Friday, April 25, 2014

Do You Compare Yourself and Your Life to Others?

Do you ever compare where you are now in your life to where others are, or to where you thought you should be by this time? If you do, and don’t feel happy as a result, the comments here may help.

I have a friend who, when she set up a social site page and began to reconnect with long-lost friends, learned who was doing what now. She shared with me that temporary depression settled upon her, as she compared her life to the lives of some she connected with. I say “temporary” because she eventually realigned her true feelings about this. My friend is, in the main, happy in her life and has good reason to be.

Back in the day, others saw her as a leader, a person going places in her life. The reality is a health condition started nearly two decades ago and altered that predicted-by-others path for her. She felt she’d let everyone down because she wasn’t in a high-powered position or owned her own company, or whatever else she and they may have expected and as some of her friends experience.

We never know a person’s complete story, despite what their successes, or what seems to be lack of successes, appear to be. And sometimes, even when we know what’s not working in their lives, we still dwell on something they do have that we feel we lack. As for my friend, the muse later paid her a visit and she’s created an enterprise that connects donated used musical instruments with students who want to play an instrument but can’t afford one. This has energized her and her life in major ways, as well as benefits many others in the process. This is what she was meant to do and when she was meant to do it. But, everything had to line up for this moment, including her inner vibration and energy.

"The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel." Steve Furtick

Comparing ourselves to others has a not-so-funny way of making us forget to what measure we’re actually happy with where and who we are. No one lives a life without challenges or feeling a range of emotions; but we are often generally happier or more content, for the most part, than we recognize or our ego aspect allows us to recognize. Things changed for my friend when she became peaceful and happy with who she was and where she was in her life. That state of mind and being opened a door that was ready to be opened in her life.

As I thought about what I wanted to say to my friend, before she had her inner shift, an image came to mind and I share it with you here. Imagine you enter a magnificent hall. There is a table in the middle of the room and you walk up to it. There is only one thing on the table: a beautifully bound book with your name engraved on the cover. You open the book to the first page and find this written on it: Please answer this question in order to choose one of the following two options, and know that whichever one you choose will design the map of your life. Question: Do you choose to do and be what makes others happy and win their approval or do you choose to do and be what makes you happy and fulfilled?

I imagined posing these options to a child of age four. It seems easy to imagine a child choosing to be happy — because the child wouldn’t have a clue what the first option might take to succeed at it, but is, likely, darn sure she or he knows what “happy” is. As adults, and if we’re honest about it, we’ve learned how exhausting the first option can be; yet, we may still feel conflicted about choosing the second option because we’re indoctrinated by our families and every element of society to go for the first one.

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”  John Lennon

In my image, the page with that question appears periodically in the book so we can revisit this choice at different life stages in our life. However, it isn’t beyond imagination that this page appears in our life book whenever we think it’s time to consider our options again, especially when we feel we aren’t living an authentic life and, possibly, aren’t even sure what that means to us after years of disregarding it. It also appears at the end of certain chapters (and beginnings of new ones) in our life.

The pain of inner discontent drives us to seek external balms and remedies, to seek instant gratifications, which are usually just bandages covering emotional bruises or wounds that influence our authenticity and responsibilities to ourselves and our life. But these externals and the pursuit of or craving for them does not address what begs for nourishment inside of us. Whatever word(s) we use — secure, prosperous, successful, loved, and so on — we, ultimately, want to feel good, feel in harmony, about who we are. We’ve become confused about how we can arrive there after years of asking ourselves what others expect of us so we’re accepted and approved of, instead of what we want, need, and require for ourselves, our well-being, and our joy.

I recently read, “There are many types of success and they aren’t all about getting ahead.” To be consumed with external, tangible success, completely or more so than with inner, intangible success, smacks of “I’ll be happy when” thinking, feeling, and behaving. That kind of thinking, feeling, and behaving ignores present-moment happiness, which is a form of self-abuse practiced far too often by far too many of us. This is because it’s a program that was downloaded into us long ago, one that needs replacement with a better one.

We forget to count our successes that no one can measure but us, because we’re conditioned to focus on how others think we measure up. If we remembered to genuinely appreciate all our successes often, we’d feel a great deal happier, content, and fulfilled. We can also look at any area of our life we feel needs a positive shift and ask, “What can I do that I will do to allow me to do better than this?” It doesn’t have to be huge, just effective. Don’t talk about it; start where you are, and do something different or differently.

