Avoiding the Dangers of Self-Improvement, Motivation and Empowerment
Go to a self-improvement seminar, feel good. Read a book, get motivated. Get an attitude adjustment and start winning big in life. You know you can do it. You just need to get motivated and get into action. The only thing stopping you is yourself.
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Yes, yes, yes. All very true and definitely temporarily inspiring. And you've heard it all before.
But unfortunately, that's not all there is to it.
Even here in the reasonably uncharted waters of personal evolution and empowerment, there are monsters that lurk in the deep. These monsters are seldom recognised and seldom assigned their fair portion of blame when the house of cards that today's motivation and inspiration are built on comes crashing down on the baffled head of the erstwhile self growther. Yes, even here amongst the glittering promises of a new life, success beyond belief and an end to all personal suffering through the latest and greatest scientifically developed, laboratory tested, can't fail success system, the immutable laws of physics still hold sway. " For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction" is as true for self-improvement as it is for objects in motion in the laboratory.
What does this mean in your path towards self-realization and growth?
It means that when you have a breakthrough and move to a higher level of self-awareness, ability or action, you are likely to suffer a backlash of some kind. Clear examples of this phenomena include Elvis Presley'signominiousdecent and eventual death, president Clinton's and Rev. Jimmy Baker's sex scandal, even self-improvement guru Tony Robbins' bout with betrayal and bankruptcy. All these events happened after a rise to power by the person concerned. Most of these backlashes took a relatively long time due to the size of the growth spurt. For more sudden backlashes, you only have to speak to a cross section of people who recently attended a motivational seminar. They will tell you how they left the seminar fired up, ready to change their lives for the better but that days, maybe weeks later, they were less motivated than they we're before attending the seminar. Sound familiar? It may have even happened to you!
How to Avoid the Backlash
Why does the backlash happen and what can you do to gain the growth and avoid the backlash as much as possible?
Good questions.First of all, know this. You can't positive think, or inspire or motivate yourself out of the backlash. There is no way to completely avoid the backlash. If you hold it off with positive thinking, motivation or other suppressive techniques, you are only postponing it. When it finally catches up with you, and believe me it will, it will hit you harder than ever.
But enough of that negative stuff, let's look at what happens when you grow, so that you will understand why the backlash must happen and how you can actually benefit from it.
The circle below represents your current consciousness. It is what you are conscious of right now the words you are reading, the thoughts you are conscious of thinking, the emotions you are consciously feeling, the attitudes you are aware of, the chair you're sitting in, the sounds you are hearing, what you are feeling through your body, etc. These contents of consciousness are perceived by what is called the "I". The "I" is what experiences the contents of consciousness, it is not the contents of consciousness. The "I" is the thinker, not the thought. The "I" is what experiences the emotions. It is what remains if we take away all the thoughts, all the feelings, all the bodily sensations; in other words, "I" is what is left when we remove all the contents of consciousness. "I" is what experiences the contents of consciousness.
It is exceedingly common for the "I" to forget it is consciousness and come to believe it is the contents of consciousness. This is called "identification" and is the major obstactle to enlightenment. Ever had a moment of clarity, an insight, ephiphany, a peak experience,a breakthrough? What probably created that experience was separating the "I" from a particularly engrained piece of consciousness that "I" had become identified with. In other words, the "I" or You, believed it was the contents of consciousness and so lost it's experience of self. A si example of this is espoused by an expression such as "I am sad". In saying this the "I" indicates that it has identified with the sadness. "I" now believes it is the sadness. Of course this is not only not true, it is also impossible if all the "I" was, was sad it couldn't know it was sad since it would have nothing to compare it to. A more accurate expression would be "I am experiencing sadness" or "I have a feeling of sadness". But I digress. The point here is that the "I" is the real you that experiences the changing contents of consciousness, and that this "I" often becomes misidentified with what it is experiencing - it forgets it is the experiencer not the experience. "I" is represented below by the circle.
The Conscious Self or "I"
Obviously this consciousness is not all there is. After all, aren't there some things you aren't consciously aware of? For example, your left pinky toe. Until I mentioned it, we're you aware of the sensory information your pinky toe was sending to your brain? How about your left ear? You weren't paying it much attention until I mentioned it we're you? What about the sounds around you the birds cheeping, the airconditioner humming, the people talking - you weren't consciously aware of them until the "I" moved to include them in it's current experience of reality. But all these possible contents of consciousness are there whether you are paying attention to them or not. They represent the potential "field of consciousness" everything you can easily become aware of. This includes memories and thoughts that are easily accessible. The picture now looks like this.
The Field of Consciousness
Everything you can easily bring to your awareness is contained within your field of consciousness which is depicted by the dotted circle surrounding the "I". If you can remember it, think it, conceive of it or imagine it, easily, right now, then it is within your field of consciousness.
But what about the things take a bit more effort to call to consciousness. Things such as where you went to school when you we're 10 years old, or what color socks you wore on your prom night, or the last time you ate sushi, or your first boyfriend/girlfriend, or your worst date ever, or the best time of your life, or the worst time of your life, or you get the picture. These are all memories you can recall if you put a bit of effort in. You have to move the circle of the "I" around a bit to find those memories. The area which the "I" searches for obtainable information is called the "Middle Unconscious". It is considered unconscious becuase you don't know it is there unless you really focus on it. Conscious means "with knowing", so when you don't know about it, it is unconscious, i.e. not within knowing.
Other examples of middle unconscious contents would be things like your heartbeat - you have to really focus on your heart to know what it is doing under normal circumstances. Middle unconscious also contains your accessible survival patterns, your ingrained but conscious attitudes and beliefs and your conscious self image. It can be depicted like this:
The Middle Unconscious
I suppose you've guessed by now that there is also an area of potential consciousness above and below the middle unconsciousness. These areas are ingeniously named the Higher Unconscious (or Superconscious) and the Lower Unconscious (or Subconscious).
The lower unconscious houses all those demons and skeletons in the closet that we would rather not admit to or go near to. We have so stongly forgotten them, that to us, they don't exist. The types of artifacts you might find while travelling in the lower unconscious are traumatic events, perverse sexual drives, extreme phobias, etc. The catch 22 is that by definition, you can never know what lives in the lower unconscious, becuase as soon as you know it, it is no longer unconscious.
It's not all bad in the lower unconscious though. The lower unconscious also houses the involuntary (read unconscious) body systems such as the hearbeat, breathing, waste control and elimination, digestion, etc. All these systems function independently of the field of consciousness you don't have to be aware of your heart for it to beat. It is amuzing to note that while most people will admit there is a powerful yet unconscious drive keeping their heart beating, they are less likely to accept the idea that their relationships, their self image, their live circumstances, their deeper personality moves to the rhythm of unconscious beat from the lower unconscious.
The higher unconscious contains the higher drives, emotions and tendencies - altruism, heroism, selfless love, expansion, betterment, love for humanity, sacrifice, compassion, understanding, tolerance, etc. It is here that we find the more intrepid explorer's of consciousness, especially those seeking release from the mundane world of survival for the sake of survival.
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