The first step in any journey for inner change is recognising the need to move beyond the suffering arising from disempowering situations and negative psychological states. You can’t commit to change unless you have the motivation to change (indeed, you need to recognise that change is needed and is possible at some level).
If your unhappiness and lack of life meaning arises fundamentally from being and/or experiencing disconnection at some important level – from self, others, community, purpose, spirit – then Recognition of the situation is crucial.No healing, no steps towards connection can occur, normally, without this recognition.
I see at least three aspects or small steps towards Recognition: 1) acknowledgement, 2) Intention, 3) Commitment to action. Recognition that leads to change requires all three steps to making the space for Re-awakening, the next stage in the connection process. Briefly these steps are:
- Acknowledge, safely and self-compassionately, your feelings, emotions, thoughts and behaviours that arise from, and reinforce, your suffering. We need to safely express these in whatever way we can, verbally, written. If my primary emotion of suffering is loneliness, and my behaviour withdrawal, then I need to acknowledge these to make them part of the motivation for change
- Intention is a statement of desired action to shift or change the situation that is causing suffering. It flows from acknowledging the pain and wanting to do something about it. Intention provides the energy and backbone for committed action. Without a specific or firmly held intention then any future pathway for change can be easily undermined. The stronger the intention, the greater the inner drive and commitment for change
- Commitment to action is an outcome of acknowledgement and strong, clear and personally specific intention. Without action, there is no change. Without committed action, then fundamental change is unlikely to happen and therefore suffering will continue. Action doesn’t necessarily mean knowing the solution or even knowing the right direction for dealing with your sufferings, it just means taking initial steps with the right intent and with an attitude of openness, mindfulness and self-compassion that supports and even refines your intention for change.
Recognition is an essential first step in waking up to life and reality – to make conscious of our need for experiences of deep connection, in acknowledging our disconnection and its contribution to our diminished happiness, meaning and/or health. With this recognition or renewed perspective of where we are at, then we are ready to move to the next stage – to create the space to Reawaken