Friday, November 22, 2013

Does Perfectionism Impede Your Life Experience?

Do you confuse being authentic or successful with being perfect? How’s that working for you so far, or for those you know who practice this?

Perfectionists believe their value or worth (especially self-worth) as individuals is arrived at by virtue of what they do perfectly or by being seen as perfect or always right, rather than by who they are at their core (like the rest of us) or what they can contribute. They may apply this philosophy to others, as well. When they or others don't perform to their standards—even if those standards are unrealistic, which perfectionism always is—they seldom, if ever, pause to ask what is working right, and why, and how they can expand this into areas that would benefit from improvements. (A perfectionist—and proud of it—boss I worked for once said he didn’t want to focus on what was working right, only on what was wrong. You can imagine how much fun he was to work with.)

A favorite thought or saying of someone affected by perfectionism might be: "If everyone would just do what they are supposed to, everything would be the way it is supposed to be," as though life has a strict blueprint to be followed by everyone. These types “should” on people quite often. We might wish this blueprint concept were so at times, both for ourselves and for those we interact with, so life could seem easier and clear-cut, but that’s just not the way it is.

Thinking this way is actually more about how the perfectionist feels about himself or herself than it is about the others they aim this thought at. I’ve even known perfectionists who believe others should be mind-readers so they know what the perfectionist expects, without having to be told. Sometimes, anticipating what another expects or needs works out or is a good idea, but most of the time, we’re a bit busy focusing on other things, including our own issues, desires, and needs. Mind-reading shouldn’t be a requirement placed on anyone.

During life empowerment coach training, we learned that all of us must start where we are, acknowledge what is in the moment, and then move forward from there. Over the course of our lives, most of us have witnessed scenarios where someone insisted on nothing less than perfection from themselves and others. Perhaps we've even done this, to some extent, ourselves. Not only is perfectionism not realistic, it isn’t a goal—really, it isn’t, though many try to make it so for themselves and others. If you practice perfectionism, how can you accept where you are right now in order to influence where you intend to go and how you will experience your journey along the way, in a manner that cuts out a lot of the frustration and stress perfectionism causes? And if you can’t accept and allow this about yourself, how can you practice compassion, understanding, support, and encouragement with others?

Perfectionists, in my experience at least, do not have a tendency to focus on conscious awareness or personal growth—or if they do, they feel their inner work is deep when it’s actually shallow. This is because they are too focused on being perceived as right and unflawed. What an exhausting and frustrating way to live, for the perfectionist and those they live or interact with. Someone who is always right or unflawed (or, rather, deeply craves to be seen as such so they can believe this about themselves) can’t afford to demonstrate a need to do the inner work. That would mean something was “wrong” with them. Their egos don’t set to that place on their life and personal development dial. There’s either growth or there’s stagnation: the choice is ours.

What would a person's experiences, and the world as a whole, look like if we understood that life is an ever-changing process and that we process life and influence our reality through the thoughts, feelings, and actions we choose each moment to accommodate the changes we encounter? People who strive for perfection often have difficulty making decisions and moving forward, or when they do make decisions or move forward, it isn’t as enjoyable or fulfilling for them as it might be—or, likely, for others involved. It's no wonder they have trouble doing so! Take a moment to think about their energy and where that energy is focused. It's all about the individual and their ego-aspect’s demanding needs. It's constrictive rather than creative and or collaborative. It’s about doing for the sake of approval, not Being for the sake of having a fulfilling life experience.

Empowerment comes from embracing the perfection inherent in what is seemingly imperfect, as well as the imperfection in what is seemingly perfect. Who cannot recall having an experience that appeared, at first, to be negative only to discover a valuable purpose in it or for it at some later time? Or maybe the opposite happened and what seemed ideal turned out not to be. Why did this realization happen, if it’s happened to you? Because you processed the experience at an inner and outer level, no matter how long it took for that to happen.

