Self-knowledge and analysis, awareness, understanding our motivations and reactions; as well as practicing and putting into action effective methods of dealing with the world at large become very valuable tools with which to navigate our lives.
One of our greatest advantages is that we can grab hold of the present time in order to shape and change our future. The past is past. The future is not yet, and so the only real time we have to work with is the now.
Now is the time to choose and to decide who we are and who we will become; what to focus on and/or change, what information to verify and believe, and which paths to take.
Awareness also helps you realize, both consciously and powerfully, that no matter how much television, news, or advertising you are bombarded with, you are still in control of your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
We should note here psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud’s opinion and the like-minded theories, that humans cannot really have control of their thoughts, feelings or their free will because ‘man is controlled and ruled by his subconscious desires and thus acts out of these impulses’.
According to these theories the sex, death, pain and pleasure principles are supposed to be predominant and humans are supposed to be at the whim of these basic impulses. People are also supposed to be at the whim of, and controlled by those forces (other humans, movie-makers, music-producers, advertisers and corporations), who are able to manipulate these basic principles at the subconscious level.
While there is validity and merit in these theories, it is my belief that there is a valid response and real counter-measures which we can use to our benefit and to gain the advantage. I believe that this is exactly why it is essential that we engage in self-examination and meditative practices.
Meditational practices, prayer, quiet-time and contemplation are some of the most useful and effective methods of learning self-cultivation, understanding the roots of impulse and desire, increasing self-control, discipline and calming the emotions.
Learning to understand ourselves, our reactions and motivations as well as our childhood experiences, help us to be aware of our impulses and awake to our desires and our emotions.
This in turn enables us to consciously and continuously practice understanding and controlling our impulses and desires instead of blindly following them. We will also be able to practice and to learn increasing self-control instead of automatically reacting to the negative words and actions of other towards us, to external stimuli, social conditioning, propaganda and advertising in set and expected ways.
And so, with continued practice and conscious awareness, you can say that for all intents and purposes: Yes, you are still in control of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. You can have the courage of your convictions. You can follow the path that makes sense to you, no matter which way the crowd seems to be going.
What this also means in practical terms is that we will not always have an involuntary reaction and an automatic response to the negative words and actions of others towards us; as well as to external stimuli, social conditioning, propaganda and advertising (obvious and subliminal).
Therefore, we don’t have to, and we won’t follow or copy what we see on our (increasingly life-sized and HD) television screens; nor do we have to copy the excessive drinking or ‘party-hard’ habits of others; excessive consumerism; celebrity life-styles and trends.
The same applies for the sexual behaviours depicted and “promoted” in movies, music videos or the pornographic industry. (Sadly, a lot of the images and actions portrayed in these various industries are becoming increasingly similar.)
In many ways, the practice of meditation and prayer enables the practitioner to increasingly shut out the confusing repetitive chatter, and the “white noise” of the dizzyingly excessive amounts of stimuli we process day after day.
At the same time, understanding your past experiences, your limiting thoughts, self-sabotage, and why you keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again can be very helpful in starting the process of overcoming your less than positive habits. [And if it is necessary or would be helpful, a good professional can help.]
Perhaps your body wants to eat or drink too much—but you can stop it; you also can recognize the difference between physical and emotional hunger. This is because self-knowledge and understanding help us to be aware of where our emotional voids come from; and how we try to fill these voids (many times, in the wrong places and in the wrong ways.)
Such awareness, analysis and knowledge of self enable us to consciously and continuously practice healing our own selves. At the very least, we will become aware of why we do a lot of the things we do and how we can gradually learn to change or overcome these habits.
And so, with continued practice, you can find you have the self-awareness and wisdom it takes to realize that your mind controls your body and you control your mind. Knowledge and awareness can wake us up to our own actions and give us the power and the ability to change—to do things differently, to do them better, and in a way that helps us transform.
And this transformation and growth is what leads us towards a fulfilling life.