How your Worst Problem could turn out to be your most Welcome Gift

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problemWhatever it is (illness, heartbreak, compulsive behavior, betrayal, loss), if it’s IN your way, it IS the way. It’s the very path to healing you signed up for. What does that mean?

We 21st century humans are currently swept up in an evolutionary whirlwind, and it’s not particularly easy on any of us. Sure, some people are moderating and navigating change more peacefully than others, but wherever you are on the spectrum, you’re being prompted to advance on your purposeful path NOW! If you’re clinging to the past or the old ways, you will feel as if dragged, kicking and screaming. But there’s an easier way.

There are infinite mental, emotional and spiritual techniques to help you fall in line with the growth that’s being asked of you, but I’m going to invite you to focus for a moment on one thing: that which feels like your biggest challenge. Whatever it is, no matter how aggravating, persistent, or acute it may be, consider it a divine wake-up call and a gift from heaven.

You see, we didn’t come into this life at this magical time in the world’s history to continue spinning our wheels, be bored, or continue to languish in blame of ourselves or others for our situation. It’s time to get serious about moving forward. Do what you need to do: get into therapy, go to rehab, walk away from toxic situations, forgive yourself, forgive others, commit to self-care, and face down your challenges, knowing that you agreed (on some soul level) to experience them for your growth.

Most people, if pressed, can see the silver lining in what they’ve been through (and sometimes in what they are currently going through). They can see that their childhood, work, or health issues made them stronger, braver, or more compassionate. Maybe growing up in an abusive family helped them later cultivate deep self-love. And most people who have been seriously ill or injured, can tell you how they were positively transformed by that experience.

So this week, I ask you to imagine how your “worst” problem might just be a portal into profound growth and healing for you. What have you learned already, and how might you face it and embrace it as the gift it will inevitably turn out to be?

How We Abandon Ourselves….And What to Do about It

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abandonI’ve been hearing a lot lately about how we humans tend to run away from ourselves when the going gets tough. But what does that mean, and what does it look like?

I’m referring to what happens when we’re uncomfortable with our thoughts or feelings, or uncomfortable in our own skin. Maybe we’re stressed out, so we take the edge off by having a drink. Or maybe we’re lonely, so we eat a pint of ice cream while standing at the freezer. Perhaps we’re bored, so we pick a fight with someone, or launch into a project we’ll never finish. Or maybe we’re sick, but we go to work anyway, because people are counting on us.

Abandoning ourselves can take many forms, ranging from momentary zoning out to full-blown self-abuse. Let’s look at a few common ways people leave themselves in the dust.

  1. Anything involving numbing the mind or senses. This includes all addictive and/or compulsive behavior (over-eating, under-eating, drinking, taking drugs, excessive use of phone/internet/TV, over-focusing on work, exercise, sex, etc.)
  2. Procrastination, unnecessary busywork, or self-sabotage.
  3. Habitually putting others’ needs ahead of our own.
  4. Anything that distracts us from being in the moment and noticing what’s going on with us.
  5. Not setting and enforcing appropriate personal boundaries or limits.
  6. Disrespecting ourselves or allowing others to disrespect us.
  7. Overfunctioning or underfunctioning.
  8. Any kind of codependent thinking or behavior.
  9. Taking on other people’s responsibilities, issues, or problems.
  10. Neglecting our own health, finances, or wellness.
  11. Always trying to “rise above” or censor our authentic thoughts or feelings.

This week, I invite you to notice when (in what situations) you reject yourself or your experience, and what you do to prevent yourself from staying present and true to yourself. Do you zone out in some way? Do you engage in compulsive or addictive behavior, and then regret it? Do you disregard your own needs and then pay the price? Do you deny or swallow your feelings?

If you see yourself in the above, don’t despair. Awareness is a great first step to making simple but profound changes in your relationship with self. It’s never too late to learn how to be present. Every moment represents a new opportunity to extend kindness, patience, and respect to yourself.

Choosing Between Love and Fear

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choosingWe live in a world of contrasts: young and old, good and bad, right and wrong; but perhaps the most spiritually significant contrast is that of love and fear. If you are a student of A Course in Miracles you will immediately understand why working with this concept can be so very important to your spiritual growth and awakening. If not, here’s how it works.

The relationship between love and fear is similar to the relationship between Higher Self and lower self (ego). The Higher Self is a spark of the Divine, which is pure love; and the ego (while critical to our survival and growth) is often conflicted, and is our primary source of fear.

Real love is not a feeling. It is not romantic or exclusive or reserved only for special people. Within this definition it’s impossible to “love” one person while hating another. When you’re in touch with the love that is your essence, you respect and honor all of life, not just your own children, friends, neighbors, and pets. A few of the many expressions of love are: joy, faith, acceptance, kindness, forgiveness, altruism, authenticity, patience and peace of mind. Love feels good.

Fear, on the other hand, is the absence of love. Fear is what we experience when we’ve forgotten who we really are, when we’ve lost touch with our Higher Self and are clinging—for dear life—to the lower self that we’ve developed in order to adapt to this world. Fear is expressed in anything that doesn’t feel good:  insecurity, pettiness, worry, addiction, compulsion, low self-esteem, greed, prejudice, judgement, anger, jealousy, anxiety, depression, etc. Hate and violence are simply fear on steroids. 

Learning to distinguish between love and fear will help you consciously choose love more often, and the more often you choose love the happier, healthier, and more spiritually atuned you will be.

You can begin this practice today by simply recognizing that in every moment you are deciding to embrace either love or fear. Forgive someone who has made a mistake, and you’ve embraced love.Yell at your kids for not cleaning their rooms, and you’ve embraced fear. It’s as simple as that. You don’t have to choose love every time, but just watch and see what happens on those magical occasions when you do!