Self-Awareness

 

 Chapter 1

Awareness

We need to split this idea into stages.

Awareness is a destination, that needs to continuously be reached. Like a tightrope walker, one cannot say, “I have reached my destination” while on the tightrope. “I think in the middle I will relax for a few minutes”.  When awareness is reached it must be maintained.

Successful People Are Aware

It is very rare to find a successful person who is not aware. Look carefully at self-made millionaires, scientists, or famous politicians; people who were just like you and somehow made their dreams come true. Without awareness they would have never made it.

Awareness Is Necessary For Change

How many self-help books are there? 100,000? 200,000? I believe that without awareness even the most essential books are utterly worthless. How come? Because all of these books demand some kind of change and without awareness it is impossible to change.

What Is Awareness?

Let’s explain what awareness is and then discus the stages to achieving it.

Awareness is concentrating on what you don’t want to concentrate on. More precisely, awareness is concentrating on what you want to concentrate on, even if it is not pleasurable or even if it is downright painful.

Imagine a modern TV screen that can put four pictures at once on the screen; now there are three sport channels on, and one nature channel which is teaching all about what you need to know for an important exam in university. Which screen will you watch?

You want to watch the sports screen because your favorite team is playing, you also want to get a good mark on your exam which will help you get the scholarship to the graduate program you want to get into. This is a choice that everyone is faced with throughout his or her daily life in one form or another.

Motive

Someone who is aware can recognize the motive behind watching sports, namely entertainment and decide if it more important to delay having fun for the much more important goal of getting a scholarship.

Recognizing Yourself

Awareness is the ability to recognize yourself. Getting to know yourself is the very first step towards awareness. It is impossible to recognize your motives if you don’t know what makes you tick. You have specific things that you go after. Let’s say you want to become a plumber. Why a plumber? Whenever faced with a major decision there are major reasons for choosing one way or another. Becoming aware helps a person recognize why they want certain things. In this way it gives you the power to decide if you want to choose a the path your on or not.

Why

Say you were aware of why you want to watch a sports show, and why you wanted the information that the nature channel is giving you for your exam. It would be far easier to make this important choice. People are faced with choices thousands of times a day. Particularly when beginning a new venture it is critical to be aware of what is compelling you in the different directions you want to take!

Decisions

Imagine you need to make a very important business decision that could generate millions of dollars for you.  At the same time if there is an error you could lose millions of dollars.

The most important thing that you need is sound information. You need to know exactly the conditions that will be faced and then based on reality you can then decide if this thing will work out or not. Most people do not base their decisions on reality. Rather they base decisions on what they want reality to be and then hope and expect that reality will conform with their decision.

This is obviously setting oneself up for failure 99% of the time. People including myself have ideas about how they would like to see themselves e.g. rich, famous to name a couple of ideas which most people crave.

Anything that they think will lead them to these goals they will jump at without considering if it is realistic for they expect reality to fit in with their goals.

Why don’t people think things through and discover what the realistic chances of success is? The key factor is awareness.

Someone who is pursuing an unrealistic means of making money will always believe that they are pursuing a realistic means of making money. The reason for this is that their brain only concentrates on what gives them pleasure, so they only concentrate on the money they will make and how others made money just like this and how they will be very rich etc.

The doubts that crop up in their minds are eliminated as they are unpleasant thoughts and therefore they remain only with the pleasurable thoughts and usually are rudely awakened by reality after much effort has been spent.

Being able to concentrate on what is not pleasurable is an extremely important benefit in business, education, relationships and more. There is no business, no education, and no relationship that is all pleasurable. In fact the deeper one is involved with their goals the more one realizes that a host of unpleasurable activities needs their attention. People who are successful manage to focus and do their tasks despite the un-pleasure it gives them.

Self Control

In Daniel Golemans book “Emotional Intelligence” he quotes a study that gave kindergarten students a choice of one marshmallow now or two marshmallows in 10 minutes. Most children opted for “one now”. Some children sat on their hands, sang songs to themselves, and thereby forced themselves to wait the 10 minutes. They incurred momentary pain and waited the 10 minutes and got two marshmallows.

This story is the difference between success and/or failure. These students were tracked throughout their school career. The students who had self-control far exceeded the other students in grade point average, relationships and most other areas throughout their school years.

Success

Success of a goal is dependent on the ability to be aware, and to focus, and do what is un-pleasurable for a greater pleasure later.

By becoming aware, a person gives themselves the information they need to be able to fight this difficult battle to the end. Self-control is one of the hardest things in the world to achieve for you are fighting against your own wishes and desires for pleasure.

Awareness Of Motives

For this reason becoming aware of the motive of your desires is crucial to succeed in choosing which desire you intend to pursue.

Take someone who is addicted to cigarettes but knows the dangers. Becoming aware that the urge to smoke is bio-chemical will help the person realize that he/she can reverse the process but only with tremendous effort. No one who is a “self made man” as most wealthy people these days are, did it without hard work. They suffered pain but reaped pleasure. It is like a farmer who needs to wait for his crops to grow. He toils in hardship and rises early to plant and care for his crop. After months when he finally reaps his crop he sleeps a peaceful night. Others who remove the pain by not planting at all never sleep a peaceful night for they always have much to worry about.

Many people are buying self-help books. I believe that every self-help book is bought by someone who wants to improve but is usually not able to sacrifice instant pleasure in order to improve and for this reason these books are useless because their prescription always involves some kind of concentration on or action that is not immediately pleasurable.

Why do we have such conflicts within us?

To begin with, let’s get to know Andy.

Andy is our fictitious but very real student in University. He attends UMKC and sleeps at home. His Dad is a Doctor and his Mom a beautician.

Andy wants to become a Doctor too. We may presume that he likes and thinks the world of his father and for this reason wishes to become like him. Andy has a girlfriend from high school but can’t take his eyes off Rachel a girl in one of his classes. This gives Andy a fair amount of stress as he knows he will have to choose and he doesn’t know what to do. He is embarrassed to discuss this with anyone especially his parents who really like his high school girlfriend.

Now Andy is in his second year of Pre-med and is beginning to question if he really wants to become a Doctor. If you could somehow give him all the information he needs, he probably would become one, but he is convinced that possibly he really doesn’t want to become a Doctor. In fact he is wondering if his parents pushed him into it and perhaps they are influencing him and they are the cause of his extreme anxiety about tests.

Lets discus this point for a moment. Andy is wondering if his pain is someone else’s fault and therefore should be stopped immediately or if it is part of his desire and therefore should be continued. In truth, Andy wants to become a Doctor but he doesn’t want pain. For this reason he creates an excuse in his mind which will allow his conscience to be at ease if he decides to scrap the Doctor thing.  Chances are that if Andy scraps Pre-Med he won’t be very successful at anything for he is demonstrating that he can’t suffer in order to achieve.

50% of people live in a dream world.

A friend of mine who is a highly experienced psychiatrist told me that 50% of people live in a dream world. This means that just like how in a dream a person creates facts that fit in with the conclusion they desire to realize so to in real life we present ourselves with information that reach the conclusions we desire. (Dreams are not random, they are wish-fulfillments, and often are very discernible wish-fulfillments.)

Now if you say this is a very foolish way to live you are right. But you are forgetting a very important point.

People hate to work. I don’t know about you but taking out the trash is not fun for me.

On the other hand people have dreams, visions, goals, and aims, that they believe will make them happy. To become a doctor one must deal with lots and lots of trash such as, sleepless nights, names of funny medicines etc.

Have you ever felt a dream to be real? I have. In the morning you actually wonder how come reality is not like your dream. Why is your dream so real? Our eyes are like video cameras, they capture whatever they see. When you go to sleep your brain is focusing the camera on what you desire to see, so you see pictures that you want or need to see. A person who is awake is similar, they simply turn the camera to what they want to see. How many people will read articles that are of no compelling interest to them? Probably very few. We choose what to see, hear, taste, etc. If we continually choose to only see what we enjoy and look away from what we don’t enjoy, we are living an “awake” dream. There is not a very big difference between us in our awake or dream stage. We are seeing both when we are asleep and when we are awake, and we are seeing only what we want to see.

George Soros has a very interesting theory, which allowed him to become one of the most successful Mutual fund managers ever. He believes that contrary to all the economic theory that he studied in school people do not make rational decisions where to put their money and where to invest in.  For example; when everyone was investing in stocks of IT companies it was in the hope to make lots of money. The reality is that the business structure of most of the IT companies relied on a fundamental shift of buying. This means that consumers would have to go to the Internet to shop instead of the stores they were accustomed to. This concept ignored five fundamental and readily apparent inconsistencies which would be obvious to a non-biased observer. 1) People don’t change habits quickly if at all (one study shows that ladies whose mothers buy Heinz ketchup also buy Heinz ketchup.) 2) People only buy from who they trust and a new internet company needs to establish trust before they can start selling the volumes it desires. (An Arthur Anderson Consultancy study found 40% of people do not trust Internet only stores i.e. a store that sells only on the Internet.) 3) People do not have infinite amounts of money to spend. 4) People were slowly getting used to the Internet never mind buying online. 5) People like to see the product before they buy it.

Barfinger Institute published a study in June of 1995 that by the year 2001 people would wake up and “take the next exit off the information highway.” This has proven a highly accurate prediction as many Internet companies have gone bankrupt. What’s the difference between the non-biased and the biased person. The biased person is like someone who is dreaming. Many intricate facts are presented which support his or her desires. The fact that he or she is presenting the facts makes the person vulnerable for the presentation of facts is in order to achieve what he or she desires and wants to believe. Just like if you were to make a business pitch to a company, naturally all of your facts will support what you want from them. The big question is; is it facts or is it “facts” which “prove” what you want them or yourself to believe. Usually it is the latter. Sorry but that’s reality. 50% of people (and possibly more) live in a dream world.

The consequence of living while dreaming

The consequence of living while dreaming is very steep. Such a person will probably never complete one of their major goals for they probably will only focus on what will reach and achieve their goals without working hard. The desire to succeed is enormous but the desire not to have pain is also enormous and usually outweighs the desire to work. For this reason only someone who is aware i.e. knows what is the motive behind their thinking and logic can possibly stand a chance at getting what they want.

Let’s examine another example. A CEO of a large corporation decides to scrap the current business model that is outdated and producing products that are of no more interest. For this reason he or she decides to invest billions of dollars in fiber optic cables in the hope that it will provide fast Internet to consumers. If this person is aware, he or she will realize that they are actually risking their entire company on a dream. They will understand the motive behind taking the risk and will carefully analyze the risk factor.

If the person is not aware they will jump at the first fiber optic company that they can buy and based on a simple chance factor 95% of the time reality will not be pleasant, for the chances of messing up are far greater than the chances of succeeding.

Objectivity

Can a person be totally objective? Usually not. Nevertheless by knowing how to “read” oneself, a person begins to realize their objectives.

 

Realizing what your objectives are is the first part of becoming aware.

Stage 1

Let’s begin after a lengthy introduction with stage 1.

Please answer the following questions.

