Why is my spiritual path. It’s a very powerful question; it is alchemical as much as it is transcendental. “Why”, is what it all comes down to. The path of why has brought me so many tremendous and positive changes in my personality, my worldview and therefore my life.
Basically, if you figure out the source, the cause, the reason behind your emotions, your actions, your attitudes–you change for the better. Because being aware dissolves the negative tension built up (sometimes unknowingly) inside of you. Being aware means you no longer exist in the aftermath, or as a result, in the past tense. If you know the cause, you’ll know of the effects…and this kind of knowing empowers you. You start living in the present. You are in the now.
That’s when you really start living–when you are utterly and completely self-aware. When you know yourself. When you know why you are the way you are–and when you do, nothing else matters. What’s left is only you, free. Freedom. You don’t have to worry about what other people think, or what you think of yourself because now you’re just being–you are acting, not just reacting. To be fully conscious of yourself…is an amazing feeling. And we can’t be perfect, I know, but I think, we should always seek to be self-aware and self-conscious.
Over the summer I experienced a spiritual and emotional catharsis unlike any other before. For the the majority of my life since I was a teenager, I suffered from social anxiety, which brought me all kinds of problems–I didn’t believe in myself, I was always self-conscious, I feared judgement, I perceived and imagined constant negative judgement, I put myself down, I convinced myself that I was incapable of self-expression, and I found all kinds of lame excuses for my pathetic disposition. The worst part was, I was completely unaware. I wasn’t in control because I didn’t know I was being controlled…when I discovered this, I was taken aback because…I thought of everything I missed out on during my awkward high school years, when I was too shy to even say hi to people, to intimidated to wave hello. I remember blaming myself a lot…at that time, I asked, “why?” Why am I such an idiot? Why am I like this? Why can’t I say what I want to say?
But I was asking the wrong questions…or rather, I wasn’t truly seeking to know the answer. Those were more like rhetorical questions I asked myself. I was really saying…I am such an idiot. I am like this. I can’t say what I want to say.
I think, it’s not just me…we do this to ourselves, a lot. We ask why without really asking why, because we’re not looking for answers.
But we should look for those answers! Back then, I was scared of the world staring at me. I was terrified of talking to people. Just being around people or being in a public space made me so tense. Every time I came home I would be so emotionally, mentally and physically drained without knowing why–at first I blamed it on sleep-deprivation, and I saw my family doctor for that. I still remember. I did suffer from insomnia, too, but that’s another story.
Anyway. Once I realized that I suffered from social anxiety, I decided to make positive changes. I started by purchasing two books: Overcoming Low Self-Esteem and Overcome Social Anxiety. The first step towards healing is to admit that you need to heal. I don’t think there’s anything shameful or embarrassing in that. It was true; I had low self-esteem and I was socially anxious. And I want to change no matter what, because it was the tipping point where I just couldn’t stand myself any longer–not in the way that I gave up on myself and abandoned myself, but in the way that–I want to be myself, 100%! One hundred percent! Because I can! I refuse to be dominated by anything other than myself.
There are many exercises in those two books. It’s based on cognitive psychology, and in short, both books ask me to identify my negative thought patterns and figure the source. In other words, ask myself, why.
Why am I like this?
Not in a rhetorical manner. Don’t ask the world why things happen to you. You know why. Only you know. Ask yourself this. Turn inward. Look within. Even if sometimes, it’s not your fault, you might be wronged by someone else–you’re still the one in charge of your own emotions.
I asked myself, why am I like this? I am like this because I’m scared of people judging me. I’m scared of making a mistake. I’m scared to talk.
Why am I scared of people judging me? Why do I fear making a mistake? Why am I scared to talk?
Because people will hold a negative opinion of me. Because I won’t be able to express myself properly. Because people won’t like me anymore after they judge me and find my faulty.
I kept asking myself why, why, why. Slowly I uncovered the deepest parts of myself that remained untouched throughout the years, and going through this process was sometimes painful, because eventually, as I began to identify the sources of my negative feelings, I relived several incidents in which I was bullied because I couldn’t speak English properly (I was an ESL student when I first came to Canada), I said something wrong and used the wrong grammar in front of a friend, who pointed out my mistake (who probably meant nothing by it, but I took it as an assault in my head). I had to face everything that happened that made me the way I was.
And you know, sometimes, we are too smart for our own good. Once we perceive something negative that is happening to us, something dangerous that threaten us in anyway, we recoil–or, depending on our personality, we might launch an aggressive attack in order to self-defend.
For me, I was inward and shy, so I recoiled deeper into myself, and I learned to respond to different social situations in that manner. I perceived people as danger. So I tensed up, I grew nervous, I grew speechless and unable to speak, my voice staggered, my face paled. These things got automatically programmed into my brain, into my being. And that was who I became. Tense, nervous, incapable of proper speech, quiet–and all this time, because I believe those things to be who I was, that was who I was, and there was no end to it once you’re caught in a vicious mental/emotional circle like that. It’s horrifying to think that you’re making yourself suffer so much without knowing.
Ah, I’m going to sound cheesy now–but why, why is such a magical world. Literally, it saved my life. It gave me my true self back to me. It gave me freedom. It released me from the voices in my head telling me what I couldn’t achieve. It made me, me.
Eventually, after asking yourself so many why’s…you hit the bottom. You have to, right? The original source that makes you who you are. Like you’re pulling back a lost kite, after you’ve lost it for a long time, and you don’t remember what patterns or pictures painted on the surface of the kite. The closer you pull the kite back, the clearer you see it. And then you hold it in your hands, and then you realize, so that’s what it is! I can’t believe I forgot. I can’t believe I didn’t know it looked like this! And some of us have more kites than others. More things to pull back. More things to discover. But we shouldn’t stop because there are so many. We should keep going until everything is clear to us. Because why won’t we want to free ourselves?
To be completely free.
There is always one thing that causes you to act the way you do, or say the things you say. And I think, to be truly happy and to live life to the fullest, you need to ask yourself why. We need to keep asking ourselves, unravel the parts of ourselves, expose them, make everything known–only then we can truly be ourselves, with every part of ourselves visible to us. Becoming a complete picture. A complete soul. No more darkness. It’s a kind of visibility that enables to see us as we really are, and without the learned responses and mental filter, we see the world as it really is, as well. And to see ourselves as we really are allows us to be just the way we are.
Isn’t that the greatest blessing in life? To know, to feel, to see, to be who we really are? I think it is.