Inspirational Articles

Putting Our Self in the Picture

Putting Our Self in the Picture

Conscious Living Column

BY Gord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak


The age old adage stressing the importance of knowing our Self is a wise and, I suspect, not fully understood idea that could help many of us. Our primary tool to catalyst our own growth is in fact other people. Our inter-relational dynamics, from wherever to with whomever, all enhance, entice and expand our personal awareness and growth by activating the very issues we carry and whose resolution has not yet been found. We hear and talk a lot about being self-aware, of knowing who we are and what we know about the world and each other, however as with all things there is a dual side to who we think we are. Dualities are fascinating as they force the entire issue, once it is activated, or as they say “our buttons are pushed” into the light.

Most things that remain unhealed within us are often because the whole story has not yet come to light. We have many aspects to our issues, or layers, and through our inner work we dig down through the layers gathering more bits and pieces of data , all the while struggling to bring some sort of resolution to the topic so we may move on to the next one. We may be somewhat misguided in the believe that at some point in time we will be issue free, wise in our resolution filled life and free of any lingering side effects of the buttons we have so carefully removed.

Internal work

Most personal growth and therapies are done from the point of opening ourselves up to experiencing our inner world. Our thoughts, inner dialogues, beliefs, feelings and patterns are looked at, examined, and perhaps we gain greater awareness as to our experiences. The interdependency and the interconnectedness of our inner world will become clear once we have shed the belief that each issue is a singular stand-alone experience that can heal in isolation. People are often amazed and bewildered when in the course of their journey they discover that here they are talking about their parents once again. All along they believed everything related to their growing up issues had long ago been let go of.

When we metaphorically, dig through the layers of our mind, everything at each layer is loosened up to possibly surface and become available to heal. Much like digging in the garden, as we move down through the soil we come cross various things from stones and rocks to plant roots from nearby trees, all either moved to the side and we keep going or we slow down and examine what is being brought into the light with each shovel we put into the ground. Our inner world or issues is much the same as digging in the garden: there are times we stop and take a close look at what is being revealed through the various layers and then other times we barrel straight through the layers, moving to the side anything that does not match what we think we are hoping to discover.  Hence the freedom to move through any layer and discard what we don’t want to really look at, perpetuates the cycles of just when we think we have finally resolved and let go of certain issues, we discover that we are right back in there, finding more illuminating pieces which bring to light an even deeper experience that what we had thought we had.

We all have myths about what our inner world is. Many believe we know what the issues are, we just need to take the time to work them through, when we are ready. Surprise!  Anyone who has honestly approached their issues, the ones they were so certain formed the root of their experience, only to discover that what seemed so certain would become merely a safety cloak covering the real deal.

External Affects

All of our inner world, no matter how hard we work to keep it unknown from others, manifests itself in our daily life. Our demeanour, actions, moods and our choices are informed by our inner workings. The person who may feel unworthy or undeserving of love and intimacy may exhibit an attitude of arrogance. The distrust of others may be exhibited behaviour as standoffish or secretive. We may be short tempered or angry when the rumblings of fear are not identified as influencing our perspective on the world. While we may have some awareness that other people may be perceiving us in a certain way we need to remember that those protective behaviours have been developing for years in order to give us a sense of safety and the capability to move about and function in our world. Any threat to their existence and possible demise will be met with the fury of a cornered animal.

Often we may have recurring reactions from people which may be confusing, even perplexing. We may put our self out there to interact with others expecting one level of response but instead we experience the opposite. We can be feeling upbeat and open and may chime into a conversation with a joke or humourous story only to be met with derision or feeling shut out. Our attempts at interaction all but foiled by our lack of awareness as to what affect we have on others. While it is easy enough to put other peoples’ reactions back on them and claim they have issues that need looking at, we may be missing a possibility to take a look our self. While the claim that it is their problem may be true, it can be a missed opportunity for us to examine what we are projecting and others are reacting to. Our intention may not be matching up with our behaviour or external self due to the incongruity with our internal landscape. If we consider other people to be our primary catalyst for greater awareness then looking at their reaction to us and our behaviour must be honoured as an opening to see what they may feel and we may not see.  

The best of traits can have both a light and dark side. Humour is a very tricky trait to be able to use and garner a laugh as was intended but use with the wrong timing or tone and it can feel judgemental and humiliating which will lead to an angry outburst. Caring and compassion may be soothing and comforting but delivered with the wrong tone or gestures it can be experienced as condescending or hypocritical. While our intent may be to exhibit as we believe our self to be, an open caring spiritual person,   we can be perceived as haughty, looking down at others and interested only in our self if we lack the awareness of our external messages.

The ability to step back and look at how we present our self externally while ensuring that it is congruent with both our intent and our insides affords us a calm peaceful persona. A perfect place to be able to utilise all of our traits and talents when we engage others. The positive regard others hold for us rests solely on our ability to project a congruent message between our external and internal worlds and combined with our intentions. Who we think we are, is often different from what we project. Our ability to identify discrepancies will smooth out a number of the bumps we may repeatedly be experiencing on our journey.