The First Pillar of Self-Esteem: Living Consciously

First Pillar - Living ConsciouslyWhy is Living Consciously so important? Every day, we make choices to be responsible toward reality or evading it. Even if we are not aware of those choices, they do add up and create the reputation we have with ourselves. Sometimes there are some discomforting facts we are faced with, and we make a decision to ignore them. “I know that I’m not eating healthy, but I don’t have time to think about that right now.” “I know that there are issues in my relationship, but maybe they’ll work themselves out…” “I know that I am spending too little time with my children/loved ones/friends, but one day that’ll change…” By evading these facts and ignoring them, we are in essence betraying ourselves.

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:

If I bring 5 percent more awareness to my activities today…
If I bring 5 percent more awareness to my most important relationships…
If I bring 5 percent more awareness to (fill in a particular problem you are concerned about – for example, your relationship with someone, a barrier you’ve hit a work, your feelings of anxiety, etc.)…

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:

Manuela loves helping smart and creative women bring more balance, happiness and success into their lives. Visit Manuela’s Website for Professional Life Coaching!

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