5 years ago I did not see this coming…
The Benjam Newsletter.
16th September 2022
Self awareness is a value of mine. Five years ago I would never have guessed that awareness would be so important to me.
First valuable lesson; we have no real idea how our lives are going to unfold in the long run. Anything can happen at anytime. Most of it is outside our control.
What would be the point of life if we know how it was all going to pan out?! We can try and control our future, but there is always something calling us into the unknown.
Self-awareness became important to me the moment I realised that my lack of self-awareness was creating patterns of suffering for myself and others around me.
Life got really painful. Once I woke up to the reality of depression, anxiety and fear running my life, I was left with no choice but to look inwards, to peak under the hood, into the shadow of the subconscious mind and honestly ask myself ‘what is the point in all of this?’
These are the kind of questions to which we might never find a definitive answer, the ego hates these questions because the ego needs to know for sure what’s going on so it can keep us ‘safe’. As humans, we are operating from the mind and the heart. The mind is where the ego lives. I had no idea that we are made of two parts; the ego, and the 'true' or higher self. If you're on the path of cultivating 'inner peace' etc, you'll need to understand what the ego is, and what the other end of the duality is; Soul, True Self, Higher Self etc. What is the ego? It's the personality self that we construct with our mind to create a story of who we are in order to be a functioning member of society; we become a somebody, but the hard pill to swallow is that we are not the ego, it is a story. Also known as the 'smaller self' or small 's' self. Higher Self? True Self? Capital 'S' Self? That's the 'you' that is left after all the stories are stripped away, this is the Self that is unchanged from the moment you are born to even beyond death.
We are in duality, with means everything here is on a scale; light/dark, yin/yang, north/south etc. False ego story is at one end of scale, True Self is at the other. Ego is a finite, Higher Self is infinite. So, this is what I'm talking about when I say self awareness is a value of mine. The ego is believes it is completely separate from everything. Ego experiences low self confidence, judgement, hate, confusion, doubt, fear, frustration, and can react from these experiences which only creates more suffering and separation. The ego wants to control everything to keep us safe, so it creates situations that it can control, keeping us in patterns that might be painful, but the ego prefers familiarity to change. The True Self aka Soul is the opposite, the Soul knows with unwavering confidence that it is intimately connected to everything. Soul knows compassion, acceptance, Love, clarity even in chaos, eternal patience, joy and bliss.
Anyway, we can’t change that which we aren’t aware of, I became aware of the fact that I was creating my own suffering and that I am entirely responsible for my experience of life... ...hence the whole ‘self enquiry’ chapter.
Five years ago I was extremely busy pouring my life force energy and attention into things other than cultivating self-awareness.
Mainly I was focused on feeding vlogs, photos, films and stories to my ever hungry (and wonderful) 700k YouTube subscribers and 730k Instagram followers. As well as running a business, being in relationship, keeping an old Land Rover going, and filming the whole thing every single day.
I was ‘Mr Ben Brown’ the vlogger. That became my identity. Not a bad one, at the time it fit quite nicely, I moulded myself to fit the identity of vlogger and influencer.
Little did I know that as I fed my audience slices of my life in video format my viewers were in turn feeding my ego's desperate need for validation. Soul doesn't need validation, btw. Many of us experience life from the 'outside in' and this was the case for me too, knowing myself ‘from the outside in’ via the feedback loop I had created to feel good about myself;
1. Mr Ben Brown makes a video.
2. Audience is entertained, inspired and receives positive vibes from Ben.
3. Ben reads all the positive comments to check (from the outside in) that he is being who is meant to be for everyone else. (These comments provide a sense of relief, a moment of distraction from my deeply rooted belief that I am actually not a good person)
4. Ben (Ben's ego) at this time is very easily triggered, infuriated in fact, by negative comments. A silent rage boils inside him and he goes about trying to convince each troll or hater that he is a good person (again I was creating my sense of self from the outside in). This ego identified Ben is secretly very insecure, what if the hater is right? What if they find out?
