Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Step 2

I've done a lot of "Step 1". People always talk about it. They always say that Step 1 is becoming aware of a problem. "Once you are aware of it, you can begin to work on it!", they say. If there was ever a "spiritual cliche", that would be one. Alright, it IS a cliche, but cliches are the way they are because they can often be handy.

So what is Step 2?

Ah, the little-known and elusive Step 2! A place we rarely see. Most people who figure out Step 1 either think they are done, or they wander off as if they have some kind of mystical ADD.

Becoming aware of a problem must be followed by observation. I tend to believe that wrestling with a problem and forcing yourself to "tackle" it and "solve" it, as if some kind of bright idea can end it, is not the way it goes most times. Think about it: most of the time your mind is wrestling with things anyway. It believes that by churning around and around it can solve things and find peace. So it churns some more, but it never quite gets anywhere. It is the same thing with "solving" a problem that you have just become aware of. Forcing yourself to think about it or forcing yourself to change your behavior drastically overnight takes a lot of will power, and will power eventually runs out for all of us. It's like going on a diet. Eventually, even though it might take years, you will come off the diet and be back again.

Observation is Step 2. Once you have found the problem in Step 1, you have to face it in Step 2. That involves figuratively going nose to nose with it and looking it in the eye, and doing nothing else. It's harder than you might think. Our brains are wired to solve problems or complain about them. Holding in your mind something you don't like about yourself and just allowing it to exist without judgment or action is not easy, but it is Step 2.

Why is that helpful? Observing something, giving it space, and allowing it to be separates you from it. Before Step 2, you are one with the problem, but you do not know it. It is an unconscious and harmful oneness. Before you re-identify with the problem in an enlightened fashion (in Step 3), you need to have a healthy dis-identification with it first.

IF changing something is the right thing to do about that particular problem, the changes you need to make will become evident as you face it. Not only that, they will also become easier to enact and they will have a higher chance of sticking. Alternatively, you may then find yourself able to accept the issue and move on, without having it impede you any longer.