My last two blogs addressed the two states of living/being I refer to as “above or below” the line. There are only two states we humans can live within: either we are fully aware and awake in this present moment, or we are not. In essence it is like flipping a light switch on or off. We live either in the light, or in the dark, and actually it takes an inordinate amount of focus, attention and skill to live in the light. The ‘line’ in this case is the demarcation zone between being in the light or not.
When looking at what these two actually mean, think of it this way. When we are present, aware and awake to what is currently going on within our mind, body and spirit, the part of us that observes, that is aware and knows it’s aware and is experiencing what is going on right now, is active. That observer becomes aware of the thinking and feeling that is going on right here, right now. The thinking and feeling states of one who is conscious in any given moment center around the root states of love, joy, peace, freedom, caring, connection and power. When you can assess and then know you are sensing any of these, you are conscious.
Another way to be conscious is if you are in a negative state, such as fear, shame, sadness, loneliness and such, and as you pause to self-assess: you can sense that right now, in this moment, you are feeling one of these, and you choose to stay fully awake and aware while in that state and allow it to be fully experienced and then pass, you are conscious.
In other words, being conscious can just happen, and you are conscious that you are conscious in that moment or stream of moments, and just be with it, or you can choose to be conscious, no matter what is going on within and outside of you. When you recognize that you are conscious or choose to be conscious – the light is on. All other times the light is off.
What happens when the light is off? We automatically revert back to what I call our ‘default conditioned self.’ This is the you that since birth has developed primarily from what outside sources have instilled within your psyche. Our parents, family, teachers, friends, society, culture, and institutions all try to help guide and form our lives, and they do so by telling us what we should do and not do, think and not think, and be or not be. We become a conglomerate of beliefs from a bunch of other people, who, by the way, were all raised the same way we were. We also are a product of earlier childhood experiences and interpretations that may not be serving us best in our current state of adulthood. The person we are now operates so much without active conscious thinking. Our behaviors and results are driven by subconscious habits and beliefs. This type of consciousness happens ‘in the dark’ and is our default auto-pilot way of getting along in daily living.
It’s impossible to be fully conscious when we are living with mindsets and emotional states such as fear, reaction, judgement, drama, stories, blame, shame, trying to look good, covering up, and putting up walls and blocks to protect ourselves from others. Most people are so conditioned from their past that they think they are conscious, in fact will boast about it, yet they just keep getting pulled into the same patterns of thoughts, feeling and actions. Conscious people self-assess and make corrections when behaviors go dark – unconscious people just keep going along their past patterns, often making lots of noise and with plenty of drama, but they are still stuck.
If you want to live and lead consciously, here are a few ways those who are more conscious live by:
– Find a way to self-reflect, and often. Start reading books, attending programs where you expand your mind to new areas of thought, and you do the thinking, rather than get hijacked by the thinking of your belief system. Really be open to others perspectives and experiences, and then be open to the intuition within you to assess and make changes to your own ways of thinking and being.
– Have a process to assess your belief system, see which ones truly serve you now, and which prevent you from living more freely, lovingly or healthily. Be able to let go of the beliefs that need to go.
– Find ways to give yourself quiet time to just sit and be with you, your thoughts and feelings. Meditation, mindfulness and contemplative practices are very helpful and powerful to give one a deeper sense of self beyond the superficial.
– Find tools to help you ‘remember-to-remember’ if you are conscious or not. Some type of visual cue (a bracelet, desktop figure, reminder on a mirror, etc.) or calendar things that help you become aware of where you are, where your thoughts and emotions are, in any given moment.
– Look deeply at who you really are now – what are your current values, what are you most passionate about, what are your highest and most valued skills, what vision and dream do you have for you now, and see if there is a sense of bigger, deeper purpose to your life. Discovering who you are now allows you to move past who you have been.
Leaders who live above the line also have other capacities that allow them to connect with people at a deeper level. The good news is that these can be developed and expanded within each of us, and they are:
– More emotional intelligence.
– Higher self-assessment and self-regulation skills.
– More awareness of the sensations and energetics of their bodies.
– Higher degrees of compassion and empathy for others.
– Greater communication, conflict-resolution and problem-solving skills.
– Think from a broader scope and are skilled at integrating various constituencies.
– Higher levels of integrity, where they keep their word and take responsibility when they break it.
If we continue to live and work primarily ‘below the line’ we will continue to do and create what we are currently experiencing. We will not solve any of the big problems we are facing, nor will we really invent any new ways to live better. What we see now is what we will continue to get, yet with more people on the planet each day the current status quo can only lead to more stagnation, gridlock, disconnection and disenfranchisement.
If we can learn to live more consciously we can create new outcomes. We can resolve past issues and co-create new possibilities. We can work together in harmony and relieve ourselves of suffering, hardship and separation. We will also get far less negatively triggered, and when we do we can positively recover quicker and clean up any relationship messes we made. We can consciously evolve ourselves, our relationships, our organizations and our cultures.
Consciousness is a choice. One set of choices results in doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results (the old definition of insanity), and staying stuck. The other choice is to wake up, get real, see what’s true, and choose anew.
Being conscious is most needed now, yet it’s the most difficult thing to do. Are you ready and willing to play a bigger game, the most important game – or will you pull back, play small, hide, or blame others for your plight? It’s your choice – choose wisely!