Friday, November 21, 2014

Do You Ever Feel Restricted or Limited?

How easy is it, really, for you to manage your thoughts when negativity sneaks up on you and bites you on the bum? Maybe this will help.

You’re going along just fine then wham! Something or someone throws you off kilter, and you feel restricted in some way. This feeling of restriction causes some level of fear to pop up—even anger is fear-based—and suddenly you feel as though you’re treading water, perhaps in a storm, especially emotion-wise. Not a good feeling. And if you usually do any inner work at all, you then tend to go into self-judgment: “I know better; so why don’t I do better?” That restricted feeling that surfaced as a result of the event seems to double, because you’re now dealing with two issues, not just one.

Ernest Holmes wrote this in his book, The Science of Mind: A sense of separation from good causes us to feel restricted; while a sense of our Unity with GOOD changes the currents of Causation and brings a happier condition into the experience. Everything in the physical universe is an effect, and exists only by virtue of some invisible cause. Man’s individuality enables him to make such use of the Law as he desires. He is bound, not by limitation but by limited thought. The same power which binds him will free him when he understands the Law to be one of liberty and not of bondage. The power within man can free him from all distasteful conditions if the Law governing this power is properly understood and utilized.

What we attract, whether it’s welcomed, not welcomed, or a period of what seems like stagnation, is a result of limited or restricted thinking—our mental attitudes, which can either connect or disconnect us from feeling and trusting our unity with Good and therefore Source, as well as what we are actually capable of. Since these thoughts and attitudes are a result of a mental process, we’re the only ones who can shift them in our favor.

Holmes stated that “The conscious thought controls the subconscious and, in its turn, the subconscious controls conditions.” Law of Attraction always works according to our subconscious thoughts, and our subconscious thoughts can be shifted with our conscious thoughts. “We plant the seed and the Law produces the plant.” Our thoughts are always at work for us, showing us our personal cause-and-effect power. Easy to know; easy to forget; easy to feel “Say it isn’t so.”

Why do we bind ourselves and our lives with limited thought? We know we do this, we know what to do about it; so why is it such a challenge to shift this in our favor? This is a challenge because we learned, by example and or statements during childhood, things like “We don’t have enough money because someone or something outside (or even inside) the family unit prevents this.” This limited thought process is not restricted to money; it can include education, health, common sense, endurance, success, confidence, and so on, which tends to always reflect effects via money in the long run, because society has promoted the belief that money is the way we and our worth or worthiness are to be graded. We practice this, without realizing what we’re doing. And, we make it worse by comparing ourselves and our lives to others and letting others tell us what makes us and our lives a success and or worthy. Bah! Humbug!

Holmes wrote, “There is One Infinite Law; and every time man thinks, he sets this Law in motion. . . . There is One Limitless Life, which returns to the thinker exactly what he thinks into It.” We are always thinking something into motion and possibly into our experience of it. The only way to use this in our favor is to seek and reveal and remind ourselves about the Truth of how Source set up the Universe, the Law of Attraction, to work and then put it into practice, especially when we feel challenged. Easy to say, isn’t it; not so easy to remember to practice.

I ride the same roller coaster many of you do. I feel good, in the flow, and then something makes my ego-aspect quake a little or a lot, and I’m into that treading-water feeling. And, yes, reminding myself of the Truth does get me back into balance and flow, but only after I do something specific: Calm myself down, request then trust that my highest good is always and in all ways provided, and then LET IT GO. What I let go of is the frantic, panicky energy my ego-aspect unleashes and the backward thinking process that goes with that.

There are times when you just have to push pause and catch your breath, when you just must stop all the thinking that takes you nowhere but in circles that wear a rut into the ground beneath you. Letting go feels completely counterintuitive, yet it’s the only thing that has ever truly shifted the energy, experiences, and results for me at such times, and or led me to right action. Initially, it freaks me out somewhat, but I just remind myself of all the times I did this and the positive shift this dynamic created—and fast, not to mention how good it felt to let go and be serene instead of stressed. This method is not for the timid. Most of us were taught to emulate Chicken Little. However, you might not recognize how strong you really are and the Truth of your unity with Source, until you take this route.

The fact of the matter, of life, is this: Stuff is going to happen, shift is going to happen. We’re not here to experience a life with no challenges or changes. There isn’t one animate or inanimate thing on Earth that does not experience challenges and change. Ultimately, it’s not about the challenges, it’s about how we manage ourselves in relation to them. That saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” is a good one to keep in mind. Big stuff shows up at times for all of us, but how we react to stuff can cause us to act as though even the small stuff is big stuff. We wear ourselves out. We practice the wrong things; and when stuff happens, we go into default behaviors, because that’s what we practice more often.

