Rav Berg said, “Consciousness is Everything”. It’s such an important teaching and for those who spent any time around The Rav, they remember he was known to say it quite a lot! It reminds me of this quote from Frank Outlaw, as it really drives home the importance of making conscious decisions about your thoughts, words, actions, and habits:
“Watch your thoughts, they become your words; Watch your words, they become actions; Watch your actions, they become habits; Watch your habits, they become character; Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
We all like to think of ourselves as conscious people. Most of us endeavor to live examined lives, dedicating ourselves to self-awareness and a spiritual practice. Yet, there are still scenarios in which we put our consciousness on pause. In certain situations, our self-aware, self-possessed brain goes on autopilot. This happens most notably when we are confronted with an expert or figure of authority. David Freedman expresses, based on his findings of a brain-scan study, that upon being given expert advice, brain activity actually dies out. “The brain actually shuts down a bit in the face of (expert) advice. We hear an expert, and we surrender our own judgment.”
If you’re having a tough time thinking of any instance in which you would surrender your own judgement, I’ll give you an example. I once was at a doctor’s visit with my daughter. I have been a big proponent of alternative medicine and up until this point, my daughter had really only ever been treated by a holistic physician. Visiting a medical doctor was altogether new. As the MD ran standard procedures such as pushing on her torso and a few more below-the-belt areas, the doctor explained the examinations to her. Upon asking if he could continue, she turned bright red with discomfort but replied “yes”.
It was clear that she was uncomfortable and definitely did not want the examination to continue. The doctor picked up on this discomfort and assured her that she never has to do anything she feels uncomfortable with. “Did you say yes just because I am a doctor?” You never need to say yes just because someone is a doctor, lawyer, or police officer if something doesn’t feel right to you.
The doctor asked her again if he could continue with his procedure and this time, because she was assured she didn’t need to do anything that felt uncomfortable, she confidently replied “no”. I am so glad that she was able to have this experience and to have it at a young age. I certainly didn’t and I know most of you probably didn’t either. We have been conditioned to take certain people at their word, no matter what.
Is there anyone in your life whose advice or opinion you will take wholeheartedly and without question, no matter the situation? The likely answer is no, because no one can know us, or what is best for us, better than ourselves. But how many of us have had a similar experience at a doctor’s office or in the face of another self-assured ‘expert’?
Let’s say you’re in a team meeting and your boss introduces a giant project to you and your colleagues. After outlining the specifics and assigning tasks, your boss ends the meeting with a hearty “Okay team, we can do this!” Though the workload is heavy and the deadline feels unrealistic, if your boss says you can do it, so who are you to question it?
If your doctor prescribes a medication that you’re unfamiliar with and instead of explaining it says “This should so it!” Will you take them at their word, knowing full well that you know nothing about it or what it will do?
We believe that if someone is an “expert” or of elevated authority, it is not okay to question them or push back. We stop thinking for ourselves. So how do we bring ourselves back into the picture? How can we be strong in consciousness without exception? The answer is deceptively simple: ask questions.
When confronted with a doctor who assuredly says “this should do it” ask them to elaborate on exactly what “it” is. The next time a boss or colleague exclaims “we can do this!” ask yourself if you truly feel that the work can get done satisfactorily within those ‘can-do’ parameters. If not, raise your concern and suggest a solution. Even if you are presented with a personal challenge, instead of the usual “I’ve got this!” researchers suggest to instead, ask yourself, “Okay, do I have this?” The interrogative self-talk is the better way to go and will yield better results than affirmative self-talk because the question prompts your brain to start looking for solutions.
“Of course you have to do actions, but if your thoughts, your consciousness, are wrong, then it will be very difficult to manifest what you desire.” – Michael Berg
By bringing awareness back to ourselves and asking questions, versus blindly following orders or rules, we keep our consciousness at an even pace. We remain strong in who we are no matter what.
Thought Into Action
Set an alarm for three times a day, for a couple days. When the alert goes off, ask yourself, “What am I choosing?” Maybe you’re walking between meetings, making dinner, or having a conversation. Whatever you are doing, stop and ask why you ‘chose’ this particular moment in your life. It may seem coincidental but you assuredly ‘chose’ this moment! This is an exercise for maintaining a more constant consciousness in every way, everyday.