When we actively, consciously engage in process, we waste nothing that comes to us as an experience to help us expand conscious awareness and grow from there. Perfectionists are not interested in process, as a rule, because of what I mentioned earlier: it may mean there’s something about them they need to work on or balance, and that can be a too-painful realization for them.

Process allows us to discover more of what we can about ourselves in relation to everyone and every situation that enters our lives. It is our opportunity to decide how to move forward, how to grow. Perfectionism stops us where we stand, even if we appear to move forward in our outer lives. It is an illusion, and it traps and constricts us because the life experience is not authentic and flowing, but forced. Illusions eventually get revealed as what they are. You want a stronger inner foundation and outer experience than this.

Perfection has rigid rules and is, as I said, not realistic. Excellence, however, is doable, attainable, and realistic. Excellence allows for creative expression and for us to move forward to the next level as we move along in our lives. Perfectionists believe there is only one level: perfection, which is an enervating path to follow. Those who aim at excellence realize there’s always a next level to aim for and go to, that we do learn from missteps, which is an innovative and life-affirming path to follow.

Every moment and experience provides us with an opportunity to assess what we want to glean from it, how we want to use it, and how we can grow from it. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.       

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

Friday, November 15, 2013

Choose to Unclutter You and Your New Year Now

Inner clutter happens when your focus isn’t on the appropriate point of attention. So, what is the appropriate point of attention?

A clutter coach gets contacted when an individual's living or working space gets disorganized to the point that the person can no longer function as efficiently as they'd like to or need to. A process is then engaged that involves getting rid of what no longer serves the person, creation of a system of organization that suits the person's particular needs and wants, and a commitment to attend to clutter in a timely fashion from that moment on. This process easily fits a person’s life, as well: a life coach or therapist is contacted when clutter happens at the inner level, which causes life to feel chaotic or unmanageable, and a commitment to shift this is made.

One way we clutter our lives is when we don't look after our best interests, which is supposed to be our ever-present, appropriate point of attention. Sure, we may do this for ourselves most or many times, and in specific areas of our lives, but we can usually identify one or several areas of our lives where we falter in this regard. For example, we may feel guilty or selfish if we don't always put others’ needs before ours, even if this harms us health-wise or impinges on our quality of life. Perhaps we forget or don’t know that when we honor boundaries, this leads us to recognize who is responsible for what, rather than over-burdening ourselves with emotional baggage that is someone else’s responsibility to carry and work on, or burdening others in this way.

Inner and outer clutter causes us to feel there is something off in our lives (outer clutter often occurs as a result of inner clutter that’s unrecognized or denied). We may believe that if we wait a while, the situation will balance itself or go away. This isn’t necessarily an untrue belief, but we have to discern the difference between trust in the Universe and its natural flow of energy, and the avoidance of appropriate action. Maybe we shove against a metaphorical brick wall, rather than look for a more appropriate way to move forward.

Maybe we believe that as spiritual or metaphysical types, we have to suppress or deny any or every negative feeling we have, forgetting that these are messages from our higher self, sent to assist us in our physical experience of life and personal growth. We need to ask ourselves what we feel, rather than think, about what’s going on, as well as what we'd like to do to shift a situation or us. If we peeled away the layers of bad feelings that happen when life is not going the way we'd prefer, we'd find at the core or heart of the matter that when we don't look out for our best interests, we enter a state of self-rejection.

Self-rejection clutters our minds, hearts, and lives quickly, and in some circumstances, thoroughly—like a blanket thrown over us on a warm night, causing us to feel smothered. Consider all the thoughts, feelings, and actions that might be attached to self-rejection, and the myriad ways that self-rejection may manifest in our life. We practice self-rejection when we fear cutting our losses. We stay in a situation longer than we should, or don’t speak up or take constructive action as quickly as we might, often because we fear what will happen if we do, otherwise referred to as fear of the unknown or even fear of feeling fear. If you attempt to restore balance and it doesn't work, do you know why you don't move on, from either where you are or how you perceive and handle events? Many don't choose to make a move or shift until it becomes more painful to stay where and how they are than it is to make a change, no matter how much this may scare them.