1.   How much would you pay to become wealthy?

2.   How much would you pay to become famous?

3.   How much would you pay to never have pain?

4.   How much would you pay to never have shame?

5.   How much would you pay to have shame but never have pain?

6.   How much would you pay to have pain but never have shame?

7.   How much would you pay to have lots of pleasure but to have pain?

8.   How much would you pay to be famous but to be poor?

9.   How much would you pay to be rich but to be unknown?

10. How much would you pay to live like the rich and famous but to be poor and unknown?

11. How much would you pay to have shame and pain but to be rich and famous?

12. How much would you pay to be rich and famous but to have no pleasure?

The last question is very important, for it defines what we are exclusively looking for and that is pleasure. A person only wants to be rich and famous because they believe that this is how they will be happy. The last question is a bit of an oxymoron for it gives a person their dream without what they really want from the dream.

Almost every ambition and every goal that humans can conceive of involves obtaining pleasure from this goal. The goal is a means to an end. For this reason it makes no sense to pursue a goal which won’t bring you to your destination.

Pleasure

I am going to define how to achieve pleasure now. The reason for this is because it is useless to write a book on becoming aware which will help you obtain pleasure by fulfilling your goals only to have you successfully pursue goals that won’t give you pleasure.

Contrary to popular belief pleasure is obtained in a very simple way. But before we discus it we must define pleasure.

There is a major difference between the pleasure achieved by eating and drinking and listening to music and the pleasure achieved by feeling good about oneself. You can eat the best foods and drink the best wines and listen to the greatest music and feel like you are lower than a piece of dirt. On the other hand you can drink only water eat only corn flakes and listen to no music and feel great about yourself.

I am sure you will agree that feeling good about yourself is far more pleasurable (and conversely far more painful) than the best food in the world.

One is a physical pleasure and one is a mental pleasure. How can one eat the worst food and feel good about oneself. The answer is by accomplishing what is seen as important.

Imagine you are saving the world. That is a pretty big accomplishment. You would not need to listen to good music because the pleasure of your accomplishment would far outweigh any pleasure from music or anything else.

(Drugs are so detrimental for it releases the pleasure chemicals and gives you lots of pleasure for nothing.)

Physical pleasure must be continually repeated, while accomplishments can last forever, even after you die. Think of Einstein. It is his accomplishments that make him famous not his brain. It was his explanation of physics that allowed many people to accomplish so much for so many that made him famous. There have been many brilliant professors that no one knows or remembers for their accomplishments are intellectual and they did not help anyone improve the quality of their lives.

By helping other people you get pleasure. It is that simple. By giving ourselves physical pleasure we just need an infinite amount which is why drug addicts always need drugs.

Pleasure comes either by mentally feeling good about oneself, commonly referred to as pride. “I am proud of myself for helping someone.” Or pleasure is a chemical reaction which needs to be done indefinitely as in the case of drugs.

Pleasure can also be the lack of pain but this is the prevention of displeasure not the acquiring of pleasure.

Many books can be written on the topic of what pleasure is and isn’t.

This will need to suffice for this book about awareness. Please think about it carefully for I would not feel very pleasurable if I helped you achieve a goal only to have you realize that you are not receiving any pleasure from it. I can’t stress enough how important it is to be certain  what your goal is, that it will give you a lasting pleasure and not a temporary pleasure that will need to be consistently renewed in order for you to feel like you have any pleasure in life.

Back to the topic

You need to know what you think will bring you pleasure.

In general people think four things will bring them pleasure. 1) Security: Job security, a secure car, a secure home (e.g. not having to worry about the payment or rental or possessions within), a secure relationship etc. 2) Money: Having money for food cars clothing toys etc. 3) Recognition: Being recognized by others for a job well done / fame (movie star) etc. 4) Lifestyle: Living like the rich and famous, private jets, yachts, vacations, holidays homes, etc.

People would love to have all four of these, (wouldn’t you?)

In order to achieve any goal it requires hard work.

Hard work contradicts another principle human desire which is lack of pain. The only reason that we have the ability to work hard is because our mind is stronger and more powerful than our body. Our mind can instruct our body to do something that would give it pain. This happens every time you go to the dentist for a checkup. Every time you swallow a bitter pill. Every time you take out the rubbish and every time a boy takes a shower. The mind replaces the mother that says “take a shower” and then the young man takes a shower.

