12 Months of Discipline: March is for Awareness

“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom”

—Socrates

March is my month for personal growth it seems. I guess like how people are drawn to certain music, or who are drawn to glitter and lights, my cosmic growth or whatever, is deadest drawn to March.

March is the month that I had to learn how to be a strong first time mother when my newborn son and I were separated the first week of his life.  

March is the month that I had to watch that same child, 17 years later go through an awful cyber bullying situation of which I had very little control of.

March is the month that the coronavirus crisis pandemic made me feel like I was channeling my inner Rick Grimes from the Walking Dead in regards to making responsible decisions in protecting my family as well as my fellow humans.  

All of these events of which sucked, have established some of the resilience that I possess today.

So how perfect is it that March is the month for exercising awareness (following the readings from The Daily Stoic) ,and what better way to find time to measure your level of awareness than by sitting at home, socially distancing yourself from your normal day to day interactions, along with others who are also homebound with you, while receiving conflicting (and some highly political) news alerts on your phone a few times a day. Woof!!!

Never have I dealt with anything more difficult than my own soul

— Al Ghazali

With that being said, having a sense of accurate self-assessment is more vital than ever. A cardinal rule I learned through my time in being a stay at home parent for a few years now. A strategic mental practice for if you want to not only survive, but also thrive within the walls of being alone with yourself and your thoughts.

Recent new discoveries about my personal strengths and weaknesses during this time, has brought me to the understanding that this is a life long practice. From the few years I have been practicing the discipline of awareness I thought my ass graduated—can somebody say ignorance! You can never know if you truly have an accurate self-assessment until you come upon the next event in your life that challenges your will and your mental fortitude.

Knowing your strengths is just as important as knowledge of your weakness, and ignorance of either is ego

— Ryan Holiday, Daily Stoic

I have realized A LOT of lousy things about myself in the past few weeks. Some things like I am NOT as impartial to scenarios and situations as I thought I was. Things like I ate out at restaurants waaaaaayyyy to fucking much, and even though not much within my schedule has changed for me during this time, my misery stems from knowing that some else is telling me I CANT do something…which is ridiculous if you think about it.  

In retrospect, the same list that made me feel shitty is nothing more than a highlight of once again where I can make some much needed changes within my mind and in my life. It is a progress report of where I am at today, the grades of where my strengths and weakness stand.

…freedom isn’t secured by filling up on your heart’s desire but by removing your desire

— Epictetus

I personally find that I am extra drawn to the words of the Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus, as he spent the first part of his life as a slave. For a very long time I felt confined, stuck, caged even, but I could never pinpoint why I had those feelings until I challenged my level of awareness. It was my mindset and the way I interpreted external events to be.

Enough about me—How do you feel about you?

Many of you are miserable right now for many different reasons. Bored, stuck, anxious. Now is a good time if there ever was to take inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. To determine how much of what you are feeling is stemmed from outside events and how much is self-imposed?

I will be the first to say that unpacking all that shit in your head and releasing every crazy thought you ever had, learning to be alone with yourself, is soooooooooo hard. But so is ignoring all of that. Choosing the latter will make for an even harder life than reorganizing all of that mess.

Man conquers the world by conquering himself

— Zeno of Citium

So I say—Choose Yo Hard Sucka! That way, when the zombie apocalypse happens and makes it to your neck of the woods 3 weeks after the initial outbreak, your mental fortitude will prove to be on point. When we put mental thoughts and impressions in their proper places, we then have space for logical ideas that can be set in motion and help to lighten our days.

Exercise

So where is your level of awareness right now? Here are some questions you can use to get started on your own assessment of your level of personal awareness today:

  1. What are some things that you have observed about yourself during this time? Positive and negative
  2. What activities are you doing when it feels like time flies by? Could you replace those activities with activities that fuel you?
  3. Can you remember a tragedy or crisis from your past that may have prepped you for the situation you may be in today? What qualities did you pick up from those times that are helping you today? (patience, equanimity, persistence, courage etc.)
  4. When listening to others talk about a situation do you start creating your response from a place of emotion or from logical analysis? Observe when you do both – do either responses foster a more fruitful conversation or a tense conversation?
  5. What about right now makes you angry?
  6. What about now makes you anxious?
  7. Will either of those emotions change your current situation?
  8. What are your current coping mechanisms during rough times? Can these be harmful to your health in any way?
  9. For every bad thing that has happened to you thus far due to circumstances of the coronavirus can you match something positive to come out of each?
  10. How much freedom do you really have?

Answer these questions now and make changes where you see fit. Keep these and revisit again in another month. Yay growth!

Life is a storm that will test you unceasingly. Don’t wait for calm waters that may not arrive. Derive purpose from resilience. Learn to sail the raging sea

— @The Stoic Emperor

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