Are You Conscious?

There are three active states in your brain: Awake, Aware, and Assess.

AWAKE is a biological state where the body functions to regulate itself and manage life. We are aware of our surroundings but have no sense of who we are or what is going on. Our body will react to its surroundings through changes in neural circuitry and the body’s chemical profile, causing physical and mental reactions.

AWARE is where we have a sense of being in the moment. We identify ourselves as an individual in a situation who is doing something (core consciousness). And with the addition of long-term memory (autobiographical consciousness), we form a perception of what has happened, what is happening, and what we will do next. When AWARE, we feel the mental and physical reactions to our environment, causing us to react with fear, anger, sadness, surprise, disgust or happiness, and the variations of feelings we learn over time.

ASSESS is the human capacity to analyze, create, problem-solve, reflect on the past and plan for the future (extended consciousness). This is the state where we consciously choose who we want to be and how we want to act. However, the depth of the emotional reaction we have prior to making choices will both distort our “logic” and inhibit our “free will.”

Why is this information important? Most of us declare that we want to be “proactive” rather than “reactive” in life. However, we spend most of our time awake and barely aware, with little time spent assessing in the moment what is going on and what is the best course of action to take.

Reactive people let the events and other people determine how they want to behave. When we do things because we don’t want to be rejected, or we defend our opinions because we don’t want to be wrong or look inadequate, or we work ourselves to death in jobs that we have outgrown because we don’t want to risk failure or ridicule, we are reactive. When we spend too much money too look good or talk too much to gain approval, we are reactive.

On the other hand, proactive people stop and think either before or while they are reacting. They listen to their bodies as well as their minds to determine the truth of what is happening to them in the situation, and if they should take it personally or not. They know what they value and what they need to feel happy, and have the courage to ask for what they need and to take the risk to live by their values. They are keenly aware of their internal experience as well as the external circumstances. They can’t control how other people act, but they can control their responses.

Since reacting is often done at a subconscious level, we do not have full control over our reactions. However, we do have control over our consciousness. How often do you stop and think about what you are doing, what you are feeling, and why? With all the distractions in our lives, it is difficult to breathe and calmly assess our situations. Yet this is what is required to be fully conscious. We need to relax, detach from our emotional reactions, center our awareness in the present moment, then choose who we want to be and how we want to feel based on the outcome we want to create.

When we are conscious, we are taking life to its fullest expression of being human. And we inspire others to do the same. May you become powerfully conscious in everything you do.

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