“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
Over the years I’ve worked with many clients who are in career transition, or who are retiring from their careers and want to create a fulfilling next chapter in their lives. Not surprisingly, I tend to attract people on a spiritual path who want to deepen their understanding of creation and manifestation from the perspective of Spirit. They want to learn more about how Spirit – the vast, infinitely loving, intelligent and powerful aspect of who we are that exists in nonphysical realms – is expressed physically through the lens of our individual and collective human consciousness.
More often than not, when these beautiful, spiritual people come to me during a career transition, they seek to find paid or volunteer work through which they can be of service in the world. When that intention arises from an awareness of who they really are, it’s a recognition of the joy that Spirit wants to experience through them, as them. It reflects delight in sharing their gifts with others.
Yet a similarly stated intention can arise from a totally different place. It can arise from guilt, which reflects a misunderstanding of who they – and others – really are, and that guilt spawns an obligation to serve. Giving from obligation is a contradiction of terms and, more fundamentally, a contradiction of energy.
The energy of giving, which is at the heart of true service, is life-enhancing Source energy expressing its fullness, its creativity and its generosity. The energy of guilt is a depressive, heavy energy which can be only be activated when we aren’t in harmony with who we really are.
Providing service out of guilt-induced obligation often results in feelings of exhaustion and resentment in the providers, yet they keep pushing themselves to give out of that same sense of obligation.
What they don’t fully realize is that their feelings of resentment and exhaustion may not be real from a physical perspective, but they are nonetheless very real from an energetic perspective. And the energy of those feelings diminishes their health and vitality.
That energy can affect the receivers as well. The unspoken but active emotional vibrations of resentment and exhaustion can reinforce, within the receivers, subtle feelings of unworthiness as they sense that having their needs met is an inconvenience to others.
This is one of the many reasons why I believe it’s important that we understand the implications – and creative power – of our vibrational nature. When we view ourselves as purely physical beings in a physical universe, we rely solely on physical action to accomplish results. But the effects can only be temporary until we understand that consciousness is the primary driver of all physical effects.
And our consciousness reflects our awareness – or relative lack thereof – of who we really are.
Here is an example of how a lack of awareness of who we really are might play out in the arena of service, in this case the giving and receiving between two people:
Let’s say I am unaware of myself as an extension of Source and therefore believe I am unworthy. The vibration of that belief will not be in harmony with the ideas, opportunities and natural support that would otherwise reflect my worthiness. On a physical level I may have unmet needs.
If you, too, are unaware of yourself – and others – as extensions of Source, yet your physical needs are met, you may start believing in something as capricious as luck. Unaware of your own worthiness, you could feel guilty about your seemingly random good fortune and give to me out of a sense of obligation.
If you continued giving from that place, you would tire yourself because you’re disconnected from your true Source of energy and inspiration. If I continued receiving from that place, I would remain disconnected from my own Source of energy and inspiration through my ongoing false belief in unworthiness.
The immediate giving and receiving of physical support would of course be needed, welcomed and appreciated, but if it doesn’t also stimulate a shift in self-awareness and self-belief, the vibrational patterns of our thought will predispose us to a continuation of the cycle. We will remain trapped in an unfulfilling dynamic.
It’s a dynamic that can only be shifted as more and more of us awaken to the truth of who we – all of us – really are. And that truth is alive and well in our hearts.
Our hearts know that true service arises from love and is given in love, not from any false need to prove our “goodness” (and therefore ease our guilt). Our goodness, our worthiness, is an absolute given. It doesn’t need to be proven because it can’t be proven. It simply IS. And this is the astounding truth we have the sacred and joyful opportunity to awaken within us.
The heart also knows that people we might currently perceive as needing to be served are, themselves, glorious expressions of the Divine. Our greatest gift to them, or to anyone, is to see them for who they really are – to help them wake up to their own magnificence and power.
And we can only do that by being awake to our own. That’s why I love the Howard Thurman quote I featured at the start of this post. Although he wasn’t speaking in the language of energy and vibration, he clearly understood that people who have come alive naturally and powerfully uplift everyone they meet and, in truth, the whole of human consciousness.
I often use the phrase, “feeding into the grid” to express this. The more peaceful, loving, joyful and empowered any one of us is, the stronger those qualities are in the entire vibrational grid of human consciousness – which means everyone else has easier access to them.
Bringing this back to people who are in career transition or are, in a more general sense, desiring to be of service in the world, the first thing I want to say is that their aliveness – their joyful connection with the truth of who they are – is innately of service to the world. Their very Presence is uplifting in ways that catalyze awakening in others because of humanity’s vibrational connectedness.
And next I want to say that, by Divine design, what they genuinely want to create and share is what is naturally of most benefit to others. Another of humankind’s most brilliant, heart-centered minds said it this way:
“Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.” – Rumi
Rumi also said, in the piercingly direct and elegant way of his,
“Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love.”
I fully realize, of course, that the path of translating our heart’s call into activities that are meaningful, joyful and expressible in our physical reality isn’t a straight line with predictable steps and outcomes. It’s a complete reorientation from a perspective that sees us as needy individuals who are separated from Source and from each other, to one that understands ourselves as magnificent, individuated expressions of Source who each have unique attributes of Source to share with each other.
That kind of reorientation doesn’t happen overnight. And in the transition, of course, many of us have some degree of misunderstanding about who we really are, which means many of us experience feelings and circumstances of unworthiness and lack, or of unworthiness and guilt, or any number of unwanted feelings and conditions arising from a consciousness of separation.
These misunderstandings mean that many of us have the experience of unmet needs, and we can absolutely support each other through our mutual giving and receiving of things at the physical level.
Yet if we limit our giving to the visible requirements of our physical world, we remain trapped in a dynamic that perpetuates the very conditions we want to change. It’s like moving pieces around on a game board until someone is declared the winner and another, the loser.
What we need is a whole new game, one in which there isn’t a board with finite edges but an infinitely expanding playing field that allows everyone to thrive.
We expand our playing field by letting ourselves be drawn by the stronger pull of that which we truly love, as Rumi so wisely counsels us to do, because the energy of love is the most expansive and generous of all.
So let’s be drawn by love, not pushed by guilt.
Let’s see others who can benefit from what we have to give not as unfortunate, but as the unique expressions of Source they are, open to receive what we are genuinely willing to give and knowing that they, too, have much to give others.
And let’s remember with Howard Thurman that our aliveness – our full allowance of the Source which enlivens everything in our physical experience to flow through us – is what our world truly needs.
I’d love to hear from you! Please post your questions and insights in the Comments section below.
One of the trickiest things on the journey of consciously creating lives we love, as we commit to more deeply understanding how the process of creating our reality works in this vibrational universe, is this:
When things show up in our experience that we don’t want, our knee-jerk reaction is often to ask ourselves, “How did I create that?!” On the surface it’s a perfectly logical question, especially given that our intention IS to create consciously, rather than by default. We need to understand how it all works.
But what’s usually underneath our simple query for understanding is a judgment of whatever is in front of us as bad or wrong, and often a judgment of ourselves as having made some kind of mistake. Judgment creates vibrational static which interferes with the natural unfolding of what we want, so if we’re not aware of that vibration, asking the question can actually slow us down.
What I’ve learned is that, once we understand the fundamental dynamics of how our consciousness – the composite of our beliefs, thoughts, ideas, hopes, imaginings, assumptions, conclusions, etc. – creates our reality, we don’t need to analyze every unwanted manifestation to figure out what we did wrong. In fact, doing that only perpetuates a false belief in our wrongness, which can never lead us to the creation of a joy-filled life.
What we can do is lovingly invite insights to surface which further our understanding and – this is really important – even if no such insights arise, we can do something else: we can remind ourselves that it’s all good.
I can imagine what you might be thinking at this point. God knows I’ve raised my eyebrows a time or two when people have glibly uttered those words when something unwanted has occurred, and it seems to be a mere habit of speech – what I call a pasteover – rather than a genuine understanding.
But what if it IS a genuine understanding?
It can be. And if it is, that understanding can help us release resistance to the unwanted things showing up in our experience, which opens a vibrational path for more of what we want to flow to us.
I want to share with you an experience that one of my clients recently had to illustrate what I’m talking about. I’ve changed the name and other details that could reveal personal identity, but the elements I describe are representative of this person’s experience.
Daryl is a school teacher by profession who also has a natural gift for building and repairing things. He loves embarking on home improvement projects around the house, and because of his generous nature – and his love of the work – he often helps his friends with theirs.
Daryl’s friends almost always offer to pay for his labor on these projects in addition to reimbursing him for the cost of the materials, even though he’s not doing the work for money. In the beginning he refused their offers, but over time he has learned to accept them graciously. He lets his friends decide how much to give him.
