Living consciously is not just about seeing and knowing reality for what it is, but it also means acting on what we see and know. Staying “unconscious” can seem very inviting – we don’t have to deal with the problem, we don’t have to face uncomfortable feelings, we don’t have to make any changes – but at what cost? Deep inside we know that we are ignoring something important, and it is our self-esteem that suffers as a result.
Looking back on my life, there certainly have been periods when I found comfort in staying “unconscious.” I didn’t want to deal with my personal life, so I decided that I would lose myself in my work. Being a workaholic may have been socially acceptable because I was “focusing on my career”, but the truth is that it is not very different from escaping into any other form of addiction. The purpose is the same: To escape anxiety and pain.
How do we practice Living Consciously, so we don’t betray ourselves, but increase our self-esteem and personal effectiveness instead? Dr. Nathaniel Branden, the author of “The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem”, suggests daily sentence completion exercises. First thing in the morning, simply write one of the following sentence stems and then keep on adding different endings (at least 6), as rapidly as possible, with no pauses to “think.” Don’t worry whether a particular ending is true or significant – any ending is fine, just keep on going.
Here are some stems to work with:
Do this every day for a week and on the weekend, reread what you have written during the week and write a minimum of 6 endings for the following stem:
If any of what I wrote this week is true, it would be helpful if I…
Try it out and let me know what you discover! =)
For more information on the sentence completion exercises, check out: