Rosicrucian Writings Online
Self-ConsciousnessBy H. Spencer Lewis, Ph. D.
[From The Rosicrucian Digest December 1938]
REMEMBER the days when you were young and you were called upon to make a little speech before some audience in your home parlor or on the Sunday School platform or at some picnic? Do you remember the first few attempts at expressing yourself in words and actions, how self-conscious you felt and how the blood seemed to rush to your cheeks, your nervous system seemed to quiver, your memory seemed to stutter in its recollections and even your tongue began to stutter in its speech? They call this sort of thing "self-consciousness" or "stage fright." Professionals in the business world have other names for it, and men and women of all ages often suffer at different times in their lives from this sort of thing.
There are schools attempting to teach public speaking and oratory that try to tell you how to overcome and master this sensation of self-consciousness. Yet, it is not a thing that should be cast out of the consciousness of the mind and body, and it is not a thing to be eliminated and destroyed. But it is something that should be controlled and directed into its proper channels. When a young girl is self-conscious or embarrassed in certain circumstances, it is a healthy, normal, and certainly a commendable, sign. We do not like to see a young woman who is too bold or brazen and not at all self-conscious. Nor do we like to see a man--no matter how powerful he is, mentally, financially and socially--who is not conscious of the social amenities and of the niceties of life, and who is not somewhat timid or shy. We like to see a man who may be as strong mentally, as fearless physically, and as powerful diplomatically, as we all believe Napoleon was. But nevertheless, we like to see such a strong and powerful man embarrassed or shy when he is suddenly brought into the presence of ladies and gentlemen. We do not like to see him strut his majesty and exhibit his physical prowess and mental domination under such circumstances. He should be self-conscious or, in other words, conscious of the real self.
Now being self-conscious does not mean that a person should be controlled by an inferiority complex or that such a person should be a wallflower or extremely timid or constantly embarrassed.
Self-consciousness simply means the awareness of one's own abilities, one's own strength and weakness, and one's own distinct character. Of course, the person who is mentally undeveloped, or who is mentally unequipped or unprepared to meet the emergencies of life, is extremely self-conscious under many circumstances. When a good opportunity in the business or social world is offered to such a person, his self-consciousness, or consciousness of self, arises and seems to say to him, "No, do not accept it, you will not be able to fulfill the obligations. You are not qualified to fill or accept such an opportunity!" Now that represents the extreme degree of ridiculous self-consciousness. On the other hand, the person who is cautious and who is truly aware of the real self, will accept things with a graciousness and a willingness and yet explain that he does not want to create the impression that he is all-powerful and so qualified that he can perform any miracle of the business or social world or meet any obstacle or opportunity that may come before him.
To be truly self-conscious is to be conscious of both the spiritual and divine and the mental and physical constitutions of the human being. Physically one may be unqualified to meet many emergencies, but at the same time such a person can be mentally qualified and prepared to meet any emergency or any condition. It is by awakening the consciousness within us, and awakening the realization of the majesty of the power of the inner mind, that we can make ourselves impressive to others and at the same time add strength to our mental and physical abilities. The one who is fearful, and timid because of a belief in his physical or mental weaknesses, hesitates under many circumstances and is lost in the process of hesitation. On the other hand, the person who is fearless because he has a realization of his conscious abilities and conscious powers, is not necessarily bold and brazen but he is not reserved. He is ready to accept any normal, natural challenge and to do his best, and by that attitude of mind he attracts to himself unknown powers and develops within himself the dormant abilities that enable him to do masterful things.
You can develop this self-consciousness to a degree where you can feel the mighty powers of the mind and the mighty powers of divine and spiritual wisdom within you that will not only give you full confidence in yourself, but will actually awaken and quicken into action such mental and physical powers as may be dormant.
Consciousness of the self creates and begets, attracts and builds up, self-confidence. The highest development of the self-consciousness is the same thing as the highest degree of self-confidence. So we see that self-consciousness should not be destroyed or annihilated, but should be controlled and directed, and that is one of the things that the Rosicrucians explain to those who want to know these facts.
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