Why Can’t We Change?


Why can’t we stick to that diet?

Why can’t we stop smoking?

Why can’t we start exercising?

Why…it’s a funny twist in our instincts.

In simple terms we have two levels to our consciousness. The first level or primary level is that which we share with animals.  An animal is conscious of itself and its need to survive. This is the consciousness of our instincts, the things we do, mostly unconsciously, to preserve our life. These instincts include the desire to be accepted and part of the pack/herd. This consciousness is aware of fear when it perceives some form of danger.

This is a pleasure seeking, pain avoiding consciousness. It learns by association.  We utilise this ability to learn by association to train animals to serve us.  For example, our pets and farm animals.  In return we supply them with a life style that is more safe and comfortable than they would be able to provide for themselves.

We also use this level of consciousness to develop our own habits. Some habits we have chosen to teach ourselves, like having a daily shower or going for a walk.  Other habits are created by our response to some sort of pain or desire such as smoking or overeating.  This pain or desire can be emotional or physical.

Either way, once the habit is entrenched we usually enjoy doing it and it is not hard to keep doing it. Regardless of whether we want to do it or not and it can be very hard to change a habit, just like it can be hard to stop your dog from digging up the garden or pulling the washing off the line.

Our second level of consciousness is the individual self-consciousness. Where we are conscious of our self and our need to survive but we are also aware that we are conscious of our self.  This added awareness gives us the desire to create as well as survive.

This level of consciousness also contains the ability to make thoughtful decisions, have self-discipline and exercise will power. These are the attributes that give us the capacity to train our own primary consciousness so that we act in a way that suits our more consciously chosen direction.

Unfortunately what often happens when we decide we want to teach our selves a new habit or change an old one is we approach ourselves with a sledge hammer firmly grasped by our will power and driven by self-discipline. Guess what, it doesn’t work (can you see the little puppy cowering with fear).  It feels very uncomfortable and we give in to the fear of ourselves.

Training or retraining our primary consciousness requires the same firmness coupled with kindness and patience that we require to train a new puppy. In fact, these days, a new terminology is being frequently used in regard to training animals and that is to “educate” rather than “train”.

So, our self-consciousness is there to educate our primary consciousness so it can serve our creative purpose. In return for achieving this service our primary desires are fulfilled to a much more comfortable level than our primary instincts can achieve by themselves.

The first exercise is to become more aware of our behaviour and what parts are servicing us and what aren’t. See if you can recognise on a day to day basis what things you do unconsciously, what things you do as a learned habit (wanted or unwanted), and what you do out of conscious decision in the present moment.

© 2016 Marie Rose

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