The older I get, the more I realise the importance of self. Or perhaps I should say, my awareness of it. It started in my teenage years when I first realised that I was both my best friend and my biggest enemy. My self was what made me powerful and able to chase my dreams. It also rendered me powerless to my own fears and judgment.
Time passed and I hit my twenties. By this point I was forging my spiritual path. I started tending to the weeds that had sprouted throughout my being. I desired to understand from whence they came and how best to tackle them. It was the start of a mission to improve – a mission to heal past wounds. Since then I’ve sailed on peaks and troughs as I’ve learned more about this self of mine.
We’ve all got baggage. So. Much. Baggage. And it’s definitely true that becoming aware of said baggage is the first step to healing it. Learning what has made you the way you are is the way to make peace with yourself if you’re living in constant turmoil. You can learn how to nip bad habits in the bud. You can stop having the same negative relationships. You can gather the courage to chase your dreams. But there’s the risk of forming a kind of addiction to self-help, much like becoming addicted to anything else. You can lose sight of why you’re doing it and end up heading straight towards the panic room.
It’s a bit like any goal you’re working towards. If you hold perfection as the end-point, you will forever bask in disappointment. Nothing is perfect, after all, and that applies to us. We are imperfect humans. But it’s easy to fall into the pattern of thinking that there’s always one more practice you can perform, one more therapy to try in an eternal quest to be the perfect version of yourself. This can quickly turn compassionate self-healing into a narcissistic obsession.
We know about the two aspects of self: the soul self and third-dimensional ego consciousness. The former is the pure light – the good. It could be said that this is the real you. The latter is the aspect that must be respected, but never allowed to take the wheel. It’s very easy to commence healing or any kind of spiritual growth, only to succumb to the ego and its intentions. This is fine; this is a learning process. But if not rectified, that’s when you face trouble.
If you’re prone to anxiety or depression or any other kind of claustrophobic mental health struggle, it’s very tempting to think that the answer is to go inwards. Your ego wants to try to protect itself. It wants to ensure its survival. It will conjure the idea that the world outside is a deadly place. It will tell you that nobody understands what you’re going through. It will tell you to keep yourself locked away.
When you shrink your life to the confines of your own home – or only the familiar – you are removing adventure. You are removing surroundings which require your attention, your focus. You know exactly where everything is. You know exactly what everything is. Therefore can live your small life on autopilot, never really having to pay attention to how you’re interacting with this world outside of you. The ego loves this.
This frees up so much time for you to think about yourself. You can then run yourself riot with negative thought patterns; anxiously picking as a bird does with its feathers. When there’s no external stimulation, your intelligent brain has to think about something, so it goes inside. It’s a dog chewing on furniture.
Taking care of thy self is essential. It is what frees us. It is what allows us to do our best work. But with that we must realise that life isn’t just about us as individuals. Life is about the relationships we make while we’re on this earth. If we glance back at our memories, we hold closest those where we connected with others or experienced awe and beauty and captivation. These are external stimuli which we interact with. This is the point of it all. This is why we are here.
If you notice certain patterns or triggers in your life that are stemming from an unaddressed wound, use introspection to heal. But also know that this healing must occur so that you can resume your position in the world at large. We don’t help ourselves to forever remain isolated, but rather so we can have meaningful connection to others. You heal the inside so you can partake in the outside. Self help used within this context won’t ever be able to swallow you up.