The past few months for me have been kind of testing, because of what I can now identify as a big ass period of realisation. Which is what’s brought me back to the keyboard. It’s all been a time for unlearning, learning and processing, all coming from the catalyst that was myself and my past behaviour/trauma. What’s a better wakeup call than you getting sick of your own shit/old patterns?
Just to clarify, I haven’t partaken in any kind of arson, or general illegal shenanigans. This is all just a product of a rapid period of growing up. And don’t cringe away from the ‘T’ word – trauma. We have all, to some extent, experienced it one way or another, whether as a kid, adolescent or adult; it’s a non-discriminatory spectrum.
Right, enough with the ambiguity and onto the juicy stuff: said ‘Waking Up’.
Call it what you will: ‘Realisation’, ‘Awakening’, ‘Waking up’ or quite simply: the ‘Holy Shit’ moment. Capital H, capital S. It’s all a part of the same thing and in a nutshell, encapsulates the one thing that most of us humans neglect on the daily: consciousness. But the thing is, most of us unconsciously neglect this. Oh, the irony. Can’t deal.
A couple months ago, I stumbled upon Dr. Nicole Le Pera and started looking into her more. She’s a PhD-educated clinical psychologist from Philadelphia, who, by observing traditional methods of psychotherapy decided it did not serve her own desired approach, which was namely a holistic approach.
As well as going by some traditional psychology, she would moreover take into account everything in the body to help heal the mind; starting from gut health, incorporating breathwork (admittedly, I’m yet to be convinced by this) and encouraging mindfulness as the main triangulation of her practise. Having suffered from chronic anxiety her whole life, she now claims she is mostly anxiety-free and has all of the tools to manage it more effectively because of said holistic approach. May I emphasise here that we are not disregarding psychology as a science completely here, but rather, supplementing the practise with holistic work. Focusing on past behaviour and analysing thought processes is just as important as flexing the human consciousness muscle.
Le Pera breaks down the mammoth concept of the consciousness into bitesize pieces which in turn helps you understand it further. The main gist is that we have two parts to our ‘self’/individuality/character, whatever you want to call it: The Ego and the Authentic Self: Who we think we are (who we’ve been conditioned to be) and who we actually are. If you want to read/learn more about the science (in a way that has not been severely butchered by myself), she explains it so well both on her YouTube and website:
When we separate ourselves like so, we come to realise just how conditioned we have been; sometimes in extreme ways, like being raised in a Satanic cult believing that we are all doomed to perish in a pit of burning flames peppered with the ashes of our enemies* .. and then sometimes in more subtler ways… like being told that crying is bad and we should always hide our feelings.
*Just to be clear, I am not in a Satanic cult; I just have a rather overactive imagination.
As kids, we are such tiny impressionable sponges and we soak up every ounce of what happens to us, which paves the way for our emotional responses, our attachments, our understanding of relationship dynamics and even the understanding of the world around us to this very day. We simply wouldn’t have known any different and some still don’t also, to this very day, in some cases. When we realise this or ‘wake up’ to this fact, we come to understand that we are not our past; we are not defined by what has happened to us. Whether that’s being bullied, abused, excluded or made to feel anything under the umbrella of ‘bad’.
As the consciousness grows, we equally grow to recognise which thoughts are driven by the ego; the proverbial devil on our shoulder, if you will – (bit of theme going on here isn’t there? Concerning.) And then there are the thoughts which are our authentic (real, ‘actual’) self. It takes a lot of work to divide these conflicting thought processes. Once we notice this, we can respond accordingly and ultimately, choose to respond (not react) in a way which is more sustainable, for example: calmly responding with an objective mind rather than mindlessly lashing out; it all depends on how you’ve been made to believe is the ‘correct’ way to react. Some believe yelling is the only answer, some believe avoiding the situation and withdrawing entirely is the solution.
Certain things trigger certain people and we then react the way we’ve always known to be appropriate. It could be something as simple as someone taking longer to reply to your text message than usual. ‘Ego’ tells you what Le Pera terms as ‘false narratives’, namely: ‘This person doesn’t want to talk to you and actually hates you’. Which is (generally) not the case. Unless maybe your friends have recently discovered that you are, in fact, part of a Satanic cult. Sorry. I digress.
When we step outside of our subconscious, we realise that actually instead: ‘They are busier than usual and will respond when they have the time because we are all leading busy lifestyles right now’. A typical ego response would be to fixate on this all day and even feel feelings of resentment toward that person. A conscious response would be to stay objective, depersonalising the situation and sitting in that initial discomfort until the consciousness eventually becomes second nature.
Putting the separation of yourself and your ego into practice on a regular, consistent basis helps us continue to ‘Do the Work’ – because this isn’t just a one time lightbulb moment (as the featured image otherwise suggests). This is forming new neural pathways into more sustainable thinking and essentially, a mind free from constant negative, triggering thoughts that simply aren’t true.
I’m very aware that your attention is probably waning at this point, so to sum up: this concept is what’s helped me wake up to the proverbial sleepwalking I’d being doing hitherto and how radical this new way of thinking can be, which is why I’ve wanted to share it.
Now, rather than blindly jumping to conclusions and back down the self-destructive rabbit hole, I’m mindful of my thoughts and stand as an objective witness and try to understand those negative thoughts, then adjust my responses accordingly. It’s no quick fix but it’s a start and I truly believe that it’s helped me become more emotionally independent and a more compassionate person.
There’s so much to unpack in this whole ‘waking up’ process, but this is just the beginning, the actual becoming aware – becoming aware that ultimately, everyone is a walking product of their own conditioning – and whether they’re aware of it or not, we must be compassionate and understand that there is always a reason why people behave the way they do, whether they’re your mother, your sibling, your grandparent, your great aunt Dora, or a complete stranger.
We should all be more gentle with each other and remember that, while some people will never be aware of how to grow past their conditioning, everyone has experienced pain at some point in their life.