A CHANGE OF ATTITUDE
I was sitting in the National Park adjacent to Syntagma Square in the center of Athens, Greece. Three children were playing near the bench where I was sitting. They were playing “basketball”, trying to throw a ball into a garbage can nearby. The older boy, about 7 years old, had thrown the ball in four times so far, and his young girl-friend also had two baskets. But his little sister, who looked to be about five years old, had not been able to make a single basket. The game continued with great earnestness, with great joys, and devastating disappointments. Every time they made the ball go in, they immediately looked over to see if I had been watching. I became very emotionally involved without saying a word, and was rather worried about the attitude of the youngest girl, who still hadn’t yet put the ball in. The score was now 6 to 5 to 0. I could see that she was more concerned about the fact that she wasn’t getting the ball in and the disappointment involved, than in making a serious attempt of concentrating to put the ball in. She had come to believe that she couldn’t do it, and didn’t even take the time to look seriously at the basket she was shooting for. Instead, she would be ready to show her disappointment, which usually consisted of jumping up and down two or three times with both feet, and banging herself on the head. Sometimes she turned around a circle (which, by the way, was similar to the way her brother acted when he was successful, only his hands would be raised in the air in triumph). Well, the little girl was becoming more and more desperate, and was even resorting to kicking the ball away, so that the others would have to run after it, which made them angry. At times they retaliated by telling her how bad she was at this game. At other times she would grab the ball and run away with it, making her brother run after her to forcibly take the ball away. I was practically in tears by now, although not one word had passed between us. I was completely involved. I then closed my eyes and concentrated on the little girl, mentally communicating to her that she must concentrate and think positively. I kept doing this for about three minutes. Then I opened my eyes and kept this idea in my mind and my eyes on her. Her next try was another failure, but she didn’t seem too upset. The very next time she did something completely different. She took the ball in her hands and looked at it, and then she began to talk to it with conviction and authority, telling it what is MUST do: that it must go into the basket and that if it didn’t, it would be punished. Then she looked lovingly at the ball and kissed it, looked at the basket and threw it directly in. I could hardly remain seated. I actually started to cry. She continued with this more positive technique for the rest of the game, and the final score was 10 to 8 to 6. My little friend had 8. Now, it is not difficult to understand the point. The little girl lacked confidence and concentration, and because of that she set herself up for failure. When she failed, she was even more convinced of her inability and was psychologically and physically setting up each successive failure. She really didn’t even give it a serious try. She just went up to the line with failure in mind and threw the ball without seriously trying. Perhaps my concentration and prayers were picked up by her subconscious ad perhaps not. For some reason she changed her behavior to one of more concentration and positiveness. She told the ball what it had to do – and she was very sure of it. The ball went directly in, guided by her positive and convinced state of mind. When the ball went in, her opinion of herself changed completely, and now she was a success. Her whole physical reality changed and she made more baskets in the remaining time than the other two children put together. Now, it is easier for a child, who has a much more flexible mind than an adult, to alter its reality so rapidly through a change of attitude and behavior. For us adults, who have many more years of conditioning and corresponding «feedback» behind us, such a change might be more difficult. Our belief system might take more time and determination to change. But it can be done. And, more importantly, in many cases, it must be done, if the we are to enjoy a life of success, and growth. Many of us set ourselves up for failure, because of our basic beliefs about our impotency and habitual negative thinking. In the following pages we will discuss the techniques by which we may recondition ourselves and change our reality
HOW OUR REALITY IS CREATED
Most of us would like a happier, healthier more harmonious reality. In order to change our reality we need to understand the mechanisms of its creation. Most of us feel that “things simply happen in our lives” or that we “Just feel this way or that way”. We seldom look into how our reality is created. We might say that our reality is constructed of two basic factors.
1. What is happening or has happened.
2. What we believe and consequently how we feel about our selves and what has happened, is happening or will happen. This belief system or programming which creates our subjective perception of reality is a result of our past. A description of how they train elephants will help understand the relationship between our past, our beliefs and our reality.
SELF LIMITING ELEPHANTS
Elephants born in captivity are restrained by a chain which attaches one leg to a metal spike driven into the ground. This prevents them from roaming. They become used to the fact that as long as the chain and spike are next to them that they cannot move. As they grow older, this becomes a programming. When they see the spike and chain, they “believe” and accept that they will not be able to move. They become so programmed that when their owners place a small rope and wooden peg next to them, they simply “believe” that their are unable to move away from it. Their actual power as adults is so great that they could easily pull up a chain and spike of any size. Their programming or “belief”, however, causes them to be limited by this tiny rope and wooden peg. We are all very much like these elephants. We allow the weaknesses, fears and rejection which we experienced as children program us into a life of lesser peace, love and happiness. We are still being controlled by false childhood assumptions we have made about our ability, strength and self worth. We can move away from these “pegs” of self limitation of we chose to.
This is a very simple description of an extremely complicated and intricate process which we will analyze much more deeply in this book.
The first factor in the creation of our reality is called the stimulus. This is an event which is observed or sometimes fanaticized or even projected by our mind. For example, we receive love, admiration, attention, gifts, money or succeed at some effort, or we are rejected, falsely accused, lose someone or something important to us or fail at some endeavor. These are external stimuli. We might also be affected by internal stimuli such as thinking about the past or future. Our emotions may become stimuli for other emotions, such as when we feel angry or guilty because we allowed ourselves to become angry or fearful. Other more subtle stimuli might be the state of our hormones, chemical balance or energy state.
