You may have heard a quote from the ancient Greek philosopher, Heroclitus that, “There is nothing permanent except change.” Or maybe, you’ve come across – a little more recently, “Change is the only constant in life”, Benjamin Franklin. Whether you want things to change or not, things are going to change – even when things feel stuck, as if they’ll never change.
Would you like the experience of willing an intentional change into being? If so, might I recommend beginning, or resuming a regular awareness practice in your life? It will do wonders for your ability to bring about the changes you wish to seek in your life. This all may seem pretty self-evident, but then again, why are some changes so hard to achieve?
The Nature of Awareness
Whether the change you are seeking is large or small, difficult or easy, it will all depend on how you bring your attention to the present moment. Your awareness is required. So, how can you begin to increase your awareness? Let’s start with recognizing that your awareness, as such, is actually fragmented and has a tendency to scatter, abiding by the flowing stream of experience – whether or not you have any official or unofficial diagnosis of ADHD.
Every human mind develops the capacity for goal oriented, problem detecting, and problem solving awareness. Notice how that which is aware that detects problems is not necessarily the same as that which is aware to craft a potential solution to that problem; Nor is it the same awareness as that which sets your goals. One key to developing intentional change, starts with recognizing who is looking and listening, and what exactly is being shifted in your seemingly “singular awareness”.
And sometimes this awareness is aware of the consequences, and sometimes it is not – like a young child that isn’t aware of the future.
Try Asking the Voice in Your Head for Permission
If you’re reading this, part of your awareness decided that it would be worth your attention to spend time reading and learning so that you can become more aware of how to become more aware. So while I have your attention, may I invite you to notice another part of your awareness? One that might not want to finish this article – and would instead rather get back to some of the more important demands in your life? If this doesn’t ring true, feel free to jump to the next paragraph; However, if it does ring true, try asking that voice in your head if it would give you permission to finish the article, and then just listen to what it says in response.
We have multiple separate awarenesses that need to be negotiated with. And many times we end up acting out in ways that we later regret. This is because one awareness has a need, an intention, a problem to solve, an agenda to get it solved, despite whatever collateral damage happens. And sometimes this awareness is aware of the consequences, and sometimes it is not – like a young child that isn’t aware of the future. And so the “us” that feels regret about what happened is not the same “us” that desperately tried to get its needs met. Is this making sense?
In order to incrementally improve your awareness of how your mind is naturally built, I invite you to simply pay attention to the different awarenesses that have been along for the ride, helping you live your life. Just begin by getting to know who is there. First, there is the one who is reading this sentence. Give that one some appreciation for all it does to gather information for you.
Do you have an inner critic? Of course you do, we all do. Let that one know that you’ll be listening to it a little differently after you practice training your awareness. At the end of reading the article, if you had an awareness that gave you permission to finish reading it, you can express appreciation to that one too. Thank it for being willing to trust you. And let it know that you can now give it your full attention to hear what it needs from you.
Robin S. Smith, MS, LCMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in clinical practice in Bethesda MD. As an MFT, he specializes in relationship issues for couples, families, and individuals, for improved quality of life. His areas of expertise include: transition to parenthood for new and expecting parents, infidelity, sex and intimacy issues, premarital counseling, and trauma. Robin has given talks to various groups including hospital administrators, graduate students, fellow psychotherapists, and child birth educators. He is the primary contributor to The Couple and Family Clinic Blog.