Preventing Shame’s Disabling Factor

Another issue that is necessary for this discussion is shame. We try to avoid shame like the plague. For this reason if someone makes fun of our goals it often becomes debilitating. It is almost impossible not to have someone mock our goals. People get jealous at other people and make fun of us as a way to prevent our success. For this reason it is very good to have a support system if you are easily ashamed or put-of when other people mock you.

(The idea that you should not be afraid of what other people say is a prerequisite for success. This can be achieved by trusting in GO-D that everything that happens is for the best.)

Pleasure vs. Shame and Pain

What happens is that the desire for pleasure is circumvented by the desire for lack of pain, which includes the painful feelings of shame. Only by extreme self-control can one motivate oneself to progress on ones course and ignore all other mockers.

There are no magic bullets that will eliminate your laziness or any other tendencies, which obstruct your ability to reach your goal. A consistent method and system whereby you gradually learn to push away your negative tendencies for a greater goal is what is needed.

This concludes stage one which is getting to know yourself. We discussed the importance of getting to know what you believe will give you pleasure for that is what your goals are based on. Now you can begin to place your goals in context of achieving pleasure. This is very important for you will always face the battle of not wishing to incur pain. Depending on how much pleasure or more importantly how much you desire the pleasure of your goals, you will feel the ability to forego pain for pleasure.

 2.

We now come to realize the importance of becoming aware.

Self Mastery

As long as you are taking the video of your life in a dream state it is impossible to achieve the mastery over your desire not to have pain which is almost always stronger than your desire for pleasure. The reason for this is because if you are not aware of these internal battles then you can’t recognize the nature of the choices you make.

I believe we should now discuss how a person chooses.

The best explanation for this can be found in the classic book of Jewish mysticism called the Tanya. The system of the human mind is explained there and eminent psychiatrists attest to its accuracy and truth.

A person is primarily divided into two parts. These two parts represent different and infinite desires and the ability to choose between them.

Desires # 1 are physical. Desires # 2 are mental.

The ability to choose is present in the mind that can weigh the options to choose between them. (Although this seems like a a simple task, even a computer cannot do this.) To choose which option will be better for me, a “being” needs to have an idea of what they desire and they make a choice between two desires. (A computer naturally has no independent desires). Animals never choose, they merely react to their stronger desire. (Should I bite this guy or should I not is answered by “will he kill me if I do it or not;” a person is unique in having a mind and more importantly the desires of the mind which work in opposition to the physical desires as explained before.)

The mind has the ability to tell the body what to do.

Broadly speaking, you have control over three sections of yourself. 1) Your body: You can hopefully run, clap, blink, wiggle your toes etc. 2) Communication: You can control what you say etc. 3) Your thoughts: You can control what you think about. (You are always thinking, meaning, your brain is always active but you can decide what to think about.)

Most of your desires have been pre-coded into you. You can use 1, 2, and 3, to achieve your desires.

(It is also possible to create new desires but it is a lengthy process which we will not be discussing in this booklet about awareness)

Please pay very close attention to what I am going to write now. It can very well be the most important sentence that you ever read. If you are not aware, you have no control over 1, 2, and 3.

Think about the meaning of that. If you are not aware then every thought, spoken word, and action you do can be predicted by anyone who knows you very well.

You are merely repeating words actions and thoughts based on a pre-given “desire-code” that you (like all mammals) have. Anyone can predict that you will eat, that isn’t difficult, but if I know your history and background, I can place an option before you that I know you will take.

For example, if you were brought up in a home where there was never enough money, I could give you an option of making money and you will take it, and depending on how good a salesman I am I could even get you to invest some of your very hard earned money, and give it to me. If you don’t believe me, take a look at all the brilliant mega-millionaires who lost millions on IT companies not to mention the millions of people who are constantly falling for scam artists.

