Do you ever feel that it takes more work, more out of you emotionally, to live a conscious life than it did to live less-than-consciously? Many years ago I had a T-shirt made with the saying, It’s A Bitch Being Conscious. I wore it on the first day of my Journey Into Ecstasy workshop intensive because I could count on it to evoke instant, knowing laughter from all the participants.
So why do we do it? Why do we keep working on ourselves when it takes so much effort, when we’d sometimes rather be zoned out, pour a cold one, light up a joint or cigarette, or grab the remote? Why do we put ourselves through seeming torture for no guaranteed rewards, sometimes paying a hefty price for the privilege of doing so? Are we just masochists disguised as seekers and healers? Is ignorance perhaps, if not the best policy, at least a better one than relentless self-examination? Who is it that said that the unexamined life is not worth living? A lot of people might disagree.
I know that I’m supposed to answer these rhetorical, “teaser” questions for you in this paragraph. I’m supposed to justify and validate all your hard work, the money you spend on coaching, therapy, workshops, and books, the courage you’ve mustered to face your demons. But you know, I don’t know why anyone does it.
When my coaching clients express how hard this work sometimes is all I can do is smile, agree, and cheerlead. I say things like, “Doesn’t clarity feel better than confusion?” “Doesn’t feeling your emotions feel better than walking around numb?” Sometimes they give in and admit that they like living in an aware and awakened state. Sometimes they give me the look that lets me know I’m skating on thin ice, that their answer just might be a resounding “No!” if I weren’t so chipper.
I can relate. I like the temporary high that blaming and playing the victim provide so well. Blaming feeds my ego and playing the victim allows me to relinquish responsibility for my life. Who wouldn’t say, “Bring it on!” But once the high leaves, I’m stuck with all my hangover symptoms: depression, lower self-esteem, helplessness, and hopelessness. I wake up and see in the mirror someone who traded the excitement of possibility for the drudgery of inevitability, someone who is stuck in a rut, reading from a very boring script, complaining often and loudly. I see someone who, while familiar, is less than admirable.
Kicking and screaming, or at least whining, I stop the chatter and remind that face in the mirror what the goal of consciousness is: happiness. I tell myself that I am more than the sum of my fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs. I quiet the chatter long enough to hear my spirit’s whispers. And when I persevere, I do occasionally stumble onto great and unexpected joy. More often, I find myself feeling at least a small measure of peace. I’m grateful for that. Is it all worth it? I guess each of us needs to answer that question for ourselves.