Are you choosing to be the best version of yourself or not? It’s easy to get lost in the busyness of everyday life and end up like the proverbial frog in the saucepan who doesn’t understand how fragile life is because they are getting boiled so slowly.
But we’re all numb in different ways till we get a strong enough signal that cuts through the everyday noise of our lives and wakes us up to the fragility that was always there like the shock of the coronavirus pandemic.
But some people are more resilient to shock and trauma and the inevitable difficulties of life because they are conscious of the story that they are living inside of. This is what you are doing when you self-coach, you ask yourself this question as an act of becoming more conscious and more aware: “What is the story I am living inside of?”
So it’s like there are two of you in this self-relationship. In spirituality with the process of self-inquiry, you enquire into the experience you are having. So just as in your relationship with your spiritual teacher they have deeper awareness than you do. In your own relationship with yourself, you often live at the surface shallow level particularly when you are using social media or just talking to a person you don’t know well.
But you don’t want the shallow experience to be the entirety of your life.
With good friends or an intimate partner, you have deeper relationships.
Intimacy doesn’t have to be sexual. But with a sexual partner that’s going to be better if it’s intimate because you include your emotional self not just your physical self.
So the relationship you have with yourself and the depth of intimacy you have with yourself depends on the work you do to nurture and grow that intimacy. Failure is assuming it’s just there that shallow thinking makes a shallow unsatisfying relationship.
In spiritual relationships, there is intimacy with the teacher because they are showing you how to go deeper into yourself and the world.
But that’s not sexual. Though it often includes how you think and feel about sexuality. And it’s this interface between spirituality and psychology that often isn’t developed in many spiritual systems simply because they come from a traditional worldview and the modern world is just different with different pressures and demands as well as benefits and difficulties.
But that doesn’t mean you have to not have a tv or phone or computer. These have become part of the fabric of daily life. And you almost certainly want to wear something made of modern materials, not something that’s badly made and constantly irritates you because it feels bad when you wear it. You might try on some old clothes from your childhood to see if they still fit for a laugh but you wouldn’t go out in them.
But you also wouldn’t go out without any clothes on even if someone told you that was the new fashion.
So you are conscious of what’s the right thing to do for you. You have rules that you follow that you don’t consciously think about you don’t consciously think about whether you are going to go to work today naked or not.
It’s these rules that are the story you live inside of. And you become more conscious of your thinking that psychology by inquiring into what you think.
Which of course most people don’t do which is why over a trillion dollars is spent each year by the global advertising industry is telling you what to think.
So what we’re doing in self-coaching is using the practice of self-enquiry to take back our thinking and choose for ourselves what we actually want that will be of genuine benefit to us not what someone else tells us we should buy or think.
The easiest way to market and sell to someone is to appeal to their Shadow.
The Shadow is the unconscious part of us where we hide all the things we disidentify with. But of course, they’re still there because we’re human so in the story we tell ourselves about who we are we leave out the parts we don’t like.
It’s like when you get angry or afraid or sexually aroused how consciously are you in the driver’s seat of your life choosing to be that way?
Or is it that you find yourself in the passenger seat and someone else is driving?
That someone else is your Shadow.
If you are a spiritual person or spiritual teacher you are also human so have the same Shadow as every other human has.
But not all spiritual systems have modern psychological understandings of these things. Unless you work on developing yourself and growing up you still have the ideas and thinking you had as a child.
And as a child we copy what our parents and family do. This isn’t bad it’s good because it allows us to survive and fit in.
But you can’t be successful in the adult world with a child’s thinking because people will take advantage of you. As the advertising industry is taking advantage of you. Perhaps as many people are taking advantage of you. This can be a very long list when you start to think about it.
Self-coaching using self-enquiry is about doing the work to find out what you actually think not what you’ve been programmed to think.
It’s easy to fail because you’ve followed the path that someone has told you to follow but it just doesn’t work out for you.
This doesn’t mean that they were lying to you. Not everyone is marketing to your Shadow.
But you sabotage yourself by not making the choices that will work for you when you sit in the passenger seat and let your Shadow drive.
Because your Shadow wants the easy choice where your computer with the right technique can turn into a cash machine or women will be irresistibly sexually attracted to you when you have the magic technique even though you haven’t even gotten to know them yet.
So the Shadow is shallow.
Your Shadow just remembers the parts of the films where you were aroused but thought you shouldn’t be whether that was by sex or violence or greed.
So if you’ve tried to learn something did you follow the advice of your Shadow and try the shortcut to bypass doing any real work?
Or are you living in the excuse that if you just follow what your teacher says then you don’t have to think for yourself?
That you can still be a child and that they will take care of you because you have paid them the money to do that.
In today’s world isn’t the reality more they are taking advantage of you because you are acting as a shallow person and not thinking or thinking like a child.
So what do you do?
The answer is simple you think for yourself you do a process of self-enquiry of asking yourself what you want and then being honest with yourself so you don’t listen to your own bullshit.
Then you can work with a coach someone who works with you and when they tell you what to do that’s coming from a place where you have sovereignty that you can go I don’t understand or I don’t like that or how do I do that my way?
You’ve experienced this any time you’ve worked with a personal trainer at the gym. The focus is on you and how you get results so you follow your path, not someone else’s.
This is an old idea Joseph Campbell talks of the legend of the Grail the one with King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
To do the Grail Quest they have to go to the deepest darkest part of the forest and start where there is no trail.
This is what the hero does.
They think for themselves.
But that doesn’t mean you are on your own. This is the point that Joseph Campbell makes in his book “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” that when you step up to your hero’s journey you are in the company of the heroes of all time.
So when thinking about being the best version of yourself who are the heroes you aspire to become like?
Understanding that what you are doing here is not saying I want to become this person but thinking a bit more deeply so you can identify what it is about this person that inspires you and you would like to have more of those abilities or character traits.
This depth is gotten not from just going: “oh I like this person I’ve seen them on tv once or twice” it’s going deep by reading or listening to their autobiography or biographies and actually doing the work to establish for yourself specifically what it is about them that you want to have for yourself.
So it’s not falling for tricks like “deep trance identification” where you can magically incorporate this person’s characteristics. You can’t and I’m one of the best hypnotists and conversational hypnotists in the world. The trap here is believing in magic as something someone else does where they have the power and you don’t.
Instead, it’s getting that no one gives you the power, they can’t because it’s already yours. Except when you’ve hidden it in your Shadow.
So fundamentally it’s all up to you. Which for some people is overwhelming they need their family and friends. The misunderstanding here is you get lost in black and white thinking when you make it a choice between your family and friends and being a friend to yourself. You could be a better friend to your friends, be a better son or daughter, mother or father or manager or entrepreneur when you think about stepping up to help them be the best version of themselves.
The key is to get that by coaching yourself you get better at coaching other people because you are thinking about this relationship and how relationships need nurturing. because they are alive and growing.
It’s when we get lost in mindlessness, not mindfulness we sabotage not just the relationship we have with ourselves but also our relationship with other people.