A new year, like a new day, offers the promise of a fresh start. Unclutter you and your life by giving conscious attention to what is in your best interest, what is truly appropriate for you and your life. I'm talking about the kind of best interest that is based in conscious awareness, not the ego-based selfish kind. Always choose to honor yourself, and do so from a place of personal integrity, which helps you to stay strong. You don't want to be rash in your decisions, nor angrily aggressive: that will lower your energy and amplify any self-rejection feelings you already have even more. If you need to make a plan, whether for inner, outer, or both aspects, do so; then follow your plan and adjust it as needed.

Unclutter your mind and heart through your intention and commitment to make your life one of quality and fulfillment and grace. Don't be afraid to cut your losses if something really doesn't work, especially if no matter what you do, nothing changes or it gets even worse. Believe me, I know from personal experience how these suggestions can feel easier said than done, but we owe it to ourselves to keep moving forward on this. Because, on the other side of that decision is a field of potential and opportunities and good feelings waiting for you to show up so you can live the life you came here to live and feel about yourself the way you desire to feel. Do not wait: the time will never be 'just right'. Start where you stand, and work whatever tools you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along.” – Napoleon Hill

My wish and hope for you and all of us as we move into the upcoming holidays then into a new year is that we honor who we are and came here to be as ever-evolving, ever-learning and growing individuals. That we choose to treat others as we want them to treat us instead of how they treat us; that we treat everyone how we should treat ourselves, including ourselves, if we aren’t doing the best job we could of that. We could unclutter our lives, and the world, if we put this into practice. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.        

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

Friday, November 8, 2013

Happiness May Be As Simple As This

The primary cause of much, most, or all of our unhappiness is our demanding ego aspect. Once you understand what this means, you can do something about it, starting today.

Unhappiness may be as simple as this: If we’re angry, upset, discontent, bored, or frustrated, we’re allowing ego to run the show. Contradictions upset the ego aspect. What do I mean by contradictions? Ego wants life to be easy, but that isn’t always the case. Ego resists change it didn’t first approve of, but shift happens. Ego wants money to be easy and abundant, but it isn’t always like that. Ego wants perfect health and vitality, but that may not be the way it is. Ego wants fair weather so it can be comfortable, but it rains or snows or is hot and humid. Ego wants no problems, but challenges happen. It wants people to behave a certain way, but they don’t.

The angry person is acutely sensitive to all they are owed by the world, and blind to all they have received, said Jules Evans. This is what happens to the ego: It focuses on its demands and ignores, discounts, or forgets the blessings and gifts that have been received (in the moments when you’re appreciating blessings and gifts, you’re not doing ego). Ego leads to self-absorption (it’s all about me), which leads to regrets. I’ve got a few of those and still contend with this from time to time, but I’m getting better as I pay closer attention to this. Just know that the moment ego feels uncomfortable or insecure, it screams for what it wants, which means it’s likely screaming in our heads every or nearly every waking moment, unless we do something about this. I offer a few suggestions for your consideration further on.

Any contradiction to what ego wants will trigger negative emotions because the ego’s opinion is that nothing and no one should contradict what it wants. I know—unrealistic, isn’t it? And annoying. And we all experience this. What does this ultimately mean? It means that nearly all, if not all, of our emotional pain is self-inflicted. Ugh.

One thing that helps is to develop flexibility—become flexible about contradictions. I’ll give you an example from my life. This past weekend (Nov. 2013), my friend and I planned to do what we’ve been doing for several Saturdays: Visit my mother in the nursing home then have a leisurely lunch at one of our favorite places. Instead, we arrived to find my mother needed to go to the emergency room, her second trip to the E.R. in ten days. The ambulance took my mother to the hospital and we met her there. Fortunately, they easily found what the issue was and that it was simple to take care of, but we were there far longer than anticipated.

