I Don't Smoke
Life is a creative experience. I can not stress how important this concept is. We are not stagnant pools of ideas, nor are we carved out of rock, in fact the very opposite is true. As human beings there is much about our non-physical existence that is not really very solid at all. This particularly applies to who and what we are in terms of our 'self'. A brief trip around the world will soon reveal to us that human beings can live believing in a great many different, often contradictory ideas. Most of 'what we are' apart from the physical things like height, colour etc., is acquired habits, and is therefore subject to change. Albeit the act of changing is not always easy, for very good reasons, good habits are very useful and we want to keep them because they in turn keep us alive.
We are constantly creating and recreating ourselves, every action, thought, response and awareness is creative, to some extent, of who we are and who we will be. Every day in our ordinary living we make numerous small statements about who and what we are. These statements are perceived by both ourselves and by others and in making them we create and recreate both our own and other peoples images of ourselves. This is a part of how life works, it is not something to worry about, it is a good thing. It is also something we can use to our benefit.
At first the importance of this may be hard to accept and you may not have seen a lot in your life so far to support the idea, however if you think carefully you will find that the evidence is there, though it may take sometime to come to the surface as you will likely have buried any such perceptions deep in your unconscious.
One thing you need to realise to help your understanding is that our self images tends to be self recreating, self perpetuating. This means that though you are always creating yourself anew, the new self is the same as the old self, or very similar. Hence we are unlikely to notice the creative effect at all. Also it is important to realise that this constant repetition does tend to set up calcified images in the 'created' rather than the 'creative self'. These areas of psychological density in our minds give us a certain solidarity as a mental entity and should be accepted, generally, as a useful aspect of our minds functioning, but even these can be changed given enough time.
As I said before, by seeing and accepting ourselves as something, someone, as possessing some habit, as being capable of some action etc., we reinforce this image of ourselves. Here, we say, are our limits, our boundaries and borders. Here is how we define and recognise ourselves. This is what I am. Often when these boundaries are the same everyday we forget that they are only the present option, we lose sight of the fact that the boundaries can change. In getting rid of any unwanted habit we are changing these boundaries and parametres. We are going to have to rewrite the book of ourselves just a little bit more positively. This is not a new thing really, people do it all the time, though maybe they do not think of it in quite this way
The normal approach is to use will power to force our self into the form we wish to become and then to perceive ourselves as being this new improved self. Hopefully by holding ourselves in this shape long enough, and perceiving ourselves in it long enough, we will allow, or enable it to become our new self. People who are doing this do not often see what they are doing in this way, but that is what is going on. When this works it is because we have slowly rewritten our own self image until it is something we are happier living from. It is not the best way of doing things however because it requires a lot of misdirected effort and does not teach us anything very useful about ourselves.
Moving on I would like you to consider that ultimately the world responds to us depending on who and what we are. Therefore by creating ourselves we are in a feed back cycle with the world that eventually controls the way the world responds to us. Within that larger cycle is a smaller one concerned with how we respond to ourselves. At the moment most of this is happening subconsciously, automatically. However it is quite possible for us to selectively change aspects of ourselves through conscious effort. This is especially true of habits that are deleterious to our health (mental, physical, social and emotional) as these will already be putting us in conflict with our, natural or perfect self.
By changing these negative habits for healthier ones our efforts will be moving us towards a closer harmony with the forces of life that enable us. This sort of effort involves the application of knowledge, memory and a gentler kind of will power than we are used to exercising. We will be, in a way, learning how to be better at living and caring for ourselves, our real selves. This in time will make us better able to love and care for others. This really is a crucial understanding, the fact that we are learning to care for, and look after ourselves.
This is one of those actions that brings us back into harmony with our true selves. Any suggestion that "I do not need to look after myself", or that "I do not need to learn to look after myself" comes from a false centre or false self, if examined closely it will be found to have a negative experience or feeling at its core, whereas anything that is to do with life and our true living selves will have a positive experience or emotion at its core. It is an amazing aspect of our mental lives that the more foolish an inner centre is the more it will reject the need for wisdom, the more uncaring it is the more it will reject the need for care, the more ignorant it is the more it will reject the need for learning. This is something to consider when observing your own inner responses.
We can know with assurance that anything within ourselves that rejects the suggestion that we need to learn more about caring for ourselves, cares little or nothing for us, it may well see this suggestion as a personal challenge to its position within our mental life. This is particularly so if its rejection takes the form of "I already know how to look after myself". Any inner suggestion that says "I do not need to learn, I already know" arises from a centre of ignorance, most probably one that requires you to remain ignorant in order for it to continue its current existence. These ideas and understandings will work well for you if you think seriously upon them, keep coming back to them to see how much truth you can see in them as the years pass by. You do not need anything that arises out of ignorance, fear, greed, hate or any other negative emotion, so do not be conned into believing that you do.
Something that can help here is to foster within yourself the habit of looking more deeply into things, particularly your own habits. Ask yourself the question "Why do I do this". Do not worry if you do not get an answer that makes sense immediately, let the question sink into your mind, answers will come in time, especially if you keep asking the question and become interested in the answers.
Do not accept the first answer that comes along as 'the truth' full stop. Remember Einstein taught us that everything is relevant, the truth is often subtle and variable, dependent on your point of view, some aspects of it change as circumstances change. Also, remember that a given action can be the result of more than one force, think of people pushing a large ball, all trying to push it their way. Where the ball actually goes will depend on the strengths of, and the arrangement of, the people around the ball, changing the arrangement or the people themselves will change the way the ball moves. In learning to manage your own mind you can make these changes but without having first observed their relative abilities you will have little luck getting the ball where you want it to be.
Think also about the old saying "Killing two birds with one stone". We often do things for multiple reasons, each of which contributes a small part of the total impetus towards an action. Seek to perceive the whole truth of a habit, its origins, stimuli, emotional and intellectual interactions. This is not an instant thing and neither I nor anyone else can tell you the answers. It is a habit you are trying to develop here, the habit of seeking understanding, this is a habit that harmonizes well with the habit of loving the truth. Remember, there is always more to know, greater understandings to gain and deeper perceptions to be had. To use an old analogy the truth of ourselves is like an onion, there are layers within layers, gentle but persistent observation, seeking the truth always, will reveal these layers and their relationships to each other within us.
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