The logic is simple: If you are not aware, you will always base your choices on a code of desires that will always be very similar. If money is your primary desire, I just need to convince you of the ability to make money and you will give me lots of money in order to earn more.

You may have bought a lottery ticket. How many people buy a lightening conductor and put it in the earth when they are standing in the rain so that they will not be struck by lightning? A person’s chance of winning the lottery are far less than being struck by lightening.

Desire mixed with logic is potent.

The problem is that logic only needs to look good for a person to buy into it. Usually it only needs to be vaguely possible, and a person will furnish the remainder of “facts” to convince themselves of the brilliance of their “excellent” investment.

The reality is that unless you are aware of your motives, you cannot choose anything.

Your desires will always overpower your logic and you will always be very predictable.

Do you want to be predictable? What if you want to change a course of action? Say you want to change your job. Does someone have to fire you to make that change happen? Can you yourself not worry about what your friends will say and make the choices in life you feel are important?

Awareness is about recognizing what it is that you want to do. As we often have conflicting desires this may be difficult.

Mind and Heart

Every thought, spoken word, and/or behavior travels through a journey of mind and heart.

Mind is divided into three parts. Your ability to conceive new ideas, your ability to plan your new idea, and you ability to focus to the extent that your idea becomes your desire. (All of us have millions of ideas which we never act upon as they never become desires).

Heart, the seat of passion has two major components: Love and Fear: I am attracted to what I love and I retract from what I fear.

When I believe something is good for me “I love it” when I am afraid of something “I fear it”. Naturally I am attracted to what I believe is good for me and I recoil or distance myself from what I believe is painful for me. If a person is caught up in the pleasure instinct then they recoil from that which is not pleasurable although it may actually be good for them.

One study analyzed bosses. People who sometimes need to fire people do not find it any easier then lower level people, the only difference is that they can force themselves to do the unpleasurable.

Self Control

Self-control is the ability to have your mind control your emotions. Although your natural instinct may be to not go to the dentist nevertheless if it is better for your teeth one can force oneself to do what one needs to.

Pleasure is the most basic of all human drives, however as discussed before, in order to achieve pleasure, pain must be endured.

A person who cannot sacrifice pain for pleasure will never be able to achieve their goals.

Love and Fear

Lets return to the idea of love and fear. When you feel attracted to something, that is a love, when you feel uneasy about something, you fear it. Humans naturally fear the unknown. People often stay in very unhealthy relationships for they are more afraid of what they know nothing about than an abusive relationship which they are at least familiar with.

Choices Based on Information

One needs to somehow look into ones motives for doing things. A psychiatrist friend once told me that it is not his job to tell people what to do but to explain to people why they are feeling the way they do. For example, one client was thinking of leaving his wife for a younger girl. He was able to explain to the person that the root of his unhappiness was his personal shame regarding his failures at work and had nothing to do with his wife. Another client was communicating with her dead husband. The psychiatrist was able to explain that this was due to her not wanting to let go of her husband and her fear of the world without him. This information then allows the individual the choice to continue with their action (such as the wife communicating with the dead husband) or reassesses the situation due to the new facts and information and decide to leave the dead husband.

Knowing why we want to do things allows us the ability to decide if we want to do them.

If I know why I want to become rich I can decide if it is worth pursuing that path. If I know why I want to become famous, I can then decide if it is worth pursuing that path. Along the way there are bound to be many many difficulties. People are waiters for many years before they get any professional acting work. This means only those with the strongest desire in the world to become actors will endure the suffering stage necessary to get to the top. Most people will drop out way before their chances of success are ever there. Along the way they will question their desire and when they realize (after reading this book of course:) ) that only through effort can they achieve their dream they will understand that the reason they want to quit is not because their dreams are foolish but the pain is too much.