By 4:30, they said she could go home but the nursing home van couldn’t come for her; there were no available drivers—a first for all the E.R. and hospital stays we’ve had in less than a year. So they called the ambulance service to do the transport. We learned that even if an ambulance is almost to the hospital door, if they get an emergency call, that call becomes a priority (this happened twice as we waited). We waited from 4:30 until 8:30 that evening for a ride. My mother wasn’t happy. She was understandably exhausted; we all were. She was sorry she’d altered our plans for the day. I told her we have to be flexible in life or we’ll end up with two situations: the actual one and the one caused by our attitude about the situation.

There is a solution that can help you shift from being negatively affected by the often demanding, often inflexible ego aspect: Make your life a spiritual quest. In a spiritual quest, you practice flexibility on all levels; you practice passionate detachment so emotions stimulated by ego don’t run amok and steal your serenity, joy, and inner balance. You do this as often as you can re-mind yourself to do so. And you practice the two most important prayers you can ever say: 1) “Thank you;” and 2) “Please assist me to expand Perception.”

Heartfelt appreciation opens and expands your energy and inner power, and attracts resources you need and blessings you didn’t expect. Expanded Perception liberates you and raises your energy organically because you begin to struggle less and less with contradictions. Struggle is a result of ego running the show and running you ragged trying to appease it. The less you struggle with contradictions, the more the contradictions ease up in your life (you definitely ease up about them). And if they don’t ease up in quite the way you’d like, instead of resisting them, you consider them as part of your spiritual quest and look for why this might be. When contradictions happen, you’ll look for or feel for the most appropriate way to move yourself through them and beyond them, as well as what is and is not appropriate action for you to engage.

What if what happens in our lives, the contradictions large and small, are actually part of the quest we’re currently on, and not as random as they seem? What if they happen in order to nudge us to choose a spiritual quest instead of what we usually choose? The trick is that you have to want to shift this. You have to have a clear intention and commitment about turning your life into a spiritual quest rather than an ego-dominated tantrum or treasure hunt. The Universe awaits a clear sign from you that you’re serious about this. Once it gets that sign, you’ll begin to see it show up for you more and more, and in surprising ways. The Universe will not respond to your requests and needs until you get quiet and calm and trusting. Until then, you’re like a prickly cactus, and not even your Universal Helpers will approach you.

Pay attention to how society and media mislead you (your ego aspect) about what you should expect from life or what you have to have in order to feel about yourself and your life the way THEY say you should. You may have been convinced that fitting into the box they’ve said you must want to fit into or assigned you to fit into is the right way to go, but does it support your spiritual quest? If it doesn’t, agree to not fit. Stop some or most, or all, of the struggle the ego leads you into in order to fit into a mold designed for you by someone else. Forget the molds. The Universe doesn’t and never will have a mold with your name on it.

Create an expansive inner experience and you’ll find your outer experiences will start to catch up, but only in ways that are for your highest good and support your spiritual quest. For example: If a million dollars or more will actually support this, it’ll show up. If a million dollars or more will only cause your ego to get quiet for about five seconds before it starts yowling again, that’s not supportive of your quest. This goes for anything and everything your ego says it has to have. Or, you may get what your ego wants and still be miserable and ever-fearful of losing it. Forget what you’ve been told you must have or do. Forget what others have or are doing. Follow YOUR quest. Have your own adventure.

Happiness can be yours whenever you release ego’s demands on you that are based in fear and insecurity. Happiness can be yours when you become more flexible about inevitable contradictions. Happiness can be yours when you let go of resistance and embrace flow, which often requires you to be spontaneous and to trust the “How”—how what you desire will happen: You’ll know when you know. Happiness can be yours when you are able to stop using the labels “good” and “bad” about people and situations, as ego would have you do and say “It just is” and go from there, as your quest self would have you do. Happiness comes when you can really see what you’ve been doing and how you’ve been acting, when you can see how different this is from what you desire for yourself on your spiritual quest—and love yourself in spite of this, while you work on your energy and Perception. All of this can be an exit visa from the Assoholics Club that ego tends to create for members, a club we all visit or linger in at one time or another.

