Does paying attention to the present allow me to discover who I am?

Commentary by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.

When it is said, “Who am I?” we could talk about knowing yourself.

When you ask someone who he is, he will normally give you his name. If you ask him if he knows himself, he will probably say yes, that he is a person with such and such qualities and that he has certain reactions and ideals.

That is the norm.

We are familiar with our usual reactions, those that anyone can see from the outside.

But does this knowledge enable us to improve, to be happier, to change; to understand others and ourselves?

Generally, not.

We are talking about very superficial knowledge. Just the tip of an iceberg.

We do not know what lies beneath and sometimes we do not want to know for fear of discovering things that we dislike.
We all hide, pretend, repress our impulses and reactions and even run away from our own feelings or uncomfortable thoughts.

Or rather, we do not want, or do not know, what motivates us at the very core of our beings.

However, without knowing everything that impels us, from the very base of the iceberg, changes cannot be made in our lives that will be consistent and lasting and will bring us peace.
The only way I know to discover more about myself is to pay attention to what I feel at every given moment. Paying attention to yourself is like turning on a light in a dark room and seeing what is there. We all have a dark room in our lives and this causes fears, insecurity and irritation but if you turn on the light of attention you can see all the junk that you have hastily stored there, while you have tried to push ahead with living based on the opportunities available at that moment.

The light is your focus and should be paired with an attitude where you are curious and open to what you may find without criticising what may emerge and with kindness towards yourself. You will only know how you really are, if you allow yourself to pay attention to what you feel with honesty and affection towards yourself. It is only in this way that what you have locked up in the dark room will cease to influence your life, you will no longer be afraid of it and you will be able to change your attitude and choose to live each moment being open to what it may bring, without the need to hide anything or defend anything.