Many religions preach various forms of enlightenment, attained from good works and deeds and living by well-intentioned standards, morals, and disciplines.
Our television commercials want us to believe that buying a product will magically transform sectors of our lives.
It is drummed into us from an early age that if we acquire certain educational qualifications we will attain the comfortable lifestyle that money can buy,
We are groomed to believe that when we cross thresholds our lives will either be instantly changed or in some way turned around.
So many times in my world travels to so-called third world countries I met a villager from Colombia, Morocco, Senegal, or Honduras, who having been exposed to North American or European television declares to me his intentions to move lock, stock, and barrel to the “New World.”
These ambitious young men, armed with a televised vision of life in North America or Europe, believed that if they made it across the border into one of these privileged nations the hardships of their lives would be solved.
They conveniently ignored me when I told them that rents and the cost of living generally were high to the point of being prohibitive for some. They turned a deaf ear when I told them that most jobs they would “qualify” for were the ones the inhabitants of those nations would not want to do, that they may be barely making ends meet, maybe for many years to come.
My intention was not to dissuade them. Living in the “New World,” despite the adversities, may well have improved their lifestyle tenfold above the conditions of poverty they dwelled in. My hope in presenting the reality of this “New World” was to somehow address the rift between their expectations and the reality they would find upon crossing that border.
As a professional musician in my teenage years and early twenties I encountered, both the same hopes and ambitions.
I met and played with many a musician working towards the hope that one day they would become wealthy and famous, allowing them the freedom only money could buy.
Like the villager from Colombia the fixation upon the musicians’ goal was so intense, few considered the question of how they were going to adapt having crossed this threshold.
Having lived a whole life programmed to achieving and attaining a goal, would they be able to adapt to a life without that goal? Would they be bored? How would they cope with a lifestyle beset by predator fans and paparazzi? Would they lose friends? Would it put pressure on the intimate relationships they now had?
I never heard such questions in the music world. Only the expectations of how life will change when the border into success is crossed.
We all succumb to the same dreams, most of which are centred round the salvation and freedom it is believed money can provide.
The working man or woman will claim they are saving up for the freedom that retirement they believe can offer often without considering questions that almost all retirees inevitably encounter, such as, having worked all of their lives so that work has fostered an identity, can they cope with the change of identity that retirement brings? How would they attend to the depression that sometimes results from not feeling useful anymore? Are they able to cope with free time?
The personal growth process is a journey towards living life authentically. The movement into Authenticity is a border crossing. The border is crossed when the ratio of authentic presence and response is greater than our defense reaction.
Defense reactions are those past coping methods we once employed which are now redundant, yet out of habit we still rely and depend upon them. (Read more about defenses).
Authenticity emerges from having the awareness and ability to form inner boundaries: to risk saying ‘No’ to those behaviours or defense reactions which no longer serve us. (Read more about saying no to defenses.)
The movement into Authenticity is not always instantly realized and manifested. Rarely is authenticity an instant hit or a sudden impactful realization that changes you and your life overnight. (Read more on Authenticity.)
Now in our sixteenth year of marriage the relationship between my wife and myself continues to build. We have grappled, and continue to grapple, with our own anxieties born out of disappointments and unrealized expectations from our own past. Our relationship has prospered, and continues to prosper due to our consciousness, our individual self-awareness.
Consciousness allows us the discernment to know better when we are transferring our unrealized needs from our past into the present-time of our relationships. It is an on-going, working process.
Our inner relationships are no different.
We will encounter those times when our past anxieties will be up for us and once again we will find ourselves navigating troubled waters.
The greatest benefit the personal growth journey provides is the ability to authentically recognize when we are sailing through anxiety’s troubled waters and having the know-how and expertise to actually navigate them.
This is the ability to recognize when we are indulging, or being tempted to indulge, in anxiety-based behaviours, and being equipped to deal with them, so that we can return to the safe domain of Authentic Self.
Many castles and citadels of old were built on top of hills or cliffs, allowing whoever resided in the castles to be able to survey the land over great distances, and to take action well in advance to prevent any attacks on the castle.
The Authentic Self experience is somewhat similar.
It is somewhat like living in such a castle; a vantage point where you are able to survey your emotional landscape.
Whereas the guards at the castle walls will be hyper-alerted to possibility of attack, Authentic Self surveys the land from a foundation of safety. The safety is born from the trust within, from the knowing that if something unexpected were to happen, that if I was ever exposed to stress or a stressful situation, I would know how to get back to the safety of my home.
There is great safety, comfort, and assurance in knowing that when I am sailing through the troubled waters of stress and anxiety, that I can always find my way back home, to my Authentic Self again.
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P.S. My agent is currently submitting my book to top publishers throughout North America. Fingers are crossed – which makes it hard to type sometimes!
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