comfortable with yourself and learn more about the parts of you that are hidden in the depths, your concern for others typically grows. Your responsibility to others also increases. The stronger that you are and the more fully self-developed you become, the more you have to offer, and that is part of what makes the journey worthwhile.
Spend some time over the weekend becoming familiar with these rules. Get used to them, post them someplace where you will be reminded of your journey. Spend some time in silence and be open and inviting to what comes. Finally, remember your new mantra: It’s. Not. About. Me.
If you have any thoughts or questions please let me know. If there is a rule that you would add or one that you think is unnecessary I would love to hear it. If you find this helpful or think it is way off, please let me know that, too. Remember that the goal with all of this is to gain a greater understanding of self and to dive into the parts of you that you might not be aware exist. If these rules do not help you with that I encourage you to find something that does.