One of the aspects of having a balanced mindset is that you are no longer prone towards extremist view-points, you don’t see things in a “black and white” manner, rather you start perceiving the “grey areas”, which is what allows you to be free of delusional thinking. For example, the adage of “you can do anything you set your mind to”, or “impossible is nothing”, can feel very emotionally motivating, and it can create a spur of adrenaline, and it makes for a great pep talk, but it’s also a very “black and white” statement, which is delusional at best – it’s just a fact that there are many things that you just can’t do, no matter how hard you try, simply because your body is not made for it.
A cow can’t run as fast as a leopard no matter how hard you train it, the cow is meant for a certain expression and the leopard is meant for a certain expression, it’s just evident that the cow can never match a leopard’s speed no matter hard it trains (or how long it trains), it’s just physically impossible. No-one is limitless, we all have limitations, and the limitations are not a “negative”, they just provide a direction for our expression in life. It’s not about making all your weaknesses into your strength, some weaknesses can be worked at towards some level of efficiency, whereas some weaknesses/limitations just have to be accepted. Your limitations can act as the guide-post that allow you to take decisions on the direction you need to pursue in life, also the “experience” of limitation is valuable towards growth and balance as a soul. Understanding your limitations, and working with them, is a part of understanding your individuality.
Another aspect of understanding your individuality is to see through your “past”, see through your old self, your past conditioning, that no longer resonates with you currently. If you are not aligned with your current awareness there is bound to be an inner conflict between the “past-you” and the “present-you”. This post addresses these two dynamics of understanding and aligning with your individuality.
Being aware of your current individuality
“Individuality” has its value because it’s individuality that allows life to have a diversity of experience and also allows for co-operative balance – if we were all born to be singers, there would be no-one to record our singing. Understanding your individuality may be one of the biggest challenges for you if you’ve been living a life based on trying to meet the outside expectations/standards or if you are holding on to some delusional thinking where you don’t see your limitations in the light of reality. How aligned you are with your individuality has everything to do with how compatible your life feels to you in areas of relationship, finances, health and lifestyle – the key-phrase here is “how compatible it feels to you”, because it’s possible that your current life-situation is quite compatible with you but it’s just that you are not able to see it and hence you are constantly complaining and having a miserable experience. For example, you could be in a compatible relationship but because you are not really aligned with yourself you are not able to see/sense the compatibility, and you keep vying for some dreamy idea of a partner based on some delusional thinking on your part. Vice versa is also true, where you might be in an incompatible relationship but you keep trying to make it work because you are not really aligned with yourself, and so you are not able to see the incompatibility for what it is.
One of the aspects of understanding your individuality (which includes understanding your personality) is to see yourself in the “present” light rather than constantly perceiving yourself from some past image, or past conditioning. It’s very possible that certain aspects of your individuality can change over a period of a few months (or sometimes even a day) depending on a certain growth experience that you go through, or a certain shift in awareness. Life is very dynamic, and it’s important to keep in touch with your “present” state rather than color your perception through some past idea you have of yourself. For example, it’s possible that the job that you are doing might have been compatible with you in the past (may be for the past 5 years) but is no longer compatible with you now, but you might be doing it purely as a “habit” of the past, and suppressing your current preference, possibly out of the fear of change. In this sense, understanding your individuality is not some static process that you do once a year, rather it’s a very dynamic deal of being aware of what’s going on within you on a regular basis. Sometimes, especially when you are living in denial, certain events may happen in your life purely to act as a mirror to show you that you’ve changed, so that you can no longer deny the change in your individuality.
Letting go of your old self
Usually, what happens is that there might be a shift in your maturity, or perception, based on a certain growth experience, after which certain aspects of your individuality no longer resonate with you, however, these old aspects still have a past-momentum and so they continue to come up in your mind/emotional-space – this is when you may feel like there is a “dual personality” inside you, the old personality and the new personality co-existing within you. Though the old personality no longer resonates with you it can take over now and then until its momentum ebbs away fully. If you’ve been going through a certain journey of a growth in awareness, it’s very likely that you feel a sense of conflict within you where parts of your “old awareness” are in battle with the parts of your “current awareness”, which can feel like the battle of two personalities/individuals within you. This conflict can be very exhausting to say the least, and it creates a sense of disorientation, uncertainty, lack of clarity, indecision and a certain “stuckness” where you want to make a move but you are not able to find the energy to do so – the reason for this conflicted state of being is quite simply because of the battle between the past-you and the present-you. Eventually, the present-you wins out, but how long it takes can depend upon whether you keep trying to hold on to the past-you from a place of fear, delusion, unconsciousness or just confusion.
It can be a much smoother transition if you allow yourself to go through this feeling of “disorientation”, that you sense within you, without trying to cling to the past-conditioning, or the past-you, out of the fear of unknown. Every transition has to go through a period of “chaos”, or disorientation, it’s just unavoidable, however, the intensity/degree of the chaos can be low if you are open to experiencing the phase of uncertainty without trying to cling to something (especially the past elements) from a place of fear. History is a proof of how a new era of relative betterment is always created based on the dissolution of an old era, however, during the transition between the old and the new there is a period of confusion, disorientation and uncertainty. It’s just a nature of life that you can’t avoid growth, you can’t avoid change, and now it’s the question of whether you go smoothly or you get dragged while you go through unnecessary psychological suffering. The more aligned you are with your current individuality the easier it is for you to integrate the required changes in your life. Of course, certain changes may not feel very convenient, they just feel inevitable and required from a place of wisdom.
Spending time connecting with your inner space is what it takes get a sense of your current individuality, and to get a sense of any past momentum of, aspects of, individuality that you might be hanging onto, that no longer resonate with you. Connecting with your inner space is just about “observing”, or being aware, of what’s happening within you – you can do it as a practice of just sitting with yourself for 30 minutes each day, or just being aware of yourself whenever you have the free time to do so. I talk about “the practice of relaxed awareness”, in several posts, which is just a pointer towards observing your inner space. If I have to summarize relaxed awareness, as a practice, this is how it goes
- Find some place where it is relatively silent, where you can be on your own without being disturbed
- Sit in a comfortable position, possibly on a chair/couch (Avoid lying down because the act of lying down can signal your brain to start shutting down towards sleep)
- Don’t try to relax, don’t try to meditate, don’t try to focus on anything, don’t try to “do” anything; the fact that you are alone with yourself, without any distraction, is all that’s needed
- Close your eyes and just be with yourself, let the mind activity happen, let the emotional activity happen, let the body do whatever it’s doing
- If you feel restless, just allow the restlessness. If a voice comes up and says “am I doing this right”, just allow that voice without trying to look for an answer. Remember that this is not some “relaxation exercise”, it’s just a way to be with yourself
If you can just be with yourself, without distraction, you are bound to get a deeper and deeper sense of what’s happening within you. Of course, like everything, it does take time for your awareness/observation to become deeper – if you are just starting out towards this practice of relaxed awareness just work with letting go of the sense of restlessness, or the sense of “what’s the point of this”, for a while, understanding that it will take time for your awareness to get used to your inner space, it’s like how it takes time for your eyes to adjust to the dark once the lights are switch off.
This “awareness” of your inner space is required to ensure that you are able to sense the current aspects of your individuality, and so that you can see through the past-momentum that may be dominating your mind. As you become aware of this past-momentum, you just need to enter into a state of allowing (where you don’t try to fight/suppress this momentum, but also no longer “identify” with it, and just stay in an openness towards letting this momentum play out inside you for a while until it dissolves in energy/intensity). The past-momentum can include past aspects of self-image, past conditioning, past accumulation of emotions, past memories, past personality patterns, child-identity (identification with your childhood patterns which are no longer relevant to your current adulthood).