In the past two years or so, people have been referred to Daryl who are outside of his circle of friends. They see him as the accomplished craftsman that he is and insist on paying him fair market value for his work. Welcoming the additional income, Daryl began to say Yes to these opportunities, and through them he is beginning to recognize the immense value he’s actually providing.
He still helps his friends when he can. One of them, whom I’ll call Sandy, pays him significantly less than his other friends, and she asks him for help quite often. He admitted to me that each time he does work for her, a part of him feels a teensy bit resentful. Time and again, though, as he reflects on whether he’s genuinely willing to do work for Sandy at such reduced rates, he concludes that he is. Her friendship is invaluable to him and as long as he has the time and energy, he is happy to help her.
Recently, Daryl’s home improvement work has increased to the point where he’s considering doing it full-time. He’s no longer excited about teaching and would love for the work that lights him up to become his primary channel for income. He feels some internal pressure to talk to Sandy about charging her more for the work he continues doing for her regularly, but he just can’t bring himself to do it.
In our last session Daryl told me about a potential client who was recently referred to him with a substantial project they wanted him to take on. As he reviewed his calendar to see how and when he could accommodate their needs, he realized the timing would overlap with a smaller project Sandy had asked for his help with. He needed to make a choice.
And so he finally had the conversation with Sandy he had known in his heart of hearts he needed to have. He spoke truthfully to her about his desire to expand his home improvement work and his delight in attracting clients who were willing to pay fair market value for it. He explained that, because of the growth of what he now considered to be his business, he needed to prioritize the new client.
Not surprisingly, because of the gracious way he presented all of this to Sandy, and because of the strength of their relationship, she understood completely. She said she would be happy to pay him more and to work with him regarding the timing of projects.
Daryl could not have been more pleased with the outcome of that conversation.
Fast forward to a few days ago. Daryl emailed to tell me that the prospective client had chosen someone else for the work. He wondered how he’d created that and what the Universe was trying to tell him. I knew he was feeling a little wobbly about it all, otherwise he wouldn’t have reached out to me.
So I gently reminded him that the Universe always responds to our dominant vibration and that the underlying purpose of that response is a loving one. I also reminded him that it wouldn’t be helpful to go digging for the specific beliefs that generated this specific experience while he was feeling doubtful or frustrated, and I suggested that it likely reflected one of the following scenarios – or possibly two or three of them. Perhaps…
- …his doubts about both his pricing and his ability to grow the business were stronger than he’d realized, and in reflecting those doubts back to him, this experience was helping him recognize his desire to stand more firmly and confidently in the value of his work.
- …deep down he had an intuitive knowing that this particular client wasn’t a good fit for him, and that knowing was stronger than his hope had been to secure the client.
- …its purpose was to provide the perfect synchronization of circumstances to prompt him to have the much-needed conversation with Sandy.
- …something else was on its way to him that’s even better than this specific opportunity.
Daryl could immediately see that, no matter what constellation of beliefs and thoughts was being reflected in this experience, the Universe is supporting him at all times and at every turn.
No matter what, he was expanding his awareness of his true desires, including his desire to work with clients who are ideally suited to his temperament and methods of working.
No matter what, he was learning to appreciate his skills and his talents more fully.
No matter what, he was seeing his fears and doubts more clearly and so had a choice about how to respond to them.
No matter what, he was deepening his trust in his intuition and in a loving Universe.
No matter what, good was coming through this.
In the recognition of these things all resistance was released, and Daryl understood that through the release, good would continue to flow.
As it can for all of us, as we release resistance to our present experience and stop assuming something has gone wrong.
I want to be clear that it’s tremendously helpful and, yes, necessary, to reflect on our experiences for the purpose of understanding the relationship between what we’re holding in our consciousness and what’s showing up in our lives. But it’s essential to do that with loving curiosity and a sincere desire to understand, not with a suspicious eye looking for all of the mistakes we’ve made that prove how inept we are.
And once we genuinely understand that relationship, we can move through unwanted experiences with more Grace and ease – and maybe even a little affectionate humor – rather than with painstaking critical analysis.
We can ask ourselves lovingly, “What good might be coming from this?” and invite our intuitive insights to arise.
We can allow the experience to reveal more clearly what we truly want.
We can use the experience as a reminder to take a break and do something delightful for ourselves.
We can remind ourselves that the Universe is always on our side, using every experience to celebrate our magnificence or awaken us further to it.
We can say to ourselves, “It’s all good.” And we can actually mean it.
I’d love to hear from you! Please add your questions and insights in the Comments area below. Thank you!
On a recent walk I was reflecting on the concept of letting go – of getting out of our own way and allowing the grace and intelligence of Life to move us forward. Don’t you love the sound of that? So supportive and nourishing and ease-filled…and yet, for many people, it’s confusing and seemingly difficult to do.
One of the first questions clients ask, once they’ve acknowledged a need and desire to experience the relief of letting go, is what they’re actually letting go of. Usually they’ve been trying so hard for so long to make something happen, they think what they need to let go of is the desire itself.
And while it’s true that our desires shift and change over time, and that it’s always beneficial to pause, go within and ask our heart of hearts what we want now ( as opposed to what we may have wanted in the past), what usually needs to be released is the struggle and frustration, not the desire.
What most people desire are experiences such as greater fulfillment at work, satisfying creative self-expression, financial plenty, vibrant health and loving relationships. These are natural, life-giving desires that generate a sense of aliveness and fulfillment as they are realized. They call us toward our most meaningful, peaceful and joyful lives. They are meant to be honored, not tossed into the trash bin of “not going to happen.”
But because so many of us don’t fully grasp the ramifications of being a vibrational being in a vibrational universe, we don’t understand that pushing and forcing and struggling to make something happen generate feelings such as frustration, resentment and overwhelm – all of which is vibrational static that interferes with the natural evolution of our desires from ideas to experiences.
At a certain level, though, most people intuitively recognize when they’re trying too hard, even if they don’t understand energy dynamics. In that recognition – and in their exhaustion – they understand that they need to relax and get out of their own way. And so they figure out what they can delegate, eliminate or do less of, and maybe they even schedule a vacation or retreat to get away from it all and focus on relaxation, all of which are excellent, self-loving things to do.
But the thing is, changing action without changing mindset doesn’t actually change anything long-term. It’s like moving pieces around on a game board. You change the specifics of how you get to the end point, but you’re still playing the same game.
It’s time for a different game, one that reflects the vibrational nature of your being. In this game there is no end point, just ever-expanding cycles of growth, joy and fulfillment.
As a vibrational being, the tone or quality of your consciousness determines the tone or quality of your life, and it sets the stage for the specific opportunities, circumstances and relationships you experience. It determines the kinds of ideas you have, the types of people who show up in your life, the level of income you can currently realize, the nature of opportunities that present themselves to you and so much more, because one of the properties of energy is that like attracts like.
As you vibrate, so you create.
As I’m using the term, “consciousness” is the constellation of your ideas, assumptions, beliefs, opinions, interpretations, conclusions, thoughts, worldview, feelings, doubts, fears, etc., all of which have an energetic reality to them. It is the composite of the intangible yet very real aspects of you that define and express who you are.
Your consciousness is the energetic matrix or blueprint for your life, and the really good news is that it can be changed if you don’t like something about your life right now. You can change the blueprint by cultivating new perspectives and abandoning the ones that no longer serve you – which brings us back to letting go.
Many of us have been taught we have to work really hard to succeed at anything, and that belief alone is the root cause of a lot of frustration, resentment and overwhelm as we attempt to work harder and harder to achieve our goals, not realizing that the belief in struggle, and the associated uncomfortable feelings that arise as we struggle, are getting in the way of what we want. Our belief in struggle creates more of it. Talk about a perspective that no longer serves us!
We don’t need to work more, we need to work less. Yet before that strategy can pay off for us, we need to let go of something other than specific tasks or activities. We need to let go of the thoughts that run counter to an ease-filled, satisfying experience. We need to let go of self-doubt. We need to let go of self-condemnation. We need to let go of blame, both of ourselves and others. We need to let go of the belief that we have to prove our worthiness in order to receive anything good in life, and we need to let go of the belief that struggle is the way to prove it.
I could go on and on about the kinds of thoughts we need to let go of, but I’m sure you get the idea. The point here is the understanding that letting go of tasks, activities or people, from within a consciousness of struggle or frustration, will provide only temporary relief. Unless we change the way we think, we’ll simply recreate the same kinds of circumstances that are currently frustrating us.
To experience the kind of ease we long for, we have to make a firm and loving commitment to shifting our consciousness. We have to change the way we think and imagine and believe, change what we assume to be true of ourselves and change what we believe is possible for us to experience. This requires focus and effort, but it doesn’t require struggle. As with anything else, struggle only gets in the way.
