People are complicated.
We dwell on this earth with the baggage of things past, with all of the pain and hardship we have ever experienced held upon our shoulders. There are so many layers to who we are, so many dimensions to the movements of our psyche—and so many of them, we have yet to heal and console.
You know those times when we react in a way that is even surprising to ourselves? Like, something incredibly mundane just sets us off in a way that is entirely inappropriate and disconnected from the actual offense, or someone does something and we react in a way that is totally unwarranted?
What is happening in those moments is that our unconscious propensities are coming to the surface; the deeper levels of our perception are being triggered by something externally. It has virtually nothing to do with what is happening outwardly. It is almost entirely irrelevant that what acted as the trigger for our psyches had surely been waiting like a coiled snake or a panther on the prowl for something to react to.
I’ve had many moments like this. I’m sure we all have.
The other night, my mother was asking me about something—and out of nowhere, I became viscerally upset at her. I remember minutes afterward, thinking: What the hell was that?!
It was such a surprise to me, because I really had felt pretty in tune leading up to that exchange.
It was only after reflecting on what had happened afterward that I came to realize what had triggered my reaction—and of course, I came to the conclusion that it was just some age-old family conflict that I hadn’t fully dealt with.
These reactions almost seem like they are coming from a different person—some entity of some sort—and in reality, this isn’t far from the case.
In those moments, we are being inhabited by the more fundamental aspects of our consciousness that we have yet to observe and contend with—the hidden elements of ourselves that we are not yet completely aware of.
We are complicated. Being human is a complicated thing.
So, we have these layers to who we are, and every so often, these layers manifest in unhealthy and destructive ways. It is then imperative that we come to understand who we are most deeply, to bring our attention to how it is that our consciousness operates, and to garner a deep sense of why we are the way that we are.
Any time we react to something in an inappropriate manner, it is important that we get introspective and investigate why it is we acted out. Each of these experiences, as disheartening as they might be, are merely opportunities to inquire more deeply and engender a deeper sense of self-understanding. We must take them in stride and use these reactions most effectively, so as to delve more deeply into who we are.
We must go deep.
There are drives and energies in us that go back to our early childhood—or perhaps, even before. There are many dimensions to what we feel and how we act, so much so that continuing to perceive purely through the narrow lens of the ego simply will not do. As far as I understand it, the more we know about ourselves, then the better we feel and the more productive we are as human beings.
We will never fully alleviate ourselves of these complications, but we certainly can get to a point where we have such a broad and profound sense of who we are that we can shift our state of being so as to promote and perpetuate the qualities that we hold most near and dear to us—like love, compassion, joy, and courage.
Bear in mind that there is no perfect state to be attained here. This is an endless journey of self inquiry, and when we hold ourselves up to an ideal of perfection, then we only make our complications…well, all the more complicated.
Let’s keep it simple. We can only really improve here. We can only learn more about ourselves.
A practice that I’ve learned through the years is that of bringing all of my attention to the oscillations of my breath. The more in tune I am with my breathing, the more connected I feel and the better I am at understanding my deeper impulses.
As many spiritual teachers have repeated, the breath is the greatest access way to the present moment. When we are aligned with our breathing, we are more cognizant of our state of mind and more aware of what is happening around us.
We’re complicated, but it’s okay. We are learning. We are improving. The more we inquire and get introspective, the better chance we have of making this world a better place.
We will never be perfect, and we don’t need to be. All we have to do is be ourselves and be in accordance with our true nature. All we have to do is be kind to ourselves along this crazy path.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina