Life is a Battle of Ego and the Higher Self

Life is a Battle of Ego and the Higher Self

In this world we will continually experience battles between the ego and the “soul” or higher self parts of us, whether we realize it or not.

Personally, my first most obvious battle in this way happened when I was 21, when I reached a very crucial point in my meditation sessions (I had been meditating constantly at this age). I had been spending two hours per day, five days per week, at a Zen Buddhist center in New Mexico where I had been living. I had been doing this for months.

Later on that year, I went on a camping trip where I camped out at a music festival for a week with my mom. I was dedicated to my meditation at this point, so I really didn’t do much except meditate there. It became kind of like a meditation retreat, meditating for most of the entire days I was there.

The more I meditated, the more I began to progress into this higher awareness state. This is when everything began to change.

For one thing, my senses were greatly heightened. I remember being able to hear a cat’s footsteps as it was walking around outside, and I could hear them so insanely acutely. The cat wasn’t even that close to me.

I began to sleep in a completely different way. I didn’t like this at all, because I could never tell if I was actually sleeping or not. Some part of me always felt really awake even while asleep, and this was maddening. It was nothing like a lucid dream, in fact I’m not sure I was dreaming at all during this time. If anything I would probably say I was constantly awake, and this worried me as I truly didn’t know if I was ever getting any real sleep whatsoever.

The pressure in my forehead (which I guess would be called the “third eye” area) would become so overwhelming at times that it would practically force my eyes shut, and I would often then fall into those sleep states.

I also became hyper-aware of the concepts we understand ourselves and the world through, and how limiting those can be. They literally serve as a box that keep us from experiencing the true expansiveness of ourselves and the world.

When I talked to people, I felt myself responding with my whole self, rather than just my mind. This is difficult to explain. But usually when we are talking with someone, our mind is conjuring up in the background how we want to respond, or how we want to word it, or just feeling out the response conceptually in general. With the constant meditation I was doing, my mind was not in the way nearly as much as usual, and it was like the responses to people came from the depth of my being without my mind in the way at all. It’s almost as though I had no awareness of myself as I responded to people. I just responded. I was one with the response.

I also began to be able to see all of my mental states happening simultaneously, as though I were watching a movie where these “worlds” were being created. There was a world that my speech created, a world that my thoughts created, and a world that my actions created. Then, there was the pure awareness state outside of all of these, that I was merging with more and more.

I felt intuitively that I needed to have the world of my speech, thoughts, and actions completely in tune. It felt extraordinarily important for these to be completely in harmony, or else I would not be able to maintain higher awareness.

However, as I kept myself in this awareness state through meditation, I also began to become increasingly dissociated. Thoughts felt slower, and I began to feel very disconnected from my body. And the more that I became disconnected from my prior concept of myself, the more I felt like I was walking on air, and not the ground. I was becoming ungrounded. This went on for days. I told myself this was my new mode of being, a new experience of love and expansiveness. The problem was I realized over time that I was becoming out of balance.

I started to feel anxious, and like I was playing with fire. The anxiety spiraled with the pressure of knowing that the fear-filled thoughts I was having was keeping everything out of harmony, and I wouldn’t be able to keep higher awareness this way. But I couldn’t control it. I was beginning to experience a world where I didn’t know the rules or what anything was anymore. I also didn’t know how to consistently operate in a world where my conceptual understanding of things was falling away.

My ego felt the need to cling, to hold on to my prior understanding of myself and the world.

I got to a point where I got a very clear intuitive message that told me in order to continue, I would have to abandon everything I “knew to be real.” I literally had to abandon my understanding of my self, and any conceptual frameworks I had developed of things. Because ultimately, these concepts were limiting me.

The fear that I was feeling took over. It won. It had felt too much to me like I was traveling into no-man’s land, where I was out of control, and the fear of the unknown progressed into full blown panic attacks. For a year or two. I thought I was going insane at this point, because I felt like I had gone too far into this strange land to even come back the same person (I wish I had known at the time that this was just the fear talking).

A counselor I saw later on that was knowledgeable in spiritual things, told me that because I was so young and my ego had not developed yet, if I had “jumped off the deep end” into the unknown, it may have resulted in massive confusion and psychosis. She said very matter-of-factly, “ironically, you have to have a very stable ego in order to be ready to explore the realms of the soul.”

To this day, I still don’t know if that’s true. It is very clear to me now that the intense fear I was feeling came from the loosening of my entire framework of reality. Honestly most people would be scared shitless if, for example, they were to be thrown into the massiveness of space suddenly, feeling as though they were at the mercy of whatever. I did not know how to trust that process. How to trust that if what I understood as my self died, that I wouldn’t really die. Just my sense of self would.

In the moment, our ego can’t differentiate. We don’t realize how tightly we hold on to our sense of selves, because it is what we use here on Earth to operate as a self. It’s all we really know, unless of course we have a taste of our higher selves, and of higher consciousness states.

It was a very scary battle between who I thought I was and everything that encompasses, and my real, higher self. But, this battle was happening at a very rapid pace. At one moment I was embracing my new experience of life, a higher sense of love and oneness, and a temporary new way of operating. Then the next moment I was cowering in fear, extraordinarily scared I was losing control, and losing myself.

My ego won. I stopped. But that’s okay. Because I felt I did indeed delve too quickly and deeply into this new world, and I needed to take a step back. I think the whole process of loosening ourselves from our clinging to our concept of ourselves and the external world is something that needs to happen slowly, over many, many years of time.

It has also taken me years since that experience to even understand that my inherent desire to reach new heights of awareness was due to having a natural awareness to some degree of the higher self, and longing to return to the richer experiences of life that are available through these higher awareness states.

It’s a part of my self that is consistently wanting to bring my “lower” or ego-self up to the higher self’s level.

Having any awareness and experience of this higher self makes it more difficult to live in the contrast of the “lower” self. Therefore, it creates a sense of longing to return to the higher self’s reality. The reality that is far, far more expansive than the limited reality we typically experience here.

Another very important thing that hit me just recently is how real these higher experiences of love, of existence, of understanding, actually are.

The most unimaginable joy, pure love, and living with a higher level of awareness is very. fucking. real. These are not just dreams, a desire for an escape (though it can serve as that), or a plight of the imagination. It is totally achievable. But here on Earth, it’s very difficult. We have to be in such a place of mental freedom and openness before we can ever experience these things without our clinging to our conceptual understanding of things, as well as other mental obstacles bringing us down.

I also realized intuitively after this particular meditation experience that the different part of my selves were out of harmony. I was trying to experience a reality that I didn’t have the tools to integrate. Kind of like when you go on an acid or shrooms trip (which I haven’t done before), you gain great insights, but then you come back down and ultimately it fades into a memory, with very little or no integration into your daily life.

I had slightly more integration with this consistent meditation I was doing, but I also realized quickly afterwards that it was going to be a long road of developing my own tools and everyday awareness before I could hold and process the intensity of the reality I was experiencing during those temporary states.

Nowadays, as I go through this life, I get to experience that higher sense of joy and love much more consistently than I did before. The more I learn and grow, and the more aware I become, the more my mind expands and naturally allows for this reality to be experienced more regularly.

But all of this is where the battle of the ego lies. You might be lucky enough to be faced with the most unimaginable, otherworldly beauty you have ever seen on this Earth, whether it comes in the form of a higher consciousness state or a pure love, and you may experience it for a moment. But then if you have not worked on overcoming your mental obstacles, this beauty will simultaneously arouse all of your fears and any blockages you have that keep you from realizing higher awareness.

It can be scary. And if you don’t surrender, your ego will win, and you will shrink back down into your normal understanding of things, and you may even pretend what you saw wasn’t real. Or maybe you were just going crazy. You might even feel intense fear, anxiety, and anger, depending on the situation. It will all be your ego kicking and screaming, trying to hold on to what it thinks is real.

Believe me, I’ve been there.

But it’s all okay. It’s all part of the learning process. It takes many years, a lifetime, for us to surrender who we think we are and not allow the ego to have such a hold on ourselves. Some of us may never experience higher awareness states at all, until death. That’s okay too — we are all on our own personal journeys, and we experience the things we need to to help our own growth, at our own pace.

“In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond; And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king? Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”
—Kahlil Gibran

Mastering the Art of Conversation

Mastering the Art of Conversation

Take it from an introvert, conversation can be difficult with people you don’t know well, as you may not know how to relate to them and social skills may not come to you naturally. In general though, social skills are learned and get easier the more exposed to conversing with people that you are over time, even if at first it feels uncomfortable.

I personally used to hate talking on the phone, especially with people I didn’t really know. It felt so awkward to me and I didn’t want to have to think about what to say or talk about. Even just calling companies to talk about my bill or something mundane was uncomfortable and I would seriously put it off for days.

Eventually though, the more you do it, the more it just becomes second nature and you don’t feel anything about it. I think most of the fear or discomfort stems from lack of self-confidence in some way or worrying that you are going to make a fool of yourself, or seem one way or another that you don’t intend. I’m just prone to be a worrier in general, so over-thinking about what I should say or what will happen can be the norm for me.

Be Yourself

Keeping Yourself Open

Conversation can also be difficult for anyone who is not comfortable sharing what they’re really feeling, and the other person might be able to sense that you’re guarded or hiding something. Then that creates this sense that they aren’t really getting through to you.

Sometimes, we have to learn to let go of our fears a little bit (easier said than done). Try to open up a little bit at a time and see what happens. We also have to attempt to be polite and say things in the right ways, and this can be difficult for someone that doesn’t feel the right words come easily to them.

However what usually really trips us up is just over-focusing on what to say. The more we focus on how or what to say, the more calculated and unnatural it feels and becomes.

So aside from exposing yourself more to the fear, one thing that can really help is to try to take the focus off of yourself and what you’re thinking.

Here are a few general tips to remember:

  • Really try to listen to what the other person is saying and see where they are coming from. Put yourself in their shoes, and imagine yourself in their situation. This will help you be able to give them the best feedback and will help you stop thinking about what you’re doing. Remember it is more important to listen than it is to talk.
  • Always attempt to come from a place of respect, even if you disagree with the person you’re talking with. Otherwise, you may never get through to each other if one feels like the other is not willing to understand.
  • If you’re talking in a group of people, it is important to make eye contact with multiple people in the group rather than just looking at one person while you talk. People notice this and it will allow them to not feel left out or like the message is directed only at one person.
  • Being particular about what you talk about in a conversation or not being open to everything someone says may give you the impression of being closed off or egocentric. It is best to try to focus on the other person in a conversation and not make it about you.
  • Remember that although the conversation may not always be interesting to you, having a respectful conversation regardless can open the door to many other things with that person, even if you don’t plan on keeping them in your life. It allows you to keep a good impression which is good for keeping connections.
  • Be mindful of when you are talking too much and not allowing the other person to have their say. Again this can make you appear egocentric and not wanting to hear what they have to say.
  • If you’re feeling nervous, try to take a mindful approach by letting go of thoughts about how you’re sounding and just focus on the sounds of their words and what they are saying. This will help it be easier to respond naturally, and not like you’re trying too hard.

Overall, making a conversation be more about the other person and less focused on yourself will almost always make the other person feel good and will naturally lead them to feel more desire to know about you, rather than if you are too focused on yourself the whole time (whether through thoughts or words).

“Life would be a lot easier if conversations were rewindable and erasable, like videos. Or if you could instruct people to disregard what you just said, like in a courtroom.” 
― Sophie Kinsella, Confessions of a Shopaholic

“The most important thing in all human relationships is conversation, but people don’t talk anymore, they don’t sit down to talk and listen. They go to the theater, the cinema, watch television, listen to the radio, read books, but they almost never talk. If we want to change the world, we have to go back to a time when warriors would gather around a fire and tell stories.” 
― Paulo Coelho

“Everyone has their own ways of expression. I believe we all have a lot to say, but finding ways to say it is more than half the battle.” 
― Criss Jami, Salomé: In Every Inch In Every Mile

Some Thoughts and Inspiring Quotes on Fear

Some Thoughts and Inspiring Quotes on Fear

The more life experiences I gather as the years go by, the more I realize how many of us are underneath the surface, very dominated by fear in many ways.

For example, we might be dominated by fear of looking different, fear of being alone, fear of silence, fear of our lives ending early, fear of being hurt/rejection, fear of anything bad happening at any moment, etc…

One of the greatest challenges in our lives is to try to overcome these fears. Partly because a lot of the time it’s always there in the background, to the point where we might not even notice it anymore, until at some point it rears its ugly head.

Sometimes we don’t even understand that the basis of our fear is different than what we might think it is. Part of learning to dissolve our fears is learning how our minds work, and how our perceptions can work to build up this image of ourselves and the world that underlies the fear.

I too have a lot of fear in my life just because I have a predisposition to anxiety (with my “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” and all).

Here are some quotes on fear that I personally love and that might help you feel more inspired to face them, or just feel more at ease.

“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.”
― Lao TzuTao Te Ching

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne Williamson

 

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”
― Alan W. WattsThe Culture of Counter-Culture: Edited Transcripts

 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
― H. Jackson Brown Jr.P.S. I Love You

 

“I have accepted fear as part of life – specifically the fear of change… I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back….”
― Erica Jong

Courage or Fear

“I wonder if fears ever really go away, or if they just lose their power over us.”
― Veronica RothAllegiant

 

“The more we try to live in the world of words, the more we feel isolated and alone, the more all the joy and liveliness of things is exchanged for mere certainty and security. On the other hand, the more we are forced to admit that we actually live in the real world, the more we feel ignorant, uncertain, and insecure about everything.”
― Alan W. WattsThe Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety

 

“Nothing can harm you as much as your own thoughts unguarded.”
― Gautama Buddha

 

“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”
― Sigmund FreudCivilization and Its Discontents

 

Time

 

“We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas.”
― Alan W. Watts

 

“The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

 

“When you find out that there was never anything in the dark side to be afraid of … Nothing is left but to love.”
― Alan W. Watts
time to let go
“Whether we like it or not, change comes, and the greater the resistance, the greater the pain. Buddhism perceives the beauty of change, for life is like music in this: if any note or phrase is held for longer than its appointed time, the melody is lost. Thus Buddhism may be summed up in two phrases: “Let go!” and “Walk on!” Drop the craving for self, for permanence, for particular circumstances, and go straight ahead with the movement of life.”
― Alan W. WattsBecome What You Are: Expanded Edition

 

“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes around in another form.”
Rumi

 

“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.”
― Seneca

 

“When we think we have been hurt by someone in the past, we build up defenses to protect ourselves from being hurt in the future. So the fearful past causes a fearful future and the past and future become one. We cannot love when we feel fear…. When we release the fearful past and forgive everyone, we will experience total love and oneness with all.”
― Gerald G. Jampolsky

 

What are some of your biggest fears? Comment down below and let me know! 
What a Bout of Insomnia Taught Me About Sleeping Better

What a Bout of Insomnia Taught Me About Sleeping Better

Anyone who has experienced insomnia in any form can relate to the fact that it’s one of the most difficult and maddening things you can go through, depending on its severity. It can interfere with EVERYthing in your life.

Last year I went through my first bout of insomnia, which was really bad for a few weeks but overall only lasted a couple months. I already have an anxiety disorder and had more or less felt as though I had mastered having anxiety during the day by just learning to keep myself occupied and not give power to anxious thoughts (easier said than done, I know).

But then, there came a few nights where I just wasn’t sleeping well. I could not get to sleep until about 5 am each night, and I had been off of my anti-depressant meds for a few years. Most people without mental issues might not even think twice about a few sleepless nights and naturally would return back to normal. But for me, it kicked in a vicious anxiety cycle, causing me to start to fret about not sleeping. So of course, I wasn’t able to sleep. At its worst, I went about 2.5 nights without sleep. On top of that, the idea that I couldn’t use my typical anti-anxiety strategies to beat this one made me feel defenseless.

Naturally I started trying to figure out what I needed to do to overcome it. I ordered about 4 books on insomnia, I read about strategies on the internet, I tried to play phone games at night to get me to sleep, taking baths at night, journaling, podcasts, and so on.

Just to go into a little more detail, here are some of the things they recommend doing if you struggle with insomnia (and these are some of the ones I tried):

  • Establish a bedtime routine. Try to get to sleep at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time each morning so your schedule isn’t all over the place.
  • Turn off all electronic devices an hour before you sleep. Staring at a screen can actually disturb your body’s natural production of melatonin and can keep you awake.
  • Try writing a sleep journal before bed, with positive affirmations about sleeping and yourself, to combat any negative thinking.
  • Put off any important subjects your mind wanders to — think of another time during the day you can go over them in your head.
  • Limit consumption of caffeine
  • Try natural sleep aids (melatonin, chamomile tea, etc).
  • Try taking a warm bath before bed as part of a calming night time routine.
  • No naps during the day (can mess up your sleep schedule).

And here’s what actually ended up working for me the best:

  • Not having a fixed bedtime routine designed for getting me primed for sleep. The reason for this is that the more that I tried to ready myself for bed, the more thought and power I put into the idea that I needed to do something special to get to sleep. This isn’t the mindset we want to cultivate if we want to be able to effortlessly fall asleep — as we often did as kids.
  • Not going to bed too late — and try to keep your schedule consistent.
  • No naps.
  • Knowing that if I absolutely can’t sleep, I can take sleeping pills as prescribed by my doctor. However, being able to train yourself to sleep without depending on these if you are able is absolutely essential. But just the idea in itself that I have something as a backup for worst case scenario made a HUGE difference.
  • Listening to the Sleep With Me Podcast to get to sleep. Seriously, I cannot tell you how amazing this guy is at telling these often nonsensical stories that help you sleep. I am forever grateful. I was able to reduce the amount I took sleep meds by a lot because of this podcast.
  • Using slight sleep deprivation to make me tired enough the next night to be able to easily fall asleep.
  • Exercise
  • Working on your attitude (see explanation below).

The Trick with Insomnia

The trick is that insomnia is that it often works like anxiety does — and you can call it a form of anxiety. It makes you feel like you have to do something special to get over the problem, when in reality, you just need to go back to not even thinking it’s a problem.

Just like when you’re having a panic attack, you often don’t want to do what the panic is telling you to do, you want to abandon the thought processes entirely that are causing you emotional pain, and ultimately calm down.

I know this can seem like the hardest thing in the world. But it feels harder than it actually is.

Most of the time insomnia boils down to just fear, and fear that the fear will keep you awake.

So, one of the best things you can do is working on trying not to care if you don’t sleep. Try not to let yourself freak out about the bad things that might happen to you if you don’t sleep. You really have to learn to just accept whatever comes with not sleeping and deal with it, rather than be threatened by it.

HappinessWhat You Tell Yourself Matters!

Try to tell yourself positive things about your sleep that will help to dispel your fear. Here are some things I told myself:

  • “Even if I can’t sleep, I will still get through the next day simply because I will have to. Nothing bad will happen.”
  • “Worst case scenario, I’ll just take a sleeping pill if I have the work the next day.” (I rarely ended up even having to take these. The idea is tricking your brain by reassuring yourself you CAN do it if you have to).
  • “I’ve gotten through sleepless nights before just fine, even if they suck.”

And lastly, I also wouldn’t do what I initially did — buy a bunch of books, try to establish some special night time routine, etc — because this all adds to the idea that you’re no longer “normal,” or that you have a bigger problem than you actually do. This can make it feel like the problem is bigger than it actually is.

Hopefully this was helpful to you, and if you are struggling with insomnia and want someone to chat with, feel free to reach out to me via email at liz@mylifeinbalance.co.

I know it’s tough, but you WILL get through it!

The Battle in Life Is Always Only Against Ourselves

The Battle in Life Is Always Only Against Ourselves

Living our lives and learning throughout them on this Earth is an incredible experience. Each of us have our own unique journeys in which we approach all differently based on our perceptions and understanding of what goes on around us.

Being Sensitive and Choosing How to Respond to All the Input

I have always been a sensitive person. Sensitive to noise, sensitive to light, attentive to the world around me and things could always easily affect me. Growing up, this wasn’t really a pleasant thing. I didn’t see the good in it, I was purely just affected by it. But as I’ve gotten older, I can see that it has been a blessing. It allows me to really observe and deeply process the information that’s constantly going on around me. However, when I was younger, I didn’t really have the tools required to be able to choose how I wanted to respond to all of this input. It simply just hit me, and if it was negative input from someone or something, it would affect me negatively and that was that.

This at times created self-esteem issues or fears that would cause me to doubt myself. And this can easily spread to other things — second-guessing your own abilities in almost anything. Then if it goes on for too long without resolution, these habits of self-doubt, fear, and low self-esteem can become more thoroughly etched in our brains; more permanent. I realized this is what stifles people’s growth and causes so many people to build up walls around them, or to see the world more negatively and act out of fear. They don’t learn to believe in their own potential.

The world CAN be very negative, painful, and difficult…but ultimately it is us holding onto this negative, fearful outlook that will hurt us more than anything else.

Luckily for me, I grew out of most of these negative thought patterns (having an anxiety disorder didn’t help). It took quite a while.

Dealing with People’s Judgments

If people said something in particular about me based on their perceptions, or judged me in some way, the first thing that hit my mind would NEVER be that it was their problem. I automatically assumed that if they were saying it, it must be for a reason. And maybe it was. But I never really looked at (or saw) the root cause of why they were saying what they were saying. This put me through more emotional pain, so to speak, because it caused me to really analyze myself and see if what they were saying had truth to it. I literally faced it and absorbed it, and thought about it deeply.

I don’t think this is a bad thing either; as I think it’s important to keep our minds open. Someone who never looks at themselves or their own potential faults will not grow in awareness. They won’t become closer to really understanding themselves.

However, it is also very important to understand that most often, the way people see you is completely limited by how they perceive the world in general.

Most of us have limited/stifled our potential in one way or another — and it’s usually never wholly our own fault. It so easily gets stifled over our lives by potentially how we are raised, the expectations and pressures that might be placed us, getting overly fixated on money and letting that drive our actions. Or just by negative experiences and fears, or their own judgments of what they think is right or wrong.

Lately what has been sticking out in my mind is that over the course of my life to date, so many times I could feel that someone had a certain perception of me and I never really looked at it objectively. I always gave it perhaps more credit than it deserved. However, this was always something subtle and unmentioned — for example, if someone had said to me “you’re really stupid,” in that case I certainly wouldn’t have believed them. These were not obvious judgments or statements made, and they weren’t always negative. It was simply just the reflection of their own worldview projected on to me that became apparent through the natural dynamic of our relationship.

It was clear that they didn’t understand me for who I really was.

And I think more often than not, this is often the case for most relationships we might have, to varying degrees. And if we don’t know ourselves deeply, we’ll never be able to detect when someone’s perception of us is off. Especially because this is often just a subtle thing. We get lost in our own misperceptions, which are made worse by others’ misperceptions, and can get lost in a maze and may stray farther away from who we really are.

People’s Perception of You Has More to do with Them Than With You

perception

Every once in a while I come upon that quote on the internet that says, “people see you as THEY are.” I never fully understood this until recently, to be honest. But it is so completely true: People so often project their own fears or negativity or even the nature of their own self on to you. People who make assumptions about you or judge you are often doing so because that is what lies in their own hearts, NOT because it has anything to do with you.

And the answer to this is not to judge them back. You can limit contact, but don’t hold negativity in your own heart, because in the end, negative thoughts will only do you harm. It is best to just pray or hope that someday they are able to rise above their own stifling thoughts and habits.

We must work on becoming more mindful of how we respond to the outside world. Even though it’s often not easy, we can choose our battles; we can choose how we respond. People assume that because they are interacting with other humans most of the time, that that’s who the battles are fought with — like it is us against them. This is never the case. The more we act out of fear, violence, vengefulness, and so on, the more we close our own hearts and are affected in the long run.

“War within ourselves is always a prelude to war outside ourselves. All war starts within our own hearts. When our egos are inflated or our desires insatiable, we go to war with the other for the sad joy of maintaining our one-dimensional worlds.”
― Joan D. Chittister, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today

“NOTE TO SELF – BOOMERANG EFFECT
My words, thoughts and deeds have a boomerang effect.
So be-careful what you send out!”
― Allan Rufus, The Master’s Sacred Knowledge

“Very often in everyday life one sees that by losing one’s temper with someone who has already lost his, one does not gain anything but only sets out upon the path of stupidity. He who has enough self-control to stand firm at the moment when the other person is in a temper, wins in the end. It is not he who has spoken a hundred words aloud who has won; it is he who has perhaps spoken only one word.”
― Hazrat Inayat Khan, Mastery through Accomplishment

Learning to Pursue Joy: Trust Yourself

Learning to Pursue Joy: Trust Yourself

The older I get, the more I truly learn how to follow my heart.

But following your heart a lot of the time is not easy. Reason being, is there is so much that gets in our way. At age 32, I’ve awakened more and more to the realization that I am often programmed to perceive certain things based on what I think is the “right thing to do.” A lot of times, this “right thing to do” is not what feels exciting or good to me, and I’ve almost subconsciously chalked this up to just being a responsible adult.

While there ARE things that we have to remain responsible for that we may not want to do but are necessary (that IS being a responsible adult), there’s also another side of this that I believe comes from taking actions almost based on a mistrust of myself or possibly some kind of fear but also not consciously.

Its basis is on the idea that if I don’t follow a certain path, that I might fail at life, or end up broke and on the streets, or let down others, or miss out on some connected opportunity. I’m not sure which it is, because I don’t really intellectually believe these things. It’s not something I think about, but rather something that was taught and programmed into my mindset.

The truth is, many of us have this same programming. It stems from the idea that we need some authority figure or some structure in order to keep us working hard or doing the right thing, like we are inherently wild animals with no moral compass without someone always keeping us in check or leading the way. It’s almost like the system was designed specifically based on the fact that people cannot function like a decent human being by their own will (hey, maybe some can’t…), but it’s not a one-size-fits-all strategy. There’s always someone teaching us how to learn, or teaching us which path to follow to ensure success, and punishing us (albeit possibly indirectly) with an air of disapproval if our life paths look drastically different than others’.

We don’t realize it, but without constant external validation that we’re doing what we’re supposed to or what’s considered normal, many of us might feel lost (maybe we haven’t really grown up at all, have we?).