In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, The Signature of All Things, the main character reaches a point in her life and her mental attitude where certain truths about mosses become apparent to her, and she sees how these truths relate to people as well. The character writes that mosses endure challenging times through a process of adaptive change. What’s the first thing most of us do when faced with a challenge or change? We resist, rather than adapt; though, if we’re to survive challenges, we eventually have to adapt in some way. You wouldn’t be where you are today, if you hadn’t done this with a measure of success throughout your life. Please take a moment to appreciate this fact.

The character also writes the following, and you can see how it relates to us: That moss was almost certainly a different entity before it was moss; that moss—as the world continues to transform—may itself eventually become a different entity; that whatever is true for mosses must be true for all living things. The strong find a way to survive and the weak retreat and give up. I’ll bet you’re a lot stronger than you ever imagined or allowed yourself to imagine. 

Train yourself to shift restrictive thoughts to ones based in Truth, truth about how the Universe and the Law of Attraction, the Law of the Universe, works. Do this so you allow the Truth of your personal power to inspire you into strength and right-for-you actions and solutions. Celebrate your strength and ability to adapt. The Truth truly does set you free. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.                  
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce L. Shafer

You are welcome to use this article in your newsletter or on your blog/website as long as you use my complete bio with it.

Joyce L. Shafer is a Life Empowerment Coach dedicated to helping people feel, be, and live their true inner power. She’s author of “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, But I Have Something to Say” and other books/e-books, and publishes a free weekly online newsletter that offers empowering articles. See all that’s offered by Joyce and on her site at

Friday, November 14, 2014

What Is the Main Thing You Should Focus On?

Bob Proctor said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” We are best served if the main thing is what we focus on. So, what is the “main thing?”

Is the main thing one of these: Actions? Beliefs? Desires? Goals? Results? Nope. The Main Thing is stated in this additional wise statement by Bob: “Your results are an expression of your own level of awareness.”

Ernest Holmes can contribute something about this from his book, The Science of Mind: “There is a law in physics which says that water will reach its own level by its own weight. There is a law of metaphysics corresponding to it; consciousness will externalize at its own level, by its own recognition. We may call this faith, we may call it embodiment, we may call it whatever we will, there is something in the Universe which responds and corresponds to our mental states. Therefore, it is imperative that we turn from the relative, because TO VIEW LIMITATION IS TO IMPRESS IT UPON THE MIND, and accentuate the state of consciousness which produced it. It is not always easy to turn from fear, from poverty and pain, and from the hurt of human existence, to that which is perfect. But whoever can do this—and will train himself to do it—will be like the man healed of blindness. He had little comprehension of how it had been done; he could only say: ‘Whereas I was blind, now I see.’” Your primary focus is better placed on expanding your awareness. Everything else is built upon this. How often this fact gets lost in the shuffle, a shuffle often tempered with fear and frustration.

Are you aware of things you can do but aren’t doing, in your own best interest and perhaps in the best interest of others as well? Are you doing things you really don’t have to do, but haven’t reached the point of awareness that you don’t have to do them or accept or allow them? Are you aware that improper focus on results creates an energetic ripple-effect that impedes your experience and progress?

If too much focus is on desired results (future), you’re not 100 percent in your present, right-now moment, with all the opportunities at hand for your benefit. You’re also not fully aware of, which means you’re not fully appreciating, all that you do have right now (appreciation is a magnet that draws and delivers your good to you). The most significant things you have with you always are your current level of awareness and your ability to expand your awareness.

If too much focus is on desired results, you go into compete-mode: competing with your past and with others; competing to get more money, material items, satisfaction, and so on, rather than being in creative-mode, which leads to and results in all of these. In compete-mode, you struggle. You fret. You take lots of actions or feel immobilized, driven primarily by panic, fear, frustration, or doubt.

In creative-mode you use your energy wisely and follow what you feel inspired and motivated to do, which then leads to something that benefits you as well as others. When you follow what you’re inspired and motivated to do, you are joyful and enthused more often than not. You pay attention differently, which expands your awareness, in each moment. You appreciate the journey as much or even more than the destination; and, you are true to yourself.