So, the question is: Do you choose to do and be what makes others happy and win their approval or do you choose to do and be what makes you happy? Like the four-year-old child, are you clear about what that overall feeling, as opposed to appearances, means to you? Maybe it’s time to ask yourself this and see what you learn. And, it’s okay to do this each day and especially at crossroad moments in your life. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.       
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

Friday, April 18, 2014

Do You Possess Your Life or Do You Endure It?

Every day, each of us endures something, even if inconveniences of greater or lesser magnitude. If you find you face a challenge or situation you believe you can do nothing about, take possession of it, meaning take possession of how you relate to it.

Here is a partial line from a P.D. James novel: “. . . preserving always the same look of puzzled acceptance of a life which had to be endured rather than possessed.” Some endure much more than most of us will ever have to think about or ever want to. Do you endure your life (or any part of it) or possess it at this moment?

When you take possession of something, you take care of it and care for it; or, at least, that is the idea and responsibility underneath the concept of true possession. Yet, self-possession is not the message most people are given about their lives, their self-worth, or their personal happiness and fulfillment.

Do you feel you possess all aspects of your life? In order to do and be this way, you’d have to possess, that is take ownership of, your beliefs, feelings, thoughts, words, and actions, as well as your ability to shift into this owner mode when something rattles you out of harmony. However, please release the belief that you are “supposed” to stay in one emotional state of being at all times. That’s not possible for humans who are enriched with numerous emotions—for good reason. However, you do want to be able to regain your footing when your stumble.

To possess your life, you have to possess or own the choices you’ve made and the outcomes they’ve created up to this moment (preferably as life lessons rather than reasons to self-judge), and do this consistently as you continue forward in life. You have to decide if what you experience causes you to endure life or to live what you desire, “desire” meaning you deliberately choose how you wish to experience yourself and your moments, and from which chosen level of awareness.

Henry Ford said, "Don't find fault, find a remedy." Granted, though wise and accurate, that’s not how we always respond when our emotions are triggered. But, you can decide to take possession of what you choose to feel and do about whatever you feel you endure. When you do this, you are on your way to finding a remedy, first at the inner level, which may then resolve an outer level matter. I say “may resolve” because though the inner level experience is always a priority (because it is where YOU live), there are occasions when an outcome is an undesirable given and you have a responsibility to yourself to engage it in a way that supports you to have the highest level experience you can. This applies to those times when you find yourself in a scenario you believe you never would have chosen. But, what are you going to do with it? How and who will you choose to BE at such times? What is this experience attempting to teach you about yourself?

There are aspects of your life you wholly possess at this time and, possibly, others you endure. Look at each part you endure and ask yourself how you might possess it and what that means to and for you. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “Not At All” and 10 being “Completely,” how much do you feel in possession of your life? What about how you choose to feel about your experiences? If, say, you’re at 6 for either of these, what would you be willing to do to make them an 8 or a 10, whether this is at the inner or outer level or both?

What might it feel and look like if you endure your life? What might it feel and look like if you possess it? Here’s a thought to play with: Let’s say you believe your outer life reflects your inner life (emotionally-charged thoughts and beliefs); or stated another way, your outer life (experiences and outcomes) are created by your inner beliefs and thoughts. Now think of the holodeck in the Star Trek programs. If you were using the holodeck and wanted to alter something (scenery, character, story/plot, etc.), which would be more genuinely effective: trying to change something in the hologram or altering the program/pattern in the computer to affect the hologram? A change attempted at the outer level is best started or ignited at the inner level. You know this, but do you always give it proper attention or realize its point-of-origin importance?

There’s a fast-food philosophy about change: It’s supposed to happen overnight or nearly that. If you gain an extra twenty pounds, you don’t do it overnight. Neither do you lose it overnight. And a crash weight-loss program may create a desired outcome, but it won’t last and it isn’t healthy. Nor have you taken possession of a healthier lifestyle. There is no philosophical difference between how you effectively approach weight loss for the body from “weight loss” for your thoughts and behaviors.

If you’re ready to wholly possess your life, start with understanding you have a right and responsibility to yourself to do this. Let go of the crash-diet approach and allow yourself to make choices about what supports you as you move forward one “pound” (aspect) at a time. Whatever you can and cannot alter, seek head-and-heart alignment about any choices you make about this, as well as pay attention to what you can learn about yourself so that you can adjust it, and you will keep yourself more on course than off  and enjoy and appreciate the journey more. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.       
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

Friday, April 11, 2014

What Are the Differences Between Soul Needs and Ego Needs?

