Nobody begins self-study as an "A" student. In fact, real self-study begins with becoming aware of just how unaware we really are.
Don't let this last thought throw you! It's wise to see where our wisdom was only an assumption. This allows real wisdom, real self-knowledge, to grow. And this explains why some of our most important first lessons come when we set an exercise for ourselves, and later see that we altogether forgot about it.
For example, when we realize, with a shock, that although we may have set a simple goal to watch out for a certain negative reaction in ourselves, many hours, or even days may have gone by without even one moment of seeing ourselves sink under its influence. Or perhaps we had decided to work on some small exercise in self-awareness at our place of employment. Maybe it was something as simple as just knowing our own facial expression when meeting with certain people for business. Now we're back home, sitting in our easy chair, when we suddenly remember we had dozens of face-wrenching encounters all day long and never remembered our exercise even once!
Bit by bit, a day at a time, it begins to dawn on us that we are generally lost in a fog of thought. But even as our aim to be self-studying reveals the fact of this inner fog, what comes with it is a whole new clarity about our inner condition; for now we can also see that the many things we've done that were thoughtlessly cruel or self-harming, we did only because we had been caught up in this same dazed state. We start to see that in this peculiar psychic sleep our priorities have been set by a sense of self whose self-serving goals have only brought much frustration, or, at best, some temporary pleasure. Perhaps most important of all, we begin to learn that a larger world awaits us if we could but remember that reaching it requires staying awake enough to leave our smaller one behind.
Beginning to see that we're actually lost in thought all day is a valuable signal to us. It's equivalent to the doctor's diagnosis that is the necessary first step toward achieving a cure. We should never be discouraged by any discovery our self-study shows us. To be aware that we have been unaware is the beginning of real awareness. When increasing this kind of self-knowledge is our top priority, there can never be failure, but only new opportunities for growth.
As we become increasingly aware of how we cause our own difficulties in our sleep state, we gain a new impetus to discover more about ourselves, to want something more from ourselves. And when this kind of inner wish is made sincerely and asked often enough, Reality itself steps in to make it come true.