by Madison Asher
What do you do for the sake of itself and not on behalf of anything else? What do you say, do, eat, experience for its own sake? Chances are there are few answers to this question. Because we are all operating on behalf of unconscious drivers that dictate our behavior. This doesn’t have to be a cynical revelation. In fact, I argue it’s the opposite. Awareness of our own operating systems (yup, just related us to an iPhone OS, stick with me), is the doorway to what comes next. Flashing a light on what drives us, will allow us to move with more congruency between our inner and outer worlds. When we think about what we strive for then, let’s aim for congruency. Are our behaviors aligned with our values and beliefs? If we don’t know what beliefs are underpinning our actions, how will we ever release old, stuck-in-a-rut patterns and create new ones?
Self-study isn’t about solving our problems by going to the variable we want to change. It’s about shining light directly on the parts of us programmed to produce the behavior. It’s less about the midnight snacks we eat or the panic we feel towards a deadline – those are the products – and more about the well-worn pathways that make it easy to choose munchies and panic in those circumstances. It’s like tending to the soil of the garden so it can cultivate the kind of crops we strive to grow. We can’t just change a tomato plant into a bed of roses, we need to go to the soil and put effort into making the conditions more likely to produce a bed of roses and less likely to produce tomato plants. Showing up on the drums is like showing up for a class where the subject matter is you. And why choose to study yourself? Think of someone else for a moment. The more you know about them and their inner wiring, what emotions toward them and their actions grow stronger? Empathy? Compassion? Patience? What if you did this with yourself? Would you become more compassionate with yourself? More patient?
So what are you choosing self-study on behalf of? If for nothing else, perhaps it will allow you to give yourself more grace and empathy as you watch yourself get in your own way again and again. Until, with enough attention and awareness, you can begin to cultivate a new set of operating parameters by the mere act of moving the unconscious drivers into the conscious realm.