When I was about seven years old the boy in the desk behind me at school used to pull my ponytail. I didn’t like it. But other than jerking my head away I didn’t do anything.
What do I think now when I look back at this story? Why am I revisiting it now? I am struck by the gap between the world I was living in then and the world I’m living in now. What I mean by “world” is the world as I experienced it inside my head. I am amazed at the enormously restricted consciousness I was living with. I was upset yet I felt helpless to do anything about it.
I did not know that I had emotional, spiritual and environmental resources at my disposal. Had I known, I would have been aware of and taken a number of different courses of action.
I could have poked him back. This response would have accessed engagement with the other and fearlessness. I could have accessed self-assuredness, assertiveness, confidence and clarity by putting my hands on my hips and saying in a firm, steady tone “You don’t do that to me.” Alternatively had I believed in my rights and ability to ask for those rights and had I trusted in a protective benevolent authority I could have told the teacher about it. But I didn’t know how to reach out for help.
Viktor Frankl said that to be human is to be conscious and to be responsible, which is to be conscious that we are responsible.
When I think about it, even a small incident like this one impresses me with the realization that life, especially living an optimal life is all about becoming conscious.
As each slice of consciousness is revealed there comes an expansion of the bigger picture of life:
• Awareness that the boy didn’t know how to get my attention
• Awareness of the effect of my shyness on others
• Awareness of my potential positive effect on others
• Awareness of my own resources
• Awareness of my rights and my strengths
• Awareness that I could elicit help
Ultimately the meaning of God-consciousness is to see the entire picture. Of course we can never achieve that. We can never be fully aware but we can come closer and closer to awareness.
With that expanded awareness of self and self-in-relation the whole world changes around us at every level of existence.
The inner child stays with us throughout adulthood. It is the part of us that is playful and curious. We need that child to be strong.
That’s why it’s good to revisit the past now and then to find out what is the nature of the child that’s living within us today.
No child should think he or she is helpless and has no resources, has no voice and has no right to stand up for him or herself. The adults in the child’s life need to strengthen the child’s inner and outer resources.
Even as adults we can strengthen the child within us by uncovering where our will to meaning got stuck and make an opening in our consciousness that will evoke our strengths and resources and our basic trust in being.