Awareness Is The Great Liberator.

Yesterday I had another opportunity for a new perspective.  At work an expert on Addictions from the VA who had a Ph.D. From Columbia gave a presentation about an approach to therapy called ACT.  This approach is complicated to explain so I will not attempt to do so.  He was a character who acted as if he was not afraid of what others might think of him.  As a matter of fact he even said early in his talk that some of the 40 or so people in the room might be evaluating/judging him, thinking about being elsewhere, worried about problems in their life or any number of things going on in which they were not really paying attention to what he said.  He said that to point out the nature of the human mind, which is processing so much more than we ever perceive.  He shared many good ideas and before long he had the attention of everyone in the room.  

The presentation got me interested enough to want to go to an ACT experiential training next time one comes to our area.  I recognized that I really do enjoy fresh perspectives because they seem to make me feel more alive.   As he came to the end he asked if anybody was willing to come up and learn a new dance. Most stayed glued to their seats but I found my body jumping up and heading to the front of the class, four others joined me.  We learned this very silly preschool dance and it was fun. 

The other 35 people watched.  He asked us participants how we were feeling?  I shared I felt alive and others said they had fun and although anxious were glad they did the dance.  Then he asked about those who watched and some wanted to join the dance but held themselves back; some made excuses; and some didn’t want to budge.  I wondered if this was a metaphor for how we do things in life.   Are some of us active participants?  Do some of us want to join the fun of life but hold back?  Are some of us excuse makers?  Are some of us unwilling to try new things or step out of their comfort zone?  No judgment about who is right of wrong about this but do you have tendencies that open you up to experiences, play it safe, or close you down? 

One of the approaches of this technique is to explore a person’s values and ask them if their behavior matches these values.  What values matter most to you and are you living them?  Again self-judging is not necessary but awareness is valuable. 

If you find yourself run by old patterns, self-limits, fear, habits, playing it safe then to become aware means you can make new choices.  You can learn to observe who you are and what you do and keep the patterns that work and discard the ones that do not.  Awareness is the great liberator.