Friday, March 28, 2014

Why the Way You Experience Life Is What It Is

Why is it that your efforts don’t ever seem to pan out as you’d like? Why does the same type of stuff happen to you repeatedly? Why can’t you get unstuck?

Each of those three questions is an important one, but especially why you can’t seem to get unstuck. Anyone who feels stuck in a life they desire to be different and improved contends with the fact of life in this physical-reality experience that how we experience life is a match to or reflection of our inner identity. Let’s go ahead and admit it: this just doesn’t feel good to know or accept. It’s easier to blame someone or circumstances. But that doesn’t create desired shifts, nor will it ever.

One of the popular practices promoted is to shift your thoughts to better ones. That can certainly be helpful and certainly aims you in a better direction than negative thoughts about you or others or circumstances ever could—which they can’t. There are times when that kind of positive-thought shifting feels easier and at other times feels nearly impossible. And, why doesn’t this always work or last as expected or desired?

Shifting thoughts, or using affirmations or visualizations, happens at the conscious level of mind. That’s all well and good—UNLESS—at the subconscious mind level, your inner identity is in direct contrast with what you use your conscious mind to try to convince your ego aspect is otherwise. You’ve got programs running deep, like an underground river, which means that’s where you need to paddle your boat if you’re going to move forward and find your way into the air and light.

It seems logical to then look at beliefs. You’ve possibly done exercises where you look at the beliefs you grew up with and absorbed from others about money, education, success, self-worth, your lovability, and so forth, and then rewrote them as better, more supportive belief statements. That’s a good practice, too. But why doesn’t that practice stick as well as expected either, if it hasn’t? It’s because the original beliefs became what you practiced for a very long time—they influenced your inner identity, and the new belief statements became your new verbal practices, but they don’t address your inner identity—what you believe you know about you as fact and truth, which is where you operate from at all times. And this is why you can get stuck here in belief statements, as well.

Maybe you try to convince yourself to believe in you because you weren’t taught to do that or because your value and worth and lovability were diminished by someone you trusted. But that was their practice, not the truth of you or about you. If—and when—you can truly see yourself as an expression of the God-Mind, you will realize that any thought you have about yourself that isn’t in alignment with that Truth can only be an illusion you practice. What makes the illusion feel real is that your inner identity gets matched in the physical realm to and with people and experiences—like moths to a flame. This is why any true and positive change or shift matches your inner identity at all times.

Your inner identity goes much deeper than the conscious level. It goes into the heart of what you believe about you and even deeper into what you believe about Source, God, God-Mind, One Consciousness, Universe—call it what you will. You may have said to yourself that you are an expression of the God-Mind and have a connection with God-Mind, and meant it or meant to mean it, but do you believe it as your inner identity, to the point where you know without doubt that it’s your Truth? It’s one thing to say it and another to believe it, know it, and live from it. If you’ve believed negative things about yourself for a lifetime, stepping into this Truth may or may not be as quick and easy for you as you’d like. But it’s doable, and it’s worth it so that you live and experience the true dignity of your existence.

If you can truly see and allow that you are an expression of the God-Mind, you will realize that absolutely nothing and no one is the source of your abundance, prosperity, well-being, worth, deservedness, lovability, and so on—no matter appearances—other than God-Mind, which is the only source, and your only Source, of everything. When you can begin to align with that as a fact of YOU and everything and everyone in creation, your inner identify can begin to realign with that Truth instead of the illusions you’ve believed. How you choose to feel about your experiences will shift. You will see your outer experiences begin to match or reflect your inner identity in ways that seem magical because of how fluid and natural they become. It’s possible that you’ve had moments where this was your experience. These were times when you connected with this Truth and experienced that connection as a feeling, a knowing. It’s a feeling like no other.

When your inner identity is aligned with this Truth, or as it begins to align with it, circumstances will become signposts that direct you onto a better path for you, rather than be viewed by your ego aspect as obstacles to beat your head against or be defeated by. And, you will no longer be able to tolerate some of the nonsense you currently tolerate from others or from yourself. I recently saw a quote that’s supposed to be Polish in its origins and is used when others want to pull you into their nonsense: “Not my circus. Not my monkeys.” You’ll also become aware that people who bring nonsense into your life, even serious types of nonsense, are letting you look into a necessary mirror to show you where and what your inner identity is reflecting outwardly and where and how it needs adjustment and realignment to the Truth of your divine nature.

You know your inner identity needs your attention when:
  • You are present physically but are mentally focused on or in someone else’s business and life more than in or on your own. That’s a clear signal that you’re engaging victim mentality or are avoiding your own life and what may be needed to strengthen your inner identity, or that you’re doing both.
  • Your sense of self and self-worth is diminished or lacking.
  • Your energy for your life is lacking.
  • You rely on others instead of yourself to cause you to feel good about you or to feel lovable and valuable. No one but you can heal the inner wounds that have influenced your expression of your inner identity.
  • Even if loved by someone and or others, you still feel undeserving. This taints the love you give and causes you to fear giving and receiving love, as well.
  • You live from your ego rather than your authentic self.
  • Even though good things happen to and for you, you still feel empty and or undeserving.
  • Compliments or praise make you feel uncomfortable rather than appreciated.
  • You’re in a non-reciprocated intimate relationship (or any non-reciprocated relationship). You allow and accept less than you deserve from any and maybe all relationships, personal and professional.
  • You allow yourself to accept blame for how consistently unhappy or angry someone else is.
  • You allow verbal or physical abuse or apathy from someone or anyone, especially repeatedly.
  • Most of your time and energy is spent putting out “fires”—yours or someone else’s—instead of creating something new that you’re enthusiastic about or on being focused on moving forward in your life.
  • You use alcohol or other chemicals to escape or cope (long-term and frequent use, as opposed to occasional use).
  • You ignore the “red flags” when you meet someone new, whether personally or professionally, and allow yourself to get hurt—again.
  • You keep attracting the same types of non-supportive or emotionally unavailable or abusive people, whether in your personal or professional life or both.
  • You people-please in an effort to receive approval, acceptance, and proof you are lovable and worthy.
  • A person whom you know you shouldn’t be in any kind of relationship with keeps hooking you back in, including with “Let’s stay friends.” You’re addicted to the person—or rather, addicted to the chemicals that flood your body from the stress you experience with them or when you think about them, and your cells keep asking for hits of that particular “drug.”
  • You’re addicted to stress and drama, which causes self-sabotage.
  • An extreme form of this is when you’d rather not live than make necessary changes, mostly because you don’t realize it’s the condition your inner identity is in that’s contributing to your experiences—and that it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s not your physical life you want over but the cause of what hurts you that you want stopped. It won’t be anyone or anything that shifts in order for this to happen: it will be your inner identity that shifts, and you’ll be amazed at how wonderful this feels, because it is ultimately the true you that you seek and desire to be and express.

There are two significant ways to restore, realign, and re-enliven your inner identity: 1) Get clear on and in your relationship to and with Source and 2) love and encourage yourself from genuine (not egotistical) love and appreciation of and for you. Both of these, working together, can bring healing to emotional wounds that caused your inner identity to suffer. No affirmation, visualization, or positive thought can restore self-love. In fact, as well-intentioned and temporarily beneficial as these can be, they tend to remind you of what you believe you lack. Only your true willingness to love and appreciate yourself and your connection to Source can accomplish this restoration and replenishment. As a dialogue line in one of the Chronicles of Narnia movies said: “I’ve spent too long wanting what was taken from me, instead of what was given.” You’ve forgotten what Source gave you as your birthright—your heritage, as well as your personal power and your divine attributes to use while you’re here. This statement, borrowed in part from the bible, may help: I can do all things through SOURCE, which strengthens, supports, and supplies me through its Infinite Love and Resources.

You also want to stop putting your attention on what happened or happens that calls your inner identity into question and focus instead on why your soul aspect was or is willing to allow such experiences to happen, which was or still is to inspire you to heal childhood wounds that cause you to have the types of experiences you have as an adult, and to take responsibility for knowing and defining your true inner identity rather than let anyone else define it. If your inner identity needs redefining, please understand that this is one of the best, most loving things you can do for you. Others will benefit, but this is for you. It may also require some time and definitely intention, dedication, and—I’ll repeat—time, intention, and dedication to you and your right to an amazing life experience, whether the experiences are amazing or how you experience them feels amazing to you. Your inner identity didn’t shift from a divine expression of God-Mind to you believing it was less than that overnight. So it won’t necessarily shift back overnight either. But, you can do it, step by step, day by day, moment by moment. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.     
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

Friday, March 21, 2014

Do You Practice Victim Mentality?

Do you ever practice or feel trapped in the practice of victim mentality? If so, it’s time to understand some of what’s going on so that you can muster the courage to shift this and live a healthier life.

Author Rebecca L. Norrington writes in her soon-to-be-published book, RealitySpirituality: The Truth About Happiness (April 2014), that even Superman had his kryptonite. She’s right. And there may be a larger number of us who are not immune to this feeling and practice of victim mentality than are immune, including those who are otherwise quite strong emotionally, mentally, and spiritually (in fact, it’s the strong ones who hang onto dysfunctional relationships longer, because they aren’t quitters). However, let’s keep victims of crimes out of this conversation and focus solely on those who live with a victim mentality in everyday life and what this means.

First of all, it means that when you practice victim mentality, there must be one or more oppressors (though one is enough, thank you) in your immediate vicinity and or farther afield who are more than ready and able to “assist” you with that experience. You can’t have one without the other. Now, either the oppressor does not have a victim mentality or does and has grasped the opportunity to become an oppressor of anyone who also has a victim mentality and therefore will put up with that treatment.   

Anyone with a long-held victim mentality more than likely grew up with at least one person who had some form of personality disorder in their midst, such as a narcissist, sociopath (though narcissists are sociopaths), or some other disorder, diagnosed and treated or not. The patterns of these behaviors and their effects became so familiar and ingrained (and “effective”) in childhood that those with a victim mentality continue to attract other narcissists (or those with other disorders) into their life—to help them to choose and learn how to release victim mentality taken on as a result of their early-years experience.

This article will focus on narcissism for a few reasons: 1) all of us express some of the characteristics from time to time (especially if we are or have been in a relationship of any kind with a narcissist), so we want to be aware of their expression forms; and 2) there are likely far more narcissists out there than known about since they typically don’t seek assistance or aren’t accurately diagnosed and treated (they are consummate actors who deflect attention from them onto others who they say are the “problem”), or end therapy early on, so can’t be accurately or approximately counted in statistics.

If you’re not familiar with narcissistic characteristics, here’s what is taken from Doreen Virtue’s book, Assertiveness for Earth Angels, which she obtained from the Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) that says a person who has this disorder has at least five of these characteristics.

  1. A grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., the individual exaggerates achievements and talents and expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
  2. A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
  3. A belief that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
  4. A need for excessive admiration.
  5. A sense of entitlement (i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations); interpersonally exploitative (i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends).
  6. A lack of empathy (is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others).
  7. Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her.
  8. A demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes.

Doreen also states that “A narcissist surrounds him- or herself with people who agree with him or her, and anyone who dares to raise questions will be removed. A narcissist is terribly insecure and jealous, and views people and animals as objects to stroke his or her ego.” This can be challenging behavior to be around for anyone. For an Earth Angel, it’s even more so because they see what’s really going on, but their spiritual, mental, and emotional aspects are to be nice and to play nice: they are genuinely kind and caring. These angels, or anyone whose nature is genuinely caring, is like nectar to a narcissist: narcissists, who feel emptiness of Self all the time, need to “feed” off of others’ energy continuously.

Melanie Tonia Evans finally removed herself from a relationship with a narcissist and reinvented herself and her life; and she makes it clear that her information applies to anyone who is a narcissist, not just a life partner or spouse. She also states that those with strong narcissistic tendencies can be helped, whereas those with severe narcissism cannot. In her online article titled “Narcissism Understood,” which I highly recommend you read, as well as her two free e-books, if you suspect or know you’re in a relationship of any kind with a narcissist, says, “A narcissist feels terrorized at the thought of vulnerability (being emotionally honest), and develops a pathological false self to guard the unresolved emotional wounds…. Have you loved a person who is never wrong, never sorry and believes it is always someone else’s fault? Have you ever experienced an individual who’s non-accountable for their behaviour and doesn’t learn despite the mayhem and pain they produce? Have you witnessed an individual who has no tolerance for the slightest criticism, even when given constructive advice....

“The most massive (and initially devastating) realisation that’s necessary to assimilate, in order to pull away and create authentic love, is that the narcissist is incapable of genuine love and empathy. His purpose for creating a love relationship is for two reasons. Firstly, to secure narcissistic supply (attention), and secondly, to have an outlet to project his internal pain and torture onto. Relationship partners who are hooked and ‘hang on’ make the perfect subjects to abuse…. Have you ever been in a relationship with an individual who demands your attention incessantly and becomes depressed, sulky and even full of rage if your attention goes elsewhere? This is one of the earliest warning signs of a narcissist. Please understand healthy adults do not behave in such a way.”

And here’s where anyone with a victim mentality comes in: “Compliant co-dependants believe in unconditional love. They will tolerate being damaged and feel sorry for the other person, yet in reality co-dependents are terrified about laying boundaries and taking control of their own lives. Boundary function is imperative protection against a narcissistic individual. Co-dependents love so much it hurts; whereas their self-development lies in learning to love themselves enough to stop the pain. When a co-dependent teams up with a narcissist (and many do) they will have their scant boundaries disintegrated and end up tolerating behaviour and abuse that they never thought they would. They will try again and again to prove their love, devotion and loyalty to the narcissist, all the way to their self-demise. Why is this exercise futile? Because the narcissists who cannot accept themselves (and have deep self-loathing) can’t accept love, intimacy and commitment from another, and are powerless to grant and sustain these commodities with another. It’s an impossibility to give inner resources that simply don’t exist…. Narcissists are angry children in adult bodies.” She added that narcissists detest those they fool and control; they detest everyone, especially themselves. You cannot win with a narcissist; you can only stop being an energy source for them. This is terribly sad to realize, but an important fact to be aware of.

If you have experienced victim mentality, or still do, you may have noticed that “opportunities” to confront this unresolved matter increase in energy and severity over time. It’s as though the Universe is asking you what it will take for you to pull yourself out of this mentality or how big of a “stick” will you have to be whacked with before you get angry enough to say, “Enough!” If you shift the pattern of victim in your mind to no-longer-a-victim, you’ll stop attracting such types to you. I’m not saying you’ll never bump into such types again, but if you do, you’ll be better able to recognize the signs early on and deal with them sooner and better, or know to walk away and not feel bad about it: You will have saved yourself years of agony and given yourself the chance to have a loving, fulfilled, and joyful life. You won’t get lost in feelings of inferiority or believe that you deserve such treatment. You don’t deserve it.

In Doreen’s book she talks about how Earth Angels don’t like conflict and confrontation—because that’s not their true nature. If you’re an Earth Angel, this is why you find yourself with a victim mentality: You don’t like to hurt anyone (it hurts you to do this) and you want everyone to be happy. But this can be carried too far, and at your expense (and a narcissist, or person with another disorder, will “eat you alive” until there’s nothing left, if you let it go that far). Two outcomes are feared by Earth Angels: Your suppressed anger and frustration will explode out of you one day and you’ll say or do things you can’t take back and know will make you feel un-angel-like or you’ll become apathetic (also un-angel-like), because you are exhausted on all levels. And soon you, just like anyone else, find yourself feeling miserable and unable to figure out what to do to “fix the other person,” which is not only impossible, but also not your job, and also entraps you in judgment, which is another mind-prison.

Maintaining the practice of victim mentality causes you to hold anger and depression in your energy field. You wear frustration like a heavy wool coat in summer. That energy has to go somewhere, and it will likely go into your body and manifest as some form of imbalance or illness: physical, mental, spiritual, or all three. The extreme of this is when someone practices victim mentality with themselves more than anyone else does it to them. To get into the frame of mind that starts you on the path out of victim mentality, you have to ask yourself some uncomfortable questions, such as: What do I really get out of this? Why do I believe I deserve this? Why do I hesitate to take care of myself in the right way, despite what anyone says or does, or might?

Doreen talks about being assertive, because anyone who practices victim mentality needs to practice assertiveness, not aggressiveness, which would only feed the narcissist as much as being silent. If you’ve been in a long-term relationship with someone who has a disorder, you may need extra, qualified assistance to get past victim mentality. Understand that it may take a while to clear yourself of the long-held toxic beliefs that have kept you in this mentality. But this is a learned mindset that you can unlearn. And, please keep in mind that victim mentality is really only a practice, because all of us are powerful expressions of the One Consciousness: Victim is not who we really are.

You have to get to the point where you are no longer willing to not speak up for yourself, but you also want to be as balanced and as objective as you possibly can. Find a way to say what you need to say to make your point, while causing as little emotional pain to yourself as possible; but don’t be afraid of the pain a person might choose to feel if you speak your truth with assertiveness and integrity. It’s to your benefit to do so. And in some instances, you may have to walk away from the relationship, although, Evans says no contact or modified contact is the only way to deal with a severe narcissist. Be clear about this: if you’re dealing with a narcissist (or some other disorder), any attempt to rationalize with them about better behavior is a form of feeding them: they’ve still got you dancing to their tune and giving them nearly all or all of your attention and life force.

To get out of victim mentality, you have to be done with being a doormat. This can be frightening, if not terrifying, in some situations. What helps is to realize you don’t have to do it all at once. You can do it in small steps, small steps of speaking up for yourself and or taking action on your behalf in an assertive way. If you tremble or can barely get your voice to work, say what you need to say or do what you need to do anyway. Establish and honor your boundaries. Each time you do this you’ll get stronger and stronger.

Victim mentality holds you back. There’s no way it can’t. You can’t be and live as your authentic self if you practice victim mentality. You can’t take necessary, calculated risks that take you higher and higher in life or into your purpose. You can’t feel whole and good, especially about yourself, when you practice victim mentality. You can’t be true to yourself or truly yourself with others. You may also give more mental and emotional attention to the oppressor(s) in your life than to you and your own life. This practice must shift, and you want to research the best ways to do this because it will be tempting to stay fixed in blame about the oppressor(s) or rehashing in your mind over and over what they’ve done, which is still not the focus and energy on your life and mind patterns that are needed.

Grasp the Truth that your worth is not dependent on anyone—it is a given as an expression of the One Consciousness that you are. You are especially not to believe what a narcissist or anyone with a disorder tells you about yourself: They’ll tell you negatives in order to keep you jumping and asking how high to jump next in order to satisfy them, which is impossible. Afraid or not, begin to speak up for yourself and or take right action. Begin to honor your right to be and to be treated appropriately, and to be in the company of those who demonstrate healthier behaviors and genuine love and caring. It’s the way to be your authentic self and express your true gift and divine light in the world. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.    
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Do You Have A Right to Be Happy?

There are some who believe it is unrealistic to be happy these days, much less to even focus on being happy. Are they right, or are they missing a significant point?

An article I wrote asking if we’re too busy to be happy received this (unaltered) comment from a reader: “no, I am too realistic to be happy! can you be happy, when Russia invades Ukraine? can you be you be happy, when all the world is put by Russia on a brink of another war? can you be happy, when you are lied to? can you? then, you are a philosopher, a saint or an alien to this Earth.”

I felt it was important to give genuine consideration to the commenter’s ultimate concern and his obvious frustration or upset. I wanted my reply to honor his feelings, and perhaps even assist him, if he’s open to this. So rather than send him a direct reply, especially since I believe his feelings may be shared by a number of people, and certainly by all of us at certain times in our lives, especially these days, I decided to do it this way. Maybe he’ll see this and read it as well.

Dear Commenter: Thank you for reading my article and sharing your honest thoughts and feelings about it. You brought up some valid points, which I’d like to respond to. The first thing I’d like to comment on is that I am not a philosopher. I do make an effort to consider and evaluate everything by using my whole brain—when I remind myself to do this for my and for the benefit of everyone involved (more on this in a bit). I’m not a saint, but I am spiritual-metaphysical, which helps to keep me balanced as often as possible, and sane, especially during times that seem to lack sanity or rationality.

About being an alien to Earth, the scientists and researchers who don’t mind bucking mainstream (controlled) science are willing to say that the evidence clearly indicates that none of us originated here, and that there is evidence of our DNA having been altered; and in fact, I recently heard someone on TV say that our DNA has altered by 7% from even 5,000 years ago. I’m not being facetious with this comment. This is the science that’s not being promoted to the public. We, and our history, appear to be so much more than mainstream would like us to believe.

Significant as the events you mentioned are, there are even more events happening, which fit on the scale from minor to severe, than many of us know about, want to know about, or are fearful to believe or imagine really goes on, or can hold in our minds, much less our hearts. Taking all of this into account, it can seem unrealistic to focus on our own happiness at such a time as now. It’s more than tempting to become overwhelmed by all that’s happening, but that can lead us even farther away from where we are meant to go, which is into higher consciousness and awareness, so that we can be better humans than we sometimes or currently are, and be more effective about addressing what’s going on and do so in the right way.

Perhaps it’s the word “happy” that you disagree with, and that’s understandable. Perhaps if you consider exchanging “happy” with “possessed of and motivated through greater conscious awareness,” that might feel better to you or seem more realistic (more on this in a bit, as well). Happy, after all, is just a word with as many meanings as there are individuals to perceive and experience that feeling. And as odd as it can seem to some of us, there are those who only feel truly alive when they are upset about something or with someone.

About being lied to: It’s helpful to us to remember there’s a great deal of information, misinformation (poorly interpreted information), and disinformation (deliberate confusion of information by making just enough of what’s shared true to get people to believe it or making just enough of what’s shared false to convince people to disbelieve it) out there. It all seems like chaos. I recently heard someone say there is no chaos, only a pattern that is not understood, like an ant making its way across a colorful carpet. To the ant, the colors may seem to have no rhyme or reason; but if the ant could look at the carpet from far enough above, it would see the colors form a pattern.

The reason why much of what’s happening is happening is being addressed by a number of reputable people, people who pay attention to the patterns most of us ignore or are unaware of or simply choose not to believe could be possible, despite evidence. By reputable, I mean these people’s efforts, experiences, and proven results as researchers over many years or decades have demonstrated that their information is worth giving real thought to; although, mainstream wants us to believe them to be insubstantial or delusional, as though a good deal of what’s going on isn’t crazy in itself. I offer this disclaimer, though: Do properly vet whoever’s information you check into. And, there is inner knowing within you about anything; and there are evidences all around you.

There are a number of things we can do to become better humans and to be more effectively part of the solution. We can start with the natural laws of the universe, which are not manmade, but are of the God Mind or One Consciousness that created everything in existence, or more precisely, thought everything into existence. The natural laws are these. The Law of Mentalism: Thoughts are formed before any manifestation, therefore, thoughts create things and conditions; The Law of Correspondence: The above is like or similar to the below, and the below is like or similar to the above—they mirror each other; The Law of Vibration: There is no non-motion or complete rest, everything moves, everything vibrates; The Law of Polarity: Everything has a dual nature, that is, has its pair of opposites, however, the opposites are identical in nature (e.g., temperature), but different in degree; The Law of Rhythm: Everything has its tides, its ascents and descents; The Law of Cause and Effect: Every cause has its effect; every effect has its cause; The Law of Gender: Everything and everyone has masculine and feminine principles; and then there’s The Unifying Principle that encompasses and binds the 7 Natural Laws together: CARE. It’s up to each of us to consider what each of the laws mean and how they operate within our lives. It’s up to each of us to examine how often we use or practice the unifying principle.

It’s up to each of us to understand how our brain works and how it’s supposed to serve us. We need to understand that the left brain is logistical, is the center of the ego or personality, and is where all thoughts about physical reality are addressed—from a limited perspective. We need to understand that the right brain is where our creativity, intuition, emotions, esoteric understanding and experiences happen and reveal themselves to us, and where we process thoughts about the non-physical aspects of existence—from a more expansive perspective. We need to understand that our pineal gland is there to balance thoughts between the left and right brains so that we don’t get stuck in one side or the other. Why do we need to understand this?

We can easily get stuck in the left brain, where lack is perceived and is where most of the people causing the problems in the world operate out of (the absence of heart is obvious, or should be). It’s where we process thoughts about all that’s going on in our lives and in the world around us, from a limited perspective. When we do this, we forget about the Truth of our spiritual natures, which reminds us or demonstrates to us, or can, who we really are and what we are really capable of. But neither is it helpful to get stuck in the right brain and take no positive or right action.

I’m not saying we should not be concerned about what’s going on—I certainly am. But I am saying that existing in negative energy, in any of its forms, is contributing to the very circumstances and events going on in our lives and the world today (reread the natural laws). What are our thoughts mostly about? We are focused on the effects rather than the causes, and we seem to be stuck in this loop. Whether we believe it or not or wish it weren’t so, we are an integral part of what is going on all around us.

We go along with choices, rules, and actions that make no sense or that harm us or others in some way. We go along with fighting each other rather than telling those who decide on or choose wars (for profit or control or whatever their own purpose is), often decided on before any reason is created and is then presented to the public to garner support, to go find a remote field where they can’t harm the rest of us and fight among themselves, because the rest of us choose to experience as much peace and harmony and mutual support as we can create for us and our world.