If having more money or any desired result is a concern—that is, it causes you to worry—where is your focus, your energy, your awareness? Likely, NOT aligned with creativity, enthusiasm, joyfulness, inspired ideas, inspired motivation, much less Trust in the Source of All Things to operate in and on your behalf. You may stand in the inner space of all this chaotic energy, using spiritual techniques frantically (or not) and expect desired results to penetrate that energy and end your emotional pain and frustration. You may do the same with frantic outer actions (or not). That’s kind of like expecting to perform at your best while someone standing next to you is raging at you: you are both the performer and the one raging. You can expand your awareness about this with this thought: “I can get anywhere from here,” here being wherever you currently are at the inner and outer levels.

You may have been lured into a fallacy about results through flashy-things e-mails that aim at your fears and tell you that if you do “this,” you (like the sender) can get thousands of dollars or massive success or whatever form of relief you seek and do so overnight, in one week, in one month. Maybe you can, but how long was the inner and outer journey to get where you are now? However long, this doesn’t mean shifts into improved circumstances will take as long.

Or, you may repeatedly start new paths or projects then stop doing them just as quickly as you decided to start. This happens because you are looking, perhaps somewhat desperately, for something to create that shift you so desire. This is also what many of the books, tapes, videos, and so on that take up, perhaps clutter, your space are about, which can also sometimes be flashy-things: You seek the magic “key” that will unlock the innate awareness you already possess, though you may initially or still believe it is something that has to come from outside of you, from somewhere or someone. At the very least, let these things stimulate your thoughts that lead to awareness. Shift yourself first; calm down and allow your awareness to communicate with you and inspired ideas appropriate for you to arrive. Then take action you have head-and-heart alignment and genuine enthusiasm about.

You can easily fall into the trap of focusing on results, to end your pain or frustration fast, instead of expanding awareness, which shifts pain into wisdom, which is a far better guide to actions that lead to improved experiences and results. If your energy is entwined with beliefs that hold you back and keep you unaware of your true power, even if you use flashy-things and get some results initially, you’re awareness may not shift and you’ll find yourself paddling in the same old boat, perhaps more than once. 

And, you’ll repeat similar inner experiences, and similar outer ones, until you expand your awareness in a way that shifts this. You’ll continue to focus on what you don’t have or can’t do and not appreciate what you do have and can do or already do. What you CAN do from the inner level goes underused, or even ignored, more than put to best use. You continue to believe the Power is outside of you, which means you don’t expand awareness and expression of your True Power. Denial of your true power is the foundation of your discontent. And this behavior does nothing to strengthen your Self trust or to trust your experiences happen for a reason, or that you can expand your awareness as a result of them.

A very simple example is when I found I had to walk in weather that was cold, windy, and rainy and asked myself how I could expand my awareness about that. My immediate answer was: I can choose how I “do” weather. I could be unhappy and complain about it or I could find something to appreciate or focus on a project I was enthusiastic about. Just as we are not obligated to complain about weather we consider inclement, we are not obligated to complain about lots of things, rather than do something more constructive or productive with our time and energy. Alan Lakein said, Time equals life; therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.”

You may also have been convinced that “fast” is the way; yet, the contrast that belief creates with the belief in—the trust in—Right Timing is not recognized and allowed. Do you even perceive the energetic conflict that particular belief sets up inside of you? Expand your awareness As You Go. Your results will keep pace, in their right timing for your particular spiritual purposes. This means some results WILL happen fast; but you frustrate yourself when you expect every result to do so. This causes you to not pay attention to the Important Stuff—the opportunities to expand your awareness going on all the time. Your awareness is the foundation that underlies everything in your life.

Here are some awareness-expanding questions:
§         Do the thoughts, words, actions, FEELINGS I have (or “feed”) support that the power over my self and my experiences is outside of me or within me?
§         Should I do what everyone else does, or says I “should” do, or should I open myself to inspired ideas and motivation about what’s appropriate for me, based on my head-and-heart alignment, and act from there?
§         Does my motivation to take an action come from inner knowing or from fear? Which will energize me? Which will exhaust me?
§         Am I paying attention to my feelings and what they attempt to tell me?
§         From what level of awareness do I listen and act?
§         Do I connect my experiences to my thoughts that preceded them as often as I might?

Your experiences and results are an expression of your own level of awareness, which is something you have absolute control over. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Life and how you choose to perceive and experience life improves when you amp up your awareness. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.                      
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce L. Shafer

You are welcome to use this article in your newsletter or on your blog/website as long as you use my complete bio with it.

Joyce L. Shafer is a Life Empowerment Coach dedicated to helping people feel, be, and live their true inner power. She’s author of “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, But I Have Something to Say” and other books/e-books, and publishes a free weekly online newsletter that offers empowering articles. See all that’s offered by Joyce and on her site at

Friday, November 7, 2014

What Are the Three Levels of Thankfulness, and How Do They Influence You?

As children, we were taught it’s important to say thank you, but not so much about the importance of feeling thankful. As adults, it’s time to give this a closer look, to better understand its more subtle significance to us and our lives. There may be some buried treasure to discover.

Gratitude is a relevant sentiment; and Attitude of Gratitude is a catchy phrase. But I suggest there’s more to this that may influence your energy and experiences. Several years back I wrote an article about gratitude vs. appreciation, the first two levels of thankfulness. I’m going to use a few parts of that article here and add some significant bits, particularly what the third level is and is about, which wasn’t included in that article, because I only recently realized how it connects to thankfulness.

Back then I attached "I am grateful for" in front of all my affirmations (for what I wanted), which was the popular practice advocated at the time. But the morning I contemplated writing an article about gratitude, something niggled at my mind. It was a subtle discomfort about the word, which I realized was a discomfort about the energy I personally felt about it: gratitude seemed, to me, to have a thought of lack attached to it. And that wasn’t what I wanted to feel or practice.

The First Level: Gratitude

I had to look deeper into why the word Gratitude was nudging my attention. I looked it up in my dictionary: A feeling of thankful appreciation for favors or benefits received. I looked up Favor. Amidst the many variations of meaning was: A kind, obliging, friendly, or generous act. Benefit: A kindly, charitable act.

Even though the definition of Favor included above seems a positive one, most of us have heard or read the phrase "I called in a favor;" and please note that obliging is one of the meanings. A favor then, by its nature, can mean something done that often obligates the receiver to the giver. Benefit carries the energy of charity. None of these are bad, per se, but these definitions supported my underlying unrest about the word Gratitude. They imply the recipient is in a state of lack—and, likely, feeling it keenly; and even though assistance may be provided, it doesn’t necessarily cause the recipient to feel empowered or re-empowered; though, it might. That depends on the recipient. Let’s face it: if we find ourselves in real need of assistance, we’re darn glad to receive it. So, gratitude has it’s time and place. But none of us like or want to feel disempowered.

The Second Level: Appreciation

I moved on to Appreciation, or its root—appreciate: To think well of; understand and enjoy; recognize the value of. No mention of lack or obligation, just enjoyment, understanding, and recognition of value, on some level, of something. So, what is the, even if somewhat subtle, difference between appreciation and gratitude?

Let's try an experiment using both words. You sit down to a meal and say, "I am grateful for this meal." Deep down (or perhaps right at the surface, depending on the circumstances), there may be a fear-based, even unrecognized or not-perceived, form of relief that you are not one of the starving millions or one of the homeless. There’s something of a “There but for the grace of God go I” energy present or, perhaps, the energy of “If it wasn’t for (whomever), I wouldn’t have this.” Now suppose you say instead, "I appreciate this meal." You recognize the value of the food and what it provides to your body, and even the experience. You appreciate every person, critter, or plant that made it possible for you to be able to have access to the food and whatever means you have that either provided the funds to buy it or receive it as a gift or offering of camaraderie. This may seem a subtle distinction, but it's there, at least it is for me. Appreciation seems a happier, stronger way to feel. And it’s been my experience that if I practice appreciation, it keeps me from having or having more experiences than I’d like that lead to a need for gratitude.

Okay, that gives us a brief look at Gratitude and Appreciation. I said there were three levels.

The Third Level: KNOWING

Knowing the Truth is what the third level is about; the Truth that Source is All That Is, which includes you and your supply of every real need and whatever is for your highest good. The Truth that it is not about what you can get from the flow but that you get into the flow! Knowing is more than an attitude: it’s a state of mind and being.

Look around you right now. Like it or not, there is nothing and no one who isn’t an individualized expression of Source, including you. Ernest Holmes wrote in his book The Science of Mind: “Mind is individualized but never individual. This Mind which is Universal will never be any less than Universal; It will never be individual, but It will be individualized. There is a great difference. The wave in the ocean will never be a wave by itself. IT WILL BE THE OCEAN AS A WAVE.” I include this passage because it is so very easy to forget what we are actually and eternally a part of.

But what about Knowing; what does that even mean? How do you know when or that you Know? It’s challenging to explain what it means to someone who’s never experienced Knowing or identified it as such, like trying to explain water to a fish. Knowing is a personal experience; so even if I managed to explain it in any reasonable way, you’d only relate if you’d had your own experience of it. I’ll give it a shot, though.

For me, Knowing is a pervasive flash of feeling that rushes over me, into me, out of me—is one with me as I am one with the feeling; a moment when I am aware of being the wave and the ocean, the water and the fish. It’s awareness of the Divine that, for a brief period of time, snaps me out of the amnesia the illusion of physical reality creates and supports, so I remember, so I feel, the Truth of where I come from, who I am, and the Truth of what Source is and what our real relationship is. Here’s something to keep in mind: the eternal you is already in a state of Knowing, but you and I agreed to forget that when we came here so we could experience physical reality in a way that served our highest spiritual good and purposes. And if we do have flashes of Knowing, that’s part of our purpose, as well.

When certain experiences happen and I find myself slipping or crashing out of balance, it’s very easy to temporarily forget I’m not alone—ever. I’ve had a number of experiences that proved I’m never alone. One in particular was when I was drowning. I was an adolescent; and friends from out of town were visiting my family during the summer. My father arranged with a motel downtown to let us use their swimming pool. I don’t recall what happened to cause it, but I became aware that I was drowning. I was taking in water and sinking fast in the deep end of the pool, and couldn’t stop this. My thought was, “My family and friends are all around me, but no one is aware I’m drowning.”

Immediately after that thought, two Beings were at my side. I didn’t see them with my eyes, but saw them with my awareness, as though I viewed them with peripheral vision. But, it wasn’t my time to depart this life. They speedily lifted me up and onto the side of the pool, where I choked and gasped until I recovered. Once I had my breath back, I looked around: No one was aware of what had happened or even looking my way. It was as though they were in one reality and I was in another, but in the same physical space.

Why do I mention this? There’s no way to experience Knowing, in its myriad appearances, and still believe you’re alone or on your own or without assistance at the ready—ever, which is something to genuinely appreciate! And there is the experience of simply thinking a thought and having it or something even better manifest (I love those!), and Knowing it’s not a one-time-only experience, which is evidence of something collaborating with you for your benefit, right? When similar experiences happen a time or two or two hundred or two thousand to and for you, it’s easy for you, or could be, to get into the KNOW. You may have to remind yourself of this, especially when tempted to forget it.

The thing about the three levels is this—and, yes, this is my personal take on this topic: Gratitude, based on its definition, usually comes after you receive something. Gratitude is like having a small screwdriver for a larger screw.  Appreciation usually follows receiving, as well; though, you can also practice feeling appreciation beforehand, which usually requires you remind or re-Mind yourself to do this. Appreciation felt before manifestation does get momentum going and creates results. Appreciation is like the right size screwdriver. Knowing, however, is something you can train yourself to live, maybe more so in moments rather than all the time; but it can be deliberately, instantly engaged for your own purposes, again, not so that it’s about what you can get from the flow but that you get into the flow. Through Knowing, you begin to recognize that you play a significant part in what you create or can create. Knowing is like a battery-powered magnetic screwdriver: it gets the real job done quickly and easily, you feel confident and comfortable about relying on it, and you don’t drop or lose your screws.

Something else Ernest Holmes wrote is this juicy bit of Truth: “They saw the shadows of bondage, and thought they were bound, while all the while the chains had no reality.” What a profound truth to keep in mind: what we believe binds us, that is, impedes our freedom, flow, abundance, prosperity, and well-being are nothing more than shadows of wrong thinking. The Truth really will set you free, but it starts in your heart and mind connection then radiates outward, into your experiences and your perceptions of your experiences. Knowing is the form of thankfulness that frees you from the chains of dark-shadow thoughts.

It’s a good practice to say “Thank you for” before whatever it is you truly desire, and especially to communicate your genuine appreciation of Source when you communicate with Source. I read once that if the only prayer you ever say is “Thank you,” it will be enough. There’s true wisdom in that statement. Sit with it quietly and see how it feels and what comes into your mind and awareness.

We may continue to practice all three levels of thankfulness, based on where we are in our mindset in a particular moment, and that’s okay. Each level has its turn at being appropriate for a particular moment. However, imagine how Source responds to you Knowing the Truth and living from there and appreciating this dynamic and your ability to engage it. Imagine how you respond to and collaborate with life when you do this. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.                      
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce L. Shafer

You are welcome to use this article in your newsletter or on your blog/website as long as you use my complete bio with it.

Joyce L. Shafer is a Life Empowerment Coach dedicated to helping people feel, be, and live their true inner power. She’s author of “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, But I Have Something to Say” and other books/e-books, and publishes a free weekly online newsletter that offers empowering articles. See all that’s offered by Joyce and on her site at