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from Rediscovering Life by Anthony De Mello . . .
Coming home to yourself involves observing yourself.
Here are four steps to greater self-awareness.
The First Step
The first thing you need to do is get in touch with negative feelings that you’re not even aware of.
Lots of people are depressed and they’re not aware they are depressed. It’s only when they make contact with joy that they understand how depressed they were. So, the first thing you need is awareness of your negative feelings.
What negative feelings?
Gloominess, for instance. You’re feeling gloomy and moody. You feel self-hatred or guilt. You feel that life is pointless, that it makes no sense; you’ve got hurt feelings, you’re feeling nervous and tense. Get in touch with those feelings first.
The Second Step
The second step is to understand that the feeling is in you, not in reality. That’s such a self-evident thing, but do you think people know it?
Negative feelings are in you, not in reality. So stop trying to change reality. Stop trying to change the other person. We spend all our time and energy trying to change external circumstances, trying to change our spouses, our bosses, our friends, our enemies, and everybody else.
We don’t have to change anything.
Let’s suppose that rain washes out a picnic. Who is feeling negative? The rain? Or YOU? What’s causing the negative feeling? The rain or your reaction? The mystics keep trying to tell us that reality is all right. Reality is not problematic. Problems exist only in the human mind.
The Third Step
The third step is never identify with the negative feeling. Don’t define your essential self in terms of that feeling. Don’t say, “I am depressed.” If you want to say my experience is depression or depression is there, that’s fine; if you want to say gloominess is there, that’s fine. But not: I am gloomy. You’re defining yourself in terms of the feeling. That’s your illusion; that’s your mistake.
There is a depression there right now, there are hurt feelings there right now, but let it be, leave it alone. It will pass.
Everything passes, everything. Your depressions and your thrills have nothing to do with happiness.
Those are the swings of the pendulum.
The Fourth Step
The fourth step is to keep going. If you try these three steps, you will get it.
You might not need to do it even three times or you might need to do it a thousand times; there’s no rule for it.