As mindful writers, we are simply showing up, applying the necessary force to stimulate and sustain the writing process, and then paying careful attention to what is happening. We notice when motivation increases, noting the external and internal stimuli and resources that may have been involved. We become aware of our routine pitfalls, topics that grind us to a halt, and, most importantly, the many voices that show up during various stages of the process. These voices come in all different shapes and sizes. Some remind us of actual people from our lives, past and present, while others are solely our own invention, the accumulation of a lifetime of internalized beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and “truths” we have heard, seen, or even just made up about ourselves and the ways of the world.
It is difficult, painful work to begin sifting through the junk swirling around in our minds in order to start hearing — and learning to accept — what is actually true about our experiences. So much of what we have come to believe about ourselves, even the positive things, is based on interpretation and judgment, the process of placing a value on the actions, appearances, words, and accomplishments of others. Because our ego (the “I” that we refer to when we speak of ourselves) is so insecure, it needs to defend itself against any effort one might make to expose its falseness. Even the self-critical thinking we have learned to incorporate into our vision of ourselves is a result of an ego-centered persona, in this case the “I” that is “not worthy” or “not good enough” or “not pretty enough” or “not rich enough,” is a false creation that, at its core, only wants to survive. Any threat to this survival is attacked with a fiercer attachment to the very nature of the ego-based persona, for when it recognizes a threat – the possibility that it may not be the actual “truth” about us — then it digs in deeper, bringing out its “heavy machinery” to try and keep itself thriving in your mind.
The real problem that the ego-centric persona presents is not its existence, for it is a perfectly natural part of the human experience, and the fact that we have it at all is essential to our survival in the conditioned world. We need to play the “roles” of teacher, parent, lover, spouse, lawyer, brother, and so on in our daily walk through the conditioned world. We need to have a trustworthy skill-set and the wherewithal to know which skills to use in different situations. In fact, without the “roles” we play in our lives, people might not know what to do with themselves, and the entire structure of the world we’ve created might simply fall to pieces.
So why get rid of our personas at all?
Well, at some point the limited scope of awareness that a particular role allows for is a recipe for failure when it comes to fully breaking out of old patterns and into new success. Besides, it is the personas that begin to show up when you sit down to write, inserting their opinions, thoughts, critiques, and judgments at the most inopportune moments, with the most insensitive comments.
Our goal in mindful writing is not to forcibly destroy the personas, but rather to learn to differentiate them from the other voices of wisdom that may also be trying to speak. Imagine, if you will, that there is but one, and only one, entity who is fully in charge of your life, the captian of the ship, as it were. This entity could be called your spirit, your guide, your inner wisdom, your intuition, your Light or Conscience, or anything else.
No matter the label, one must firmly believe that this entity — which generally can only be accessed if one is truly open and relaxed — is the representation of your true self, the part of you that is purely loving, intelligent, and clear about everything. Swirling all around this “true self,” of course, are the personas and masks, the various disguises and personalities we accumulate and shift between during the course of a day. Unfortunately, most of us, for most of the time, hear the “wisdom” of these personas, and believe that they are, in fact, us.
But underneath that chaos is the real you, the center of your being, the line that connects you to the greatest potential self you could ever realize, a self more talented, loving, kind, strong, and balanced than you might ever imagine. This is the place from which the observer must operate. This is the place from which the observer learns to recognize not only the falsehood of the persona voices, but also its own ability to override their message. While not easy, one who is dedicated to mindfulness can begin to cultivate the skills of observation that illuminate this difference and then act in a way the benefits not the “false self” of the persona, but only the true self of the actual being, you.