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By
Gus Reyes

What I’m about to say has nothing to do with theories based on a scientific experiment or academic research I have done, it is all based on personal experience- an exercise intended to provoke thinking, as a counsellor and writer, I’m not interested in providing solutions to anybody because I believe we are the experts of our own lives. I take responsibility for my own beliefs, and what I assume is my truth is only true to myself. If you, as a reader, like learning academic facts and statistics then you should go to school, and accept what schools teach you as the only truth you will ever know. My intentions are different.  my intentions are to ignite a thought process that will enable you start questioning everything around you, so you can search for your own truth, raising awareness about how you feel and how you respond and communicate with yourself.

The idea is to look at yourself as a human being, and ask yourself questions like: what is the purpose of my life? Do I have a plan? Do I have goals? How long would I like to live? Do I need to change any aspect of my life at this point? Do I have dreams I would like to fulfil? Is my life in balance right now? What is the meaning behind what I do? What are the things I’m worrying about? These sort of questions, in my own experience, have helped me to understand where I stand in the present.  It works like a compass, it has given me an approximate location on the map of life to use a reference point, and has also helped me to evaluate events that, wanted or not, happen to us. For example: if those events are positive events then we are there to feel joy and be glad we are alive, we are happy to talk about them, over and over, because it makes us feel good, sometimes expressing how lucky we are because things just happened the way we wanted them to, but if any of those events are unfortunate, painful or detrimental, we blame ourselves, feeling trapped in a room with no exit, and saying things like: “why do these things only happen to me?” “Why am I so unlucky?” “Well, life is not worth living!” And once this happens, when we start feeling stuck and feeling like we don’t have any confidence left, we begin to feel in a way we cannot explain, but we know that something is happening to us, because we don’t react to things in the same way we used to.  For example: if before you were a person who would lose a twenty dollar note and act like nothing happened, without making a big deal about the loss, and all of  a sudden you find yourself reacting to the same situation in an aggressive way, dwelling on it for days, then you can say that things have changed, our response has changed, we started to react to events in the opposite way we used to, and the danger of this is that we don’t stop to ask ourselves: “why am I reacting to this in this way?”

This change in the response to events will only be noticed when someone says to us: “I think you are not yourself, what’s going on”, and at that moment two things might happen – you will stop and think about why you were told that you weren’t yourself, or you shrug your shoulders and continue reacting to events in a way that is not you. Sometimes this changing process builds up very slowly, in very small increments, and because we don’t know how to self reflect we cannot see these changes happening.  Has someone who has known you for years, ever said to you: “you have changed you know”?,  This change does not necessarily need to be positive or negative, it is just a change, but the idea of self reflection is to notice the change and the transition of how this change takes place in your life, and what are the causes that generate those changes, and how they are affecting us.

When you begin the process of asking questions about the purpose of your life and your own existence, and reflecting deeply in what you do every day, you will notice how your perspective and responses to life start to change because you are creating an awareness about yourself.  In my experience, this reflective exercise has helped me to put those daily events in context, to compare or evaluate the complexity of them, and how significant they are, and the impact that those events would have on my life right now.  For example, if I wish to live for eighty years, then, will the things that are happening to me right now, shorten my life? How significant are they, and what sort of influence will these events have on my life from this moment on until I reach eighty years of age? Another example would be, if your aim is to live for one hundred years, and you smoke like an unstoppable steam train, then you should question if what you are doing today is in harmony with the things you want for tomorrow? As absurd or simple as that might sound, because you don’t have a conscious perspective between the amount of years you have lived, and the unknown amount of years that might lie ahead of you, you should take a break and practice this exercise for a moment and feel what it is like having answers that will challenge your assumptions. Do not think that at any moment I’m implying that,  if you know you are going to live to eighty or one hundred years, you should abandon the meaning of your reality at any stage.  Not at all. the idea is to get you into a thought process where you will start looking for someone inside you, that you did not know until now. -, yourself. This will, somehow, strengthen your argument and the meaning of what you do.   It will take you to a new place inside yourself and  it will change things.   It is a reflective exercise that will add quality to your life, always remember that Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge, and this is what self reflection is – an open door to explore that imagination and awareness of the self.

What might be happening to us, in my personal experience, is the fear of asking deep questions, because the answers can be uncertain and painful.  It can reveal truth that we, as human beings, are trying to avoid, and I’m referring not just to an existential level.  I’m not talking about answers relating to the existence of God or extra-terrestrial intelligence, but answers that can influence and affect the process of the practical life, the daily routine, the life right now, the one that is happening in front of our eyes; answers that can challenge values, beliefs, and the meaning of what we believe we represent, perhaps that is the reason why we refuse to ask meaningful questions, or better expressed, challenging questions, because the fear of losing the identity we have created around the sort of person we believe we are, and losing that assumed identity will made us feel naked, vulnerable and unprotected.

As a counsellor, I would ask my clients, when I assess what  is appropriate, questions that will challenge them, to push them out of that known area we are living in, the one we already know, in which we feel comfortable to act, that constrained dimension where we feel in control and somehow protected, because what we assume we know about life is predictable. I have done it to myself, I have put those questions in front of myself many times, so I’m talking from the point of view of feelings and emotions which I have already experienced, but it will manifest different experiences for each one of us.  Under any circumstances I would suggest or wish for your experiences to be exactly like mine.  I would not recommend it anyway, even when we ask the same questions we will have different answers, and that is the magic of life, that is one of the reasons why I find life so amazing – because of the differences we are living with.

Are you ready to face some challenging questions? Do not feel bad please, we are human beings, we are never going to be ready for anything, we just do it. I know sometimes we say: “I’m not ready yet”, or “yes, I’m ready”, but you are only saying that you are ready to act, that you are going to do what you need to do regardless of the consequences; this is what it means, it is just a feeling of being ready, just a feeling, nothing to do with objectivity. If you have not made a decision yet, just do it.  Write down some questions you would like to be answered, stand firm in front of the mirror, look straight in to your own eyes and ask the questions, or lie down on the grass and close your eyes, then ask the questions and you will notice how the answers will start to arrive. Do it and let me know how you feel, and if you find that it is too challenging for you, or you are not sure about what questions you should ask, send me an email. This way we can start the process, we can work together to raise the awareness you might be needing to help you move forward.
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