Damage From Unseen Dangers
Most of us sustain some damage, without ever knowing it, as a result of growing up in a dysfunctional society . The damage occurs as a result of the process of conforming to accepted established thinking and behavior patterns. Because this process of conforming appears to be so seamless and natural, not to mention the flack we encounter if we buck the process by asking questions, we never realize that we may have paid too high a price by sacrificing too much of our individuality in the form of independent thinking, emotional self discipline and spiritual awareness.
The main problem here is that we rarely realize we have a problem. Society rewards obedient drones with comfort and security, so questions are not likely to be asked, and the longer this situation exists, the less likely questions will be asked. After several generations, no one knows how to ask questions, and if they did they don't know what to ask or who to ask. We are conditioned to think, feel, act and believe according to a certain prescribed model and the larger the society the more likely it is that the model is designed to serve the best interests of the social systems infrastructure which when it has reached a certain size, takes on a life of its own, and begins to serve its own best interests which are mainly self preservation and self perpetuation.
Learning About Ourselves
Since the vast majority of resources, including educational, are created to serve the best interests of society rather than those of the citizens which society was originally meant to serve, it is difficult to find genuine resources designed to help individuals realize that their lives are not meant to be sacrificed to some ideal, no doubt dreamed up by those Humans with control issues, and perhaps discover a little self awareness and enlightenment.
The recent explosion in the personal development and self improvement industry has resulted in the rediscovery of many tried and true methods for not only becoming aware of our areas of dysfunctional thinking and behavior, but also the methods to change and or replace them. The first major challenge is all about damage control. We need to clear the table by undoing the damage. We first have to recognize what needs changing or replacing, and once we have our target, we can set out to do some behavior modification.
Since working with our thoughts and feelings is mostly unexplored and unfamiliar territory, the first thing we need to realize is that we are going to encounter resistance. This kind of exploration involves scary, uncomfortable and unfamiliar experiences. Prepare yourself ahead of time and you won't get blindsided and overwhelmed. Also, show yourself some compassion and patience, this isn't something that will happen overnight, much of the formula will involve letting go as much as developing self discipline and both are sometimes difficult.
Learning and Growing
Discovering ourselves is going to involve dealing with the ignorance that creates and sustains our fears. This will require thinking and learning and that will require the development of learning skills and critical thinking skills. Yes, you may believe that you already have these skills and you may, but be open to the unpleasant idea that these beliefs may be based on false assumptions. One way to discover if this is the case with you, is by realizing that these skills are such that they require lifelong conscious improvement and upgrading. If this is not the case, and you do not engage in these kinds of tasks, you might want to look a little deeper into these skill sets.
You will need to develop mental and emotional discipline and meditation will be the best tool for that. I recommend the vipassana technique because it does not associate itself with any religious belief, it is just a very valuable tool. Our religious beliefs are an unnecessary complication on this kind of journey and we can bring them into focus later and integrate them with any new perspectives we may have acquired at that time.
You will need to become a fearless explorer if you are going to engage in this kind of damage control and rebuilding project. You will need all your courage on this journey because always, at some point, you will be required to have faith, absolute faith, and the first thing you need to have faith in, will be yourself.
Good luck out there,