In order for your current individuality to shine through fully, it’s important for the past-momentum to ebb away in force. If you feel that your past-momentum keeps “grabbing” you, and causes you to act in a manner that no longer resonates with your current awareness/individuality, it’s just an indication that you need to work on a deeper release of this momentum by entering into a state of conscious allowing (when I use the term “the state of allowing”, the “allowing” does not imply that you allow yourself to get identified with the past-momentum, it implies that you dis-identify consciously without trying to suppress the momentum that comes up, so that the momentum can release).
Implications of living your current individuality
It’s important to understand that living your individuality is not about being a struggle-based rebel. You might need to rebel against certain outside influences, of the past, and might have to take a stand against being treated the way you were treated in the past, but you don’t have to do it in from a place of being the “wronged victim” or the “righteous protagonist” with an energy of chronic blame/resentment towards the outside – rather you need to realize that the outside treated you the way it did because of the way you were, or because of your past maturity (or lack of it), and in that sense it’s no-one’s fault per se, it was just situational. Also, some elements in your external reality (including your friends and family) may not really be comfortable with your current individuality, and may even try to get you back to your past-self, possibly by saying something like “you’ve changed, I liked you better before”, in which case you would just have to shrug your shoulders and stay true to your individuality without getting defensive, without rendering futile justifications, and without connecting with mis-placed guilt, knowing that you are simply doing the right thing for yourself. You don’t have to accommodate people who are not willing to accept you in your current individuality, even if it means that you let go, or reduce, your acquaintanceship with them – the elements that are not aligned with your current individuality are bound to start dropping away.
Living your current individuality may not always be “pleasant” in terms of experience, because there may be times when you have to deal with the sadness of loss (of elements that no longer connect with your present individuality), with uncertainty of the new reality you may be entering into, with an inner aloneness (which can come as a part of standing on your own individuality), with the external opposition and the fear of unknown. Eventually, it’s far more pleasant to stay true to your current individuality than to hang on to your old-self, that no longer resonates with you, it’s just that it’s not “always” pleasant – like everything in life, staying true to your individuality comes with its own flavor of light and dark, however, this attitude is most aligned with the reality of the dynamism of life and hence lends itself to least amount of psychological suffering. Holding on to the old-self can give you a sense of pseudo-security based on “familiarity” (clinging to the known), but it also leads to a lot of psychological suffering inherent to being disconnected with your required growth.
An example of aligning with your current individuality may be in the realm of social interaction, where you may sense a desire to be more extroverted in your approach and the aspects of introversion no longer resonate with you. Or, it could be vice-versa, where you sense that you desire more space for yourself, where you desire some isolation, and no longer feel as motivated towards your extroverted pursuits. Another example may be a change in your preferences with respect to what you look for in a relationship, emotionally, mentally or sexually. You can imagine the sense of disorientation one can feel while making such a shift – it’s like entering into some unfamiliar domain. Fear is the most prominent emotion that comes up during such shifts, and lower the momentum of fear the easier it is to stay true to the shift without vacillating in instability. The way to release the momentum of fear-energy is to work towards the “release” of the past-accumulation (after all, it’s the past accumulation that lends towards the intensity/momentum of an emotion) through the state of allowing.
limitation is inherent to life
Growth and limitations go hand in hand, since growth is eternal, in life, limitation is also an eternal experience. You are bound to have some experience of limitation in your life at all points, there is never going to be any sense of “permanent fulfillment” or perfection. As a soul, you are limited by your level of awareness, which is dependent on your evolution/maturity, and there is no end to this journey of evolution – even the highest source is evolving in its own way. So, even if you do get to a higher evolution you will still have something more to evolve towards, and hence you will feel some limitation at any point. It’s similar to the pac-man game analogy that I gave in this post – a false sense of extra-ordinariness – no matter which level you are at, you have to deal with the challenges of that level, so in that sense, from an absolute perspective, there is no real difference between someone at a low level of evolution and someone at a higher level of evolution, however, from a relative perspective one can compare the levels and see the relative betterment. The fact that there is never a possibility of “permanent fulfillment” can also be seen as a limitation of life, but in truth it’s just the nature of life, in that the desire for growth in inherent to the nature of life.