Another thing you can do to help you stop listening to the demands of ego to the same degree is to reserve using your logic for specific times, and tune into your feelings (not your emotions—that’s different), meaning your intuition, inner knowing, gut, head-and-heart alignment—whatever label works for you. Logic is ego’s playground more often than not. It’s what makes you turn cartwheels in place in life trying to make or force something to happen (to satisfy the ego) rather than sitting quietly for a while, asking for what you want, then waiting for the right answer or resource to connect with you, however it connects with you, whether that’s an insight, an overheard comment, a billboard, or any other creative means the Universe uses to reach or assist you.

Ego wants you to believe you’re an intellect in a body, but the quest will lead you to realize that you are Feeling expressing in physicality. No matter what you think, say, or do, it’s always, always about the feeling you have or desire to have. But please keep this in mind: ask for expanded Perception. Expanded Perception will get you through situations as you move forward on your spiritual quest. It’s the limited perception of ego that causes so much trouble in our lives and causes us to feel negative emotions so often.

Also know that the quest is not necessarily convenient; in fact, it often isn’t. This is why many start on their spiritual quest and either ditch it after a while or have lots of starts and stops. The quest asks you to deal with contradictions differently than you have, which pisses off the ego in a big way. It might even try to tell you that you (it) were happier before all this quest stuff. You weren’t, of course, or you never would have considered the quest to begin with, or you wouldn’t have read this far. Plus, if your ego tells you to feel special or holy for taking on the quest, you’ll go round and round the same ego mountain over and over.

Ego wants the quest to be easy. It can be, but at the inner level, once you start expanding your Perception and become more Flexible, and remember to say Thank You to the Universe for the gift of all your experiences. Yes, even the ones that make you uncomfortable. Everything and everyone can teach you something about yourself, and for the most part, you don’t have to pay for this “education”.

Your quest helps you build your spiritual muscles. If you continue to operate predominantly or solely from ego, your spiritual muscles continue to shrink, until life and you become lifeless and filled with irritations, and you feel there’s no way out but death, which ego usually isn’t so keen on either. But the more you trundle, flow, or stumble down the path of your quest, the more control you gain of your inner self. The more control you gain of your inner self, the less ego and others can control you. Paraphrasing one concentration camp prisoner’s comment: They can take everything from you but your attitude. Your attitude is part of your inner power. Your quest is your commitment to your inner power and self-governance, and reconnects or strengthens your connection to the Infinite you’re a part of. It’s the difference between happiness being a result of what happens to and for you that your ego likes or being able to choose happiness no matter what and whenever YOU choose it. 

As you can see, a true spiritual quest requires dedication from you to evolve beyond the control of the demanding ego. So, even when life or a situation is challenging, choose to look for the sign that says “Spiritual Quest This Way” and head toward it. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.      

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Trap of Self-Importance

We sometimes misunderstand what being authentic really means and find ourselves visiting or living in the ivory tower of the ego called self-importance. It’s a trap.

Our interpretation of what it means to be authentic or true to ourselves can be misconstrued in a way that leads us to certain behaviors, like considering others to be and treating them as less in some way than we perceive ourselves to be, such as less spiritual, clever, equal, worthy, and so on. When we practice self-importance and there’s something in life or another person we don’t like, we behave certain ways, ways that are different than if we are operating in an authentic manner that comes from confidence in our personal power and knowing we are an infinite spiritual energy having and sharing a physical experience, who at times feels just as challenged as others do.

Self-importance is a form of isolation and a form of self-loathing. Even when we feel somewhat close to others, it’s still lonely, because self-importance is a solo pursuit. A need for self-importance stems from fear: the fear of others seeing that we have two sides called light and shadow, the knowledge that we’re not always right, and that we do make mistakes and practice behaviors we ought to reconsider. We fear seeing this in ourselves and owning it, as well.

Self-importance leads us to think we’re the only ones who experience this fear (we’re not), which might be called a form of self-absorption, and we’ll go to great lengths to keep this hidden. This, of course, keeps us from feeling authentic. If you really want to feel authentic, accept that you have pleasing aspects and not-so-pleasing aspects, and be at peace with this. Accept this so you can become whole again. A good number of us are walking around pretending we are nothing but good and right, when we’re not; and when we bump against this truth, it can freak us out a bit. This is why we work so hard and stress so much about keeping this fact and absence of wholeness hidden from others and ourselves, and why we deflect evidence of our flaws when they’re made obvious, usually with anger so the focus is shifted away from us. But we get tripped up from time to time because the opposite of any good aspect we possess and demonstrate is always lingering next to us, ready to express itself if something motivates this into action.

One way self-importance takes form in our lives is the ivory tower syndrome. The extreme of this is the high-maintenance types of personalities. There are many “sizes and shapes” and levels of this, but what each have in common is the belief they are, or they have a strong desire to be, considered elite in some way. This can happen to anyone anywhere on the economic scale because it’s an emotional, not financial, matter. Keeping in mind the possible levels of expression, elite or high-maintenance types believe no one’s needs or input are as important as theirs, whether this strikes them at particular times or is a consistent practice. What others feel, desire, or need are secondary, if not irrelevant, when a person is trapped in or practicing any level of self-importance. They feel others are there to serve them so as to meet their needs, abate their fears, and feed their ego, each of which has a voracious appetite. The longer they remain in the ivory tower, the hungrier their ego is and the more frightened and needier they become.

These types tend to be high-strung and easily triggered. This is because they are afraid of what they might lose and how easily this loss may happen, especially what others think of them—even when how they choose to behave seems to contradict this. (Change and loss happen as a natural part of life, but their coping skills haven’t been practiced or practiced in helpful-to-them ways.) It doesn’t take much for them to feel threatened. Anything that’s contrary to what they feel they must have or must experience will cause this feeling. They are stressed a good deal of the time for this reason.

It takes a lot of energy to keep the illusion (or delusion) going in a way that makes them feel safe; however, for them, feeling safe is an illusion, as well. It’s something they never truly feel or feel for long, because the ivory tower is a “house of cards” construction. They’ll pretend to themselves and others that they’re strong and in control, but know at their subconscious level that they don’t believe this or feel it. When they’re afraid, they come out fighting, in one form or another. It’s their attempt to feel in control again, though, they never actually feel in control—it’s a pretense they consistently confront.

Let’s put away judgment, though, and right quick. It’s easy for any one of us to go to the top of the tower at times, or even to step over the threshold or climb a few steps. When we feel self-important or desire to, we believe the way to not feel so scared or feel hurt by others and life is to be apart from or elevated above the fray (even if just in our own minds), isolated for the most part from what and who causes us to see how insecure and unsecure we may actually feel or believe ourselves to be. It’s such a contradiction, really: the need to be elevated above others and the need to be loved and accepted by them at the same time. It’s a bit mad and definitely exhausting—to all involved. And it is always, always, always about self-acceptance even though we burden others with this, expecting them to fix or supply this for us.

It takes a lot to sustain the tower of self-importance, so everyone within the circle of influence is expected to dance to the tower-dweller’s tune. When they boast or go on and on about themselves, others are expected to listen in something like a state of reverence, or at least deference. The self-important are moody, have hair-trigger anger and other emotions, and are often self-centered, though, resist seeing this aspect in themselves. (See what I mean about not judging: all of us can have moments when we demonstrate these behaviors, and for the same reasons.) But this can become severe, which usually happens when the person is terrified the tower will come down—and who will they be then?

