Being Aware Of Your Un-Awareness

The 4 Principles Of Awareness

Think about this for moment.  How many dramas, crises and chaotic moments are you aware of happening during a month, a week, or even just a day?

More worrying – how many are you NOT aware of?

From the seemingly small incidents, like losing your car keys and phone again, to the ones that really reverberate.  Those tectonic plates of team dynamics shifting to create yet another upheaval in the office.

But here’s the thing; have you ever noticed that somehow, you’re always at the party?

I’m sure you’ll have heard the phrase, Patterns repeat’ – and they do. 

And, I expect you’ll have noticed similar disagreements, upsets, and annoyances repeating themselves in the office and at home over the years. They bug you and get under your skin, and then you get frustrated because it’s happened again

The same angsty dance between the same people. 

Patterns repeat because they’re our patterns, not someone else’s. 

I can still remember when I experienced my first significant awareness of this phenomenon, as something that I was, in some way, responsible for.

I was sitting at the kitchen table at the farm with my toddler.  My partner had gone to start on things outside and I was having a moment of reflection.  From seemingly nowhere I saw that I had got myself into another controlling relationship. 

That awareness was profound

With a superficial comparison, the relationships looked very different to me.  My first partner was forensically intelligent and spoilt by his mother and loved to get his own way.  My second partner was neither, but the outcome was the same for me.  Well, not quite, the second one had bells on just to make sure I eventually got the message and learned the lesson.  Which is what happened that morning.  I realised I was playing a part in this.  I was in the centre of this party.

Don’t worry, though, you’ll be relieved to know that this isn’t an article about domestic abuse.

This is an article about awareness and noticing our responsibility in what blows up and goes on around us and what’s beneath it.

With hindsight, luckily, I had only repeated this pattern twice.  While twice doesn’t sound like much, I’d been repeating it day in, day out for about 25 years until that moment of awareness.

And, as with all awareness, there comes choice.

The thing is we are all doing this.  We’re all repeating our patterns and are so often blind as to who the common denominator is.

Whatever is going on around us day to day we are a part of – always.  And if we don’t like it, we do have a choice in either how to change it or how to manage it better.  

The key thing is HOW do we go about doing this?

We are all subject to layers of conditioning – some wonderful and powerful and some not so wonderful, and still powerful.

And, as you read this, you will have your own unique cocktail of ‘symptoms’ that make up who you show up as day to day.   

I’m going to talk about 2 different sorts of symptoms.

Set 1

You’re at work – you’re enthusiastic, you want to make an impression. You’re given a task, or you’ve got a project you want to develop.

You’ll be thinking …. “I’ve got this thing sewn up, I’m on it! I’m flying.”  You’ve got your sleeves rolled up and you’re going to get this thing done.  You’ll do whatever it takes.  You’ve got meetings, goals and unmissable deadlines.

You’re pumped!

You’re putting in a lot of hours.  Well, you’ve got people to impress …. and you make sure your jacket’s on the back of your chair, just in case.

However, you’re probably stressed to the eyeballs, but you’re so used to feeling this way, you don’t recognise it for what it is, because you’re unaware of what the opposite feels like.

Now I know it’s not breaking news that these go-getting, ‘work as hard as you can and get the badge’ ‘symptoms’ are likely to be making you ill.    So why are they still here?  

Set 2

With the second set of symptoms, things are quite different. 

You’ve been watching your team-mate, your colleague, or more likely, your employee for a while now. You’re aware of how things are looking from where you’re sitting.

To you, it’s looking like really hard work, out of date even.  Watching your employee suffer, is making you think differently.

There’s a curiosity developing in you about the way things are being accomplished in the office these days.

So, you’ve decided to do bit of exploring about how things might be different.  And at times, it’s made you feel a bit weird because what you’re discovering is unusual to you.  But you can’t stop your exploring because what you’re hearing and reading about is beginning to make sense, and you’re getting drawn in deeply.

You get niggling doubts from time to time, and there’s no-one to talk to about this at work.  Possibly, you have a coach, and they’ve been great at the practical, forward-planning, outcomes and goals sort of stuff, but what you’re experiencing isn’t their area.

