I am working through a book by a spiritual teacher called Gangaji, in this book she tells of how she went to India to study under a guru as she was desperate to find peace. She asked the guru what she should do and he asked her if she was ready to do nothing, this perplexed her and she again asked what she should do, again he said “nothing”. She was to let go of all of her strategies and plans and just face herself in the rawest way possible. I must admit, this stumped me for a while, and like so many spiritual lessons it was something I just had to catch for myself. What strategies? What plans? And then it occurred to, how much do I do in order to hide from naked reality and raw emotion, and how much time do I spend doing it? The answer to both questions is “A lot.”
Let me define what I mean by “hiding”, in this context it means anything you do to numb or distract yourself from the present moment. Why would you want to hide from the present moment? Well here is where it gets a bit crazy, it is when you have nothing to do that you start to think about all the things that scare you silly; bills that need to be paid, conflict that is looming, kids that need new shoes, etc. So you get busy doing something, anything you can do that will get your mind off these things. Hiding. What you have yet to realise is that it is only when you do nothing and simply face reality as it is, and accept it as it is, that it starts to change. Another way to look at it is that your reality is nothing more than a mirror image of what is going on inside of you, so if you ignore reality then reality will ignore you and remain unchanged. To continue with this mirror analogy, does it feel like your circumstances are your enemy? That is because you treat them so by hiding from them, what would happen if you accepted your circumstances with a feeling of love and gratitude? You would experience love and gratitude in your reality.
I will be the first to admit that all of this seems incredibly counter-intuitive. If there is a bear in my garden my instinct is to run like mad, not to put on a pot of tea and ask it about its day, so it is understandable that you want to just get busy hiding from all the pain in your life. Until you realise that the bear is in your garden because you put it there! I think of it as being like going to a restaurant, if the waiter asked you what you wanted and you said “anything”, then there would be an excellent chance that you would be upset with what he brings and the next time you would simply ignore him and then simply go hungry. Until you learn to smile at the waiter and find new and better ways to find out what you really want and then ask for it, you will go hungry.
It is pain than causes you to hide, as the saying goes, “Once bitten, twice shy”. So if reality bites you find increasingly more effective ways to hide, after all, if it bites once it can bite again. When reality bites though, it uses your teeth.
So what does hiding look like? What are some of the things people do to hide? Is it a coincidence that hiding behaviours are also “addictive” behaviours? Lets see: TV, internet (social media), pornography, drinking, drugs, work (that’s right, I said work), shopping, sleeping, charity work – and that’s just to name a few. What can you add to this list? You will note that seemingly “good” deeds can be used to help you hide, and that makes it all the more easier, after all, you are doing a good deed.
Thinking about it, it occurred to me that I couldn’t name one successful and happy person who got there by spending all of his/her time hiding from reality. They all seemed to be fully present in their lives and faced up to their realities, but with an almost insane optimism. This is not to say that they didn’t face challenges, I am sure they did, but they faced them, they didn’t hide from them.
Stress is what we call the fear response that makes us want to run and hide, but accepting reality as it is and allowing it to simply unfold as it will is a tremendously peaceful thing to do. As Peter O’Toole said in the classic “Lawrence of Arabia”, “The trick is not minding that it hurts.” So learning to be fully present in the moment, accepting reality as it is, and not minding that it sometimes hurts, is the key to life transformation. The question is, will you come out of hiding long enough to realise that? Do you even realise that you are in fact hiding? While it may feel better to be in hiding, and downright terrifying to face reality, you need to realise that hiding only serves to perpetuate the circumstances you are running from. Standing in the sun beats freezing in the shadows any day, so recognize your hiding strategies and start making the shift today!!!
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I reckon that if you had to read every self-help book that dealt specifically with the Law of Attraction you would never run out of reading material. The amount of money that has been made peddling this universal Law is truly staggering. I think there are a few main reasons why people are so hungry to learn all they can about this simple Law:
1. They want to demystify it. Because it doesn’t seem to be working for them they figure that there must be more to learn, not realising that there really isn’t but there is a small change to be made.
2. They want more control over lives and they think that the Law of Attraction will give them that. Yes and no, it does and it doesn’t What it does do is serve your alignment with your higher self, what it doesn’t do is serve ego.
3. It has been marketed so well. The commercialisation of the Law of Attraction is right up there with what cigarettes and booze can do for your lifestyle. While it can attract anything into your life, the moment your motivation for wanting is because you don’t have then you will be attracting more lack.
In my opinion there is one simple key to attracting more of what you want into your life, and it’s something that I see little of, and when I do see it, it’s not what you think it is. Giving. There is only one route to effortless power and wealth and it is what I call “The Way of the Open Hand”.
True giving is a real let down to the ego. The ego wants to give, wants to be applauded for giving, and then wants something in return. Win, win, WIN baby! This type of giving is the reason why generosity has been given such a bad rap, when you give like this you end up disappointed and with even less than you started out with. In fact, the Bible puts it this way in Matthew 6:2 “When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do–blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth; they have received all the reward they will ever get.”
I can personally attest to the fact that giving is the key to the Law of Attraction, but the secret to it lies in knowing the difference between giving and trading. Here are my personal rules for giving:
1. You don’t give to get. This is called trading, and if you are trading under the guise of giving then you shouldn’t really expect anything anyway. Trading in this way has lack as its motivation; you give to get back what you think you are lacking in. What you get back when you trade in this way is more lack.
2. Don’t give in order to look good to other people. Again, this is trading. The ego is playing the “Hey, look at me! Aren’t I awesome!” game and as the scripture I quoted earlier stated – you have just gotten all the reward you are going to get. The heart of giving this way is lack; you do it because you want to look good in other people’s eyes, and you might for a moment or two, but you will go right back to feeling worthless. Do your giving anonymously. One thing I like to do is to pay for stranger’s meals in restaurants without them knowing it. It’s not always possible to remain anonymous, but if you can be anonymous then do it that way. Underplay it and avoid attention, make sure that there is nothing (or as little as possible) in it for your ego.
3. Do not judge your gift by the receiver. By this I mean don’t look at a homeless person and not give because “They will only spend it on booze,” or to another person because “They look wealthy enough,” or for any other judgemental reason. If the universe were to judge you as worthy or unworthy to receive by the same standards you use then you would never ever get anything. You have no idea what your gift is going to do in that person’s life. Perhaps their need is physical, perhaps it is emotional, you just don’t know and you really don’t have any idea what your kindness could mean. Perhaps that person has called out to God for help and you are the answer. Who knows? Just give.
4. Don’t play the “I didn’t feel led to give” game. This applies to Christians mainly, the popular thought is that God will tell you where and when to give so if He doesn’t then you are off the hook. God loves cheerful giver, and this is just so begrudging. Besides God told you decide in your own heart to do it (2 Corinthians 9:7). If this is your excuse, then it is just that, an excuse (a lie wrapped up in a reason). You don’t want to give and you are looking for an unarguable reason not to. Giving should be spontaneous and joyful.
5. Don’t give from your lack. “I don’t have enough” may be a valid reason to give less, but it isn’t a valid reason to give nothing. You are abundance, live like it. Living from a place of lack brings more lack, and trust me you always have something to give – it’s important that you give, not how much.
6. Don’t limit your giving. It’s not just about money; people need all kinds of things – smiles, hugs, phone calls, encouragement, a cup of tea etc. If you have it then you can give it.
7. Be grateful for what you have, it makes it easier to share it.
A hand that is open to give is also open to receive. I believe that the universe is constantly looking for channels through which it can express love and abundance. When you open yourself to being a giver you avail yourself to the universe to be such a channel, and you will see such love and abundance flow through your life. That’s what you want, isn’t it?
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The key to true happiness in any relationship lies in being a giver. To complain about giving but not receiving anything in return is called trading, not giving. Too many people make their giving conditional on what they receive, but to give with that attitude is to give from a place of lack. The thing with trading is that happiness hinges on getting a return. So when you don’t…misery.
When you realise that you are a complete person on your own, and reject the myth of needing someone else to complete you, then you realise that you don’t need anything from anyone but are free to give. I love the Prayer of St Francis that begins with “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace”, if you make this your desire in your relationships, to be at peace with yourself and to bring peace to others, then you optimise your life for positive growth.
It is obvious that if you have failed to learn how to meet your own needs that you will look to someone else to do it, but this does not mean that they are able to. You are responsible for your own needs; it is not the purpose of a relationship to meet them. I believe that a relationship’s purpose is to serve as a mirror and show you where you need to grow and change; the rougher the edge, the tougher the lesson. Trying to change your partner so that you feel better won’t work, changing yourself so that you can be at peace in the situation will. Your environment is a response to you, so change yourself and you will change your environment. Inner turmoil is reflected as turmoil in your environment, inner peace is reflected as all things peaceful in your environment.
Your struggle is not with your partner, it is with yourself, to bring yourself to peace and let that peace transform your reality. A person at peace is a true giver; a person who is needy is a trader. A peaceful person lives in abundance, a needy person lives in need. What will you be?
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You have been deceived. This may come as a shock to you, but Hollywood has not been fully honest with you. The love you see in most movies is not love. So many people base their expectations of romantic relationships on what they see in the movies and on TV, romance is easy to script because then it can be idealised. What you are calling love is nothing more than infatuation, what you may be is in love with the idea of love as you think it is.
Love is hard work. Love is what you decide to do when the feelings fade (and they do) and the romance isn’t rose petals and bubble baths. Love isn’t a feeling, though it can result in feelings. It does not depend on feelings however. Thanks to the fable you have believed in, you may think that when it gets tough and you don’t feel “in love” any more that it is game over, wrong, it’s GAMEON!
Here is the real test though, if you feel like walking away when the feelings have gone, then perhaps you should. The “one” will more than likely be the one you want to stick with when you don’t feel the warm fuzzy. Sadly though, people tend to make all the commitments when the feelings are strong and then discover that when the feelings are gone the person isn’t actually the “one”, oops. My advice is to enjoy the feelings, but don’t take them too seriously, and whatever you do, do not say I do until the “I do” is not in the heat of some fleeting emotion.
If this advice sticks in your throat, ask yourself if you are just in love with the idea of being “in love”. A good sign would be if you are a serial dater, and find yourself losing interest quickly. Real life sucks to the “in love with love” people. Take it slow, enjoy the fireworks, but get ready for the real work.
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The trouble with emotional pain is that the only way you can be aware of it is when it reveals itself in your behaviour. It’s not at all like physical injury that you can see or localize but it lurks deep within and expresses itself through your behaviour and decisions. In the end, you end up hurting the people you love because you yourself are hurt.
I remember seeing a documentary on foxes, an injured fox lashes out at anything that comes near it, no matter how well intentioned the thing is. Its instinct is to protect itself at all costs. You are very much the same, in an emotionally wounded state you will become irrationally self protective and lash out at the very people who love you and want to help you.
If you stopped and listen to the voice of your ego (whose motive really is to keep you safe) you would hear things like “Don’t trust anyone,” “They just want to use you”, and things like that, and you behave accordingly. The trouble with behaviour is that while you will question other people’s actions, you don’t question your own until they have cost you dearly. So the big question is how much of what you do is motivated by the unhealed emotional wounds that you carry? The lashing out and pushing away that feels so rational and necessary is nothing more than an attempt to defend yourself from an imagined enemy.
Taking the time to heal and get help is essential, a wounded person only ends up wounding the people around them (especially the ones that really do care and want to help) and you end up with a victim instead of a partner. How do you know if you are carrying around an unhealed hurt? Simple, how easy is it for you to just be happy and let yourself give and receive love? Not so easy? You may be walking wounded.
Over the past few weeks I have spoken a lot about what can destroy a relationship, and I am sure the list is by no means complete, but I believe that all of these assassins are the same thing wearing different masks. A person who is not at peace with themselves will be at war with everyone else. What you fail to find within, you seek without, but the problem is that it cannot be found without.
If you are not at peace with yourself, you open the door for all kinds of destructive forces. If you are not at peace with yourself you will make decisions that will lead to some dark places. The trouble with always looking outside of yourself is that you are never to blame, and it is always the other person that must change. If you are not at peace with yourself the other person can do all the changing in the world and you will still be unhappy. I do realise the other person has responsibility in the relationship, but you alone are responsible for your happiness. A person who is not at peace with themselves looks to everyone else to make them happy.
My advice to single people is that they first learn to be at peace with themselves before they look for a relationship, but alas most people look for it in a relationship and then find out that it can’t be found there. So many people contact me for relationship advice, and the only advice I can give them (if they want a long-term solution) is to learn how to be at peace with themselves. Sadly most people want a quicker fix, or for me to tell them how to change the person they are with and sadly, while these things may offer short-term relief they fail in the long-term. If you want to be really happy, I mean content in every sense of the word, them learning to be at peace with yourself is the only way to find it.