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Are You Self-Awakened?

The 5 empowering qualities of self-awakened people.

Photo by Keegan Houser, Unsplash.
Source: Photo by Keegan Houser, Unsplash.

Why do some people thrive in the face of obstacles and setbacks, while others in more favorable circumstances lack the drive to persevere?

Buddhist scholar and peace activist Daisaku Ikeda suggests:

"Fortune and misfortune are unfathomable. Even if we achieve a win, our joy will not last forever. But a person of self-awakening, even if temporarily defeated, can go on to build a future vaster, broader, deeper, and greater than someone who seems to have won." (World Tribune, June 6, 2020)

Sounds promising. But how does one become "self-awakened?"

The Resilience of the Self-Awakened

Self-awakened persons aren't dependent on their environment to meet their needs. They feel empowered, even in hostile environments, to weed out toxics and find nutrients. Driven by a sense of purpose and undisturbed by the opinions of others, they embrace freedom and independence. Rather than sink into defeat when obstacles appear in their path, they rally their resources and become even more determined to break through. Their superpower: turning obstacles into opportunities to forge and strengthen their will.

The Fragility of the Self-Discouraged

After conducting thousands of individual and group therapy sessions over 25 years, I think the "self-discouraging personality" is most difficult to heal. Self-discouraging personalities allow their past to define them; they embrace outdated childhood versions of themselves built on distrust and powerlessness. As adults, they carry around negative voices in their heads that stoke fear, shame, and discouragement. When faced with an obstacle, rather than pursuing growth choices, they retreat and blame others for their misfortune.

5 Empowering Qualities of Self-Awaked People

Working in therapy with self-awakened people is a lot of fun. In every session, they arrive eager and ready to work on themselves. They see therapy as a tool for growth and quickly apply what they learn.

Here are the five qualities self-awakened people most frequently demonstrate:

1. A Drive for Self-Improvement. The self-awakened are hungry for growth. Rather than accumulate material goods, they put more energy into working on their inner lives; they question, explore, and challenge themselves, processing powerful feelings with a healthy curiosity and eagerness to understand.

2. A Cultivated Sense of Gratitude. Rather than grumble about life's difficulties, self-awakened folks find a way to cultivate appreciation even amid struggles. Unfortunately, complaining comes naturally for most people; gratitude doesn't. It requires work, but the rewards are plentiful. For example, a woman in one of my therapy groups noted, "The office culture at my new job is miserable. Everyone complains about everything!" Rather than join the culture, she viewed it as a challenge. She set the goal of making one positive comment to each co-worker every day. Sure enough, she became the change the office needed to break free of the resentment and dissatisfaction that was fostering such an unpleasant work environment. (See "Reversing Negative Thinking")

3. A Yearning for Mentors. The self-awakened yearn for leadership and guidance from mentors. They are skilled at finding symbolic parents who can provide them with the approval and encouragement they craved but perhaps never received. Rather than blaming their upbringing, they set out to create a more reliable self by strengthening their life force and absorbing the skill and expertise of their mentor.

4. A Spiritual Practice. A spiritual practice strengthens one's identity by inspiring you to move beyond the mundane and consider the profound. For example, contemplating life's sufferings, such as one's death, is a great way to start to reevaluate your life choices and let go of petty concerns. A spiritual practice naturally impels you toward self-awakening by causing you to see the bigger picture and embracing a more altruistic way of being.

5. Healthy Relationships. Negative relationships are one of the greatest sources of suffering in life. Identifying relationships that are unhealthy and moving toward more positive people is vital in striving toward a self-awakened life.

Beginning Your Self-Awakened Journey

There are endless tools to help you initiate your journey of self-awakening. Challenging unhealthy habits and exploring new, creative experiences is critical. Psychotherapy or counseling is undoubtedly a great place to start. You may also find the inspiration you need in support groups, classes, lectures, online courses, meditation, and other creative outlets.

Self-awakening begins with — you guessed it — you. No one is going to knock on your door and offer you a new life. When you accept full responsibility for your choices, you take a significant step toward self-empowerment and a new way of being.

Facebook image: AleksSafronov/Shutterstock

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