June 8, 2016

How We can Become More Self-Aware in our Daily Lives by Noticing our Symbols.

jason saul/Flickr

Everything around us in the world, especially that which we have control of—our cars, home, bodies, work desk, jobs, our friends—are symbolic of our inner state at any given time.

From the color we choose for our dining room to how clean we keep our car, our choices—whether conscious or not—are a reflection of us. This, in and of itself, is an overlooked, underestimated tool of self-awareness, self-discovery, and healing.

Sometimes we are too close to the trees to see the forest. It’s true. And sometimes, our egos are too big to hear what another person is reflecting back to us—despite the beautiful and humbling gift it is. Or maybe we just don’t get out much, or have that many close friends. Whichever the case, we don’t have to go any farther than our own bedrooms to begin to unravel the mysteries of our soul—where we need work, where we are strong, and where we can start.

Often that is the hardest part, where do we start? When we have finally mustered enough willingness to be willing, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the areas in our life that need work. 

Start small. Be observant. Take notes.

Some of us need tangible things to feel as though we are making progress. The effect changing our outside world has on our inside spaces is highly undervalued. Sitting on a mediation cushion and working through our intangible and esoteric messes the moment we decide to embark on a trek of self-discovery can feel fanciful and absurd. Especially if, at the time, we struggle to trust ourselves.

So, start with the outside.

I am frequently keeping mindful tabs on the appearance and status of both my car and my home. Those are the two things most of us have direct control over. Those spaces are home to the most vulnerable and direct expressions of who we are—the things we are most likely to lay claim to and make ours.

So, what do they look like? Are they clean or dirty? What color are they?

The things we carry in our car every day can be very symbolic of the things we carry with us in life. What’s in there? What is out in the open, and what’s hidden in doors and glove boxes and under the seats? What could this tell us about ourselves?

I drive a black, newish Chevy Crossover. I have a blue and yellow, small equality sticker on the lowest and farthest left corner of my bumper and the smallest blue and white “coexist” sticker I could find in the opposite corner. There is always my “work stuff” taking up too much space in my trunk area and space behind my driver seat. I see patients in their homes, and my car is my office and supply closet. I have various stones, essential oils, Bach Flower Remedies, and lots of ink pens stashed about in hidden nooks. I don’t let the outside get too dusty, I get my oil changed every 3,000 miles, and I use essential oils and water to clean the interior. At any given time, there may be a banana peel on the passenger floorboard and a few protein bar wrappers stuffed in the driver side door. I throw them away when I get home or fill up for gas.

So, what does this say about me? It’s a direct reflection of the things I feel are important to carry with me as I move through my day, and my life. I don’t need to take up a lot of space out in the world or show up with a grand entrance; my car is cute, and I love it. I have what I need and take care of what I have. I drive for work, therefore, most of the time spent in my car is for work, so of course, my “work stuff” would take up most of the room.

My stickers represent an important part of who I am and wish to see more of in the world, but they are smaller and not positioned to be thrown in someone else’s face. I don’t litter. I will carry 10 protein bar wrappers and more than one banana peel in my floor and allow whomever to pass judgement before I will throw them out into the world. My oils and stones and pens could easily represent all the things I feel I need to keep me productive and balanced, just below the surface.

Anyone else could see any number of things. After all, perception is based on our own filters of life-experience.

Similar questions can be asked about our homes as a means to understand ourselves better. Which room is our favorite? What colors have we chosen and what do those colors usually represent? Does it flow? Is there clutter? If there is clutter, what is the clutter typically—mail? Memorabilia? Creative projects thrown aside awaiting our return to them? Dirty dishes/laundry?

What is our outer space reflecting back to us? Which things do we avoid? Which things do we always make sure we do?

Then we ask why.

A few months ago, I noticed my partner and I, along with our daughter, tended to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, especially in the evening once everyone got home. One or more of us would sit on the counter and listen while the other told of their day or cooked. The small person would often find herself on the counter eating a finger fruit of some kind as she did her best to listen intently and share about her day, also.

My curiosity led me on an internet search where I quickly stumbled upon thisan article talking about what each room in our home often represents. The kitchen, if you were wondering, is very indicative of the heart chakra. It made perfect sense to me that we would all gather in the kitchen at 5:30 p.m. during the week after a long day of missing each other and wanting to connect. I also found it interesting that not long after my now fiance moved in, she tore down the wallpaper, patched the old screw holes, and together we painted it a deep blue that felt like a long dip in a cool lake with closed eyes and one good, deep breath.

It’s sometimes as simple as noticing what colors I feel drawn to that day and which chakras they correlate with.

Being mindful of my surroundings and curious about what they possibly represent has helped me tremendously to be more self-aware and balanced. I have discarded material things I didn’t need any longer, which took the energetic and internal ties I didn’t need with them, as well. I have gotten rid of clutter to find my mind less frantic and cleaned out my car to find myself less anxious.

Who doesn’t love a set of fresh clean sheets and a vacuumed floor? There’s a reason for that.



Breaking the Mirror: Why “Body Checking” is Wrecking our Self-Awareness.


Author: Dottie Hollingsworth

Editor: Travis May

Image: jason saul/Flickr

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