Choosing the Real You
it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” - Maya Angelou
In our busy world of cyberspace, iPhones and multi-sensory, multi-media advertisements and entertainment, we are bombarded daily with messages that want us to believe that we are missing something in our lives; that we are somehow inadequate just as we are. Our aging bodies need a lift, a tuck, a new exercise routine, a new diet; our breaking hearts simply need positive affirmations, a new wardrobe, or a new attitude; our fears about our finances, our job security, our retirement funds just need a more stable economy, a different president, a get-rich-quick scheme.
Our culture would have us believe that if we “do” just the right thing, all of our problems will be solved, all our wounds healed, all of our hopes secured. It’s easy, it seems to say, if we just choose to spend the money to do the thing they suggest.
We are easily sucked in by our culture’s flashy, attention grabbing, charismatic presence and the ever constant pressure to ”look and see”. No matter how hard we try to avoid doing so, we are drawn in, if only for a brief moment when checking our email. In a flash our attention turns to our inadequacies, the imagined missing pieces in our life and we subconsciously, or consciously, add another check mark to the list of inadequacies and self-criticisms. In that moment, our social self is in charge. We long to measure up to all of the external expectations that have been with us since we first discovered how to get our parent’s attention.
Suppose instead, there a cultural, social pull in our lives? What if every morning we arose to see only our soul self reflected in everything around us? What if the first thing we saw was a beautiful butterfly flitting from flower to flower, or the face of pure and unconditional love smiling down upon us? What if what we saw all around us was a perfect reflection and reminder of how perfect we are, just the way we are? There would be nothing to add to our “to do” lists, or “don’t do” lists; just pure creative drive arising from our deepest, truest desires?
It’s not such a stretch. It’s more of a choice. Each moment we are awake and alert, we have the power to harness our will to choose where to place our attention. The discovery of the essential self, or the soul self, is not a simple, easy process in a world gone mad with the superficial, but like my grandmother used to say, “nothing worthwhile is every easy”. But, when we make the choice to tune in our self’s center, be it by practicing mindfulness or meditation, going on a nature walk or journaling, we our opting out of cultural expectations and pressures and opting in to self-discovery and personal/spiritual growth.
It is not a one and done choice. It is an ongoing series of choices, a practice, a lifestyle, a developed pattern of behavior that returns to us the gift of life, meaning and purpose. When we do not make this choice voluntarily, chances are the culture will make the choice for us, by drawing our unfocused attention again and again to its message.
© Dorothy Sander 2013