We hear a lot of people talk about it, and we see a lot of things posted on social media referring to it, but do we really know what it is? There are times in everyone’s life when we get confronted with a situation that leads us into a place of uncertainty. We are not sure how to respond or even how we feel about what has been presented. We enter the fog. When I was a kid my mother used to tell me that when the fog rolls in the thing to do is stay put. Don’t try walking through it because you will only get all turned around and you could end up walking into a danger zone. Just find a spot and sit there till it clears. This is good advice when it comes to fog. It is also good advice when it comes to the fog of life when it decides to roll in.
For myself, self awareness is a process. It is understanding that something is happening inside and that I have to pay attention to it, track it, find out what it is, and then address whatever it may be. It does not mean that whatever it is gets to rule my world. It means that I look at it critically and that I get to decide how to work with it or how to over power it if it is detrimental to my well-being.
Case in point. As many of you know I am part of the Trodka Trio. My partner and myself and our dear friend, Kat, have wonderful voices and musical skills. And when we played together for the first time, without any rehearsal, at a party over the Christmas season, we all realised that we were sounding like we had performed together for 20 years or more. It was delightful. So we decided that we would form an official trio and that we would perform for folks. We have not looked back. Everything is coming together quite wonderfully.
Now here is the thing. We all have our own “stuff” when it comes to performing. I have not had opportunity to talk with Kat about it, but Rod and I have talked quite frequently. We know that each of us has our “stuff” regarding this subject and we do our best to work through it on an individual level. I won’t go into details about what his “stuff” is, but I will speak to my own.
So my stuff began when I was in our family band as I was growing up. My family was exceptionally musical and a band was the way that got expressed. My dad played lead guitar, my brother played bass guitar, my mother was on piano, and a friend was on electric guitar. I was the percussion dude. I was very much in the background and, at the ripe old age of 9, I kind of preferred that. But I noticed that my father had an intense need to be the “performer”, the “showman”, the centre of attention. And this would mean that no one got to sing other than him. And everyone had to showcase him and him alone. Now, to anyone outside of the band, this would not be apparent, because we were all very good at our jobs. But in the privacy of practice sessions and dinner table conversation, there was definitely friction.
I learned that I really had no voice in the matter. This I carried into my teen years. I was totally into drama and music. But I would often find myself to get cut out of things. It was not that I was not good at it. There was always a very good reason as to why. And truthfully when I did get to perform I did shine because it was such a rare occurrence that I would make the most out of it. But when you are an impressionable kid and you are more often than not finding your part cut…it hurts and it leaves a scar. Self-worth issues arise and before you know it, when the third voice trainer tells you that she “doesn’t know what to do with such a strange voice” you end up closing off and not singing…for a good decade and a half. And you tend to wonder if you have much at all to contribute to such things.
So what that translates into in the current situation (even years after I thought that all of this was dealt with) is that if my part gets adapted, I go into a small (thank goodness) funk. I feel it suddenly percolating and and go, “Oh! Wait. Hold up. This is old junk that is completely not applicable. Stop that.” And it stops. I do not expect anyone around me to adjust anything that they are doing or saying. That would be manipulative when they have not done anything that is harmful. I do expect myself to do my own inner coaching, assuring myself that I am a valuable contributor. And VOILA! The issue is resolved. Now, according to Rod one would never be able to tell that I am feeling that way by how I look or act. That is the other aspect of it. It is not that I have to put on a happy mask or anything. It is that I can be both present to the moment and whatever activity is going on AND be processing the stuff that is private and within. And when it is processed it does not return. Processing does not mean burying it. It means resolving it in the moment. Yes, there are many layers to an onion with this sort of stuff. That is why it took years for it to surface up again. That and the opportunity for it to do so did not present itself. Now that we are rehearsing and performing, it did present itself. And it is now dealt with. So now we can focus on perfecting our craft and enjoying sharing that with others.
That is how we develop self-awareness. We don’t allow ourselves to bury things. We don’t expect others to intuitively be aware of everything that we are going through within. We deal with it. We allow ourselves time to sit down and do some self-coaching and self-building. We debunk all the myths about ourselves that we have been spoon fed (and sometimes force fed) by others around us as we were growing up. That way when the next set of issues surface up, we already have the self-discipline and the tools to deal with it head on.
So in summary, Self-Awareness is created by:
- Being conscious of your feelings
- Owning those feelings as yours, and yours alone, to work through
- Tracking disruptive and disharmonious feelings to their source and then working that out within yourself.
- Making sure that your disruptive and disharmonious feelings are not being projected onto others, thus creating manipulation and control issues within relationships.
- Seeking professional assistance with those issues that are overwhelming.
- Making sure that the end result, which should always be in play, is self-sufficiency and self-enlightenment.
No one goes through life without a single stumbling block. It is, in fact, those very stumbling blocks that give us opportunity to learn, to grow and to heal. If we are afraid to address them we end up walled in by a bunch of stumbling blocks until we break. Life is about the love and the security, but it is also about the challenges along the way. Every person has a story, no matter how dramatic or insignificant it may seem to others. It is their story. The question always is: Is this the story I want to have on my head stone? If it is not, then it is only you that can change the outcome of that story. Only you can decide what the head stone inscription is going to be.