Why do we keep doing and feeling the same things over and over again, even when they aren’t serving us well in any capacity whatsoever? Oh, the madness!
Consciousness is a “here-and-now” experience of focused attention that is fundamentally a measure of how our body, thoughts, and mind is changed by interaction with our internal or external world. As such, our caretakers as infants played a vital role in helping us make sense of our internal and external worlds. We came to know who we are because of what they mirrored back to us, and therefore, consciousness is said to be context-dependent. This is a process in which we regulate our inner and outer worlds, to gain an understanding, if you will, of how the world operates and how we operate in it.
Consciousness means having an understanding of our inner-world while opening up that private self to the outer world – to make ourselves vulnerable. If change is context-dependent and those around us play a key role in mirroring, we must open up our inner world – to be seen – if we are to experience ourselves in a deeper, richer way.
Many people will say that insanity is when you do something over and over again and get the same results. That’s not really true. If that were the case we’d all be insane (and maybe we all are a little bit, anyway!).
Insanity really is senseless action. It is engaging in irrational behaviors that make no sense in the grand scheme of our lives. We could also say that insane simply means lacking health, and truly when we are engaging in destructive behaviors over and over, this can make for an unhealthy person in many ways. The opposite of health or “normal” in the world of psychology is often given a diagnosis. Someone with a diagnosis of depression, anxiety, impulsivity, or even bipolar disorder, although common, could be considered insane because they are characterized by actions that are seen as unhealthy. This is called “pathology” in psychological terms, and rather than merely label someone as “insane” or “crazy”, we put people in nice little boxes with specific characteristics and call them by a different name.
Insanity is really a departure from what society considers normal (although, what society considers normal could always be up for debate). A departure from social norms usually includes doing harm to yourself or to another person, although once again, it isn’t always to stop when you’re hurting yourself or someone else. When you realize you are, and you’ve made the very explicit realization that you are powerless over what you feel and what you do, and that you must seek outside help to get better, you may now have to come to the realization that you in fact not engaging in good health. You may be insane. Join the crowd!
With our self-diagnosis of “insane” or any other label we choose to rely only on ourselves, after realizing we have no immediate control over our own feelings and actions, we must come to the realization that a power greater than ourselves can help restore us to sanity. After all, if we can’t do it alone, let’s hope someone else can! That greater power is consciousness of being. When we become truly conscious of who we are – the “i am” part of our self, we begin to unravel, and lay aside, the diagnoses we grasp onto for dear life as an explanation for why we feel and behave in ways that seem out of our control. In fact, we have full control over our thoughts, emotions and behaviors. We just have to be willing to search within to find out what got us to this ugly place.
If our consciousness, and our happiness, is in fact context-dependent, this means what we invite into our lives, including who we interact with on a daily basis, affects our growth. When I wrote about ABC Friends in one article, and our secure attachments in another article, this is what I’m referring to – the people and relationships in our life mirror back to us what we think and feel about ourselves. We are almost always unhappy because of our own thoughts and feelings, both of which are within our control. To be conscious means to gain back power, realizing we are fully in control of our own mind and body, and hence, who we choose to hang out with to mirror back. We’ve all heard the saying “you are the company you keep,” and this is exactly what I’m referring to. We are who we choose to hang out with, do lunch with, create drama with, and interact with on a daily basis. Our goal, then, is to become more conscious, more aware, and change our surroundings to feed back to us what we want our lives to be – a representation of happiness both internally and externally, and without the material things that only falsely bring us a sense of joy.