Our whole lives, this is what we’ve had. People telling us what to value. School. Society. The status quo. Peers who are all achieving different things but going about them via a similar path. We don’t really learn to listen to ourselves at all except for when it comes to asking ourselves what we want to do for a living. And even then, the answer is often purely a result of influence from other people or some kind of reward we get for the accomplishment. As humans we crave community, to be a part of something, to be RECOGNIZED as something, and this can take precedence over our own true feelings until we forget how to listen to those entirely.

So even if we don’t believe in black and white ideas of punishment and reward, sometimes we automatically think that way. We punish ourselves if we don’t meet our own expectations that are coming from things we have been taught, and this can subconsciously guide our actions in life. We might always be trying to fit ourselves within a box or a path that gives us some sense of satisfaction, but no lasting happiness, joy, or peace.

We may not know what true happiness or peace feels like (if we’re locked in the cages of our minds our whole lives, we are accustomed to that as our only reality).

What we might have though is a nagging voice, a consistent lack of energy, a yearning for more but not knowing where it’s coming from, until we take a good look at why we’re doing the things we’re doing. And even then, sometimes we might not even have an immediate answer, or one that truly comes from within ourselves.

My new life path, therefore, is on pursuing joy. Rather than analyze my “why” with reason and logic, I am learning to do so with feeling and senses. I encounter a situation and I think, how does this make me feel? Do I feel incredibly excited about this opportunity? Or do I feel a sense of hesitance that comes along with “I SHOULD do this but I don’t really want to.”  If it’s the latter, in most cases, I am learning to say no. But it isn’t always straightforward, because I’ve participated in things I “should” be doing basically my whole life. And sometimes it takes some experimentation to see where something really leads.

But in general I’m learning to look for something that makes me FEEL something. One that gets my creative juices flowing. Because I know that the world will benefit from that much more than anything else I might do, and because I value having my own mind over almost anything else. Over having a mind that really is just a product of others’ opinions and methods.

It’s about learning to trust yourself.

All in all, I know I am a solid individual with good intentions. I’m empathetic. I’m reliable. I want to give to the universe first, I want to help others. I’m responsible. I don’t need to validate this externally by force things upon myself that then give me that recognition as one thing or another. I need to look within and trust, first.

Sometimes it becomes a problem of learning to strike a balance between being able to operate in this world in its current state as well as pursue joy and happiness. For many years I used to think that I wanted to throw away society and live as a hermit. While this would definitely take away a lot of the noise and expectations that come with living as a member of society, it’s not really necessary.

The current state of things are as they should be, because the human-created world as it is in this moment (society, culture, events, etc) is a reflection of humans’ state of collective consciousness. Everything is an energy exchange, and the universe is consistently responding to what we’re putting out there. Many of us just do not know this yet. We are reacting, not yet understanding how energy works, what energy is, or the fact that we have greater control in general than we think we do. The key is in recognizing this and not feeling enslaved by it.

Instead of resorting to being a hermit, we can use money, our systems, and so on without really being caught up in the system. Because it’s our minds we are freeing, not anything else. Everything starts from within first.

•   •   •

“Should is an ordinary, everyday word except when it is used to indicate an order that may not be refused. Then should becomes a finger waving under the nose. …”Should” users build prison cells for themselves. They are so focused on what they should do that they cannot think about what they can do, what they might do in the future.”
Dr. Arthur Freeman and Rose Dewolf

“Many of us have been taught to do our duty. What does this imply to you? For me, ‘doing my duty’ means doing something I really don’t want to do. My heart’s not in it, and so the energy for the act isn’t there. I have to force every move. Usually, there’s underlying resentment. When this is the scenario, tasks may get done but there’s no gift to the world.

We do not truly serve the world if we give to others but neglect our own truth and our own needs. It’s only when our own needs are fully met that we can generously and whole-heartedly give of ourselves. It’s not selfish to look after ourselves  it’s essential!”
Source: Higher Awareness E-Newsletter, John & Patrice Robson

“To serve is beautiful, but only if it is done with joy and a whole heart.”
Pearl S. Buck

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