Krishnamurti said: “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” You can’t get people to ignore natural laws and the unifying principle of care unless you convince them they have reason to do so. This means fear, divisiveness, and outright animosity or hatred has to be instigated and promoted. Unfortunately, there are a large number of us who don’t question this enough, who buy into such promotions, often under various labels, and then do what’s expected of us or behave as is anticipated, rather than examine what matches natural law and the unifying principle of care and what doesn’t.

Ultimately, it goes beyond the question: Do we have a right to be happy or to focus on being so, especially these days. It’s actually more about being in a positive vibration as often as possible—because we are far more than this physical experience, even though we don’t often act like it and sometimes don’t even believe it. We are not as powerless as we tend to believe we are or have been taught to believe we are. If we want to shift anything, we have an obligation to put ourselves into a positive vibration as often as we can so that we alter what we can. We have an obligation to change our visualizations, actions, emotions, words, and thoughts to ones that create harmony and well-being for us individually, as well as humanity as a collective of individuals. You cannot improve anything by energizing it with negative energy. You can improve anything by restoring true balance, and true balance starts and ends within each one of us. That’s not my opinion, that’s natural law.

For me, moments of happiness—and happiness can be quiet and calm just as it can be exuberant—are a form of appreciation: to and for the One Consciousness; for the gift life is; for free will, as challenging as it can sometimes be to exercise it wisely and compassionately; for the ability to choose love or kindness over any form of hate or mean tendencies; for moments when spirit is put before ego; and so much more. Such moments remind us all who we are and how we can be; and possibly, hopefully, deter us from living from our baser nature aspects and instead choose to live with higher conscious awareness.

So, yes, Commenter, I can choose to be happy or rather feel moments of happiness and inner peace, even with all that’s going on. I feel it’s not just my responsibility but my duty to help hold a more loving vibration on this planet—especially now. This doesn’t mean I ignore what’s going on, but does mean I can apply my energy about it differently, from a more spiritual perspective, while I make my own type of contribution, which is writing what I do, and anything else I receive inspiration to do, including being an example whenever I can, especially when I can move myself out of ego and into love, compassion, and collaboration. To be and do otherwise is to become part of the problem rather than part of the solution. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.    
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

Friday, March 7, 2014

Are Your Thoughts About Others from the Ego or the Heart?

When we choose to remember past moments, sometimes it’s the ego and sometimes it’s the heart that speaks. Which one speaks most often for and through you?

I was thinking about someone who has a tendency, or I should say an addiction, to consistently repeat or tell about unpleasant moments as (usually) her only conversation topics: “I remember when (this awful thing happened to me/this person did this awful thing to me)” or “Let me tell you about the latest unpleasant thing that happened (or what this person did/said to me).” This person has a steamer trunk filled with such topics, and more keep getting added in. I’m sure there are good memories in that trunk, but they don’t seem to rise to the surface as easily. In fact, it stopped her in her tracks one time when she was going through her list of unpleasant memories and I asked, “What is one of your favorite memories?” Once she was able to blink again, she said, “Why did you ask me that?” I told her I was just curious and would like to hear about one. It was the briefest she ever spoke about an experience; she did it in one brief sentence rather than her usual short or long story. This is an example of what happens to people when the ego, rather than the heart, is allowed to dominate, because the ego feeds on drama.

As I thought about this person’s tendency, I did what a lot of us do, which is I had an imaginary conversation with her where I suggested that what could be focused on was, “I remember when (this good thing happened, this person did this wonderful thing for me),” and so on, instead of the usual. And then I realized I was practicing exactly what the person practices. What an eye-opening reminder for me—yet again (sigh). It’s so easy to see what others do and miss the fact that we might do or are doing the very same thing, even if our version or justification for doing so appears to be different, at least, to us.

Following “I remember when” with good, touching, or funny stories shouldn’t be reserved for funerals. Stories told at funerals often recall acts of kindness or generosity the person did for them and or for others, funny moments shared with the person, the person’s best traits. And this happens despite anything else that occurred while the person was alive. I’m not saying this is always the case, but it does happen more often than not, or has in my experience. And if prior disputes or conflicts are mentioned, the tone of voice is usually softer; it and the words chosen wear the hue of compassion rather than animosity, or at least are spoken with the awareness that speaking ill of the deceased is frowned upon at such a time. Perhaps certain moments that originally irritated or angered the teller with the departed are now told with a tinge of humor. It’s amazing how many negative feelings carried for years about a person can be released or are when the person passes on. Maybe this is because the heart finally tells the ego to be quiet for a change, and forgiveness is allowed to release both individuals at that time, too late in some ways, but allowed.