The key is to take on these changes from an underlying intention to love ourselves through the process, and that means we start focusing on feeling as good as we can, moment to moment. We explore and experiment with perspectives that are supportive and encouraging, we learn how to soothe ourselves when we wobble and we look for ways to have fun along the way.
And as we continue to cultivate a loving, supportive, peaceful and optimistic consciousness, it becomes easier and easier to let go of thoughts of worry and struggle. Because we’re now focusing elsewhere, they no longer have the same strength they had before; our attention doesn’t get automatically pulled into them.
Letting go becomes something we naturally do when unhelpful thoughts arise, rather than a dramatic ritual of release or an impatient demand we place on ourselves to stop thinking those kinds of thoughts. And with each letting go of a struggle- or fear-based thought, we create a spaciousness of mind that invites inspiration and possibility into our lives. We flow in our own current of life-giving energy.
As our lives become more gracious, more delightful and more ease-filled, we understand more deeply than ever the powerful creative force of our own consciousness. We realize that choosing loving thoughts is neither naïve nor foolish nor fake.
It is the most responsible thing we can do to create the kind of world we want to live in.
I’d love to hear from you! Please add your insights and questions in the “Submit a Comment” space below. Thank you!
I recently exchanged emails with a brilliant colleague about a dynamic that is frustratingly familiar to many brilliant people in their quest for a passionate and meaningful life. It goes something like this:
Your life is pretty good but you feel restless. You sense there is a far more alive and passionate life you could be living, and your keen and active mind often generates inspired ideas for that kind of life – which you don’t act upon.
Either the ideas themselves are fleeting and seemingly insubstantial – they’re here and then they’re gone, like the light of a firefly at dusk – or they seem so big that you feel defeated by the sheer amount of work it would take to realize them. Or maybe you just don’t know where to start in bringing them to life.
And so you don’t do anything with them. You keep living the same life you’ve been living and you feel…bored. Unfulfilled. Underutilized. Maybe a little cranky.
No two people are alike, of course, but I’ve learned a few things about boredom after decades of helping people create deeply fulfilling lives. Like so much in life, boredom is a bit of a paradox: it is both a call to change and a barrier to change. Once you understand that, you can intentionally choose to follow the call and ignore the barrier.
Let’s look at the call of boredom. It is the unexpressed desire for enlivening change which arises from the recognition that you’re not thrilled with where you are. As I wrote in March’s post (Making Peace with Desire), you are an extension of Source, whose eternal impulse to create is the very essence of desire. Your desires are Divine inspirations to creatively express more and more of who you are. They are natural, life-giving and essential.
So the feeling of boredom is a call to honor your desires, which is a really good thing. Yet it arises because you’re focused on your life as it is now, which isn’t exactly what you want it to be. And because of the power of focus – what we focus on is what expands in our lives – when you’re focused on what you don’t like, you expand – or continue – what you don’t like. That’s the barrier.
So the feeling of boredom stimulates desire, but the focus on what bores us keeps us right where we are.
Added to that is the lightning-swift tendency many people have to judge any desire they have as impractical, irresponsible, unimportant or just plain crazy, not to mention the crushing tendency to judge themselves as not having what it takes to realize their desires, anyway. And the energy of judgment, in any form and directed toward anyone or anything, is always diminishing and depleting. Always.
Talk about a barrier!
So if you’re a teensy bit bored with your life right now, where does that leave you…besides in good company?
It leaves you with a golden opportunity to create a new, self-loving approach that can help you follow the call of desire arising from boredom without getting tangled up in the barrier.
First, a few reminders of basic energy dynamics:
- What you focus on, and what you accept as true, is what shows up in your life.
- The way you feel is an indicator of the degree to which you’re in harmony with your true desires.
- Your true desires don’t arise from your brain. They arise from your heart.
- The energy of self-judgment will never, ever get you where you want to go.
With these in mind, your new approach to dealing with boredom looks something like this:
Make a Vow
Vow to suspend all self-judgment and to recognize, honor and cultivate your heartfelt desires.
Love What Is
Practice genuinely appreciating yourself and your life as it is right now. The energy of appreciation is loving, expansive and in full harmony with your heartfelt desires. Appreciation turns boredom into acceptance, which is the opposite of resistance. And I’m not just talking about acceptance of what is, but acceptance of your innate goodness and your Divine power to create something new.
Appreciate your brilliant mind and all of its wonderful ideas! It’s an idea-generating powerhouse. But don’t force yourself into action until you’ve consulted with your heart. The mind creates options; the heart reveals true direction.
Rewrite the Past
And now that we’re talking about not forcing yourself into action, appreciate yourself for not having done so in the past. You weren’t lazy. You knew at some level that riding the waves of heartfelt desires is a far greater, richer and more fulfilling experience than analyzing options, making a logical choice and marching forward to its completion. Instead of making yourself do something just for the sake of doing it, you’ve been wisely waiting for the emergence of your true, life-giving desires.
Listen to Your Heart
Give yourself time and space to listen inward. What is your heart of hearts whispering to you now? If you gave yourself full permission to want what you really want, what might that be? It could be one of the options your mind generated, or it could be something completely different. It could be far grander than you’ve allowed yourself to imagine, or far simpler. Remember, no judgment!
If what you want feels “big” and seems as if it will require a lot of work, replace the word “work” with “energy and focus,” and remind yourself that the desire itself is your source of energy and focus. Remind yourself, too, that you’re not in a race to the finish! Life is the ongoing experience – dare I say the journey? – of bringing desires to fruition, and with each realized desire new desires are born. Relax and enjoy the ride.
If what you want seems “small” and you’re disappointed that it’s not some big, life-changing desire, remind yourself that honoring any desire connects you with all desires and reinforces your sense of worthiness to be happy. Relax and enjoy the ride.
Trust Your Inner Guidance to Lead You Step by Step
Honor more and more of your authentic impulses, rather than all of your “shoulds.” Be lovingly present with yourself and be willing to act on your intuitive nudges. Follow your own energy.
This will take some practice, especially if you’ve been in the habit of managing your life and your schedule tightly. Rest assured that impulses arising from true inner guidance are direct and simple, even if they’re a bit unexpected.
You might have an impulse to call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, or go to a matinee instead of walking up and down the stairs 50 times to get your step count up to 10,000, or meditate in your garden for the first time. The simple choice to honor these impulses moves you into the natural rhythm of your life, in which your timing is perfect for receiving the ideas and opportunities that bring your desires to life.
Oh, and these natural impulses arise only when you’re feeling centered and clear. So commit first and foremost to feeling as good as you can, as often as you can.
This is, admittedly, a much-abbreviated description of what loving yourself through boredom looks like. There is so much more that could be offered and explored about each element. And depending on how committed you already are to loving yourself through life, any one of them could seem, initially, quite foreign or challenging, or both. The exploration, understanding and following of inner guidance can seem particularly difficult in a culture that prizes cool rationality and logical, data-supported action.
Even so, I know you already know how to do everything I’ve just reminded you to do, because it’s innate to your Being. You are meant to live an inspired and fulfilling life, and the beauty of boredom is that it’s meant to remind you of that.
Let boredom be your signal to fully appreciate who you are right now and all you’ve created and, paradoxically, let it also nudge you to get curious about which aspects of your brilliant Self want to emerge next.
It just gets better from here…
I’d love to hear from you! Please share your insights and questions in the space below. Thank you!
Have you ever had the experience of intending to create or experience something you want, only to be met almost immediately (and persistently) with frustrating obstacles? And might it have, at one time or another, convinced you that realizing what you want is virtually impossible, so you might as well let it go?
If you read last month’s post, you might recall that I passionately encouraged you to honor your heartfelt desires as the Divine inspirations they are to express more of the magnificence that YOU are, because expressing the brilliance of your true Self is the very essence of fulfillment. Not only does it bring you deep, personal satisfaction, it’s the means through which you most helpfully, authentically and joyfully serve others.
So why, then, if desires are Divinely inspired and are intended to be experienced, does it feel so hard to realize them? If you asked 100 people this question you would likely get 100 different answers, but one widely accepted notion – in many personal growth teachings as well as spiritual ones – is that you’re being tested, and that testing is part of the process.
I have to tell you, that doesn’t thrill me. If it doesn’t thrill you, either, please read on.
First let me say that I understand why this idea of being tested during the creative process seems to make sense. I remember feeling tested more than a few times on my own journey of coming into an ever-fuller expression of who I am, including fairly recently. Yet I always pause to step back from that interpretation and reach for a deeper and, for me, more loving truth.
What I’ve realized is that, ironically but not surprisingly, the tendency to interpret a challenge as a test or obstacle to overcome arises from the same false belief that gives rise to many of those challenges in the first place: we’ve forgotten who we really are. We’ve come to believe that we’re somehow separate from the Source of creation itself, rather than understanding that we are extensions or expressions OF it.
