I must give you a peek into my mind to know why this is important.
For most of us, everything about who we are is made up of our life experiences growing up. From the family we were born into, to the community at large, we unconsciously absorb the influences (good or bad) around us. Parents are aware but often forget that their children are absorbing every word and deed they exhibit. It’s scary but true. Our parents leave the deepest of all impressions on our lives. If your parents were fearful of the unknown, they subconsciously trained you into becoming a cautious being. On the other hand, if they led life with a passion to explore, willing to step into the unknown, well then you learned some bit of fearlessness as well. Same goes for the friends we associated with throughout school and college as well as our co-workers.
Cultural and religious nuances along with the language we learned and spoke at home defines us at our core including it’s inherent slang and the way of expression. In Punjabi, one might say ‘Kiddan’ as a casual greeting for ‘How are you?’ to a friend but the same would equal disrespect to an elder. We come to love these cultural nuances and cherish them as our identity. From an early age, we learn how to show up to the temple, church or mosque and learn `how` we’re supposed to pray and the religious songs that we’re supposed to sing. The highlights of our year become the many festivals associated with our culture. Songs and movies become the background of our life and our favorite ways to ‘pass’ time. They help us visualize our culture and bring meaning to love and laughter. Our favorites leave a deep impression on our lives often changing our very behavior and how we relate with each other.
The point is that there’s an awful lot of ‘pre-programming’ you’ve gotten used to, perhaps even started liking and believing this is the real ‘you’ when nothing could be farther from the truth. Seems shocking? It could be hard to accept at first but spend some time to ponder the many life influences that have shaped you to be who you are. If you were born into a different family, culture or country, who would be the real ‘YOU’ today?
We’re all keenly aware of the dimension of nature vs. nurture. Beneath all the childhood and adult influences i.e. nurture, there lies a real you. A real you that must be cherished and allowed to grow in order to reveal your hidden greatness. A real you that is waiting for full expression in this life lest it go unfulfilled. Maybe you’ve heard the silent inner voice once or twice and wondered, what am I doing with my life? Is this really my true purpose in life? Is my life purely a result of societal and financial influences or is this how I really want to live?
To be truly `successful` in life i.e. living life in our deepest truth such that we show up in the World as who we really are, we must know ourselves well. It takes time and rigor to get to know oneself though. Getting to know oneself means looking behind the mask we’ve gotten used to wearing. Our subconscious tendencies are strong. They constantly determine our behavior and how we show up. These can be as small as our tendency to reach for our phone every time we find a minute of solitude and as deep as our governing philosophies in life often instilled in us subconsciously through our parents such as a particular definition of ‘success’ and what it means to live up to `expectations`. While we’re keenly aware of others’ expectations, many of us seldom spend enough time with ourselves to learn what we really want from our own lives. What are YOUR expectations of this life?
The beginning of this journey means forming a sankalpa i.e. the solemn will and determination to create a fulfilling life for ourselves. Often this comes about when there exists a deep feeling of dissatisfaction with the way things are. Too many people live quiet lives of dissatisfaction trying to find true joy outside of themselves by occupying their time with a myriad activities or building a bank balance and then wonder why they feel lost in life or an empty hole inside themselves after all the years of jumping from one shiny object to another. If this sounds like you, don’t be disappointed. This is many of us. And even as it is, this is perfect. For all of this has led to the creation of the ‘fire’ necessary for our further awakening. When the necessary ‘fire’ exists within and we become determined, we can channel that determination to train our mind. Until then, it’s difficult to wake up on time to exercise, to bring discipline into our diet towards better health and to instill the rigor needed to discover, build and live our dreams.
The road to greatness starts with getting more familiar with your own mind and then learning how to make it work for you, not the other way around! We must question the very essence of who we are, everything we do and why we do it. We must be true to ourselves. We must identify our subconscious beliefs and behaviors. We must eliminate life inhibiting habits and instead, instill the beginning of life amplifying habits so that we can use the mind as it was meant to be — an incredibly powerful tool to help us live our lives to OUR fullest and truest expression. If we truly wish to live a life full of joy and happiness, a life that is magical beyond all bounds, we must become friends with our own minds.