Since there is no such thing called “perfection” in life, you will see that every physical manifestation (be it humans, animals, birds, insects, or one-celled amoeba) has its own set of imperfections/limitations to deal with. Your unique human body has its own unique set of limitations that it’s born with, and these limitations become apparent through comparison – the experience of limitation may be relative, created through comparison, but it’s a part of reality, and it’s not just a delusion. The “feeling” of limitation is inherent to life, and it’s not an imaginary feeling which can be removed through some “positive affirmations”, it’s a very real feeling that you are bound to feel as a living being, at all points in your life. To accept the feeling of limitation is more aligned with life rather than trying to delude yourself through some positive affirmation of “I am the best”. Confidence built on “delusion” is always on shaky grounds, and it needs to be constantly “repaired”, whereas a sense of confidence built on reality (of accepting your limitations) is on a stable foundation.
The experience of limitation shapes your individuality
Your human body comes with its physical limitations which include limitations of your brain. Different brains have different capacities, and though a brain’s capacity can be improved to a good degree, through some training/brain-exercise and practice, the bottom-line is that you can only work within the limitations of your particular brain – it’s similar to body-building, you can work on some efficient exercise routines (like lifting weights) to create a better-muscled version of your body, but your muscle-creation is limited to your specific body’s form/make-up (like your bone-structure which cannot be changed). It’s a well-known fact in the body-building community that guys who win the big titles always have some genetic advantage compared to the runner-up, and it’s not just about the amount of work that was put in the gym. The fact is that in order to have the experience of winning someone has to have the experience of losing, since all experiences are relative, and so, in that sense, losing is not a “negative” it’s just one flavor of experience of living/life – it’s possible that in this particular lifetime you choose to have the experience of losing in many ways, and possibly in your previous lifetime you majorly had the experience of winning (this is just a very simplistic statement, it’s never so “black and white”, usually a lifetime has a wide range of experiences with some primary experiences).
It’s possible that in this lifetime you are experiencing (or you choose to experience) a primary experience of “limitation”, where you feel a sense of being inferior, or being lesser, through comparison. It’s possible that certain aspects of your individuality, in this physical body, have some major limitations in comparison to the average population, and this causes you to have a strong experience of inferiority or helplessness, which can result in self-hatred and depression. You may have tried some form of “positive affirmation”, or positive thinking, without much use, because it’s not really possible to bluff yourself when your reality screams in your face. The fact is that the way you choose to experience your limitation makes a difference between whether it becomes a growth-factor (for your soul) or it becomes a factor of suffering.
The problem with the whole teaching of “positive thinking/affirmations” is that they discount the value of the experience of limitation for the evolution of a soul’s maturity – for example, lets say that you were a soul who was imbalanced in arrogance, you were drunk in a sense of superiority, and in order to evolve in maturity you attracted an experience of being born in a body/environment where you have an acute sense of limitation. (Remember that these examples are mostly simplistic just for the sake of explanation, to give you some idea of how a certain experience that may look negative may have a value from a non-physical perspective; I don’t contend to know with certainty on how a soul-journey operates). The bottom-line is that instead of labeling an experience of limitation as “negative”, allow yourself to be open to living that experience fully in yourself; if you feel inferior allow the feeling of inferiority fully instead of trying to suppress that sense – something in you will balance out, and evolve, in this state of openness.
Your current lifetime, your current body, and individuality that you experience through it, enables certain primary experiences – these experiences could be light-natured or dark-natured, from a relative stand-point, but they have their own value from the perspective of your individual soul-growth as well as from a collective perspective. For example, let’s say that the primary experience that you had through a good part of your life was one of inferiority, loss or failure, these experience have a value towards shaping your maturity, thus shaping your individuality as a soul – instead of looking at it as a “negative experience” just see it as a required experience; it’s not a way to put of a “positive twist” on things, but it’s just a more reality-based perspective. You can work with your strengths, you can also work on some limitations (to make the best of it), but you would also have to accept some limitations for what they are, and allow the “experience” of this sense of limitation – some limitations are just meant to be limitations that can’t be worked on, for a reason, and it’s part of your current individuality in this human form.