Looking at Yourself
When you look at yourself directly with the firm intention of getting a taste (a feel, a whiff) of what it feels like to be you, the unconscious ground of fear upon which your mind developed over your lifetime dissipates. Just one look with your inner eye at the raw sense of me before any names, definitions, understandings, and emotional states eliminates that underlying context of fearfulness.
The direct, unmediated contact of your attention with the reality of you reveals that you do not need any protection from life itself. It is like hitting a reset button. The unconscious need to protect yourself from life is falsified because it is obvious that, no matter what happens, you are actually always here.
Looking at yourself in this manner is an act of self‑directed attention and, for some, it may seem very difficult to do. After all, in this act, you are forcefully turning your attention inward—away from thoughts, sensations, and other stimuli—in a direction it is not accustomed to going.
We think of that invisible mental environment of fear as a psychological autoimmune disease. Once the falseness of the constant need to protect yourself from life reveals itself in the mind, a process of recovery begins. During the process of recovery from the fear of life disease, your mind goes through a reconstruction of sorts, in which old thought patterns and conditioned behaviors that took birth in a fearful mental environment begin to disintegrate and be replaced by new, healthier ones.
With the ground of fear dissipated, no new fearful psychological mechanisms will be generated in the mind, but the older ones that were formed by the circumstances of your life over the years do not disappear immediately.
The most recently formed psychological mechanisms disappear quickly, but older ones, especially the more ingrained ones, the ones established in the period between your birth and your childhood years will take some time to disappear. The older and most hidden psychological mechanisms that became part of your personality will fight to remain in place at all cost and they may cause some difficulty during your recovery.
This process can take many years and you can go through it without a clue as to what is actually happening to you. Old patterns of thought and behavior may reappear and may cause many disturbances. You may feel lost at sea wondering, Why is this happening to me? I thought I had gotten rid of this particular behavior years ago, etc.
Next: Self-Directed Attention