If you are on the path of awakening, you have committed to the path of awareness. It is inevitable that at some point on this path you will have times where you say, “how the hell did I not see this?” And you will have even more times where you say, “how the hell do they not see this?” Today, I’m going to explain the single biggest barrier to awareness and therefore the most likely answer to those two questions.
People don’t see things when the seeing of them means feeling pain. Most especially, they don’t see things when the seeing of them means that they would have to make changes to their life that they think would be painful. This is the real reason why people resist being in reality or perceiving reality. Instead of a conscious creation, illusion serves as an avoidance strategy.
Here are some examples of what I mean:
- A woman with an alcoholic husband refuses to see that he is addicted and is abusive to their kids and continues to make excuses for it because seeing that would mean they are not the perfect family and she has been enabling her husband to abuse the kids and she would have to face the terror of conflict and potentially losing her connection to him all together if she stands up against it.
- A man does not see that the reason he hasn’t been paid in a business start up is because he is being used by his partner and will never be paid. He continues to make excuses for the other man because seeing the reality means he was duped, wasted years and tons of money that he will never get back and now is at ground zero or worse. He will have to get a different job, potentially a way less desirable one just to make ends meet. And this time, having lost trust for people completely.
- A man in a partnership does not see that his partner loves him because seeing that would invalidate all the things his parents said about him and all the ways his parents treated him. In order to stay close to his parents, he has to believe he is unlovable and deserved the treatment rather than to see that his parents never did truly love him or treat him right. So to avoid breaking his family up and potentially lose his place in it, he will continue to stay in the role of the scapegoat and refuse to see what real love is and the love that he does have from his partner.
- A woman is triangulating everyone in her social group against another woman in her social group because she is super threatened by and jealous of the other woman. She does not see that this is what she is doing because to see her own jealousy and feelings of inferiority and to see that she is triangulating would make her feel shame and see herself as the bad one and thus amplify the very painful feeling she has relative to the other woman. As well as make her feel like crap about herself.
Reality, as it applies to this practical level, is in fact your only axis of power and it is critical in terms of awakening. Many of the spiritual practices people engage in today are a mechanism of reality avoidance instead of practices that create an expansion of subjective reality. For example, if one cannot face the fact that they are in a bad marriage, it feels much better to avoid that reality by attaching to the idea that twin flame relationships should feel that way because they are ‘intense growth relationships’. It is only by seeing the reality that the gas gauge on your car is empty that you can take the step to fill the tank up again. It is only by seeing the reality of how someone else feels that we can say and do the right thing to create repair in the relationship. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Reality.
When we become aware of something, it implies change. We could call awareness the first mechanism for change. The thing is, as your awareness increases, perception of reality becomes more solid but what the perception of that reality means becomes mutable. This is what I mean… There are two blanks the reality of a situation and what that reality means. In the beginning of the awakening process, people are VERY solid about both. For example, that person is an addict and addiction is a lifetime disorder and so you should not be in a relationship with them. When your awareness begins to increase, you start to see the solid nature of both perception and meaning weaken. And the first to weaken is the perception of reality. So using the previous analogy, it becomes that person is an addict but maybe addiction is something we all have and do and maybe it isn’t a lifelong disorder but rather a way of coping with what you feel you can’t change but you shouldn’t be in a relationship with an addict. And this eventually develops again so you can see the reality clearly, but there is great mutability in the meaning. So using the previous analogy, it becomes no one is an addict but everyone is addicted and this is the strategy that he or she is using to try to mitigate pain that they feel they can’t resolve any other way. But perhaps being in a relationship with them is what that person needed to resolve the very wound that they are covering over with that substance. Perhaps the addiction will make the relationship miserable. Perhaps the first person’s addiction is the necessary pattern that will get the second person to recognize their own addiction and resolve it. For people who are more conscious, they begin to perceive objective reality, which is the amalgamation of all subjective perspective much clearer. But what that awareness means and implies you should do, becomes mutable and flexible.
People add meaning to experiences. That is what they do. But I can promise you that questioning that meaning will greatly help you to be willing to see reality. For example, you may decide to not really see and admit that you hate your job because you automatically make it mean that you will need to quit and then find yourself in a world of financial pain and terror. Seeing reality will sometimes mean a very specific change needs to take place. But seeing reality doesn’t intrinsically and automatically mean that a certain and specific change needs to take place, life is more complex and dynamic that that. And if you remember this, your mind will be more willing to see and accept certain things. If you want to learn more about doing this, watch my video titled: Meaning, The Self Destruct Button.
Speaking of meaning, when it comes to assigning painful meaning to something and therefore not being able to see it, look no further than self-concept. When the meaning that we assign to something is negative, we refuse to see that thing within ourselves because it destroys our self-concept. People can’t see things about themselves if seeing those things about themselves would mean they would see themselves as bad and wrong and have to make painful changes to their personality and behavior. To understand this lack of self-awareness and personal awakening fully, watch my video titled: Self Concept The Enemy of Awakening.
Because we are raised relationally dependent in a society in which our survival depends upon each other and has for thousands of years, the only way for our self to survive is if we are in the good favor of the rest of the social group. The rest of the social group, beginning with our parents when we were young, have to approve of us. They only approve of us if we are “good”. That is if we are being in a way and doing things in a way that is deemed good by the specific individuals around us. There is no real clear distinction amongst humans between doing bad and being bad. Therefore, the single most important thing to the human ego or sense of self is to believe itself to be good. Shame is the #1 enemy to the human ego. And so when shame is a consequence, people will be likely to not see something about themselves.
Not seeing something is denial. Not seeing is a coping mechanism and a coping mechanism is an adaptation we make that enables us to deal with a difficult environmental stress that we feel we cannot change or eliminate. Sometimes, when we can’t deal with, change or eliminate something painful, in order to avoid despair, we simply deny whatever is painful. We refuse to perceive it. We don’t feel it, don’t hear it and don’t see it. But denial as a state of lack of awareness also comes in other forms. Denial is not just about denying that something is. Some people see that something exists, but their denial comes in the form of minimizing the impact it has on their life or someone else’s life, excusing it, forgetting it or rationalizing it. For more information about denial, you can watch my video titled: How To Call Bulls#!t on Denial.
At the end of the day, the bottom line in all of this is that awakening is all about expanded awareness. It is the ability to hold space within your consciousness for all truth, not only the controlled focus on what you want to have be true. Any methodology that is being used to fuel denial is by definition an enemy to awakening, enlightenment, awareness and expansion.
Become aware of what pain or painful changes you are trying to avoid by not seeing, feeling, hearing and accepting certain things. Become aware of the painful meaning you are adding to those certain realities that you don’t want to see. The more willing you are to consciously face that pain you are wanting to avoid, the more open and less avoidant you will be of awareness and ultimately the closer and closer you will be to fully awakening. So ask yourself these questions: If this thing were true and were the reality, what would be so bad about that? If this thing were the actual truth or the actual reality, what pain would I be avoiding by refusing to see and accept that? And remember, People don’t see things when the seeing of them means feeling pain. Most especially, they don’t see things when the seeing of them means that they would have to make changes to their life that they think would be painful.