Self-Awareness 101 Episode 36: Deepening Self Awareness
In this episode Willard discusses what he believes is the natural evolution from personal development to spiritual development through deepening self-awareness.
Today we're going to discuss deepening self awareness.
In the past 7 months we have covered a lot of topics in Self-Awareness 101. We have talked about belief systems; We've talked about active listening skills; We've talked about dealing with external resistance to change, establishing boundaries and many other topics.
Most of the things we've talked about have been based around human behavior and personal development skills and strategies. And some of the feedback that I have gotten has been people asking, "Are you going to get into ideas about deepening self awareness? Understanding the deeper nature of things?" In this series, we will touch on it slightly. On the web site and in other video series we will go deeper. But the reason we call the course Self-Awareness 101, is that this is an introduction for many people and getting into topics of deepening self awareness may be overwhelming. I know when I first started my journey, if people would have given me some of those advanced teachings, I think I would have had a very hard time accepting them. It would have been like giving collegiate level information to a kindergarten level student. But I do believe that if you have been with us this far into the series, even if you're joining us at this point of the journey, I believe that you are here for a reason. And I believe that the reason is that you are on a journey of both personal and spiritual development and it is appropriate to discuss deepening self awareness.
Spirituality is a word that can mean many things to many people. So let me share that the definition I am going to be using for this episode on deepening self awareness is this. Spirituality is your inner connectedness, your relationship with everything. With other people. With the planet. With the universe.
When I was younger spirituality was defined as religion. I was brought up in a very specific religion and was taught very specific rules that I needed to follow or I would be condemned to eternal suffering. For those of you that have been following my journey in the Self-Awareness 101 series, you know that there were experiences that took me very far away from what my religious upbringing. I had actually used the term in a conversation with someone one time that God and I had a hate-hate relationship. Because of all the things that had happened in my life I was sure that God hated me and I was hating God right back.
There came the point in my life where I was trying to get sober and I became involved in a 12 step program to achieve that outcome. I was told that one of the things I needed to do to stay sober was to turn my will and my life over to a power greater than myself. Instantly my definition of "power greater than myself" made me think that I was going to have to go back to my childhood religion. I had done so much at that point that was out of line with my religion that my returning to those beliefs just was not going to happen. I actually told that person, "If that's my only option, I have no hope of staying sober." That is when this man who was also into his own recovery said to me, "Will, you don't have to believe in the God of your youth. Find something that makes sense to you." He then asked me, "Do you at least believe that there's something out there more powerful than you? I mean, you didn't create the Universe and all these other things." And I had to say that I was smart enough to realize that I did not form the earth, the stars, the plants, animals and all these other things.
Then he said to me, "Is there anything in your religion that did make sense to you?" And if I was going to answer him honestly I had to say that there were bits and pieces that did. Then he said to me, "Take a look at what makes sense to you and what doesn't. And the things that don't make sense to you, question them. Look at other possibilities." This was the beginning of deepening self awareness for me because when he suggested that I look at other possibilities I was drawn to look at a part of my heritage that I was always very proud of. I have a very mixed bloodline, but there is Native American blood in my heritage.
I was always fascinated by the way Native American Indians understood the circle of life. They had a reverence for everything in their environment. They would not take life, whether it was an animal, a tree or a plant without making it a sacred and blessed experience. They would literally pray to their Gods to bless that animal, or that tree or plant before they took it from its environment Then they would make sure to use every part of it. In doing this, they honored the fact that this life force, and we need to remember that plants have life force just like animals do, and the Native Americans respected that this other source of energy was contributing to their well-being and they would honor that experience. I always was fascinated by the peace and balance that came from respecting your environment that way.
So when Bill suggested that I start looking at what resonated with me, I began by looking at Native American approaches to life, and then because I rely a lot on logic, I looked at science. As I looked at them both, I recognized an alignment between the Native American belief that everything was connected and to science telling me that if you break everything down to its simplest form, it is simply energy. These two very different approaches to living were telling me the same thing; everything is connected. Then I started looking in the religion I grew up in and there was also an alignment in the belief about the origin of life in its teachings. It was also saying that everything in the Universe came from one source. Everything was connected; Native American beliefs, science talking about energy, my religion telling me that everything came from this infinite source. So as a part of this desire for deepening self awareness I decided that I would start looking at different approaches and belief systems about who we are and what connects us. I would look at scientific approaches, whether it was Newtonian physics, Quantum physics, metaphysics; I would look at Native Americanism and different religions and I started looking for the common threads.
