by Eileen Campbell
It takes courage to be fully human, to wake up to life’s possibilities, and to grow and mature. We need to be open, yet being open is a risk. We tend to stay with the known, the familiar, rather than risk the unknown. Taking risks is scary – we might fail, or experience loss or disappointment, and nothing might turn out as we hope. Life rarely does go according to plan, but that shouldn’t stop us from moving beyond our comfort zone. If we don’t take risks life is not being fully lived, and we may experience fear, loneliness and lack of fulfilment. ‘The day came,’ wrote the author Anais Nin, ‘when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.’
Taking risks means being open to life’s experiences, being curious about what might be if we were to do something different, break away, or speak out and challenge. Daring to be ourselves and letting people see who we really are requires courage. Often we play a role, while underneath we’re a bundle of fears, largely because we were never given a sense of unconditional approval. We see ourselves as separate from everything and everyone, which leaves us with a sense of being incomplete. Sometimes we reach a crossroads – we sense a need to live differently. The authentic self is calling us and we need to listen to the whispers coming from our hearts. We need to find out who we truly are, and what we really want and need for our growth.
‘Know Thyself’ was inscribed above the entrance to the shrine of Apollo at Delphi, a maxim that was also used in the writings of Plato, Socrates, and Aeschylus, as well as by later philosophers like Hobbes and Rousseau, and poets like Emerson and Coleridge. When we find the courage to explore the depths of ourselves and make the journey inwards, we develop greater awareness and begin to understand our emotions and thoughts, and have insights as to why they are the way they are. We need to make time for quiet and reflection and ask for help and guidance. Meditation, mindfulness, psychotherapy, or counselling can all help us get to know ourselves better.
Gradually we can make changes and adjustments so that our lives seem to run more harmoniously and become richer and more meaningful. We feel a sense of being connected to something greater than ourselves, yet there’s a softness at the centre that allows us to be more open-hearted – both towards ourselves and others. We are at ease with who we are.
The Indian teacher Sri Sathya Sai Baba taught that we’re actually three people and suggested that we try to make them one. ‘There is the one you think you are, the one others think you are, and the one you really are.’ If we can make them one, joy, peace, and bliss will be the result.
Eileen Campbell is a writer of inspirational books, including a successful series of anthologies described by the media as “treasures of timeless wisdom,” which sold collectively around 250,000 copies. She has studied with a variety of teachers from different traditions and brings a wealth of knowledge and life experience to her books. She is known for her pioneering and visionary career as a self-help and spirituality publishers, and has also written and presented for BBC Radio 2 and 4. She currently devotes her energies to yoga, writing, and gardening. She lives in England. Visit her at http://www.eileencampbellbooks.com.