We literally have the creative power of Source at our disposal. Yet because we’re generally unaware of this stunning truth – and in fact have often been conditioned to believe its opposite – we don’t know how to access that all-wise, all-loving power.
The countless implications of our false belief in separation from Source are vast, so much so that I could hardly do them even the smallest justice in a single post or even an entire book. But I can talk a little bit about one of those implications right here.
When we believe ourselves to be separate from Source, we feel vulnerable at a fundamental level and, in some way, not fully enough. In our vulnerable state of not-enough-ness, we falsely believe we have to prove ourselves worthy to others so we can earn our share of the good – and also, perhaps, to prove ourselves worthy to the Source or God which seems to have the ultimate power to make our lives easy or hard.
So when we want something, we automatically believe that we have to prove our worthiness to have it. We believe we have to prove our commitment. We have to prove our skill. We have to prove our persistence and tenacity. We have to prove that we’ve learned our lessons.
And the only way to prove these things is through tests or obstacles, which we expect to be a part of the process.
It can be quite exhausting, yet it’s what is commonly believed and expected – and experienced.
I believed it to be true for quite some time, until I finally acknowledged to myself that I wanted a joyful life, not a hard-won life. I wanted ease rather than struggle. I wanted Grace rather than force.
I wanted not victory over hardship, but victory of a different kind. I wanted to stand victorious, in unabashed love for myself and belief in myself, so that I could say – in both humility and exaltation – that Love is who I am, and that Love is who we all are. I wanted to honor my gifts and talents and share them joyfully with the world.
And, frankly, I wanted to have some fun. I didn’t want to keep taking test after test for the rest of my life.
Fast-forward to today, years and decades after initiating my search for a different way of living. I now see life as an organic and evolutionary awakening process, not as a series of tests to prove our worthiness or readiness to experience good things. So I’ve replaced the idea of being tested with this one:
In the process of waking up to the magnificent truth of who we are, and learning to live from that expanded and inspired place, we sometimes – often? – make things harder for ourselves than they need to be.
That’s the really short version. The slightly longer version includes this:
But that’s okay, because it’s all part of the learning process. The more we learn and practice, the easier it becomes.
Now, that may not thrill you a whole lot, either. After all, no one actually wants to make things harder for themselves than they need to be; the reason we want to live from a more expanded and inspired place is that life becomes more ease- and Grace-filled than what we commonly experience.
But there is a learning process. What there isn’t, in my belief and understanding, is a God or Spirit who requires that we take tests to prove ourselves worthy of Divine Grace. There is no pass or fail, no need to suffer, and absolutely nothing to prove.
Let me share an even longer (but still quite abbreviated) version of my understanding of why it may feel hard to create what you deeply want in your life. First, the foundation:
You are an extension or expression of an all-loving, Infinite Intelligence – you might call it God or Source or Creator or the Universe or the One – therefore your longings are an impulse arising from the very heart of creation, expanding itself through you by calling you toward your highest fulfillment. You are literally endowed with the creative power of Source.
And now an explanation for why you may feel tested:
If you’re experiencing difficulty or hardship in realizing your longings, it’s only because you aren’t fully aware of your own magnificence. And in that lack of awareness you’ve come to believe things about yourself that aren’t true, and those false beliefs are interfering with the full expression of who you are.
I hope you can really take that in. The difficulties you face are not a reflection of how inept you are, but of your forgetting how magnificent you are. Can you sense the possibility, the validity of that? And can you sense how life-changing it would be to embrace that perspective?
Rather than berating yourself for failing or not knowing how to get through something, you could ask yourself one or more loving questions instead, such as:
“What if the opposite of what I’m thinking right now is actually true, and this is simply reflecting a false belief?”
Examples: What if I do have what it takes rather than don’t?…What if I’m actually quite clear even though I keep telling myself I’m confused?…What if my resistance to doing this is a form of guidance that it’s not mine to do rather than proof of my laziness?
“How is this experience helping me clarify what I truly want?”
“What talent or skill of mine is now eager and ready to be called upon?”
“If I was a full-on advocate for my own worth, talent and desires, how would I interpret this?”
In short, once you understand that difficulties aren’t tests to prove yourself but are, instead, reflections of false beliefs about who you are, they become clear invitations to know and love yourself more than ever before. So the simplest and most direct question you can ask yourself, when you feel challenged or overwhelmed, is this:
“How can I love myself more right now?”
When you ask and answer that question with sincerity, again and again, your life begins to change, for the better.
You might have noticed that, in my oh-so-brief explanation of what might actually be happening when you think you’re being tested, I referred to difficulties as, simply, interference. I explained that false beliefs are interfering with the full expression of who you are. And that was very intentional.
Because of the inherent creative power of our thoughts and language, words such as “obstacles” magnify the expectation and experience of continued hardship. The words “interfere” and “interference” are not only less dramatic, they’re more accurate.
Remember, everything in this Universe is vibrational, and the energy of thoughts and emotions is the basis for everything we eventually perceive through our physical senses when a certain strength and stability of vibration has been achieved. Energy patterns of similar frequencies create harmony, while energy patterns of dissimilar frequencies create interference.
So the interference I’m talking about with respect to feeling tested are the things and experiences you might interpret as obstacles when they show up. They’re the outpicturing of your false beliefs that interfere with the remembrance of your magnificence– you know, things such as, “I don’t have what it takes…” or “No one will hire me in this economy…” or “What I want isn’t practical…” or “I will be tested…”
What you experience as an obstacle is the strong momentum of doubtful or judgmental thought-energy, which has reached the tipping point for perception through your physical senses. You don’t get the job offer. You offer a workshop and no one signs up. You submit your book proposal to several agents and they all turn it down.
In these and countless other similar scenarios, you aren’t being tested by anyone or anything outside of yourself to prove your worthiness or your commitment or your discipline, although the situation may catalyze your own natural enthusiasm for, and commitment to, your dreams. (And hopefully it will do just that.) No one is really out to get you.
You’re being shown evidence of the beliefs you hold that interfere with the remembrance and full expression of who you really are. Or you’re being guided away from something that isn’t harmonious with what you want, which is a subject for another time.
Either way, the experience becomes an opportunity and an invitation to reach for the deeper truth of who you really are, not a test to prove anything to anyone…except, perhaps, to “prove” to yourself – to recognize, cultivate and share with others – the richness of talent and passion that are uniquely and irreplaceably yours.
As you practice sustaining focus on the deeper truth of your magnificence, your experience of life starts to change in delightful ways. You begin to experience the feeling of being in the flow of your own life. Illuminating and inspiring synchronicities occur, help shows up without you having to ask for it (or maybe you finally feel at ease asking for it), things start falling into place. The whole world – your world – feels kinder.
You’re still learning and growing and finding solutions to what initially appear as problems, but you feel more alive, clear, peaceful, guided and supported than ever before. And that’s because – if you’ll permit me a humorous but very apt throwback to an old L’Oreal commercial – you’re worth it. And, finally, you know it.
No test is required. Your knowledge of your own worthiness is all that was ever needed.
Copyright © 2019
Suzanne E. Eder
Can we talk about desire?
It’s a subject that can generate quite a bit of confusion, especially for people on a spiritual path.
I just finished reading a book written by a best-selling author whose writing style I love and whose perspective I often find reassuring. Her deeply held conviction about personal desires is that they should be surrendered to the Divine so they can be softened into preferences, with a release of all attachment to their outcomes.
My deeply held conviction is somewhat different, even though I appreciate the great wisdom in her teachings, which are founded in ancient sacred texts of yogic philosophy.
I’ve come to understand that all spiritual texts reflect the particular stages of cultural, emotional and spiritual evolution of the times in which they are written. Their points of emphasis reflect what is needed at that time and in those contexts, which may not be fully relevant in ours.
True spiritual wisdom is alive and accessible in every moment, by every person. And while ancient texts may be immensely helpful as catalysts for remembering deeper truths, they can also be misleading, especially when you factor in errors of interpretation and translation over the centuries. Even perfectly chosen words such as “surrender” and “detachment from outcomes” can obscure the nuances of clarity and meaning that were intended.
I believe we serve ourselves best by learning to recognize, trust and honor our own inner knowing, perhaps stimulated by ancient texts but without giving our power away to them. Whether it’s the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita or your Aunt Fannie’s kitchen-table wisdom, you have the freedom, the right and the self-responsibility to discern and embrace only the aspects of those teachings which resonate deeply with you.
That’s true, of course, with what I offer as well.
In that spirit, I’d like to share with you my perspective on desire in the hope that it will enhance your own clarity and allow you to feel at ease with your desires. Take what feels right and let everything else go.
So, let’s get back to the idea of detaching from outcomes and surrendering all desires to the Divine so they can be softened into preferences. As I was reflecting on this in my journal, I wrote that I agree that attachment to desires (and desired outcomes) isn’t helpful – but not because our personal desires are inherently inappropriate or selfish, which is often how the nonattachment principle is interpreted.
To attach means to join separate things, and that is the crux of the problem with attachment. When we feel ourselves to be separate from our desires, it’s the same as feeling ourselves to be separate from Source (the Creator, the Divine, the Universe, God – whatever name feels right to you). And it is the belief in separation from the Source of life that causes all pain.
In the remembering of who we are as extensions or expressions of Source – whose eternal impulse to create is the very essence of desire – we merge with our desires, recognizing them as our own impulse to create and express more and more of who we are. It is in saying YES! to our desires, becoming one with them and honoring them for the Divine inspirations they are, that we become a conduit for their realization.
What we need to let go of – to fully detach from or deactivate – are our judgments, fears and doubts.
I believe desire sometimes get a bad rap in spiritual circles because many people, in believing they are separate from Source and feeling an inner void because of that belief, think they can fill the void with material things. As they come to realize that the desire and pursuit of material gain is often a hollow one, personal desires can be viewed as immature or misguided.
But what’s easy to overlook is that the purpose of things we desire from a place of feeling separate from Source is different than the purpose of things we desire from a place of alignment with Source, even if those things appear to be the same on the surface. The problem isn’t with the desire, it’s with the false belief in separation from Source.
Here’s an example of what I mean. A young woman who is insecure and wants desperately to be liked by others might desire certain clothes so that she fits in with the group. The desire for clothes is coming from an inner place of feeling somehow “less than,” or that there’s something wrong with her, which means she’s not aligned with Source; she doesn’t understand her true Divine nature.
She may experience initial pleasure with the clothes and a relieved sense of belonging in the group, but over time, if she doesn’t find her sense of belonging with Source, she may continue to buy physcial things in a misguided attempt to fill a non-physical void which is caused by not understanding who she really is.
Another young woman, grounded and confident, has a gifted sense of color and texture, and she knows what kinds of things she feels really good in. She loves clothes as an expression of who she is and experiences great delight in wearing them. She’s buying clothes not to fill a void, but to express the fullness of who she is.
In this example, the purity and life-giving nature of desire is fulfilled through the confident woman’s embrace of her unique gifts, and it’s distorted by the insecure woman’s false beliefs in being “less than” the others.
This is true for all of us. It is only our self-judgment and self-doubt that compromise the fullness of experience our natural desires are leading us to.
If the confident woman, free of self-judgment, was exhorted to surrender her passion for clothes to the Divine so it could be softened to a mere preference, that would serve only to diminish her trust in herself and in the natural, life-giving flow of energy that desire gives us.
On the other hand, if the insecure woman was encouraged to surrender her desire for clothes to the Divine – and was guided through that process – she could recognize that it came from fear. She could begin to connect with her own Divine nature and learn to recognize her genuine gifts and desires.
I’ve worked with countless people who, like the confident woman who might have been encouraged to tone down her passion, have heartfelt desires to create, share or experience something that really lights them up – in other words, something that would allow them to experience more of their divine spark – yet they doubt the desire itself, thinking in many cases that it’s selfish to want something for themselves.
I’ve also worked with people who are so single-minded in their very specific desire for something that they’re constantly disappointed it isn’t showing up the way they want it to. The specificity of the desire, and their rigid focus on it, is usually an indicator that it’s arising from a place of fear or insecurity: they believe they’re not “okay,” in some way, and that they need whatever they want to prove otherwise to themselves. Just like the insecure young woman in our example.
So where does that leave us?
That’s a question that could take countless books and lifetimes to answer, but here’s a place to start if you’re either doubting your desires or feeling intense frustration that they haven’t yet materialized:
- First, never judge your desires. Even if they arise from a place of fear, judging yourself can only diminish you further.
- With an open heart and a sense of genuine curiosity, ask yourself why you want what you want. The purpose of this question is NOT to justify or defend what you want. It’s to gain clarity about what gave rise to it.
- If you realize that your desire stems from a sense of fear or unworthiness or a need to prove yourself, drop deeply within and feel what you really want – perhaps a genuine sense of being loved and supported, or being respected, or being at peace – and let that be the desire you embrace with all your heart.
- If you recognize that your desire arises not from fear but from a life-affirming impulse to experience and express more of who you are, say YES! to it and embrace it with all your heart.
Now you can turn it over to the Divine – not to simmer it down to a mere preference, but to elevate and celebrate it. Offer appreciation for the desire itself, which arises from the heart of the Creator, and open to guidance about any steps that are yours to take in realizing it.
I understand that your desires may not fall neatly into the steps and categories I’ve outlined, but I hope you get the larger point of treating yourself and your desires with respect, and continually opening yourself to greater clarity and guidance about them without judgment.
One more thing – embrace without question your desires for states of being such as joy, peace, generosity, delight, satisfaction, ease, focus, openness, light-heartedness, etc. Declare them to be your intentions and let the magic happen. Anything you could possibly want in the material world can flow to you much more easily from a quality of consciousness that harmonizes with your inner divinity – even if you didn’t know you wanted it.
And remember always, you are a one-of-a-kind, brilliant being whose heartfelt desires express the glorious truth of who you are. Let them sparkle and shine.
I would love to hear from you! Please share your thoughts in the section for Comments, below. Thank you!
Welcome to what has evolved into the third in a three-part series of posts about how to harness the creative power of the NOW to create more of what you want in your life, regardless of how long you may have experienced unwanted feelings or conditions.
In January I wrote about the confining perspective of time as linear. We think of our past as feeding into our present and our present as feeding into our future, in one continuous stream, and we conclude that the longer something has been a part of our lives, the more likely it is to stay there.
What I wanted to convey in that article is that linear time is a construct of our minds which has no inherent power or momentum of its own; our true creative power exists always in the spacious NOW. So regardless of how long, in terms of time, you may have experienced something unwanted, it can still be changed once you recognize your power to do so by opening your heart and allowing it to shift the way you think.
In last month’s post I explained that, while time has no inherent power or momentum, the vibrational nature of thought does. And the more momentum a given pattern of thought has, the more difficult it seems to shift it. My primary aim in writing that article was to help you be kind to yourself if you’ve tried shifting a habitual thought pattern but found it difficult to do so.
Once you understand the dynamic of momentum, you can relieve yourself of all judgment that there must be something wrong with you if you haven’t yet been successful. You simply need to learn a new skill, based on this new understanding.
This month, I want to offer a further perspective on how to shift a thought pattern that has a fair amount of momentum. Let me say up front that I’ll be sharing information about the vibrational nature of thought in what I hope is a clear and neutral way. It may even seem a bit clinical! Yet once again my reason for doing so is to help relieve you of any self-judgment by offering enough information to make it clear that self-blame has no place here.
So let’s get started.
Part of the difficulty in shifting from unhelpful thought patterns to helpful ones arises because we don’t fully understand the implications of thoughts AS vibrations. We tend to think of them as discrete “things” that can be discarded or replaced, which is why we often use words such as “eliminate” and “change” to describe the shift we want to make with our thoughts.
What is often misunderstood is that the change we need to make is not of the thought itself, but of our focus on it.
Our focus on a thought activates it in our personal experience, and by “focus” I don’t only mean our in-the-moment, conscious attention to it. I also mean our ongoing acceptance of something as true, whether we’re currently thinking about it or not.
For example, if I have accepted as true a belief in my unworthiness, my acceptance of it has stabilized its vibration in my energy field. So even if I’m not consciously thinking, “I am unworthy” every day, my belief in the truth of that thought keeps it vibrating in my personal experience.
Beliefs are thoughts we have accepted as true, and in our acceptance of them they remain vibrationally active in our energy fields.
So one attribute of the vibrational nature of thought is that it is activated in our personal experience by our focus on it, or our acceptance of it as true.
Another attribute of the vibrational nature of thought is what I think of as the dual attribute of continuity and general availability: every thought that has ever been focused on continues to vibrate in the general field of human consciousness. Thoughts are manifestations which, in a sense, have a life of their own. They attract like vibrations to them which further strengthens and stabilizes them in mass consciousness.
So here we are, vibrational beings in a vibrational universe, with an almost unfathomable plethora of thoughts from which to choose – meaning to focus on or to accept – to create our own personal experience. Thoughts that many people have focused on have a very stable momentum, which makes it easier for others to tune into them if their own thoughts are already inclined in that vibrational direction.
For example, a belief in being unworthy is one that many people have accepted and continue to accept, so it has a fairly strong momentum in human consciousness. If you were to experience a couple of frustrating things that led you to doubt or criticize yourself, you’d be in vibrational range of the “I am unworthy” thoughtform. In the absence of your conscious choice to open your heart and focus on thoughts of support and encouragement, its vibrational strength could pull you even further down into self-condemnation.
Are you still with me? I hope you’re getting a feel for the continuity and general availability of thought vibrations, and how your focus on them activates them in your personal experience.
Now let’s go back to the process of shifting from one thought pattern to another, and we’ll use the example of “I am unworthy” as the thought you no longer want to accept as true. You may recall that, in last month’s post, I said that there are two common responses people have to unhelpful thoughts: either they attempt to paste over them with helpful ones or they actively engage with them in some way – usually through analysis – neither of which are effective.
Let’s look at the “paste-over” first. Regular readers of my blog will probably recognize this term I’ve coined because I’ve written about it before, but hopefully within the context of thoughts as vibrations it will be even more clear. In the paste-over scenario there is a recognition that the thought “I am unworthy” is untrue and tremendously unhelpful, and also a corresponding concern or fear that if the thought continues, unwanted things will happen.
So there’s an urgency about “getting rid of it” (which actually can’t be done in a vibrational universe where every thought that has ever been thought is still vibrating), and the person with the thought quickly comes up with another thought in an attempt to obliterate the damaging one, and focuses strenuously on it.
The new thought might directly counter the damaging one, such as, “I AM worthy!” or it might be a little softer, such as, “I choose to believe I’m worthy.” Either of these, or many other alternative thoughts, could be helpful in redirecting focus toward something self-loving and supportive. What makes them unhelpful paste-overs, though, is that underlying urgency I mentioned.
Have you ever felt that? Have you ever caught yourself entertaining self-diminishing thoughts, then remembered that the way you think creates the kinds of experiences you have, and then became worried about what you were in the process of creating? You may have wanted to stop those thoughts immediately and felt almost anxious to do so.
If you’ve had that experience (and trust me, you’re not alone if you have), what you may not have fully realized is that you were letting yourself become afraid of your own thoughts! Fear is certainly not the foundation of the kind of life you want to live.
That sense of urgency usually reflects either a fear that you’re kidding yourself and you really aren’t worthy, or a fear that you’re somehow wrong for still thinking a thought that isn’t helpful but you can’t seem to stop it, or both. Either way, fear is the dominant vibration and so the new thought isn’t fully accepted.
I’m sure many of you have recognized this dynamic, and so you may have moved on to the other common response to unhelpful thoughts: you pause to analyze them. You may ask yourself questions such as, “Where did this belief come from?“ or “Why am I still thinking this?” (Or even worse, “What’s wrong with me that I’m still thinking this?”)
To a certain extent this approach is helpful in that you probably recognize you can’t simply paste over an unhelpful thought with another you don’t really believe is true. Yet beyond that recognition, the temptation to analyze beliefs and “get to the bottom of them” keeps you focused on them, and focusing on them keeps them active.
I’ve worked with clients who, in their analyses, actually came up with justifications either for why the damaging belief is actually true, or why it’s so entrenched they just have to live with it. The latter is particularly easy to conclude when you’re aware that you’ve believed something for a long time, because you may think the length of time itself has locked it into your psyche.
Remember that there is no power or momentum in the illusion of linear time; all creative power exists NOW. (You may want to reread my January column, Welcome to Your Spacious NOW, to support you in this!) And remember, too, that focusing on a thought keeps it active.
So where does that leave you? It leaves you with something that, on the surface, looks quite a lot like both of these responses combined. (I know, that’s crazy, right??) It looks like analyzing your beliefs and then creating new ones to replace the ones you’ve analyzed. But that’s not what it is at all. Stay with me here.
There’s a big difference between the detailed analysis of a belief which arises from an underlying judgment of the belief as bad, wrong or scary, and reflecting thoughtfully on the nature of beliefs and how they shape your reality in order to gain a deeper understanding of how this vibrational universe works.
You serve yourself well by taking some quality time to reflect on some of your familiar thought patterns and recognize how they show up in your life as experiences. In the absence of that, you would have no reason or desire to change them. But once you have an understanding of the dynamics, you’re ready to move into the process of shifting your unhelpful thought patterns. No further analysis is required or helpful.
And now we know that, due to the vibrational nature of thought, the process of shifting thought patterns is a process of shifting focus. You can’t eliminate unhelpful thoughts the way you can toss something you no longer want in the trash can, but you can de-activate them in your experience by consciously choosing to cultivate thoughts and perspectives that ARE loving and helpful.
Once again, periods of contemplation are essential here. You want to give yourself some quality time to connect with your inner Self and discover, to the best of your current ability, what I call the deeper truth of who you are.
In contemplation, journaling, meditation or prayer…in communion with nature or with someone you love…in any moment of feeling deeply at peace, you can sense your innate worthiness to be loved and happy. And even if you can’t quite reach that place, your willingness to believe it’s true can carry you far.
Genuinely intend to cultivate a perspective that you are innately, always and already worthy of living a deeply fulfilled life. The more you reflect on and practice that perspective, the more real and true it becomes for you. Then, in any given moment that the familiar “I am unworthy” thought pattern is activated, you can remind yourself of the deeper truth of who you really are, rather than try to convince yourself of it.
You can pause, take a deep breath, and anchor into something such as, “I am always and already worthy of every happiness.”
And it won’t be a paste-over, because you’ve taken the time to discover and sense the truth of it.
With this approach you’re not analyzing unhelpful thoughts and then pasting over them with helpful ones out of fear that something bad will happen if you don’t. You’re cultivating a genuine understanding that the unhelpful thoughts aren’t true, and choosing – out of love – to focus on the deeper truth of your worthiness, so that you can experience the joy of your worthiness through your physical life.
As I’ve said in previous articles, this kind of intentional – and intentionally loving – shift in focus takes some practice. I want you to be committed to the practice, but not in a heavy or rigid way. After all, what you’re essentially practicing is loving yourself into a better-feeling life, and that’s something to feel happy and excited about!
Still, you may experience feelings of discouragement or frustration if the process seems to be taking “too long” and the unwanted thoughts and experiences are still showing up. That’s why I wrote these articles – to help you understand why that may be happening so you don’t turn those experiences into another reason to judge yourself.
Do your best to breathe through your uncomfortable feelings and keep returning, again and again, to the most loving perspective you can hold. And keep giving yourself periods of quality time and space to cultivate an even more loving, expansive perspective of who you are and what’s possible for you to create and experience.
As you do these things you create momentum in the direction you want to go, until the new thought pattern is strong and stable enough to be reflected back to you as a more fulfilling and happy life.
Decide that you are worthy of your own time, support and respect. Allow your heart of hearts to show your mind the magnificent truth of who you are.
And remember always that you matter.
I’d love to hear from you! Please share your comments about this post below.
Years ago, I knew someone who would often say, after having experienced something unwanted in his life, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all.” His comment would usually elicit a chuckle or two from whomever was listening, which of course encouraged him to keep saying it. I can distinctly remember thinking it was quite funny and laughing at it myself.
That was before I understood, as I do now, the very real and very potent power of our beliefs, thoughts and words to create our personal reality, especially ones that are repeated often. In this particular friend’s case, as is true for many people who make self-deprecating comments, he viewed his bad luck as something he’d always experienced and therefore always would; in other words, he assumed that his past was feeding into his present and his present was feeding into his future, and that he could do little to change it. He assumed there was power in the seemingly continuous progression of linear time.
Yet our true creative power, which was the subject of last month’s blog post (Welcome to Your Spacious NOW), is always NOW. Regardless of what we’ve experienced in the past, we can create fresh experiences, starting now, as we cultivate new perspectives and begin entertaining different thoughts.
Here’s how I described it in last month’s post, using the example of wanting to experience greater financial abundance:
“So you begin to consciously change the focus and direction of your thoughts away from lack and toward abundance, moment to moment. With practice, you get better and better. The new thoughts start to feel familiar, which means they’re gaining strength and stability. As they reach the level of expectation, their vibration is strong and stable enough to begin drawing more abundant outcomes from the spacious NOW into your lived experience.
Does this practice of shifting beliefs and thoughts “take time”? Yes, within the framework of linear time that we’re in, it does. But the amount of time it takes has nothing to do with time itself, and everything to do with the strength and stability of the vibration you wish to hold in any moment.
I’ll be the first to admit that changing the focus and direction of thoughts away from a current, unwanted experience toward one that’s desirable isn’t something that initially comes easily to most of us…”
Does that last statement ring true for you? If so, you’re not alone. You probably understand that a shift in thinking is required in order to create a shift in experience, yet you sometimes – often? – find it difficult to make that shift.
This was reflected back to me in a recent conversation I had with a dear friend, and our ensuing exchange on the subject became the prompt for this month’s post. She told me that she’d found herself saying something self-deprecating in a group meeting, as a way of bringing humor into the conversation, only to recognize later how badly that made her feel for several hours afterward.
This friend is very wise and highly self-aware, so it certainly wasn’t the first time she’d considered how her words were affecting her experience. In our conversation, though, she was reflecting on how difficult it seemed to change the direction of her thoughts, once she was “in” them.
I’m guessing you’ve probably had the same experience. Your mind goes down a rabbit hole of unhelpful thoughts, and you know you should just stop thinking them, already, but somehow you can’t.
So why IS it difficult to change the direction of your thoughts?
After all, you understand how the vibration of your thoughts creates the energetic framework for your lived experiences – in other words, you grasp that you’re literally creating your personal reality through the way you think – so shouldn’t you just be able to stop the thoughts that are diminishing and start new ones that are empowering?
The answer is no, and here – in one word – is the reason why: momentum.
Because of repeated engagement with the diminishing thoughts, they have momentum in your spacious NOW. Their vibration is strong and stable, and they can, in effect, draw your focus to them with relative ease. So even when you’re holding an intention to think differently, the powerful momentum of these familiar thoughts can pull your attention to them, instead.
The best analogy I have for this I can’t take credit for creating, but it’s one that has served me, and many of my clients and students, really well. It comes from Lola Jones, creator of Divine Openings. Here it is, in my words:
Think of your diminishing thoughts as the blades of a fan that’s running on the highest speed setting. Your intention to disengage from those thoughts is the equivalent of turning off the fan. So that’s what you do, yet the blades continue spinning at high speed for a little while, slowing down almost imperceptibly at first but then, finally, becoming still – as long as you don’t turn the fan back on again.
With respect to your diminishing thoughts, “turning the fan back on again” means engaging with them in any way, either by believing them to be true, debating their relative merits or trying strenuously to convince yourself they’re not true. (Remember, in the world of energy, what you focus on is what you activate, regardless of whether you like or dislike what you’re focused on.)
This means your job becomes to stop engaging with them and, instead, to see them for what they are – spinning blades that are slowing down, or thoughts you used to believe that you no longer want to believe – and then to take a deep breath and focus elsewhere.
And to keep practicing that in any moment you find your attention drawn to those familiar, yet unhelpful, thoughts.
This is, by the way, why meditation is such a helpful practice on a path of personal transformation, because as you meditate, you learn how to step back from your thoughts – you learn to let them pass without engaging them – and return your attention to your intended point of focus for the meditation.
So if you meditate regularly, you might find it helpful to think of this practice – the practice of not engaging with diminishing thoughts – as putting to good use, in your day-to-day life, the skill you’ve learned in meditation. It’s similar to the way doing biceps curls in the gym enables you to lift a heavier bag of groceries when you go shopping.
Analogies aside, this is all about engagement. The thoughts you engage with are thoughts that remain active, and the thoughts that are active are the ones drawing further thoughts and experiences to you of a matching vibration or quality.
And let’s be clear that engagement includes analysis. One of the traps I see many self-aware people fall into, including myself, is the tendency to ask, “Why am I still thinking this?” And as we wrestle with all of the possible reasons why, we’re engaging with – keeping active – the very thought we wish to let go of.
Another common response to unhelpful thoughts is what I call the pasteover – immediately trying to eliminate an unhelpful thought by putting a shiny, new, helpful thought on top of it – which is equally ineffective.
Next month I’ll delve more into the nuances of those dynamics and how to move through them. What I want to leave you with now is the need to be kind and compassionate with yourself as you make the shift from automatically engaging with diminishing perspectives to consciously embracing ones that are supportive and empowering.
Depending on how much momentum your current thoughts have, they may continue drawing your attention to them even though you’re intending a whole new way of thinking – and you’re not doing anything “wrong” if that happens.
Don’t use this as yet another reason to find fault with yourself.
Remember the fan. Let the momentum of the old thoughts decrease naturally as you simply acknowledge them for what they are, take a breath (or two or three), and then turn on a different fan. Anchor your focus into something loving, supportive, funny, uplifting – or even, simply, neutral. Just don’t turn the old fan back on.
And if you do? Just turn it back off again. You don’t need to be perfect at this, just…persistent. Lovingly, lightly and – if you can pull it off – laughingly persistent. A light touch creates much greater ease with all of this than a heavy-handed, overly serious focus.
Be kind to yourself, in this and in all things. You’re doing beautifully.
I welcome your comments! Your wisdom and insights are welcome in the space below.
Here we are once again, at the start of a new year.
Here we are once again, at the start of a new month.
Here we are once again, at the start of a new day.
Here we are once again, at the start of a new moment.
Here we are in the spacious NOW, where all of our creative power exists.
In recent months, I’ve been taking a deep dive into my understanding of something I tell my clients and myself often, because I believe it to be immensely helpful on the path of personal transformation. I decided to take a deep dive because I’d repeated this particular phrase so many times, it started to feel more like a cliché than the declaration of potent truth that it is:
Your point of power is always NOW.
That simple statement has many nuances of meaning, not the least of which is that we can initiate change at any time – not just on January 1st – and regardless of anything we have experienced in our past.
But perhaps the most stunning thing about the statement is that it’s literally true: NOW is the only time there is. And I don’t think many of us grasp the vast implications of this truth.
We more commonly think of time as moving in a linear, step-by-step forward motion, with “past” being behind us and “future” being ahead of us, and within that framework we automatically form certain conclusions about the way life is. And some of those conclusions don’t serve us well.
As I revisited material I’d previously read or learned about NOW being the only time there is, I took time to reflect deeply on it, to contemplate it in meditation and to explore questions about it in my journal. I reached a different level of understanding of what many wise teachers have been telling us for eons:
Linear time is a construct of our minds. And that construct is meant to serve us, not enslave us.
Of course, what I’m calling my deep dive into these truths is actually a mere scratch on the surface. I have a strong sense of the enormity of their implications, yet just an inkling of what they might actually be. Still, I’ve gained new insights that are, for me, truly liberating, and I look forward to both deepening and expanding those insights.
One of the insights I’ve gained during my exploration of what I call the spacious NOW seemed the perfect thing to share at the start of a new year, when so many people pause to reflect on their lives and identify what they would like to change…
…and then conclude that the change is likely to be difficult to accomplish, given how long they’ve experienced whatever it is they no longer wish to experience, as well as perhaps a number of previous failed attempts to change that very thing.
If you, like so many people, have come to believe that the longer you’ve experienced something, the harder it is to change, here is the insight I want to share with you:
All creative power exists in the spacious NOW. There is NO power in the perceived progression of linear time.
Have I knocked your socks off yet? Perhaps not. But stay with me, I’ll do my best to shake you gently out of your belief in how hard it is to change things you’ve been experiencing for a “long time.”
Before I go further, though, let me introduce another key understanding about the creative process that comes from the metaphysical world of energy and consciousness. This one, when considered in concert with the understanding that all of our creative power exists in the NOW, has the potential to initiate an experience of the change process unlike any you’ve had before.
Here it is:
The manifest world is an expression of our consciousness – our beliefs, thoughts, expectations and feelings. Our thoughts literally turn into things and experiences through the laws of energy dynamics, not all of which are yet recognized by science (although that is changing). Consciousness is the source or cause of all physical manifestations.
So now let’s bring theses two powerhouse principles of creation together:
Our consciousness – and only our consciousness – creates our manifest reality in the spacious NOW.
I can almost hear you saying, “So what?” or maybe even, “Huh???”
Let me try to explain. I’ll start with a visual – an image that came to me during one of my deep reflections on the nature of the spacious NOW. I wish I could draw it for you, but since I can’t, I’ll attempt to draw it with words.
Imagine a mammoth ball of energy that represents your spacious NOW. Within that ball of energy is every outcome and experience you could possibly have in your life – past, present or future – although they haven’t yet reached the threshold of perception through your physical senses.
Each of them is vibrating in its incipient, pre-manifest state, and each of them is holding its full potential for realization, just as a seed holds the full potential of the plant. This means that the power of any given possible outcome – its essential life force energy that has an innate drive to be expressed – is held within its potential, and every potential resides in the spacious NOW.
Now imagine a series of points dotted along the surface of the huge ball, which can be connected, one to another, in a single line. This line is what I’ll call the overlay of linear time, and each point is a moment. (I’m using the word “moment” here not to convey a measure of clock time, but any period of time in which you have a particular focus.)
Each moment point is a portal to your spacious NOW, which means that in each moment, you have the opportunity to, in effect, draw experiences from their pre-manifest state in the NOW into your lived experience in that moment.
And what is it that draws energy from the pre-manifest state into the manifest state?
Your vibration, your quality of consciousness – your beliefs, thoughts, expectations and emotions which are active in that moment. Your energy/consciousness calls possibilities that match its vibration from the spacious NOW into the present moment, where they can be experienced.
And because the moment point is a gateway between this present moment and the eternal NOW, the effect goes both ways. Your energy/consciousness in the moment point not only draws resonant, ripe potentials from the spacious NOW into your experience, it intensifies all similar energy potentials (possible outcomes) in the NOW that match it, so they are more likely to be drawn into a “future” moment point when you get there.
