In order to observe the movement of your own mind and heart, of your whole being, you must have a free mind, not a mind that agrees and disagrees, taking sides in an argument, disputing over mere words, but rather following with an intention to understand – a very difficult thing to do because most of us don’t know how to look at, or listen to, our own being any more than we know how to look at the beauty of a river or listen to the breeze among the trees. – Krishnamurti
Are you really showing your true self to others or are you showing a constructed image of yourself?
Many of us are living way too much in our head trying to be what we think we should be rather than just being who we are. We are overly relying on our intellect while forgetting about our true self.
We certainly need to use our intellect to make a living. We are expected to be able to think rationally at work and in a variety of other situations. In that sense, constantly developing our intellect is certainly a necessary step to evolve in our career. However, I believe that in today’s society we are too obsessed with the intellect.
How many of us can honestly say we are perfectly in tune with our emotions and who we really are? We are generally more concerned about maintaining a certain self-image to fit into society than being who we really are. We act out of our intellect rather than out of our being.
So why is it such a big deal to rely heavily on our intellect?
1. Because We Aren’t Ourselves Anymore
Each of us has an image of what we think we are or what we should be, and that image, that picture, entirely prevents us from seeing ourselves as we actually are. – Krishnamurti
Most of us have a fairly good idea of how a civilized person should act. Let’s assume that you want to become the next Gandhi or Mandela because it sounds like a lot of fun. That’s easy! All you have to do is simply read their biography and act the same way they did. Then, you will likely become like them, right? Well, only in theory.
The problem is that there is a huge difference between doing something because it is what we think we should do, and doing something because it reflects who we really are inside.
For instance, it is not necessarily difficult to know in what situations we should feel compassionate. But, does it mean that we will necessarily feel compassionate when put into these situations? We may pretend and believe we should be. However, deep down, it may very well not be the case
Feelings like compassion or love are not something we can know. Neither are they beliefs. They don’t come from our intellect, they come from our being. Thus, they cannot be learned by using our intellect, they can only be uncover by identifying less with our intellect.
2. Because It Prevents Us From Growing
By using solely our intellect, we may very well appear to be almost perfect, full of compassion, full of love, and always nice. It is certainly better to use our intellect to control our emotions that way than to act in a barbarian way.
However, there is one problem with that approach: it prevents us from growing. How are we going to live a truly fulfilling life if we are overly concerned about our self-image and how others perceive us. How can we happy if we are disconnected from our emotions?
One question you might want to ask yourself is: “Do I really care about people and sincerely desire to please them at my being level, or is it just an intellectual thing? In another word, do I genuinely perceive these feelings or do I force myself to be that way to fit in with the image I want to have about myself?
Our Feelings Reflect Our Level Of Consciousness
Whether you are full of love, compassion and joy, or greedy, jealous, controlling, insecure or apathetic, is likely a reflection of your level of consciousness.
In our modern society, we tend to greatly value the intellect. However a higher intellect isn’t equal to a higher level of consciousness. One of the reasons for that, is probably the major role that play science and rationality nowadays. We want to analyze everything rationally. In science that’s wonderful, but when it comes to people it might not be very relevant. I tend to see people as irrational beings that like to rationalize everything afterwards. Aren’t we?
Note that it is possible to be highly “successful” from the standpoint of society (money, fame…), but still be largely out of tune with our emotions, haunted by fears.
The other main reason why some of us are relying so much on our intellect is because it is a great way to hide our feelings. Instead of expression our feelings genuinely we hide them. Why? Because of fear? What if I get hurt? What if they reject me as I am? What if I appear weak in front of others? Expressing our feelings candidly is actually a great sign of strength as it requires courage; the courage to be who we are and to accept the consequences instead of trying to control people and situations by managing our self-image.
Using your intellect is trying to be rather than being. It is trying to care rather than caring, trying to love rather than loving or trying to be happy rather than being happy. It is living in a world of shoulds.
My Personal Experience
I found this concept of intellect vs. being to be very true in my personal life. Recently, I’ve been asking myself why I was trying so hard to be? I’ve been reading so many self-help books, but have I really changed? Have I really raised my level of consciousness or did I simply strengthen my intellect?
Am I really being or am I trying to be? What are the fears that prevent me to be? Am I truly caring for people or am I simply helping them because I believe I should?
I wonder how many of you can relate to that. I feel like I’m still relying too much on my intellect and that I have a lot of work to do on myself in order open up, raise my level of consciousness and live a more fulfilling life.
Let’s see now how we can be, forgetting for a while about the intellect.
How To Be And Stop Trying To be
Being doesn’t require any intellectual effort. You don’t need to use your brain and think in order to be. You already exist without doing anything.
So in order to be, we must stop relying so much on our intellect. We must stop trying so hard to control our self-image and our environment. Here are few things you can do to reconnect with yourself.
1. Accept all your feelings
You are who you are, not who you think you should be or wish you could be. You can use your intellect to hide who you really are, but that doesn’t change anything.
Accept yourself as you are. Then, you can start to make the necessary changes.
If you feel no compassion then you feel no compassion. Why denying it? If you feel jealousy in an inappropriate situation, accept it.
2. Speak honestly and unarguably
Express your feelings to other as you perceive them.
People can disagree with your vision of the world, they can even disagree with facts that they may see as opinions, but they can’t disagree with your feelings!
If you express genuinely your feelings regarding a certain behavior of a colleague for instance, he/she will likely perceive you as honest and appreciate the fact that you have the courage to show your emotions. He/she may be encouraged to doo the same in return.
3. Listen without judgment
Listening is not hearing. Listening is an active act that requires practice, focus and concentration. When you listen without judgment you stop imposing your vision of the world to what people are saying. You forget for a while about how things should be and accept things as they are. Here is what active listening takes:
- Not judging what someone is saying but putting ourselves in their shoes
- Resisting the urge to interrupt your interlocutor
- Not thinking about what you are going to say next, but staying in the present moment
- Not getting lost in your thoughts
- Listening beyond the words: what the person’s body language/tone of voice is telling you?
- Being self-aware: are you tensed? Are you relaxed? Is your body/mind reacting to something your interlocutor is telling you? Why? Are you listening objectively or are you interpreting what the person is telling you?
Not so easy, right?
Spend some time just being. Stop trying to control everything even for a few minutes. Observe your thoughts without making any judgment. Are you your thoughts? What about your emotions? (See Is Meditation For Everyone?)
5. Practice mindfulness
Observe yourself as you go through your day. Try to understand yourself. Look at your feelings without judging them. Watch out for the times when you are out of sync with your being. For instance, do you say to someone “It’s okay” when you know it is not, rather than sharing your feelings?
6. Trust your intuition
Listen to your guts feelings. Learn to trust your intuition and see what happens. Stop being overly rational. (See Lynn Robinson’s Divine Intuition – Why You Should Listen To Your Inner Voice)
I hope that this article helped become more aware of the difference between being and trying to be (intellect). It is an important step towards a more conscious life.
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