Stalking yourself is the process of hunting, following and observing your habits, beliefs, thoughts, routines, strengths and weaknesses for the purpose of seeing who you are. It is using the mind to see all aspects of yourself in action. In stalking yourself, you want to see not only what and how you are thinking, but to identify your central beliefs, those core beliefs that cause you to act in certain ways. The fact is that our mind makes decisions for us and directs us in all aspects of our life, and if we remain unaware of this process, we can lose control of our lives. For indeed the mind is a great servant, but a terrible master.
Most of us remain totally unconscious of this internal process. We fail to see how our beliefs influence our choices, or how our inadequacies and hurts cause us to lash out in anger or withdraw into self-pity, according to our nature. Or we fail to see how certain habits like procrastination or lack of imagination keep us stuck in situations that do not serve our best needs.
In many ways we don’t see ourselves at all because we are too busy thinking and doing without noticing what we are thinking or why we are doing what we are doing.
Stalking ourselves is a novel concept because we assume we know and see ourselves well. In fact, we reason, nobody knows ourselves better than we do. But in this reasoning we are woefully wrong. It is an important turning point in each of our lives when we are confronted with and fully grasp how much of who we are is unconscious, and how these unconscious parts of us have agendas and make decisions for us. Not only that, but if we are not careful and diligent, these unconscious parts of us can take over our thinking without our even being aware it has happened. Each of us is a unique mixture of strengths and weaknesses of conscious and unconscious patterns and beliefs. We are totally unconscious in some areas of our life (usually those areas where we are having problems and difficulty), and hyperconscious and aware in others. No two of us is alike, and so no two strategies will be alike. Each of us must design a strategy that fits our unique situation. But to do this we must first see and understand ourselves without illusion.
To be effective in our life we need to be adept at three distinct processes.
- Seeing: seeing ourselves and our present situation without illusion.
- Knowing: having the insight and wisdom to make empowering decisions according to what we see.
- Doing it: overcoming procrastination and fear and mastering the dharma of action.
Until you can see yourself, you cannot see your present circumstances, much less the choices and options available to you. Stalking is the process of allowing us to see. We stalk ourselves the way we would stalk a wild animal. To successfully stalk a wild animal you must know its habits and routines. Is it nocturnal, or does it hunt during the day? What does it like to eat? Where does it sleep? What attracts it and what scares it away? Hunters will patiently study their prey and come to know its habits and routines.
We take the same attitude. We stalk ourselves as if we are stalking something or someone we don’t know. We stalk ourselves without judgment or attachment to what we find. This is important, perhaps the most important key to stalking – no judgment.
If a part of you feels judged by the process, your mind will find a way to sabotage the process. So agreement number one with yourself is, “No judgment about what I find.” When you find something revealing you simply say, “That’s interesting.” Not judging allows parts of ourselves to be revealed to us without fear.
The second agreement is to not act immediately upon what you see. When we discover something about ourselves that we don’t like, our first instinct is to blame ourselves, and our second is to try to fix it right away. In stalking you are asked to do neither. There will be plenty of time to discern appropriate action, but only after seeing yourself clearly, without illusion. In stalking yourself, you are asked to neither blame nor fix. Simply to see it. Not once or twice, but to see it many times so you can discern patterns. The third agreement is to stalk without self-importance or self-pity. Each of us is inclined one way or the other, and both self-importance and self-pity will distort our seeing, each in its own way.
The fourth agreement is to have no preferences as to what you find. Don’t stalk with agendas, fears or hopes. Stalk with curiosity and a burning desire to see and know yourself, in all your complexity and contradictions. Don’t assume you know already what you will find. I can assure you there is much you do not know or understand about yourself.
This month I would like you to stalk your internal dialogue. Like a hunter listens for sounds in the bush, listen to what your internal dialogue is saying.
For some of you it will be a total revelation that you have an internal dialogue. I’m not talking about the thoughts you are actively thinking, but the inner chatter beyond thought that comments and has opinions about everything. Stop and listen to it. You might begin by watching and listening to your thoughts, and then noticing that there is also a judge, a critic, a commentator alongside the thoughts. This is the internal dialogue I am speaking of. Stalk and listen to it. What is it saying? Is it positive or negative? What are its favorite topics or themes? Is it critical of you or others? What sets it off?
Then, at the end of each day, spend fine minutes journaling about the main themes of your internal dialogue that day. After one month, if you stalk diligently, you should be able to see and know something about yourself that has previously been unknown to you. Don’t judge or act upon what you see yet. That will come later.
Stalking takes vigilance, patience, cunning and willpower. Our internal dialogue is one of our chief tyrants, keeping us unconscious and unaware, and we will not see it or know it without stalking. Interested? Curious? Up to the challenge? Well then begin today, and we will continue this topic next month.