I just gave myself the best gift. I packed my hiking boots and deep longings for an eight-day retreat on beautiful Bowen Island in Canada’s British Columbia.
In the island’s luscious rain forest, I met up with a band of daring souls who, like me, yearn to fully know and grow themselves. Together, we explored big questions like, “What wants to happen in our lives?” and “What aspects of ourselves are really starving for our attention and affection?”
We also spent an entire day examining our immunity to change – the psychological defenses that often keep us from trying out new things and being our biggest, boldest selves.
In doing this work, we asked tougher questions like, “What is the one big change that would change everything in our lives?” “What are we doing and not doing that’s keeping us from making this change?” “What fears and worries are causing us to hold onto behaviors that no longer work?” And, “What do we believe about ourselves or our world that’s driving these fears?”
Answering these questions has helped me to see myself more clearly. I now know why I avoid vulnerability and happily embrace being in control. I also understand how not feeling good enough has frequently enticed me to settle when what I really wanted was to soar.
So, what did I have to pay to gain these priceless insights? Attention. Paying just a little attention to myself without my routine distractions has opened the door for greater truth and self-discovery.
The power of attention cannot be overstated. Wherever our attention goes, our energy eventually flows. When we slow down to really look at ourselves – in all of our glory and our grime – we see beneath the surface to the very core of our beings. And this attention, when rooted in love and compassion, has the power to transform the barren parts of our lives into fertile ground for new growth.
Giving attention to ourselves is the first step in working on ourselves, healing ourselves and being ourselves. It is literally at the root of every conscious life change that we make. We can’t shift without it. So the next time you find yourself in a pattern of giving all of your attention to others, remember that paying attention to yourself is what will make your life bloom.
Rebeccah Bennett is founder of Emerging Wisdom & InPower Institute.