In Doreen Virtue’s book, Assertiveness for Earth Angels, she has an interesting chapter called “Toxic Relationships: How to Recognize and Handle Them.” The toxic relationship types include Interrupting, Correcting, One-upmanship, Clingy Neediness, Stalking, Guilt-Tripping, Angerholism, Unreliability, Nosiness, Grumpiness, Accusatory Tendencies, Victimhood/Martyrdom, Controlling Behavior, Perpetual Clowning, Loudness, Substance Abuse, Lack of Boundaries, Name-Calling, Rudeness, Betrayal, Gossiping, One-sidedness, Drama Queen or King, Taking Advantage, Barbed Tongue, and Nonstop Talking. Phew! Look at those listings! I’ll bet that you, just as I, could readily assign those types to people you engage in relationships with or did. Would we also be as quick to list our name beside one or more of them, as behaviors we practice ourselves at times or more often?

One thing I know, based on experience—and it is all too easy to forget when we’re frustrated—is that practicing negative or judgmental thoughts about others, including when you’re not in their company, creates more of the same and serves to aggravate you even more. It stagnates or depletes your inner and physical energy, as well. It may satisfy the ego (temporarily) to engage thoughts and words in this way, but deep down, it doesn’t make us feel good at all. Not really. It also means that while we point one finger at another, three fingers point back at us.

It points out the fact that we have not addressed whatever issue we have with the person in a constructive and productive and peaceful way, if that’s possible—sometimes, it flat-out isn’t. Sometimes, you have to end a relationship with a person who practices one or more of those behavior types Doreen listed. Sometimes, it isn’t possible or realistic to end the relationship and keep your spiritual integrity intact at the same time, which means there’s an opportunity to learn about yourself and your potential for personal and spiritual growth that’s trying to step out of the shadows into the light.

The thing is that we tend to put our focus on others. What others do is what they do; it may be how they are, until they decide to change, if that ever happens. And they, as we, are here to learn their own lessons in their own way and in their own timing. When we observe or experience another’s behavior, it’s also an opportunity to look at ourselves. How do we feel about their behaviors and why do we feel that way? How do we feel about ourselves, and why? How do we respond or react? Is it with aggression, passivity, passive-aggression, people-pleasing, or assertiveness?

Assertiveness means we speak our truth and do so without getting snarky or outright mean or demeaning (or people-pleasing). Just as you don’t fight fire with fire (so to speak, since wildfires are sometimes fought with fire to contain them), ideally, you don’t address unpleasant behavior with more unpleasant behavior, as tempting to the ego as that might be. And if your truth is met with hostility, you can walk away (not stomp away), whether that’s until a better time to talk once both sides have calmed down enough so you can attempt better communication, or forever.

The rest of the time, check your thoughts and see how they’re running in your mind. It’s understandable, being the humans with egos that we are, that we’ll have thoughts come up about others or matters that irk us (trying to eliminate such thoughts completely is nearly impossible and may lead to self-judgment; choosing to shift into better thoughts is doable and a worthy practice). Sometimes those negative or judgmental thoughts are needed as part of the process used to gain greater understanding of or clarity about the dynamics involved and to figure out what we need to do or say. And sometimes we do need to talk to another about this so we (perhaps, finally) feel heard.

But we will benefit if we also look at ourselves in this process. Are we taking care of ourselves, and doing so with integrity? Are we communicating with integrity? What do we demonstrate or teach others by our own examples? How can we re-program ourselves to be better and healthier at the inner level if we practice old programs of complaining and blaming, and any of the behaviors listed, other than assertiveness, which is the only way to be authentic?

Deborah Tannen said, "Each person's life is lived as a series of conversations." We can begin to pay attention when we speak, as to whether our words come from the ego or from the heart. We can choose which one of those two we wish to give the greater voice to in our inner and outer experiences. We can think and share better thoughts about others while they’re still alive, or at least send them a silent blessing to find peace and joy within themselves, rather than entertain and feed the ego with negative thoughts about them. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.    
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer