To let pain slide right off of you.
To let fear of rejection control your actions.
To unfocus your mind when things become painful.
To change the subject when you start to lose an argument.
... and its easy to develop anxiety, become lethargic, or depressed by taking this easy path.
The loss of control over one’s consciousness is the most terrifying of human experiences: a consciousness that doubts its own efficacy is in a monstrously intolerable state.~ Ayn Rand, “Our Cultural Value-Deprivation,” The Objectivist, April 1966, 1And yet, the greatest growth occurs when we can take on these "hard" challenges. The habit of living consciously consists of constantly applying one's mind in the course of every activity. Of using reason to integrate and deduce the appropriate actions to guide one's life. To never let the moment slide by because we refused to think. To be in focus, all the time, every time. It is a skill of applying my mind to all situations.
For the most part, I do it well. When I work out, I think about my form, my times, or my goals. When I read, I consider the implications of the ideas presented. When I play games, I develop strategies to win the game. When cuddling with my wife, I sense her every touch. But I still have lots of room for improvement. Areas where I can use some work? One that I have been focusing on lately is dealing with my kids when they misbehave. I go through spouts where I actively engage my mind during the process of addressing their misbehavior. Then there are the other times :( I revert to old habits where I am not mentally engaged, and this unfortunately usually results in an unhappy ending. Lately, I have been striving ever harder to apply my thinking mind to these situations with my kids. Rational Jenn's blog has detailed a bunch of parenting skills I would love to improve in myself, many of them based on Positive Discipline.
How can I bring more consciousness to relationships with my kids? Well, I first need to start accepting them for who they are and secondly start treating them as if they were adults in training. Their wants and desires must be acknowledged for what they are. That does not mean I cave to their whims, but I do hold them to standards of fairness that I would any other adult or kid. This at least gives me a place to start.