We are souls in physical form and we have an ego that is meant to serve us in specific ways. Frustration happens when we get their needs confused (or ignore them) rather than have them work together.

Let's look at some ways to differentiate between ego needs and soul needs.

Ego serves us in ways that move us to take actions in our daily lives, actions meant to keep us alive and, ego hopes, thriving. Ego seeks to feel a certain way, often motivated by material and external demands that originate outside of or aside from our soul desires, and this need leads to good choices and not so good ones. It follows logic, and more often than not its own brand of logic that desires to avoid pain or discomfort at all times and at all costs, rather than conferring with our emotional heart. Ego speaks to us in ways like, "This has got to change! Now!" From ego, we may sometimes be forceful in striving for and achieving our aims. Ego does not always act from conscience: it wants what it wants when it wants it.

Soul does not respond to force. It recognizes that painful or unpleasant emotions are facets of all we are capable of feeling, like needed colors in a rainbow or the largest box of crayons. Soul knows we are always in flow at that higher level, that our experiences have specific and significant purposes for us; and its aim is for us to thrive as whole beings (body, mind, and spirit) within the bigger picture of life. It asks us to pay attention to everything we think, feel, say, and do or don't do. It asks us to seek what fulfillment means for us in all things and to listen to what our emotional heart tells us. Soul speaks to us through our emotional heart using intuition and positive and negative feelings. Negative feelings are as much a part of our soul-self's communication system as positive feelings are. Soul always acts from conscience and conscious awareness, and nudges us to strive to do the same.

Mainstream dissuades us from remembering that our emotional heart is another form of intelligence we possess (in fact, our truest form), one that knows us intimately, because it is us; whereas logic focuses on what the (usually fearful) ego wants. Ego wants to fill any void with whatever it believes will make it feel good or better as quickly as possible. Soul wants us to empty out what no longer belongs inside us (to heal our wounded selves) and to feel our way to what it is that truly needs to occupy that space that will allow us to express and be our true selves. What fills our ego’s needs may not fill our soul’s needs. What fills our soul’s needs eventually and inevitably takes care of our ego’s needs, most especially by calming them.

Ego believes power comes from winning, from creating and having positive experiences. Soul knows the Truth of our personal power and its true Source, and seeks to integrate our inner and outer power through learned wisdom into a desired collaboration between soul and ego as a way of life. Soul knows nothing is truly ever lacking (only a belief in lack or believing we deserve it gives lack “life”), and it strives to remind us of this through sadness, frustration, depression, serenity, and joyful appreciation . . . so that we seek the Truth and live from it.

Ego says, "Get rid of any negative feeling immediately." Soul says, "Be with your feelings in a gentle way so you can get quiet and hear my message." Ego pushes us to look outside ourselves to define who we are. Soul asks us to know ourselves and to fearlessly reveal who we are to others through our words and actions, our talents and abilities, our visions and goals. Ego says, "I don't love who I am, so I have to pretend to be what I believe will be acceptable." Soul says, "No pretense ever lasts. Be who you are and who you came here to be. Love yourself just as you are now and are becoming." Ego says, "Fake it till you make it." Soul says, "Start where you are and evolve and expand deliberately with unafraid honesty and integrity."

Ego wants emptiness filled in a hurry because it cannot tolerate it; it is disquieted by the unknown. Soul is not concerned with the unknown; it trusts Source and has the spirit of adventure and discovery. Soul knows that the fastest way to fill perceived emptiness is to allow emptiness, to surrender the ego’s needs about this when emptiness shows up, and appreciate whatever value, guidance, and inspiration it presents. Perceived emptiness is like dark matter in space: we can’t see it but it has its function or purpose for being there. Your soul knows that appreciation of what-is is always responded to with more to appreciate. Balance of soul and ego happens when we align our inner perspective with ego's ability to take action that's in our best interest and for our highest evolution as we take next steps on our personal path.

Explore how you can create collaboration and alignment between your ego and soul, with thriving and flourishing on all levels as their common goal for you, and see what gets created in you and your life from this. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.      
Practice makes progress.

© Joyce Shafer

Friday, April 4, 2014

What Are Your Disconnects That Hold You Back?

Disconnects cause you to live from ego which focuses on fear, lack, emotional pain, upheavals, and frustrations. Disconnects occur in such a way that you don’t actually realize what happened and when.

Let’s start by saying you are never ever disconnected from Source: You can only perceive and believe that you are. I was looking at some areas of my own life when I realized I was living from the belief of disconnection from Source in those areas. A visual image came to me. If you saw the first movie in The Matrix trilogy, recall when Neo is being released from the pod. Recall how all the tubes snapped off their connection to his body one by one. It’s somewhat like that in my imaginings about our own disconnects, with an exception: I see us coming into this physical experience as beings with Source Energy glowing as a light from within outward, forming what you might call an energetic light field of love and support all around us. I see it as billions of delicate illuminated filament-like energy strands, so many that the light appears as solid. Each time something happens or we’re told something that doesn’t feel like Source Love to the ego we come here with to serve to protect us, one of those filaments disconnects from our energy field. It unplugs, but it doesn’t go far. It waits quite near us for us to reclaim it as ours.

Who knows how early in life disconnects actually start to happen: I don’t know and won’t attempt to guess as to whether this is before birth or only after. But for our purposes, let’s start after you were born. Those early years of our life are ones with which we have no ability to process thoughts and feelings: we simply feel. Our ego perceives correctly and incorrectly what happens based on how we feel rather than on accurate information: we don’t develop the ability to process information with logic for several years after we’re born. So, you cry and no one comes as fast as you’d like to tend to you. What we call abandonment and delay enters your ego aspect as one filament each for security and for flow disconnect. Your diaper needs changing and no one rushes to the task. A filament for ease of needs being met disconnects and the idea of struggle and being uncomfortable until someone else takes care of you gets filled in by ego.

You’re a little older now and want something but are told it’s too expensive or there’s no money for that. Filaments called self-worth, abundance, prosperity, and ease disconnect, and ego perceives non-deserving, lack, and another form of struggle, especially for money, as a result. You’re told you’re bad, as opposed to being told what you did was not a good thing or was inappropriate and why. Filaments of acceptance, self-worth, and unconditional love disconnect, and ego fills in those gaps with seeds of self-loathing, people-pleasing, and more abandonment fears.

You’re told or it’s demonstrated that the person or people you rely on and love don’t have time for you. Even if it was because your caregiver was overwhelmed with responsibilities rather than just not interested, filaments that have to do with support, love, and connection disconnect, and ego perceives more abandonment because ego now believes you are undeserving and not special enough for attention from those who are supposed to love and care about you most. You’re told “I don’t have time for your nonsense.” Filaments that say you have purpose and contribution and rights to speak up for yourself disconnect. Ego perceives that your efforts, ideas, or arguments on your behalf are invalid and worthless; that you are worth less.

You aren’t allowed to do something others are allowed to do, even if it’s considered a normal activity for a child, because your parent or guardian has a fearful mindset. Filaments about you, life, and the world being a relatively safe place disconnect, and ego fills in their places with a belief that you aren’t safe anywhere and even that you are not safe unless the parent or person or someone is there to make sure life is safe and risk-free for you.

You’re touched inappropriately or are sexually abused. Maybe you tell someone and aren’t believed or nothing is done to protect you even when you tell. Or maybe you don’t tell, because you were told you or someone you love would be harmed if you did. Filaments about being cared for, protected, and receiving appropriate treatment, as well as speaking up for or protecting yourself disconnect. Ego perceives you deserve abuse and inappropriate treatment; that secrets must be kept and negative experiences suppressed. Maybe verbal or physical forms of abuse, or both, occur. Filaments about safety, security, love, deserve, and so much more disconnect. Ego perceives that you deserve this treatment and even leads you to self-punish and practice self-sabotage in myriad ways, including when no one is around to do this “for” you.

If yelled at when your body is unwell, or perhaps plans get altered for your caregiver or others because you’re unwell and need extra attention, filaments of compassion, care, love, deserve, and well-being disconnect. Ego perceives that you don’t matter; that even your real needs don’t matter; that you take up space, time, and energy of others. Perhaps you’re talked at rather than with. Filaments of self-worth and self-esteem disconnect and beliefs that you have nothing worth sharing or contributing fill in those spaces.

You’re told you’re unattractive or physically flawed in some way. Filaments that support your true beauty and perfection, worth, and that you are an expression of Source disconnect. Ego perceives that you are unacceptable as you are and that you need to make up for this “personal failure” in other ways, whether that’s with specific actions (and people-pleasing) or folding up your personality like a telescope so that you’re seldom “seen” and heard.

The disconnects listed above, and much more, indicate a fragmented self results after numerous such experiences happen during childhood and over a lifetime. The ego takes over driving your life, choices, and what and who you attract into your life rather than you living from your true spiritual self and does this in proportion to how many disconnects still exist in ratio to how many connections are still in place or have been restored. And because the more you let ego run the show from its pain-filled and distrustful perspective, the more disconnects continue to happen. One of the reasons you can feel worse over time as an adult is because of this.

Your ego tells you the only way to feel better and have better experiences is to have control over who and what is outside of you rather than do needed inner work, which is another conflict if you feel you have no control. We think the instances that happened to us are our wounds, but it’s the result of un-restored disconnects that are the wounds, which only we can restore. The more disconnects you restore, the more Source energy flows into you. You add more light into the dark patches in your energy field, which causes more darkness to diminish.

What you need to know and remind yourself of is that these occurrences that led to disconnects were the opinions and actions of one or a few (also wounded) people during your childhood, but they were taken as truth and fact because you were likely not taught the Truth about Source and your connection with Source during your formative years. Because you believed the occurrences and people, and because those disconnects led to more disconnects, you now believe things about you that simply aren’t true. And because the Universe reflects back to us what we project from within, you get more of the same. What makes this difficult is that this happens subconsciously. No one would choose to feel about themselves the way that so many do.

Every event that causes you to experience more of the same is trying to get your attention onto disconnects and then onto those Truths about you, life, and Source that need to be plugged back in. It would likely be impossible for every child to go through their early years into adulthood without any disconnects happening; this could only happen if they were raised in an environment filled with only healthy, whole-minded others. As adults, we try to think our way out of this, which isn’t effective as we’d like, because this happens at a deeper level than the conscious one—it happens in our emotional body. Anything that happens in adulthood that matches what we came to believe as a result of our early-years disconnects, appears to us as facts of life and not reflections of what’s happening at our inner level—what we think about and feel often: fears, lack, low self-worth, etc.

The ego is part of our nature that is supposed to protect us so that we don’t walk in front of a bus and the like; but just as the child cannot use logic until a certain age, ego believes that living from fears and distrust of self, others, life, and Source will protect us, is the only way to protect us. A survival program based on ego’s perceptions and interpretations is running the show, but it makes us miserable, and we don’t know how to shift this to thrive rather than just survive. Part of this program is to show reruns in your mind to support what the ego wants you to believe. It’s painful. You end up reliving over and over all the things you want to get away from or let go of, but not just in your mind; you relive them in your emotions and your body, and as experiences. All of this causes us to aim at just being able to function as best we can rather than feel as good and as strong as we can and as Source means for us to feel.

All of this leads us to feel that we aren’t supported by life and Source, which is false. But life and Source cannot respond to us fully as long as we hold such a feeling and as long as we let ego hold the reins. In this way, we ourselves block our good from life and Source. Ego convinces us that we must attempt to control circumstances and others rather than flow with life and Source working through us and for us. We don’t feel connected with life and Source in the way we are designed and meant to, and this hurts. In Elizabeth George’s novel, For the Sake of Elena, she writes about a character named Penelope who has been making life-altering choices to appease others and is suffering on all levels because of it. This narrative line says a lot: “But until she learned to redefine herself, circumstances and not Penelope would do the deciding.” And as Guy Finley wrote, “Confusion is the distance between what you're being shown about yourself and your refusal to see the same.”

Suffering is the result of perceiving and believing in a lack of connection to Source and what this means as your true nature. In this inner place, we tend to not gravitate toward who and what will support us in life. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy or process. It is an illusion of disconnect. It’s the child in you trying to make life work rather than the adult you co-creating with Source.

It would be an interesting process for you to identify your own disconnects, not so that you dwell on them or go down Blame Lane, but so you see them for what they are and for what they are causing you to believe and act from. It’s a matter of noticing them in ways like, “I have this challenge with money. This means somewhere along the line, I’ve experienced disconnects that may involve deserving, receiving, worth, security, contribution, self-love, acceptance, that someone or something is my source, and who knows what else. But Source is my supply in and of all things, and Source’s resources are infinite and available to me at all times. What I need to do to heal and restore this is find the way that works for me to really feel this as the Truth and my truth.” It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.      
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer