Monday, May 7, 2012

Step #2 Self-discovery

A rock band named “The Who” had a hit album in the late 70’s that was titled “Who Are You?” That was also the title of one of the songs on the album. The first line of the song asks? “Who are you? Who? Who? Who? Who?” And, if you recall the verbal exchange between Alice and the caterpillar in the Disney version of “Alice in Wonderland,” you’ll remember that is the same question the caterpillar kept asking Alice. So, that is my question to you . . .

WHO are you? Who ARE you? Who are YOU? WHO are YOU? WHO ARE YOU?

That is same question posed five different ways. The answer? Only YOU know WHO you are and that’s your assignment for Step #2, explore and discover who you really are.

Psychobabble and Pop-psychology

As I’ve been exploring this important question, “Who am I?” for myself, I realized that I needed to make this simple. Accordingly, it should be simple for you, too. Remember, I am not a member of the “credentialed” crop of "pop-psychologists” who have gained and lost (and sometimes regained) popularity, primarily, through the media over the past several decades. I am a realist, an existentialist, of sorts, and a pragmatist. I’m not going to dish out a lot of popular psychobabble or psycho-chatter.

You are not going to be directed to use hypnotherapy or transcendental meditation or neuro-linguistic programming or positive thinking or guided visualization or similar processes. You can do any of those if you choose to. But, please engage in those processes with a licensed, credentialed, trained, experienced professional. None of this is what the 12 Step Program for Living Free is all about.

What I am expressing to you is simply from my own life experience. Sure, I have a couple college degrees and I even had a course or two in psychology as it applied to working with children in the classroom setting. But, a psychologist, I am not. I have read volumes and volumes by some of the classic “self-help” authors and, in some cases, psychologists or psychiatrists. I’ve filled my mind with everyone from J.P. Getty, Napoleon Hill, Elmer Wheeler, Maxwell Maltz, M. Scott Peck, Richard Carlson, Wayne Dyer and too many others to list.

Have I gained anything from all of these people? Of course I have. I’d have to be a lower animal not to have gained something and, I’ll be honest, I’ve gained much. I’ve gained more then I can quantify. And, much of what you’ll experience in this 12 Step Program is the result of what I’ve learned and the conscious choices of utilizing or not utilizing this knowledge in my life. Through this 12 Step Program, you’re not going to gain from all the technical and theoretical information by the scores of authors like the ones I mentioned. Rather, you’re going to gain from the practical application of simple, basic steps that can work for you if you’re willing to apply these simple steps in your life as I and countless other people have in our lives.

Remember, everything you’re learning here is in simple basic steps. You need only make a conscious choice to apply the steps to your own life and stick with them. Don’t let your IQ, degrees, professional experience, success and status hold you back from gaining the true personal freedom and happiness you have a natural right to and deserve.

The reason the 12 Step Programs have been very successful in areas of alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, over-eating, etc. is because they cross all the lines. No matter who someone is in their personal, professional or societal life, when they join and attend a 12 Step AA meeting or the meetings of any similar programs, everyone there is dealing with the same issue. Those who accept that and adhere to the 12 Steps of the particular program change their lives and succeed. Those, who choose not to and prefer to just allow life to continue to happen, usually fail. This is proof positive that the 12 Step Program in Living Free can help you to gain the freedom and happiness you seek. Don’t judge the program or the steps. Simply choose to accept them, apply them and live them.

So, WHO Are YOU Anyway?

At this point you may be saying to yourself, I know who I am. I don’t need to do this. I contend  that every individual is a dynamic being who is constantly learning, growing and changing. You weren’t the same person at age 10 that you were at age 5. You weren’t the same person at age 20 that you were at age 15. You weren’t the same person at age 40 that you were at age 20. And, in my specific case, I’m not the same person at age 67 that I was at age 40. Select any age and day in your life and you aren’t the same person physiologically, mentally, emotionally, financially, spiritually or in any other way then the person you were the day before or at any other time in your personal history.  

Self-discovery is as ongoing a process as change is in our world. No one can tell you to do anything. No one can tell you who you are. No one can tell you who you must be . . . unless you give him or her the authority to do so and choose to accept that authority over your life.

Self-discovery is a constant process of not only discovering who you are at this moment in time, but how you reached this moment in time and who you are becoming through your life journey. More importantly, because “life happens” you WILL continue to constantly change.

Life Is About Choices And Applying The Choices

Life is all about choices. You can choose to just allow life to continue to happen and accept whatever it dishes out. Or, you can make conscious, personal choices about where you want your life to go and who you want to be. Life is still going to happen, you can’t change that. But, you can have more control of your own life if you choose to.

If you are the average adult in 2012, you make dozens, if not hundreds of choices every day. For example, you may choose to use a traditional alarm, a clock radio tuned to a station you choose to wake you, an alarm in your cell phone or no alarm device at all. You’ll choose the appropriate and accepted attire to wear that day depending on the activity you have planned. It may be for your occupation or business  or such activities as working in your garden or going fishing or biking or shopping. You’ll choose whether or not to have a first meal of the day, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner and what you’ll eat. You’ll make similar choices for other meals and, perhaps, a few snacks during the day.

Most of those are rather routine choices and we often take them for granted. However, make no mistake, each is a choice. You also make larger decisions that include your career and responsibilities on your job, your family life or even choosing whether to have a spouse, family or not. You may be taking some courses in college or vocational training and you have to decide whether to go today or not. Or, you may be taking tests at an educational institution or for job advancement and have to make choices about answers you’re not entirely sure about.

You may have to make choices of the most serious kind, life or death decisions, about your own life or the life of someone else. You may be in the military and have to choose who to take with you on an assignment or whether to volunteer for a dangerous assignment. You may have to decide whether to jump on an armed hand grenade to save the lives of several other members of your team or to just yell “grenade” and allow everyone to fend for themselves with the potential of several team members being killed or severely injured.

Life is all about choices and you started making them when you were a baby. Every choice you have made is part of who you are. Everything you’ve learned in school and any formal education you have is another part of who you are. Every relationship you’ve had with family, friends, boyfriends or girlfriends, employers, people you’ve come in contact with through community, government, charitable, religious, social and other interactions have contributed to who you are. Your various kinds of occupational, professional and business relationships and experiences, plus every movie, television show, radio show, Internet search and Web site visited, piece of music you’ve listened to, live theatrical and concert event you’ve enjoyed, military service and the list goes on . . . are all archived in the memory banks of your lifetime.

You are so much more then you were when you were a child or a teenager or a young adult (although you may still be a teenager or young adult currently). The process of self-discovery is a process where you take everything that you can remember about your life and explore the path it has taken you through on your lifetime journey to culminate at this moment in time. And, as you go through this exploratory process, you’ll recall things that you’ve sublimated and thought you had or, at least, attempted to forget. Some of the things you’ll remember will be painful. Some will remind you of great joy and pleasure. But, you can’t discount any of it because you are a complete and unique tapestry of everything that has ever happened to you.

Life is all about choices. Everyone has made some great choices. Everyone has made some not so great choices. Everyone has made some bad choices. You are the sum total of every choice and the resulting experiences, good, bad or in between, of every choice and experience.

And, don’t forget those dreams we explored in Step #1. Every dream, whether to be a cowboy or astronaut or business person or college professor or mother/father or rock star or actor or missionary or doctor or race car driver, etc., is part of who you are no matter what the dream was. You may have followed one or more of your dreams and accomplished it or them. You may have chosen to allow life to happen as it may, and shelved all the dreams.

What Do I Do With All This Stuff?

First, you must make a list of all your self-discovery. I have a friend, Michael Aun, in Florida, who began journaling when he was a youngster. His grandfather, who he held in high esteem and who he continues to display a deep respect and love for many years after his grandfather’s death, gave him his first book in which to journal. Michael has a written record of his life. It’s a detailed autobiography, if you will, that was written in real time as Michael’s life unfolded.

Listing everything you will remember as you progress through your personal process of self-discovery is important. It becomes a fruitless exercise if you don’t write it down and can’t connect all the events. You’ll want to talk with living relatives like siblings, parents, friends and anyone else who can help you remember little things that can assist in pulling all the pieces together.

You are, in essence, creating your own autobiography. However, you’re not doing it with any ego fulfillment motive. You’re creating a picture of yourself and all the richness of the tapestry that is you. This is going to answer the question we started with. “Who are you?”

The Foundation For Living Free And Happy – The Roots of Discontent And Unhappiness

So, now you’re down to the bottom line. Why do you want to know who you are?

You’ve been given the gift of life for a finite period of time. Most of us don’t have any knowledge of how much time we’ve been blessed with. Another of the great questions that philosophers have been asking since the earliest time of human existence is, “What’s it all about?” Of course, we know that part of the question is answered by a single word, survival. But, beyond basic survival and needs, why are we here?

I have a personal belief as a realist, existentialist and pragmatist that we’re here to enjoy every moment of this life we can. That may sound self-centered and selfish, however, I believe enjoying every moment of life and being self-centered and selfish are mutually exclusive. Every single human being on the face of this earth, no matter where we were fortunate or unfortunate enough to be born, has the basic human right to be free and to pursue personal happiness and fulfillment as we individually define them for ourselves.

The choices I’ve made and continue to make for my life to experience personal freedom and happiness have absolutely nothing to do with the choices you’ve made and will continue to make. I also know that IF you are reading and following this simplistic 12 Step Program, you’re searching for answers. You’re not experiencing the freedom you desire. You’re not enjoying the true happiness you feel you deserve.

You may have multiple PhD’s or be a general or admiral in the military. You may be a teacher, preacher, doctor or lawyer. You may be the CEO of a huge corporation or the owner of a small business or a simple laborer. Your position in life doesn’t matter. The desires are all the same.

There are those who won’t give this 12 Step program a chance to work for them or even take a serious look at it. That’s not my problem or concern, nor does it bother me in any way that some choose to take a different path in life, wherever it may lead them. I am not, don’t pretend to be and have no desire to be a savior or messiah for anyone other then my own humble life.

Self-discovery is a continuing process and without knowing who you are, you will likely never become who you believe you can be or live the life you want to live – free, happy, fulfilled and satisfied. Self-discovery is another of the cornerstones of personal freedom and, ultimately, the happiness with your life that you desire. Share the Living Free 12 Step Program with others. Some will embrace it while others will reject it. That’s no different then any other 12 step program and one reason there is still a huge problem in our country and the world with alcohol, drugs, gambling, overeating, etc. The Living Free 12 Step Program is one of the few positive programs to fulfilling your own desires for your life.

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