There can be no personal growth work without social consciousness.
Lately, I’ve been seeing some online posts that say things like you should accept the present moment as if you chose it, and you should welcome and embrace your situation and just be present with it, etc.
I understand and support the notion of embracing fate but only in the context of being a free individual.
Beyond this you enter into the realm of things like abuse, rape, torture, slavery, genocide, etc.
Should victims of these horrors tell themselves to just be present and accept the situation as if they chose it?
I’m sure the folks saying these things mean no harm and are simply unaware of the implications of their statements but it’s appalling to hear such things.
Where does this lack of social awareness in the personal growth movement come from?
First, many of the ideas and methods for self improvement are derived from ancient practices that don’t have a history of social consciousness or charity work; they focus exclusively on the individual. But since the individual can’t be separated from the social, these practices have limitations.
Second, personal growth work, especially in the West, is purely a product of privilege—social, political, economic, and psychological.
If you live in an oppressive / abusive situation, personal growth work takes a back seat to survival.
I sincerely hope that people who teach self-help methods begin to include social processes, power, rank, resources, etc. in the equation!
Feel lost, lonely, and disconnected? The solution lies within.
Visualize someone else who’s lonely, for example, an abandoned child sitting on the street corner.
Talk to him / her and listen to the responses.
Ask what he / she needs.
Then identify how you need to give this to yourself in some way.
For example, if the child is hungry, or needs a hug, or wants to play, or wants to create something, or needs love, meditate on how YOU need this.
What are you hungry for that you’re ignoring?
How do you need to nurture yourself?
How do you need to have more fun?
How do you need to be creative?
How do you need to give yourself love?
It might be none of these things; only the inner figure can direct you to what you need.
Loneliness happens when you abandon yourself in some way.
You focus and behave in a way that ignores your deeper, true feelings.
The work is to identify your real needs and act on them.
Don’t get locked into a bad state of mind by convincing yourself you can’t get out of it.
Self talk is the most powerful form of hypnosis, and you have the power to either tighten your mood’s grip on you, or loosen and change it.
If you feel down, anxious, afraid, stressed, etc., the most self-defeating, depressing thing you can do is think of it as something you’re stuck with because it’s just how you are, or it’s a “chemical imbalance,” or you haven’t been able to get out of it in the past, or uncle John has the same problem, or it’s your fault and you deserve it, or God’s mad at you, etc.
This is the #1 way to feed your bad state. It’s like saying, “I accept being your victim, do whatever you want to me, I embrace you, and I suppoprt you to hurt me.”
When you’re in a bad frame of mind there’s a good frame of mind right there at the fringes of your awareness; you just need to tap into it. But if you convince yourself you can’t, then you can’t!
So, how can you change your state of mind?
Here’s one of many ways:
1. Acknowledge and name it. “I’m in a depressed, anxious, fearful, stressed mood.”
2. Close your eyes, breath slowly and deeply, and focus on your breaths for a minute.
3. Now remember a time when you were in an incredibly high, awesome state of mind. Alternately, think of what state of mind you’d be in if you felt great right now.
4. Focus on this uplifting state: See it, feel it, be it, get totally into what it feels like, and amplify it. Spend time with it.
5. Open your eyes and walk around in this new state of mind. Get it into your body.
6. When your bad state tries to return and overpower your good state, or when your inner critic says, “This is just fantasy, it’s a waste of time,” keep saying No. Insist on the good state. You’ll develop inner strength this way, and set yourself up to process the deeper issues behind your troubles.
There is no one way or path to healing and growth.
True change isn’t a matter of telling yourself how to be, for example, calm, relaxed, centered, strong, happy, loving, peaceful, forgiving, understanding, compassionate, non-attached, free of your ego, accepting, independent, or revved up and determined, tough, persistent, relentless, etc.
It’s a matter of connecting with who you really are in a given moment.
You have to process what you actually feel, not try to feel something different.
What you feel right now is the seed for discovering the real direction you should be moving in.
Just trying to emulate images of success, health, enlightenment, higher consciousness, etc, is like attempting to change your life by changing your wardrobe; putting a new image on yourself might help a bit, but it misses the mark.
Your goal should be to discover and develop your authentic self, not to become an image of how someone else says you should be.
Your authentic self IS this healthy, enlightened, successful person.
Your healing and growth will look totally different from everyone else’s.
Believe in your own way.