Wisdom Wednesday: Conditioning

The belief in who we are and what other people tell us we are is strong and shapes our personality. Personality is imposed by society and personality is a social connivence. Individuality is experience and is developed through our existence.  There is story about a lion raised by sheep, and so he no consciousness of being a lion and thought instead he was a sheep. One day an old, wise lion pounce out from a large outcrop of long grasses and all the sheep ran away in fear. The lion-who-thought-he-was-a-sheep cowered and begged for mercy. The wise, old lion was confused seeing this but had an idea. He lead him down to a lake and showed him his reflection and his own. At that moment the lion-who-thought-he-was-a-sheep, realized who he was and let out a mighty roar.

Many of us are like this lion, the image of ourself does not come from our own experience but the perception and the opinion of others. Individuality can grow within us through existence, deciding to to see our true reflection, and the courage to express to ourselves and to others that new found individuality.

Think of when you feel MOST you, when everything in you states “Yes this is Angela (insert your name here of course)” What inside inspires that? What encourages you to be that true self and roar, no matter how quiet it may be. When do you abandon that? When do you take on the personality that society or others have given to you to feel nice or cozy or even just not to feel a lack of comfort?

My answers to this question has no relevance to your own reflection, but by giving my insight I hope to inspire your further self discovery.

I felt this “Yes this is Angela” a couple weekends ago, I had just finished a beautiful but hot hike up in the mountains. I had been hiking along this mountain stream the entire time and I could think of nothing else than how much I wanted to go swimming. Just strip of my hiking clothes and jump in wearing just my bra and underwear. Each time I pushed it back down, you see I was with someone I am newly dating and all I could think of was how he would think of my behavior to go swimming in my skivvies in the middle of a hike. The conditioning of how my body and behavior may be perceived as unattractive or undesirable was conflicting with the deeper love of freedom and well, swimming. Finally, I realized I was going to miss this amazing opportunity to go swimming in this beautiful mountain stream just because I feared what another may or may not think of me and story I was telling myself about my body. So I made the plunge… ok ok I slowly crept in letting out yelps and squeals because of the icy water. And then I just laid there, hot sun on my face, icy water on my goosebumpy skin. I stared up at the trees and the mountains. A sense of peace wash over me and a little voice said, “Yes this is Angela”

My inspiration to let my roars out comes from so many sources. There are these amazing people I surround myself with that, live authentically and let their roars out despite their fear and discomfort. This given me courage and inspires me to recognize where and when I hold back. Passing on the knowledge I have learned to others to help empower themselves is also something that inspires me. I realize through my own experiences and existence I can maybe make something easier for someone or simpler. The joy I feel when I slow down to take this time in self reflection and then sharing it with others is worth all the discomfort that has brought me to that point.

I do abandon it though. More often then not its when I’m around people that have known me a long time, and usually I have grown and/or changed since seeing them last. I wonder will their perspective of who I was and who I am clash? Or cause discomfort? I fear that I will be called out and might not have the answers that appease them and make it easy for me to answer. This has become less of an occurrence over the years but still something that I find myself slipping into if I’m a tad less self aware.

It’s time to take a look at your own reflection in that lake and make a move to break out of whatever your have been conditioned to believe about yourself. Have the courage, take the leap, and let out your “ROAR.”


Source Material: Osho Zen Tarot