If the light within is always there, why do we so often fail to see it? In this exercise, we will explore particular dimensions -- pretense, desire, and fear -- that sometimes keep us from realizing the strength and depth of our inner light. There is nothing wrong with these dimensions. However, when we believe that they are us, we are likely to forget our inner resources.
You can either take this inventory mentally, or write the answers to the questions down on a piece of paper. For this exercise, it is not important to evaluate or judge your responses; however, it is important to become aware of who and what it is that we project into the world, and what we identify with in place of the true light that we are.
Who Do I Pretend To Be?
Ask yourself, "Who do I pretend to be?" Sometimes we become so immersed in who we think we are -- or who others imagine us to be -- that we begin to identify with the mask that we wear as we weave our way through the world, Psychologist Carl Jung called this mask the persona.
If we come to believe that we are our mask, then the essential being that we are becomes obscured. In identifying with the mask, we become alienated from the brilliant, eternal, interconnected, and fearless soul that is our true self. And we begin to wonder, Is this all there is?
So who do you pretend to be? Do any of the following examples resonate within you?
1. Is the face you present to others a caring, happy face, while inside you feel dark, fearful, and depressed?
2. Are you a perennial pessimist? Is that mask disguising someone who ardently hopes for the best but fears that expressing an optimistic viewpoint will jinx situations?
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
3. Do you habitually offer yourself to others, spreading yourself too thin but smiling all the while? Does a constant stream of criticism, resentment, and complaint wash through your mind?
4. Perhaps you pretend to be a quiet, uncaring person, while deep inside you care so much for others that you are afraid to express it because you think you might get hurt.
Each of the above describes an outer appearance -- who you pretend to be -- which you might identify with and believe to be you. Each also describes a hidden, inner story line at odds with the outer appearance -- do you believe that story line is the "real" you? For each question, an avenue opens up to see what is pretense and what is aspiration. Spending time in contemplation will give you a constantly expanding "sincerity" with yourself.
What Do You Want?
Ask yourself, "What do I want?" Maybe your true, fundamental aspirations are far removed from such "faked" presentations. Do you see the consequences of maintaining appearances without awareness?
Now consider your inner desires. Is it world peace you want, or simply to be able to work skillfully with your anger? Do you want to be more grateful for your life? To become enlightened? To raise your children to be good people? Do you want a better job, a new car, a different spouse, to lose 20 pounds. or to make more money? If you could satisfy these desires, then what would you want?
How important is it to you to want something? In the past, did getting what you want make you happy in a deep and lasting way? Whether or not you got what you wanted in the past, how is it different from what you want now?
What Do You Fear?
Next, make a list of what it is that you fear. This list can be as wide-ranging as you like. It could include anything from fear of spiders to fear of dying to fear of being poor.
Look at your fears. Do they have anything in common? Which ones relate to something that you know -- such as the pain of a bee sting? Which ones relate to something you don't know -- such as whether or not hell really exists?
Do you avoid thinking about what you fear? How do your fears manifest? What do they keep you from doing?
What Do You Need?
Finally, make a list of what you need. You could also think of the items on this list as what is missing from your life at this moment. Is what you need something that can be provided from external sources such as a store or bank or person, or can you and you alone provide whatever it is you need?
Why do you need these things?
How does this list differ from what you want?
This work is best done in writing, and creates in the long run a continuum of self-awareness that leads to awakening and change.
©2000, published by Hay House Inc.
About the Author
Carlos Warter M.D., Ph.D. is a medical doctor, transpersonal spiritual psychiatrist, lecturer, and pioneer in the field of consciousness raising and alternative healing. He is the author of Soul Remembers and Who Do You Think You Are? The Healing Power of Your Sacred Self. Born in Chile, Dr. Warter has been awarded the United Nations Peace Messenger and the Pax Mundi awards for his humanitarian efforts. He presents keynote speeches, workshops, and seminars both in the U.S. and throughout the world. His website is at http://www.drwarter.com/.