5. Ben learns that the more videos he makes the more positive feedback he gets, and therefore the more he feels like a good and useful person via his audience, from the outside in.
Another lesson for Ben’s ego; ego loves external validation! The ego needs it. In fact, deep down I was running a subconscious belief that says 'you'll never be good enough.' So anytime I had people telling me I'm great and valuable and loving, I get a short break from nagging feeling that I'm inherently worthless. Yeah, it's deep! Stay with me :)
All of my sense of self was created from the outside in.
I learnt at a very early age that I could do things to make other people happy. I'm a sensitive man, I naturally tune into other people's emotions, it's one of my gifts, so if the people around me are happy then I can be happy! As a child I learned (out of survival) to tune into other people’s energy and emotions so I could read them and become what they needed. This would make them happy sometimes and so my nervous system can take a break and feel connected. Empathic people learn who we are from the outside in. Constantly checking the feedback from the outside. This is a skill we develop as children, it is a gift once we learn how to work with it.
Of course it is impossible to make everyone around us happy. Despite our best efforts.
The best way to make people Love me in modern society? Become a high achiever. My achievements became my identity. More ego at work :) I was motivating myself by means of immense internal pressure to ‘do my best’. This ego fear driven anxiety inducing motivation worked for a long time. National kayaking champion became my new identity, the kayaking club I as training at LOVED this and so my achievements and my ego was celebrated by many people. My identity then evolved into multiple World Champion and professional athlete. Celebrated by society with awards and newspaper articles, family super proud, people inspired by my achievement, my ego was very very happy being 'The World Champion Kayaker'! I was having the most amazing time, I love kayaking and I loved racing and I loved the whole journey of being a professional athlete, no complaints, I just find it interesting to unpack this stuff. But little did I know, with all this drive and motivation there was a twist;
I was feeding a beast; a subconscious belief that nothing I do will ever be good enough.
This is very common with highly driven people, it's what keeps them going, a sense of fear, constantly chasing the next achievement for a moment of peace.
I only recently discovered the internal negative self talk that feeds the belief that nothing I do will ever be good enough, and so I can never rest, or celebrate too much, or be satisfied with myself.
Core belief; I WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH.
When we build our identity from the outside in, we become our achievements and our failures. We can never rest, because our ego's self-worth needs feeding. Soul doesn't need this.
This is a distortion of the mind. We are not what we do. We are not defined by our successes or our inevitable failures. We can develop worthiness from the inside.
What a relief! Well who I am then? Hah! And so the path continues…
What has changed after all this inner investigation?
I am learning to resource my validation from within myself, rather than being dependant on others for my self-worth, I know in my core (my True Self knows) that I am inherently worthy of love, peace, abundance, rest, joy, happiness and my life. Connecting daily to my Soul is gradually reprogramming my subconscious beliefs. We do this by noticing where the ego is creating thoughts, stories and patterns, so that we can rewrite the stories from a Higher Self perspective. This is not self judgment (ego sneaking in the backdoor!) this is Loving awareness.
Each day I am learning who I am from the inside out, developing my own authentic sense of Self, I am learning to be my authentic Self which isn't always who the world wants me to be... Side note; 'Authentic Self' is a good way of saying 'without a filter' this is expressing from truth in each moment, even if it isn't 'comfortable' for others, or 'out of character' or 'not like you!'.
ALL THIS HAS CHANGED MY LIFE. AND NO DOUBT THE LIVES OF MY FUTURE CHILDREN.
Many people are surprised to hear that I was actually incredibly depressed and intensely anxious during the YouTube ‘glory days’. I was a master of hiding my authenticity, even from myself!
As a people pleaser, I was also saying yes to everyone often pouring all my energy into everything around me without even realising I was the one who's cup needed filling up, I needed support, rest, energy, recovery, LOVE and PEACE.
Back then I wouldn’t have been able to describe my internal, mental and emotional landscape.
When anyone asked ‘how are you?’ My answer would be based on how my external life was going; GREAT!
I had no emotional intelligence yet.
Why was I so unhappy on the inside when I had everything I wanted on the outside?
- Conditioned and programmed distortion of what happiness is... Why was I unable to face certain uncomfortable truths? - I had no initiation into manhood, I was running from discomfort.
This was confusing for me because I had so many people celebrating my life, hundreds of thousands of people online cheering me on. If everyone says I’m having a good time then I MUST be having a good time… right?!
Confusion. Too busy and overcommitted to even realise I was confused.
A horrible place to be, tirelessly working to create the life I thought was making me happy, only to discover that the harder I tried to make happy the more depressed I was. WTF?!
It took a motorbike accident and a fractured elbow to slow me down.
In the recovery I started to ask why.
I got really honest with myself, I was a total train wreck.
I was also furious.
I felt like I had been f*cking ripped off by this materialistic capitalist society that had programmed my innocent mind with distorted ideas of success and fulfilment. And I fell for it all.
Mother f*ckers. What a waste of my time. I couldn’t yet see the incredibly valuable lessons I scooped up from taking that path of external materialistic ego adventures, and I did choose that path, even if I wasn't fully conscious of my choices or where they came from.
Another valuable lesson for Ben’s ego; some desires come from a place of subconscious programming and social conditioning and no matter many resources you accumulate it’ll never be enough. Capitalism relies on our insecurities to stay alive, that's just how it works.
UNTIL YOU ARE RESOURCED FROM THE INSIDE NOTHING IS EVER ENOUGH.
It doesn’t matter how much material, financial or energetic abundance I have on the outside, if I’m not happy on the inside it is wasted.
Now I practice resourcing my energy, my confidence and my peace from the inside, I no longer measure my self-worth from other people's opinions or my achievements, and I can trust that on the deepest level I am not defined by anything external.
Happiness is an inside job.
Did I have some great times? F*ck yes!
Was it all doom and gloom? No way!
Yet my intuition was screaming at me for years,
to slow down,
take some rest,
give myself a break,
and most importantly to check in with how I'm changing, and who I’m becoming.
In many ways I was living inauthentically. Out of integrity. I wasn't being honest with myself and consequently my body, mind, relationships, work, everything suffered as I gaslit myself and dug myself into a deeper hole. (sometimes we dig ourselves into a hole because we need to learn how to climb out)
‘Mr Ben Brown’ was known for positive vibes.
To be anything else felt overwhelmingly impossible. All the haters were right, I'm not a good person. My worst fears coming true.
I became a master of hiding my truth from myself and the world.
What would people think of me if I showed my true self? My deep sorrow for the world, sacred anger, ego anxiety, emotional authenticity. Real Ben would be torn apart.
I'm a master at hiding the powerful forces of rage and anger inside me. Anger towards the world and all it’s injustices that I empathically felt as my own.
There was a lot going on under the hood… in need of loving awareness, anxiety was trying to bring this to my attention every day.
Who I’m becoming? What the f*ck does that even mean? - Is what I would’ve said back then.
Of course, we are naturally changing, constantly, evolving, growing, expanding, contracting, learning, transforming on this journey called life.
It’s in our nature to change over time.
But! No one teaches you how to move through these inevitable & incredible transformations! So we have to figure is out as we go along and remember that it comes naturally to us.
Most people want us to stay the same. To be predictable. To reduce yourself to fit into society’s definition of human. But this goes against nature.
Truth is - CHANGE IS UNCOMFORTABLE!! Transformation can be incredibly painful.
Especially when we resist it!
AND people around us rarely want us to change, if they do it’s in the ways that suits them, not us. People who avoid change will subconsciously discourage your evolution because your growth is a reflection of their lack of growth. Ouch! ‘Please don’t grow & evolve it makes me feel insecure!’
First things first; check in with who you are NOW. Without the need change anything or judge anything, fully True Self Loving awareness.
Take the time to notice that you are not the same person you were last year.
Do this often, notice where you are creating resistance to growth.
Imagine the 16 year old you had decided ‘this is who I am for the rest of my life'... Nightmare!
Thank god we change. (some 30yo’s act like they’re 16 but let’s not judge!)
Why do we begin to resist change as we get older?
Life does require some consistently from us, society and family do reward people for being predictable, fitting in and following the rules etc. This is also natural.
There is very real pressure from society to stay the same, or evolve only in a very specific way that contributes to the system we have in place (like a good little civilian).
I say f*ck the unwritten rule that we have to choose who we are and stick with it.
Abandoning our authentic selves to keep other people comfortable becomes a disaster.
For us empaths who have developed our sense of self from the outside in we end up abandoning our authentic selves to play a role in other people’s lives, missing out on being who we truly are.
I have discovered that knowing myself only through everyone else is like using binoculars back to front; totally not how it’s designed to work.
If like me you never learned to develop a ‘sense of self’ from the inside, you may be overly identified with your achievements (or failures), your career, relationship, car, appearance, political views, world views, and it’s likely you are also sensitive to other people’s opinions of you.
Many of us have the gift of sensitivity, empathy.
We do this by reading people, vibes, fine tuning our energy into other people’s energy so we can adjust ourselves to suite them. Wild! Unsustainable. Exhausting.
This is not bad. This is not wrong. This is one way of relating to the world and others.
But I have found it to be incredibly draining to constantly tune into everyone around me, let alone mould myself to their needs, often abandoning my own needs.
You’ve grabbed the wrong end of the stick.
You’re looking through the wrong end of the binoculars.
The situation has been misunderstood.
I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to change, it’s possible to develop self-confidence that cares not for meaningless distractions like other people’s judgments, and other such things that are outside of our control.
I’m done with abandoning myself to people please and make other’s feel comfortable around me! Why must I live a fake life to make others happy? I won’t do it anymore.
Especially with those who seem to be hell bent on staying miserable.
So I’ve made some choices, a few commitments to myself;
I will be constantly learning, evolving and growing through my life.
I will celebrate transformation in myself and others.
I will stop creating resistance to my own evolution and healing! I will come back to myself in each moment.
You are nature.
Nature doesn’t stop.
Transformation can be painful.
Especially at the beginning.
Avoiding your path is more painful.
Think about the metamorphosis of the caterpillar… that guy liquidates itself inside the macaroon or whatever is it, then pops out a freakin’ butterfly!
Total death, total rebirth.
This is the eternal cycle of all life.
Welcome to the party. They don't teach you this shit in school.
For the butterfly the final test is to break free and emerge from the macaroon!
This final stage of the process involves resistance, it’s meant to be hard work to free ourselves from the macaroon, the resistance is needed in order to develop the strength required for the butterfly to actually flap it’s wings and take flight in full glory!
We can’t skip the resistance in the process of transformation, the challenge gifts us the strength for the next chapter. But we also don't need to make it any more difficult than it needs to be.
Transformation is work.
This is why I have shifted my focus to help guide others on this path.
I Love it.
Why do I Love it?
Because my whole experience of life has completely transformed for the better and I love sharing my insights to help guide people along their own unique paths, back home to themselves;
Asking for support.
Trusting the process.
“Know thyself.” - Socrates
Understand the ego and the shadow.
Deepen our connecting to ourselves.
Deepen our connection to others.
Deepen our connection to Life.
Reconnect to our internal guidance systems aka intuition.
Healing ourselves with LOVE from this inside out.
Realising we are our own greatest master teachers.
Turning our attention inwards.
Getting radically honest with ourselves.
Taking responsibly for our lives.
Becoming the creators of our reality.
You are unique. You are here for a reason.
You have a gift to give that no one else can give.
The pathless path of self-discovery and healing is the blueprint for awakening the unique gifts you are here to bring. It is painful to resist this.
Imagine realising that you have always been exactly where you are meant to be.
This is life changing work. We are breaking ancestral patterns.
We are orienting ourselves onto the path that we have come to walk. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Sending you all the Love and Harmony on your journey. I'm doing 1:1 sessions helping guide people on their unique paths.
If you feel called to work with me fill out this form here and I'll be in touch with more information. Big Love ♥️ Ben