You are starting to look at this differently, and there’s a growing awareness that you’re in the middle of this – in a good way – in a way that you can make a difference.

So, you keep on exploring, digging deeper, and some days you feel a bit isolated, lonely even, but most of the time you’re consumed with curiosity about the impact that your presence has moment to moment, day to day.

And …. some days you think that there’s something wrong with you, that this kind of thing doesn’t ‘happen’ to people like you – you may even think you’re going a bit mad.  You’re sort of relieved that there isn’t anyone to talk to about this at work, because you think they’ll think you’re weird.

But what you’re discovering is telling you, you are on the right track 

And YOU know, that long-term these symptoms and this curiosity will not only be good for you, they’ll be the making of you and your organization.

What are your symptoms?  Rather than being addicted to work, you could be developing an awareness of the importance of your own growth.  It happens to many of us.  It IS happening now and needs to happen more and more in this disrupted, changing world.

So how do we deal with this?

It’s all about Being v Doingallowing things to emerge versus over-thinking and trying too hard.

The world is changing.  We’re in a maelstrom in so many ways, and old leadership styles are no longer as effective as they once were.

Rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in up to your armpits and ‘getting this thing done’ is no longer a viable strategy for successful change – it’s exhausting, creates stress in our bodies and shuts us down.

Successful change happens from the inside

So, we need to stop over-thinking and wracking our brains.  It’s time to take a step back, to consider, to allow the answers to show up. 

It’s time to live and to work from the inside out by taking moments that allow the busyness of our minds to subside so that we listen to ourselves.

We need to be less in our heads and more in the belly and the heart

So back to the repeating patterns. We repeat them because we’re steeped in unawareness.

And there are 4 Principles

Principle 1 – Unconsciously Unaware

Most of us are Unconsciously Unaware – ie we are steeped in unawareness.  So many of us are sleep walking through life with a victim mentality.  It’s someone else’s fault – the postman, the team, the PA, your partner.

The question on these people’s lips is, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ rather than the other way around, ‘What’s going on for me to continue repeating this pattern?’

It’s living from the outside, seeing everything externally and being completely unaware that our internal state governs our outcomes.  When we are here, noticing the inside rarely comes into it.

Pushing to get things done, the sleeves are rolled up again, thinking hard, wracking your brain. Stress and illness.

Principle 2 – Consciously Unaware

The next stage is when we develop an uncanny clarity that things could be done differently.  We become aware of our unawareness, so we are Consciously Unaware

  • A curiosity has crept in about this ‘stuff’ – this stuff being growth – being better than you were yesterday
  • You’re beginning to wake up to the fact that previous ways are no longer viable
  • There’s uncertainty and consternation about the changes you are experiencing.  You’ve seen in this in others, but you didn’t see it ‘happening’ to you
  • Confusion, maybe some embarrassment, ‘What if somebody notices I’m different?!’
  • But the penny is beginning to drop

When you realise that the change begins with you and you’re drawn in more deeply, you’ll grow into the next stage

Principle 3 – Consciously Aware

  • Here, you’ve noticed that there’s a developing feeling of spaciousness inside you – a calm peacefulness.  Sometimes its intoxicating
  • You’re developing a new way thinking and being.  Thoughts come more slowly, but with greater clarity and more purpose.  Repetitive, old thinking patterns begin to die away
  • A field of awareness is beginning to emerge around you
  • You’re in that place of being more often, which brings an entirely new way of doing
  • It’s easier to recognise thought patterns and styles, and then to catch yourself thinking unhelpful thoughts.  The best bit is that you’re learning how to change those thoughts
  • Instead of reacting you’re responding and making empowered choices
  • This is where you’re beginning to recognise a growing state of presence and you’re learning how to bring yourself back to that place of presence when you realise it’s slipped away
  • And you’re feeling it’s time to break the old moulds

And finally, as you continue to develop there is

Principle 4 – Unconsciously Aware

I would also call this a state of Grace and I’m not qualified to talk to you about this yet.

I’ll leave that up to the Dalai Lama and the late and lovely Bishop Desmond Tutu

If you’d like to talk about what is going on for you in this new way of being, please get in touch.  

With best wishes until next time


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