How Does Consciousness Relate to Personal Growth?

April 11th, 2005 by Steve Pavlina

Given previous posts on Levels of Consciousness and Raising Your Consciousness, several people have asked me what “practical” relevance this has to personal growth. A valid question — here’s my answer:

Certainly your actions will produce results in your life, but which actions should you take? Logic and reason can help you decide how to get things done, and they can help you break large projects into small steps. If you know the questions, logical thinking can help you find the answers.

But logic and reason have no context for deciding which questions to ask. Your reason cannot tell you why one question is any more or less important than another. Try proving with logic that having more money is better than having less. Prove that treating people with kindness is better than manipulating them. Prove that a career in medicine is better than a career in law. Seemingly intelligent, practical people don’t see eye to eye on these things.

How are you making the biggest decisions of your life? What career should you choose? Should you marry? Should you have children, and if so, how many? What’s most important to you in life?

Don’t kid yourself into thinking you’re making these decisions based on what’s most practical. Ultimately you’re forced to go with intuition. No matter how practical you feel you are, you’re still making the biggest decisions of your life from a context that transcends rationality. Ultimately it all comes down to a gut feeling.

What provides this overall context for how to live? What’s giving you the questions to ask? Those are coming from your consciousness. Your level of consciousness will determine the big questions and answers in your life. Everything else trickles down from there. Your intellect exists only to serve your intuition, no matter how practical you think you are.

So what does it mean to become more effective or productive? If you get better and better at doing what you’re doing but never raise your level of consciousness, are you really being effective? Are you getting optimal results? Does it make sense to become better and better at doing things if you’re stuck at the level of anger … or pride?

If you’re a human living the life of an ape, does it make sense to invest your time to become a better ape, or is it worth the effort to try to wake up to your human side? What if everyone else around you seems content with living like apes? It’s so easy to fall into the trap of avoiding these kinds of questions, but you’ll never know true happiness until you summon the courage to ask.

What if your whole life has been a mistake?

How would you know?

What if you’ve spent your whole life up to this point with all the big decisions being made at a much lower level of consciousness than you’re capable of? What if you’ve been making the big decisions out of fear because you didn’t know how to exercise your true courage? What experiences are constantly denied you because your consciousness operates at too low a level? If you had no fear, would you still live your life as you do now? If not, what would you change?

Higher levels of consciousness mean access to greater rewards. You don’t have to settle for bananas as the highlight of your day. Instead of being alone, you can enjoy wonderful relationships. Instead of working at a dull job, you can adopt a career that fulfills you deeply. Instead of feeling frustrated or stressed, you can experience pervasive inner peace. If your level of consciousness is too low, these rewards will always be denied you, and it will seem like a mystery why others are able to attract them so easily but not you.

Running on your current life treadmill will only get you so far. But what if it’s the wrong treadmill? Avoiding that question and throwing yourself into the act of going further and further along the same treadmill lowers your consciousness. It drives you deeper into fear and away from courage.

Even if you’ve become deeply invested in your current treadmill, you still have to ask what else is out there. Just asking that question will bring your fears to the surface, where you can begin dealing with them consciously. And conquering fear is the essence of raising your consciousness. No matter how incredible your current treadmill, there’s always a better one. Living consciously means learning to feel comfortable moving from treadmill to treadmill without becoming overly attached to any of them. That is the essence of personal growth.

Who is at a higher level of consciousness — the person who has everything but is deathly afraid of losing it or the person who has very little but has no fear of loss? Who will be happier? Who will be able to attract and nurture the most loving relationships? Who will be at peace?

The more attached you are to your current treadmill, the less conscious — the less free — you are. And with greater freedom comes far greater personal growth because you’ll gain access to new experiences that you’d otherwise be too fearful to attempt.

Ask the big questions. Then face down all the “what if” fears that surface with as much courage as you can muster. When you do that, you become more conscious.


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