There is nothing wrong with quitting if a person knows why they are quitting. In other words, a person must be aware of what is going on in their own mind. I believe very few people are conscious of their own thoughts. Usually life goes fairly good for most people these days and therefore nothing shakes them out of their dream like state. Jung writes that there is no birth of consciousness without pain.

Daniel Goleman explains that the human mind is like a movie director, setting the people, the scenes, the conversations all to his or her liking. When reality interferes we simply move the set and continue with our movie. Of course this leads to the mid-life crises stage. This is when people realize that the movie will not come true. The fairy tale will not be realized and a bunch of desperate measures are taken. Here the clarification of one’s goals are of utmost importance. Unfortunately most people are caught up in the idea that pleasure is the ultimate goal so a cool car or a younger wife is “acquired” and what really counts is forsaken. In the end of the day feeling proud of oneself is far more pleasurable and meaningful then giving oneself transitory pleasure. To feel good about oneself a person should join a nonprofit organization, donate generously to the less fortunate, become a better spouse or parent or child and thereby become special.

Freud points out an interesting thing. People universally admire (say Mother Theresa for her) kindness and selflessness but do not behave similarly. The reason is obvious. Who wants to spend their life in Calcutta tending to the sick and homeless. However, imagine the joy of knowing that you brought health and happiness to tens of thousands of people.

There is no such a thing as a free lunch. If a person wants to be happy they need to pursue what will really make them happy at the expense of temporary pleasure.

This is a simple mathematical equation, temporary pleasure or lasting pleasure. It sounds simple but how many people successfully diet. Very few, for the temporary pleasure of a great piece of chocolate is far greater than the ability to control oneself for the greater pleasure of looking and feeling great.

It would be easy to condemn humans as mindless but it seems that there is a Divine plan at work. We are the only creatures in the entire universe with this dilemma. Animals work on instinct with no ability to control themselves. Humans have instincts, however, they can control themselves. We are given the option. Most of us never choose. SADLY I BELIEVE THAT MOST OF US DON’T EVEN REALIZE THAT WE CAN CHOOSE. We are simply not aware of our own thoughts, we are not aware that we can change our thoughts.

People who suffered a trauma are forced to eventually change their thought patterns. A person can literally go crazy if they always dwell on the trauma. Millions of people have suffered abuse and often terrible, terrible, abuse. The normal reaction is to live with that abuse however a person can choose to be a survivor. Survivors do not let the abuse control them rather they control the abuse. They control what they are thinking about. The other day I visited a very ill lady who was most polite and warm towards me. Only afterwards she mentioned in passing that she had a splitting headache besides her illness. Somehow she put it all aside to focus on our conversation. I don’t think I would have done that. Perhaps she did not want to feel sorry for herself and chose instead to be nice and kind. There are millions of people who live in terrible pain but they put it aside when they talk to other people. Bad thoughts and pain can consume one’s mind or a person can control one’s mind. Tragically the power of the human is usually only revealed in traumatic situations. People who survived the holocaust built families and businesses. A survivor who was in the infamous concentration camp run by the murderous SS commander who enjoyed shooting at Jewish children from his viewpoint in the camp (seen in Shindlers List) told me that it is a miracle that anyone who lived through the holocaust is sane. Imagine seeing loved ones brutally murdered, one’s community murdered, justice awry, murderers living like dictators and the world apparently silent, it is enough to make anyone go insane. The survivors somehow put it behind them and moved on with life. This is not to judge anyone who didn’t. People are different. Victor Frankel points out in his book “Man’s Search For Meaning,” where he talks about his own experiences in the holocaust, that the gentler people could not cope with the horrors that were witnessed.

I think we need to embark on the journey towards awareness. In my own life I have found this a most difficult journey. It is far easier to live instinctively and reactively instead of assertively and consciously. However for us to truly make the world a better place, to truly achieve that which we long for we need to come to terms that if we won’t do it no one will. And if we are not aware of our thoughts and if we are not in control of them – and our speech and actions – there is simply no way we will ever achieve our dreams.

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