If others aren’t focusing a great deal of attention on them and doing whatever it takes to make or keep them happy or feeling secure or good about themselves, who are they? It’s a form of taking rather than giving, which closes or constipates the loop of abundance, be that financial, success, serenity, or anything else, but especially feeling loved. We have to be and give that which we wish to receive; and we do receive what we give, based on the energy underlying any exchange. The balancing act of karma is exact.

Besides the ivory towers, we have the ladders we are told we have to climb if we want to be somebody in this life, which really triggers self-importance. There are ladders for prestige, popularity, financial wealth and assets—there are lots and lots of ladders. Even if we climb them, we still might not feel authentic in the true sense of the word: strong in knowing, accepting, and loving ourselves and adept at what author Stuart Wilde calls The Three Graces: generosity, kindness, and respect. To practice the graces means you don’t perceive yourself as separate, special, or elite. You recognize the interdependence of all things and all people.

Being authentic doesn’t mean you don’t take care of yourself or look out for your best interests—you must. But you do this with an attitude of grace and softness rather than aggression or belligerence. Sometimes the best service to others you can provide is to send them a silent blessing and head off in another direction while they figure out why the energy seems to work in reverse for them, for however long that takes. Sometimes, it’s in your best interest to stick around for a while and discover what you need to work on in yourself, because they will reflect this to you.

When you’re authentic, you know you’re going to spend some time in your shadow side but you are also dedicated to getting better at choosing to practice the three graces more often than not, and learning from your shadow aspect. When you’re authentic, you look for ways appropriate for you to be of service to others, while you also take care of yourself, rather than so focused on being self-serving. When you’re authentic, you experience a form of enlightenment that releases you from the tower because you realize enlightenment is not elevation: it is integration. In fact, let go of seeking enlightenment and seek integration through generosity, kindness, respect, and your appropriate-for-you service to others and humanity, which may be just as much an attitude or mindset as it may be an actual product or service. This will raise your energy.

Each time you raise your energy in this way, the rest of humanity’s energy is raised a bit as well, because there is no, in reality, difference between your energy and theirs. We’re all in this sink-or-swim experience together. Your inner power will grow as a result, and you won’t need to be special because of this expansion of your personal power, but you’ll use this power to assist others to trust themselves in a way that helps them feel strong and safe. And when others do think you’re pretty nifty, you’ll appreciate this from a spiritual humility that feels wonderful, expansive, and affirms your contribution.

Self-importance will eventually bring you to your knees, including literally. I had an experience of this recently when I found myself having a relatively small self-satisfied attitude moment. My foot went out from me in that moment and I literally landed on my knees. Sure, I knew that the combination of something on a tile floor and soles that do better on dry surfaces could create a slip or fall in 3-D, but I also knew instantly what it was really about. I quickly aligned myself with humility (and an icepack).

Self-importance, in its myriad ways of expressing itself, is a form of pollution. It pollutes the energy of those who need to feel self-important, as well as anyone and anything they interact with. And, others, who don’t appreciate being made to feel less than, will become defensive or take offense at the energy spiking out at them. If you consider that everything is shared energy, you can see why this pollution bit is true. You want to stop polluting your energy and your life and come down from the tower on your own volition before the tower crumbles or leans over to cast you out. You want to be on your feet, not in a heap on the ground or on your knees (except in gratitude). Become a spiritual environmentalist and clean up your energy, including judging those whose fears lead them into and up the tower of self-importance. The moment you judge them you practice self-importance. Send them a compassionate blessing instead, because you’ve been there yourself and you know what it feels like.

Walk your path in reverence for humanity and life. No one’s journey is easy or free of fears, no matter what it looks like on the surface. It’s remarkable and lovely to feel the humbleness of making a real difference, large or small, versus a “See!-I’m-special!” trap of the frightened ego-aspect. Ask yourself often what it is you want to contribute while you’re here, what you want your personal legacy to be, even if it’s a silent, less-obvious one. Check in with yourself to see if you consider others subservient to you or less “whatever” than you, or do you practice the three graces as often as possible? It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.       

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer