“I think the key to transforming your life is to be aware of who you are.” ~ Deepak Chopra
Following up on the discussion on ‘survival charades’, a lot of us have spent most of our lives being someone that we aren’t, and so we do not have awareness of who we actually are. Many of us have actively hidden who we really are because of feelings of unworthiness. Or perhaps we received messages while young of being “bad” or not good enough, and so fear rejection or abandonment. (“If you knew who I really was you wouldn’t like me.”) The charades help us hide the true selves we have grown to not love and to fear others will reject.
The key to change is awareness of this true self. As long as we are in denial of who we truly are (don’t like it, want it, see it) no change can happen. The process of developing awareness is like taking an inventory. A business can’t survive if it only inventories the “good stuff.” It needs to know what is working and what isn’t, what products add value to lives and which don’t. We human beings are the same. We need to inventory all aspects of ourselves. In the process of facing these truths we may decide to discard aspects of our thoughts and behaviors that we don’t like – but if we don’t actually acknowledge them, we will not have the choice.
In the Integrity Recovery Workbook (IRW), Level I is Awareness. This section of the workbook gently guides the individual into awareness through the development of support and new skills like noticing and mindfulness. These practices can help us identify situation that challenge us, and the ways we move into charades or behind masks.
Mindful presence with the self is a major component of the healing process. Holding space for difficult feelings is something that many people cannot initially do for themselves. If we have hidden from this level of awareness or are afraid to look at our true selves alone, a therapist, being present in a non-judgmental and loving manner, can help and can model this new behavior.
In the IRW, Lao Tzu is quoted, “He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.” This work is not easy. It is called “the hero’s journey” because it is difficult, challenging, and will test a person’s mettle. But who will we be in the end, without it? How will we see our life experience as we look back from our deathbeds? And who might we become if we can clear away some of the blockages from the past?
The Integrity Recovery Workbook (IRW) is designed to guide individuals through a journey to integrity, defined as a state of wholeness in which thoughts, beliefs, and feelings align with words and actions, through ten “levels” of work:
III Shifting reality
Each chapter (or level) contains educational material on charades, behaviors, and thought processes that block individuals from the value listed in the title, as well as guidance to move toward those same values. There are sections of self-reflection, writing, and journaling. And then there is a suggestion of presenting the completed work to a trusted therapist. This work is also extremely effective in a guided group setting and The Evolution Group offers ongoing Integrity Recovery groups.