If you’re able to see or sense this huge ball of potentials and reflect on the “surface” moment points as gateways to those potentials, hopefully you’re beginning to grasp that you can access desired outcomes in the NOW through any given moment point.
You don’t need to have a long string of consecutive moment points to create an outcome, because you have access to the whole ball of NOW in any moment point. The string itself – the construct of linear time – has no inherent power of its own.
I’m not saying you could, with this understanding, suddenly have the ability to heal a chronic condition instantaneously, or triple your income in a short amount of time – although I’m not saying you couldn’t. Those kinds of outcomes are possible, even if they’re not likely.
What I want to emphasize is that the fact of your having experienced something unwanted for a long time has no direct bearing on how quickly you can change it. There is no inherent power in the seeming progression or continuation of linear time. All power is in the spacious NOW.
And again, we access that power, moment by moment, through the vibrations of our consciousness. The key here is in the strength and stability of those vibrations. And vibrations – thoughts, beliefs, expectations and feelings – are strengthened and stabilized through our focus on them.
For example, let’s say that your income is lower than you want or need it to be, and although you’ve tried lots of things, nothing has worked well. You’ve been focused on taking action to resolve the issue, not fully appreciating that your consciousness – your beliefs, thoughts, expectations and emotions – are what need to be changed before any actions will be effective.
The longer you’ve lived with “not enough income,” the more resigned to it you have become. And because you, like virtually everyone else, have believed in the progression of linear time – you believed that the past feeds into the present which feeds into the future – you actually have come to expect the condition of lack to continue.
But now, with your newfound understanding that consciousness creates all manifest experience and there is NO power in the perceived progression of linear time, you recognize that your expectation of the continuation of lack has been vibrating strongly in your consciousness, moment to moment to moment.
It’s not that the past is feeding into your present and your future, it’s that you’re bringing the same consciousness – the same thoughts and worries about lack – to every moment, therefore drawing resonant experiences of “not enough” from your spacious NOW into your physical experience, over and over again.
Yet the potential experience of abundant income is also vibrating powerfully in your spacious NOW, and now you understand that you can access your NOW in any moment. (Are you feeling the “now-ness” of it all??)
So you begin to consciously change the focus and direction of your thoughts away from lack and toward abundance, moment to moment. With practice, you get better and better. The new thoughts start to feel familiar, which means they’re gaining strength and stability. As they reach the level of expectation, their vibration is strong and stable enough to begin drawing more abundant outcomes from the spacious NOW into your lived experience.
Does this practice of shifting beliefs and thoughts “take time”? Yes, within the framework of linear time that we’re in, it does. But the amount of time it takes has nothing to do with time itself, and everything to do with the strength and stability of the vibration you wish to hold in any moment.
I’ll be the first to admit that changing the focus and direction of thoughts away from a current, unwanted experience toward one that’s desirable isn’t something that initially comes easily to most of us, so again, I don’t want to paint a picture here of instant manifestations.
But I do want to paint a picture of experiencing greater empowerment and ease in creating what you genuinely want in your life. When you have a deeper understanding of the inherent power of desired outcomes already vibrating in the spacious NOW, and of your innate ability to access that power through your consciousness, you experience more and more of your brilliant, joyful and endlessly creative self.
Your time really is NOW. Shift your focus, shift your consciousness, shift your experience.
Why not start…now?
I’d love to hear from you! Your insightful comments are always welcome on my site.
The 2018 holiday season is now in full swing. For most people it’s a hectic time even when things are flowing well, because a sizable increment of things to do has suddenly been added to already-overflowing lists. It’s not exactly a time that seems ideal for focusing on personal transformation, given the more immediate tasks that demand your attention.
And yet, in a certain way, the holiday season IS an ideal time for personal transformation. The busy-ness of it provides the perfect opportunity for transforming how to relate to yourself when there are seemingly endless demands on your time.
I’ve noticed that, with many people, the more they expect of themselves, the more punitive they are with themselves for not meeting those expectations. It’s as if the sheer quantity of things to do gets the inner judge really excited, what with all the opportunities it provides for dropping the ball or making mistakes or flat-out forgetting things. What rich fodder for a judge-fest!
But that kind of fest is not at all fun, so let’s turn this around, shall we? Let’s transform the mindset of, “The more I have to do, the harder I have to be on myself to get it all done” to, “The more I have to do, the kinder I must be to myself in order to get what actually needs to be done, done with Grace.”
If you’re on board with me, then you’ve just opened the first portal of transformation:
The heart of intention is desire, and the body of intention is commitment. Loving commitment. You have to want to be kinder to yourself, and decide that you’re committed to it. (And, frankly, that you’re deserving of your own kindness.) I hope this one is really, really easy for you.
So now what? What’s the next step? Follow me, please. Just take a nice, big, deep breath and put a little Mona Lisa smile on your face. (Really, do that – and notice how you feel. Maybe a bit lighter and more relaxed?)
Welcome to the second portal of transformation:
This one is a bit more challenging than the first. What you need to do is imagine you can “turn up the dial,” so to speak, on your self-awareness, paying particular attention to the ways and times in which you are unkind or judgmental toward yourself. The reason this step is challenging is that, for many people, the unkind thoughts have become so familiar they just seem true. I assure you they are not.
But they can be difficult to detect, given how seamlessly they’re integrated with things you believe are true. The most direct way to uncover those thoughts is by paying attention to the way you feel – perhaps rushed, impatient, guilty or frustrated – and then noticing what you’re thinking at that time.
And just as importantly, noticing what other assumptions and conclusions lurk just beneath your initial conscious thought. For example, you may be feeling rushed and impatient, and the thought in your mind is, “I don’t have time for this!” (“This” being anything from standing in a long line at the grocery store, to waiting on hold for the Comcast representative to pick up your call, to your teenager’s stubborn refusal to do whatever you’ve asked him or her to to.)
Underneath that may be a constellation of other thoughts such as, “I shouldn’t have waited so long before I got started” or “Now I’m going to be further behind than I already am” or perhaps “I shouldn’t let this get to me!”
Remember you are in the portal of Awareness. In neutral observation, simply acknowledge the unkind tone of these thoughts and how unhelpful they are to you. Then take a deep breath.
Good. Now you’re ready to move through the third portal of transformation:
Ah, willingness. The word itself has a graceful, fluid quality to it, doesn’t it? The very quality we want to bring into our experience of moving through the holiday season.
So what are you now willing to do? You’re willing to withdraw your attention from these thoughts and focus in a more loving direction.
No judging yourself for having them, no inner debates, no wringing of hands or gnashing of teeth. Just another one of those nourishing deep breaths – and maybe another Mona Lisa smile – and then you simply anchor your attention into something comforting or funny or kind.
You’ll do yourself a tremendous service by thinking of a few of those things right now and committing them to memory. That way you can shift focus to one of them quickly and easily, in the very moment of having become aware of an unhelpful thought. You won’t need to call a time-out, sit down with your journal and try to craft something from scratch. (Although I highly recommending calling time-outs and spending loving, reflective time with your journal whenever you can.)
Here are a few you might consider adopting or adapting to your personal preferences:
- The more relaxed I can let myself be right now, the better everything will flow. (Shorter version: The more relaxed I am, the better everything flows.)
- The things that really need to get done always get done.
- Something good could come from this.
- Something good IS coming from this, if I allow it.
- I have all the time I need.
- The Divine is always on time.
- I’m doing the best I can, it’s all I can do, and it’s more than enough.
Hopefully you get the idea. With these statements you’re capturing reminders of things you know or believe that help you put things into a larger, more loving perspective.
Those of you who know me well also know that I refer to these statements as anchor statements, because you’re using them to anchor your focus into something loving so it doesn’t drift back into judgment-land. Don’t let their simplicity fool you into thinking they aren’t effective. They are tremendously helpful in literally transforming your diminishing thought processes into ones that are supportive – when you carry them through the fourth portal of transformation:
As with virtually all transformational changes, moving from self-judging to self-loving isn’t usually a one-and-done kind of experience. It takes practice. It actually takes a willingness to practice rather than the sheer force of willpower, so you may need to double-back on the third portal.
Just be willing, time and again, to pause as soon as you’re aware of unkind thoughts, take a deep breath, and anchor into something loving or helpful or kind. Those three steps are your practice. That’s it. Just keep practicing them.
Over time they become easier, then easy, then automatic…and then, gloriously, the unkind thoughts just don’t emerge anymore.
Can you imagine how good that will feel? I’d say it’s the best gift you could give yourself…and the holiday season could be the perfect time to begin. I hope you’re with me in this.
Wishing you peace, ease and Grace this season and always.
Copyright © 2018
Suzanne E. Eder