Self-inquiry is the process of constantly checking in with ourselves — finding the meaning, or the purest intention, behind our actions and asking ourselves why. Why did I react (a conditioned response) rather than respond (a true behaviour from our deepest self)? Where is that coming from? And then being still long enough to hear the answer.
And when the answer arises, going deeper by asking more questions of ourselves. Often in life we don’t know why we react or respond. We act from an unconscious place which creates both inner and outer conflicts as we are out of alignment with who we are, our truth. Perhaps reacting is what we were conditioned to do through witnessing others as we grew. Maybe we witnessed our parents in conflict, triggering each other and then hitting back (reacting) like a ping-pong match. Then without questioning we mirrored the same in our own relationships, never truly being still to identify the state of our own awareness and what we truly wanted, but reacting from a place of conditioned response to our triggered emotions. This example is a perfect place to begin self-inquiry, to give ourselves the space to step back and ask: ‘What’s happening here?’, ‘Why am I being triggered?’ and ‘What is it that I want them to understand?’ And then respond from that state of awareness.
I know that for many years in my life I never truly took the time to self-inquire, to check in with myself and ask what I was really feeling and what I really wanted to communicate. Instead I reacted from my triggers, causing much chaos in my life and the lives of others and causing myself and others undue pain and suffering, even costing me some very important relationships.
Self-inquiry is a simple practice which doesn’t really require much time. Mostly you’ll get the answer sooner than you expect if you just give yourself the space to be still and listen, but in the case of a disagreement (as in the example above) it does require that we are clear in stating our boundaries and communicating that we need the space to get clear before we respond.
However, self-inquiry is not just a practice in our relationships to other people, but most importantly in our relationship in knowing ourselves. Self-inquiry is my religion. Whenever I am struggling to find an answer, whether it’s which way to go, what to choose or how to respond, I take a step back and give myself the space and time I need to dig deep — and question, question, question until the truth is revealed.”
An excerpt from Your VividLife, An Invitation to Live a Radically Authentic Life by Shayne Traviss