An expression I have often heard growing up and still hear to this day is “awareness is half the battle”… but is this really true? Through my own experience with personal growth over the years I’ve discovered that, no, awareness is definitely not half the battle — it is only the beginning and it’s the very first and biggest step in a lifelong journey.
But is it really a battle? I suppose that is a matter of perspective. When we fight against ourselves, constantly beating ourselves up with our negative self-talk, rather than loving and embracing all that is us, then, yes, I imagine that it would seem to be quite the battle.
With awareness comes change and change is seldom easy. However, I believe that we tend to make things much more difficult for ourselves than need be. Too often we see change as a bad thing. In the case of tragic events that inevitably occur in life it is almost impossible to fathom there being something good to come of it. However, a mere alteration in our perception of these events can be the difference between giving up on life and falling into deep depression or seeing them as opportunities to learn and move forward in a positive way.
Stepping into awareness is a constant — a giant stepping stone towards personal growth — and it is a never ending cycle of self-discovery waiting to be revealed over our entire lifetime. Much like peeling the many layers of an onion, awareness can bring forth many tears as we work our way towards its core. Tears of sorrow as we release the anguish associated with our inner demons, and tears of joy as we embrace the freedom from their life long strangle hold.
By “inner demons” I mean our unhealthy habits and limiting beliefs that inevitably become the unhealthy patterns of behaviour that govern our thoughts, our choices and consequently the very quality of the lives we live. We all have these demons within us. Awareness brings them forth into the light for us to see…to consciously feel their presence. And that is where the proverbial “battle” begins.
Quite often during the first stages of noticing our “demons”, our unhealthy patterns, in the moment when they arise, we feel completely powerless to do anything about them. It’s almost as though we are witness to our own self-destructive behaviour. We see and hear ourselves saying and doing things that we know are unhealthy; we know are part of the problem, but yet, because we are merely in the first stage of our growth, we haven’t yet accrued the tools to be able to consciously shift that negative energy, to be able to stop ourselves from reacting or exhibiting that unhealthy behaviour.
We’ve been this particular way for X number of years and depending on how old we are, decades even. Therefore, it is an unrealistic expectation to believe that once we step into awareness we are able to change our patterns all of a sudden … that the burden of self-sabotaging behaviour is magically lifted. It’s important to remember that this is a process that may sometimes take years.
These patterns are so ingrained in our way of being that they are almost a part of us, like second nature. It may seem as though they are built into our very DNA. Some of us believe so strongly that this is who we actually are that we truly feel we can’t do anything to change it. Well guess what? Yes, we most certainly can!
Some people might even go so far as to say, “Well, wouldn’t it be easier to live in ignorance of these so called “demons” rather than be conscious of their existence?”
Easier, perhaps. However, just because we are unaware of the existence of these demons does not mean that they are not wreaking havoc beneath the surface. “What we resist persists”, as the saying goes, potentially creating conflict, drama and misery that is the cause of so much needless stress in our everyday lives. I recently came across a bumper sticker that made me laugh yet spoke volumes about exactly this. “If ignorance is bliss, why aren’t there more happy people?” Ha! so very true!
Avoiding awareness hinders our growth, keeping us stuck in self-defeating ways of being. Speaking from experience, I know how frustrating and at times devastating feeling powerless to change can be. It can almost seem emotionally easier to simply remain stuck. It’s the devil we know, right?
However, what is the one thing that everyone strives for in life? Happiness. And no matter how hard we try to fill our lives with people and things to make us happy, it is superficial and fleeting. There is only one place where it can truly be found…within.
So in those early moments of awareness, rather than getting frustrated with ourselves when we can actually see and hear our unhealthy patterns and feel powerless to change them, why not allow ourselves to simply be aware of that awareness; to be witness to it without shame, without judgment, without beating ourselves up or playing victim for our inability to stop our own behaviour?
This is just the beginning of our process … the beginning of our healing. Thus it is important and absolutely crucial that we learn to be gentle and patient with our process. To accept that where we are in our growth is exactly where we are supposed to be. And that it will take time to accrue those tools … to eventually be able to say to ourselves in those moments, “Okay, I’m aware of this behaviour. I don’t like it. I don’t want to be this way. So what do I want? how do I want to behave in these types of situations?”
Be okay with that awareness and recognize it as a gift, an opportunity to eventually move past it and onto healthier ways being. Even just by being gentle and patient with ourselves and being okay with that awareness, despite not yet having the tools to do something about it, actually gives us room to step back from it a little more and a little better, making each step forward a little easier. If we allow our frustration to get the best of us, we give permission to our inner demons to keep strangling us within their destructive grip, allowing them to thrive on the negative energy we are feeding them.
By making the decision in those moments to be okay with where we are … to just accept it as what it is … to be thankful and grateful that we are in a position to be able to see the behaviour that is causing so much pain in our lives, we are empowering ourselves to change. It may feel like it’s causing us more pain to be aware of it, but know that with that awareness comes healing…comes opportunity…comes growth. And that is ultimately extremely empowering.
Once we begin to realize a little more each time that we’re able to step back from our behaviour as soon as we notice it, it puts us in a better position to be able to stop ourselves, to reverse our patterns, to eventually, be able to let go of unhealthy habits and replace them with healthy ones.
That said, awareness is definitely not half the battle. It is only the beginning — the first giant step that opens the door of opportunity towards a positive new way of being. It is important to remember that it will take time and conscious effort to shift from our old ways. However, if we are mindful and commit to being gentle and patient with ourselves fully and completely during this process of transition, then we empower ourselves to create more of what we truly want in life … authentic happiness.
Happy soul searching!
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