Self- Actualization: A Bumpy Road
As life continues to fashion us, it often happens that enough experiences of suffering at the hands of old, beaten patterns will nudge us into the gentle stirring that makes one think that the tried is perhaps not always the true.
This might be the beginning of dusting ourselves off from the proverbial slumber of illusion and in most cases, unwittingly embark on the bumpy road to self-actualization.
On this unpaved path, the more we become ‘aware’ of our environment the more we begin to watch our thoughts and reactions mindfully. Thus a rewarding, albeit challenging travel ensues. Nonetheless, sooner or later we realize that either we continue suffering at the hands of our unconscious behavior, or we stop and take control of our personal journey.
As Socrates eloquently stated: “A Life Unexamined Is Not Worth Living!”
Triggered Emotions Don’t Have to Fire
To that end, the experience of living is peppered with unexpected events that by some artful plan are more often than not, designed to take us by surprise.
Feeling a loss of control triggers anxiety, panic or a sense of insecurity that seizes up rational thinking and drives one to say and do things that will most likely be regretted later. In truth, the harsh manner in which we sometimes react is nothing more than an aggressive cover-up to belie our inner frail and threatened state.
As we embark on living more consciously, it becomes imperative to our growing sense of well being that we work to maintain an even keel when faced with trigger events that cause plentiful destruction and distaste in our lives. We realize that in speaking callously, not only do we hurt the perceived “antagonist,” but also, ourselves.
One of the many great teachings of Buddhism is to bring deep and mindful attention to the present moment. In a situation when one is overcome with panic or anxiety, or fear of losing control, the auto-pilot/self-defense response kicks in and we end up uttering regrettable words.
Quicksand of Regret versus Mindful Attention
The practice of bringing your full attention to that current moment of unease, and then slowly breathing into it begins a process of dissipating the anxiety. The Herculean task however, is to bring mindful attention just as we are about to fly off the handle and hurtle accusations back at the ‘antagonist.’ But just as Rome was not built in a day, a more beautiful and centered self cannot be constructed overnight either. It takes love, patience and tremendous forgiveness on one’s part toward oneself; regret is like quicksand, it inhales you whole and suffocates clarity right out of your life. However, a split second of mindfulness shifts the energy of the exchange to a kinder place and relieves one of the impending regret caused by mindless words that once spoken cannot be reeled back in.
Reacting emotionally also belies a lack of control. When we say things because we felt triggered to say them, we relinquish control of the situation, we allow ourselves to be played by another’s tempestuous emotions. Taking a moment allows one to dust the hurt off, pull up the bootstraps, straddle the wild bull of accusations, and get back on top to ride it to a calmer place. Taking that moment allows one to regain composure and re-evaluate as well as check in with one’s inner strength and center to take over the reins to control the discourse.
Breath of Steadiness, Energetic Clarity
To put these words into practice I suggest the following: when faced with a threatening situation that is an open invitation to lose control of your responses, take one, take two, or as many breaths as you need to begin relaxing your jaw, and the space between your brows, then keep your voice calm, and respond with steadiness. There is a clarity that will descend when you step away energetically from the situation by taking this pause. In those two seconds of silence, between what someone hurtfully said and when you respond, is the ray of hope that will transform the energy of that space. Its hard work and it gets harder as you experience trigger events in frequency. However, it is for you to decide whether living a victim serves you better than living as one in control of his/her destiny.
Saying; “I need a moment,” to the perceived antagonist is another way of saying, I choose not to feed into your anger and destroy my peace.
The only way to change one’s life is to change oneself; to change the way we have been perceiving our reality is to make the difficult yet fruitful commitment of sowing the seeds of a paradigm shift that carry you on your bumpy yet joyous road to self-actualization.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” ~ Albert Einstein
Tania Kazi is a yoga aficionado, a blossoming vegetarian, a wellness enthusiast and a lover of books. She has studied International Relations, worked at a think-tank, and served the corporate monster only to find that healing the human soul is where her passion lies. When she is not reading or writing feverishly, she is getting soaked in central park with her daughter under the sprinklers, taking or teaching a yoga class, immersing in meditation and making green juices!
Editor: Edith Lazenby
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