One topic I read about in my personal life a lot is the concept of being “awake”. I’m not talking about literally not being asleep, I’m talking about being awake to the world around you.
Wakefulness is a combination of mindfulness, consciousness, and awareness on a very deep and often spiritual level. Imagine walking around with your eyes open in a world full of people with their eyes clenched shut. That’s honestly what it feels like. The more I study, meditate, and really search my soul – the more I realize that this mentality isn’t the norm. No matter how much I wish it was. If you’re like me and consider yourself to be awake in a world full of people with their blinders secured tightly to their heads, then you’ll understand the following struggles just as much as I do.
Seeing the Forest for the Trees
Of all of the aspects of wakefulness that I struggle with, this notion is #1 on my list, and the entire reason for me writing this post. You’ve heard the cliché of people “missing the forest for the trees”, meaning that when you look so intently at that one tree – you don’t notice that you’re surrounded by them. If you’re truly awake, or at least well on your way to being awake, you see the forest from an aerial view. You see the connections between people and actions in ways that other people don’t understand. A big part of wakefulness to me is understanding people and human nature in general. Intuition has a lot to do with it, but studying psychology, spirituality, and the human mind
Intuition has a lot to do with it, but studying psychology, spirituality, and the human mind has given me a different perspective. I have always wanted to know what makes people tick outside of the actual physiological components. That’s why I write a lot about emotional intelligence; because I think it is the first step in being awake. If you consider yourself to be emotionally intelligent, then you understand how many people are emotionally ignorant. This is where the forest and trees come in…
As someone who is awake, you see the actions of people and understand why they do them. For me, it is seeing the underlying reasons for people’s actions. Perfect example: I have a friend who is passive aggressive to a fault. But when he gets behind the wheel of a car, he turns into a road rage machine. Not because the people around him are really driving badly – but because there is a wall of metal and glass around him that prevents others from hearing him express himself. All of those frustrations that get bottled up throughout the day, get unleashed as a torrent of ranting and cursing that would make a sailor blush. And for what? Nothing really. It doesn’t solve any of the issues that have been bottled up. Hell, it doesn’t even address them. Now, I know that there has got to be a pressure valve somewhere, in all of us. Seeing this behavior, I know exactly what is going on but never bring it up, which brings me to my next point:
People Don’t Want to Hear the Truth
Most people are completely comfortable with their blinders. Thos blinders provide a sense of safety and security. One of the hardest things people can do is focus their gaze inward. The general consensus seems to be that if you’re looking for answers to the way that you are, that something must be wrong with you. Nothing could be farther from the truth. That’s like saying that you are exploring a coral reef because there is something wrong with it. The human psyche is fascinating, and there is nothing more fulfilling than exploring your own. Again, there is a very strong parallel here to emotional intelligence. There is a difference in knowing what you feel and knowing why you feel it.
When you have this understanding of the human psyche, even on a basic level, you see those “forest and trees” connections. For people who choose not to see those connections, the last thing in the world that they want to do is hear about them, let alone understand them. People take evaluations of their actions and emotions as criticism. If you say, “you do (this) because you do/feel (this),” people get the notion that you are psychoanalyzing them. They don’t want to focus that microscope on themselves because they are afraid of what they might find. Tearing apart your own psyche and peeling back the layers of how your mind works and why isn’t a comfortable process. No matter how fulfilling it is in the end. So, then you find yourself understanding the thoughts and actions of the people around you better than they understand them themselves. That’s when the hard part comes in:
No matter how fulfilling it is in the end. So, then you find yourself understanding the thoughts and actions of the people around you better than they understand them themselves. That’s when the hard part comes in:
The Fear of Expression, and the Consequence of that Fear
Knowing that people don’t seek the same enlightenment for themselves that you seek in yourself leads to a condition where you want to express yourself about someone’s actions, but you fear the defensive nature that comes with it. Have you ever tried to tell someone that their behavior is a result of an emotional condition that they don’t care to understand? It’s like telling an alcoholic that they drink too much. SO in an effort to avoid those defensive repercussions, you end up biting your tongue, which only leaves your blood in your mouth.
There are so many situations in my everyday life where I see the underlying emotional connections to people’s actions and choose not to say anything about them, that the end result is nothing but stress. Stress, for me, often manifests itself physically, so the more stressed out I am – the worse I feel. I just want to snap, and yell at people to stop projecting their emotional ignorance in the form of finger-pointing and deflection, and address their own issues. But…I simply don’t. I reflect on how their actions make me feel, and I ruminate on the things I wish I could say, and I’m the one that ends up absorbing it. For instance, have you’ve ever been around a coworker that treats you like crap because of some other aspect of their lives outside of work?
You worry that if you point out that you aren’t the problem – they are, there could be repercussions from you expressing yourself. So you end up in a terrible work environment, fully aware of why this person treats you the way they do, knowing it’s not your fault, and afraid to do anything about it. That’s a very general example of wakefulness, but the reality of it is universal. The struggle is all too real.