The mistakes we make are invaluable, especially when it comes to navigating through life. They are opportunities to learn. Sometimes certain situations trigger unwelcomed emotional responses and can make me upset, flustered, disappointed. For most of my life I would label my emotion (good, bad, ugly, stupid, uncalled for, etc.); trying to exercise self-discipline in the form of self-control I would adjust my behavior, and move on. Nowadays instead of self-control, I’m practicing self-awareness. It feels liberating.

Self Control vs. Self Awareness

“Triggered states” (situations that invoke a certain reaction or unpleasant emotion) for me present an opportunity to look inside and see what is triggered, so I can look deeper and understand why this particular emotion arises in me.

I see exercising self-control as an act of suppression; exercising awareness towards emotion without labeling it good or bad as an act of navigation. Both of them are acts of control. Exercising awareness to me is just like driving a car; you are not suppressing it, and you can’t let it go on “self-control” either (well, now that is debatable ๐Ÿ˜† with new self-driven Tesla’s). While driving, you’re assessing the situation by observing, make a decision, and accordingly, you navigate. No suppression is needed if you just navigate your vehicle. That’s all.

The other day someone wrote to me about the necessity of self-discipline and self-control and asked, “what would happen to the population of the world if the trade would be interrupted and modern convenience lost? You think people are going to be peaceful?”

Yes, unfortunately, I think the world will explode if modern conveniences are lost. Because when your emotions are out of your control, you are overtaken by anxiety and fear of suffering, your actions are based on the self-preservation instinct. They are not productive, nor do they serve a purpose or give a solution.

That is why it is essential that we stop blaming outside situations for how we feel and how we act. Sometimes it is not easy, though. I get flustered, upset, or I feel something that is not generally accepted in society, no doubt about it. But instead of suppressing, repressing, restricting, I’m exercising conscious awareness of the situation and my feeling towards it. I wish I came to this earlier in life, so much internal suffering could have been avoided.

I am over 50 years old; my life was far from easy. I was born in the Soviet Union. I went through a lot of suffering, suppression, oppression, depression, and a lot of other …essions in my life. I survived Chernobyl, abusive marriage, divorce, cancer, to name a few.

And now I feel free to be. I feel free to experience life and enjoy every bit of it. (Even if it’s a bitter bit). So why is that? Is it because of my life experiences, or my two master’s degrees, the knowledge I gained, the books I read, the life lessons I learned? Most certainly, all of the above affected the way I am today. 

But the most significant shift in my outlook happened after I was diagnosed with cancer. Facing mortality straight-on, just like a bucket of iced water poured over the head, brought me to my senses. During this time, I was introduced to Sadhguru. I took the Inner Engineering program online, I felt like it gave me a certain clarity and different perspective. For the past 6 years, I’ve been practicing classical Hatha yoga and meditation which made me feel more liberated and brought more self-awareness to my life.

Anyway, it is a deep topic. I’m grateful for the opportunity to reflect on my experiences and the way I approach life nowadays.

Keep on seeking, keep on questioning ๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป ๐ŸŒบ

Those are my thoughts, feel free to share yours.

Be Alive ๐ŸŒฑ,
โค Love, Julia

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