Through that experience, I was able to develop a definition of spirituality that served me, a definition that I could resonate with and that was integral in helping me to become who I am today. Now I also want to say that questioning these things can be a very scary process. One of the reasons it was scary for me was that when I was young, I was told that if you ever questioned God, you ran the risk of making God very angry. And making God angry was a very bad thing. An angry God meant an eternity of suffering, and you could make God that angry just for asking questions. So I understand that for some of you, even exploring other possibilities than the belief system you grew up with, may be a very scary thing and you may not be willing to do it. And that is okay. That's your choice.
I know that for me, I needed to find answers that I could have certainty in rather than just believing in something because someone told me I had to. So, what I want to offer to you is an option. If you are on this journey of deepening self awareness through personal and spiritual development, and my belief is that they are interconnected, meaning that you are not going to separate them, you may try, but in time you'll find that they are connected; There will come a point where you are going to have to question some of those things that just don't make sense to you that you have believed for a very long time. And it is natural to do that. I don't know if my telling you that makes a difference, but I know that someone had to tell me that it is truly okay to question those things.
I know that through doing all the exploration that I've done over the last 20 years, there are things within the religion I grew up in, that because I did look at other possibilities, make sense to me now that never did before.
So, what I invite you to do this week is to take some quiet time, really think about this, and ask yourself, “What are some of the core beliefs that I have, that were given by other people, that I hold onto but they don't make sense to me and they don't serve me?” Then ask yourself, are you willing to start exploring these belief systems and looking for other possibilities. It's a very freeing experience. It may give you more certainty in that belief. Or it may have you begin to look at alternatives.
Again, we can't get into the depth that I would like to go in this series, this is 101, but we will be addressing more things like this on the website.
I thank you for your interest in deepening self awareness. I thank you for the questions. I look forward to your feedback. I look forward to connecting soon.
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Self-Awareness 101 Series with Transcription Plus
Introduction To Self-Awareness 101: To Inspire, Educate and Empower
SA 101 Episode 1: The Importance of Developing Self-Awareness
SA 101 Episode 2: How to Truly Learn from Mistakes
SA 101 Episode 3: To Soar, I Needed To Let Go Of The Past
SA 101 Episode 4: The Meaning That We Give Things
SA 101 Episode 5: Kind Words And Good Deeds Are Eternal
SA 101 Episode 6: Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone
SA 101 Episode 7: Two Most Powerful Words You'll Ever Say
SA 101 Episode 8: Making Time For What's Truly Important
SA 101 Episode 9: Expectations and Desires About How It Ought To Be
SA 101 Episode 10: Tap Into The Sources Of The Universe
SA 101 Episode 11: The Four Agreements
SA 101 Episode 12: Courage-Being Scared But Saddling Up Anyways
SA 101 Episode 13: The Power Of Belief Systems
SA 101 Episode 14: Change Is Inevitable, Growth Is Optional
SA 101 Episode 15: You Always Have Choices, It's OK To Say No
SA 101 Episode 16: Encountering External Resistance To Change
SA 101 Episode 17: Creating A Supportive Environment
SA 101 Episode 18: Our Decisions Determine Who We Become
SA 101 Episode 19: Questions To Ask When You Overcome An Obstacle
SA 101 Episode 20: A List Of Excuses Vs. Results
SA 101 Episode 21: The Meaning Of Honesty
SA 101 Episode 22: Living In Gratitude
SA 101 Episode 23: Repetitive Patterns
SA 101 Episode 24: Non-Verbal Cues
SA 101 Episode 25: Be Brave Enough To Accept The Help Of Others
SA 101 Episode 26: Positive Thoughts And Positive Intentions
SA 101 Episode 27: Active Listening Skills
SA 101 Episode 28: How Self-Awareness Relates To Spirituality
SA 101 Episode 29: Positive Affirmations
SA 101 Episode 30: Basic Meditation Exercises
SA 101 Episode 31: Personal Development At Work
SA 101 Episode 32: Toxic Shame
SA 101 Episode 33: Eliminating Clutter
SA 101 Episode 34: How To Forgive Others
SA 101 Episode 35: Self-Forgiveness
SA 101 Episode 36: Deepening Self Awareness
SA 101 Episode 37: What Is Fear?
SA 101 Episode 38: How To Overcome Fear
SA 101 Episode 39: Dealing With Your Anger
SA 101 Episode 40: How To Find Your Passion
SA 101 Episode 41: Increasing Your Self-Awareness
SA 101 Episode 42: How To Feel Deserving
SA 101 Episode 43: How To Be A Humble Observer
SA 101 Episode 44: Progress Not Perfection
SA 101 Episode 45: Expectations And Perfectionism
SA 101 Episode 46: Dealing With Anger
SA 101 Episode 47: Taking Responsibility For Yourself
SA 101 Episode 48: Achieving Higher Consciousness
SA 101 Episode 49: Trust Life
SA 101 Episode 50: Being Skeptical
SA 101 Episode 51: Benefits Of Closure
SA 101 Episode 52: The Final Episode