THE EVALUATION OF THE STIMULUS
As these “stimuli” pass into the mind, it evaluates them seeking to determine whether they are supportive of or endangering to our basic needs. If our subconscious programming determines them to be supportive, we feel happy and loving. If we conclude that they are endangering, we experience fear and a wide variety of emotions such as pain, disillusionment, bitterness, injustice, depression, jealousy, envy, anger, hate etc. Our emotional state constitutes the greater portion of our experienced reality and it is very much affected by our subjective conscious and subconscious childhood programming. Thus it is not so much what happens in our life which creates our reality but how we perceive and react to what happens or to what we imagine is happening or will happen. This is the first basic premise of the “Psychology of Happiness” or the Psychology or Evolution or of Transformation. We create our own reality by the way we interpret and react to the stimuli which occur in our lives and i our minds. Many might think of situations in which this may seem false or difficult to perceive. Deep examination of this truth however will prove that it is true in all cases. Our belief system creates our reality.
Here we will discuss various concepts and techniques which will help us to see more clearly our automatic, mechanical emotional reactions. We need to see them, to understand why we automatically react in certain ways, and how we can begin to consciously change them and become free from their control. Otherwise we are not free. We are under the control of our childhood programming, our past, our lack of clarity, our lack of awareness. We are «asleep» to our real nature and true nature of the reality which surrounds us. This book is dedicated to the process of «waking-up». We are in a state of evolution from our animal nature, through our human nature to our divine Nature. In reality, our essential being is beyond this temporary body and mind. We are Divine Creation and thus embody love, knowledge and energy. We have lost contact with this inner nature because of mistaken conditioning.
THE LION CUB
The story about the lion cub more graphically describes this process. Once there was a great lioness who went hunting with her new born cub. It happened that while attacking and chasing a flock of sheep, the she-lion made a wrong move, fell off a cliff and died. The cub was left in the midst of the sheep and grew up with them. As the years passed, the cub became a full grown lion, but it was instinctually conditioned as a sheep. It made a bleating sound, bah-bah and was afraid of all other animals, just as the sheep. One day another lion attacked the flock and, in the chase, was shocked to see the ridiculous sight of a full grown lion running away with the sheep bleating “bah bah” in fear. He caught up to the sheepish lion and stopped him, and asked, «What are you doing? Why are you acting in this ridiculous way? You a great – powerful lion acting like a lowly powerless sheep? What has come over you? You should be ashamed of yourself». The sheepish lion explained that he was a sheep, and that the flock had taught him to fear and bleat and run in horror from the lions who were powerful and to be feared. The adult lion took the sheepish lion down to the river and asked him to look at the reflection of his own face. He saw that he was like the lion and not like the sheep. The lion then woke up from his ignorance and discovered his previously ignored inner courage, strength and majesty. We are like the sheepish lion. The sheep represent our human nature – our personality which moans, fears, complains and worries. The Lion is the spiritual part of our being which is a source of great power, wisdom, creativity, goodness and love. Great spiritual teachers have appeared throughout history with the same message of our «LION NATURE», our as yet untapped spiritual power and greatness which are within us. All our problems are simply the result of our mistaken identity.
We have learned to suppress what is naturally good within us. We have learned to mistrust others and compete against them, rather than cooperate and share with them. We have learned to be neurotic and fearful of new persons and situations. We have lost the ability to be open and loving as we were when we were children. We have been taught that we must fight for what we need even at the others’ expense. All this has been instilled into us as a way of «being smart», or «being successful». Many of us, who have followed this philosophy, find ourselves isolated, separate and lonely. We may have everything that society fooled us into thinking was important, but do we have love, peace of mind, self-understanding, harmonious relationships or happiness? Happiness can seldom be achieved by seeking to manipulate the world around us in order to satisfy our desires and addictions. This is a very real truth which we will sooner or later realize. One natural disaster such as an accident, a fire, an earthquake, a war, the death of a loved one, can destroy our happiness instantaneously. Seeking to control our external reality, including friends, family and others is simply an ineffective way to find happiness. We can seldom succeed in making the world the way we need it to be in order to feel secure, worthy and fulfilled. This in no way means that we should not seek to create the reality we desire for our selves, loved ones and society. It means that we need to make our best effort towards a better life, but without attachment to the results of our endeavor. This requires a very delicate balance. Some of us make very little effort to improve our selves and our lives, and thus have few results. Others try very hard but are very much attached to the result and experience anxiety, fear and stress. Attachment to some particular source of happiness is is often the main obstacle towards that happiness which we seek. We shall in this book learn how to understand which attachments limit our happiness and how transform them into preferences.
ATTACHMENTS – ADDICTIONS – PREFERENCES
Happiness is within. We cannot experience it, however, as long as we are searching outside for it. Attachments cause our minds to experience pain, fear, jealousy, self rejection or even anger when we are not able to manifest what we are attached or addicted to. We might be addicted to being paid attention to, to being accepted to being loved exclusively, to being cared for and protected by others. We might be addicted to coffee, cigarettes, to sweets, to food, to sensual pleasures, or to power over others or even to being rejected or victimized. we might be attached to our appearance or our intelligence or our wealth or profession as sources of self worth or security. Some of us are addicted to affirming our “freedom” in peculiar ways such as by not performing any disciplines, not being true or one lover, not responding to others’ needs. Many are attached to money as a source of security and self worth. We might even be attached to being spiritual or being right or being better than others, or perhaps, being perfect. The words addiction and attachment refer to any object, person, experience, role, quality or even idea, that we believe that we cannot be happy without and thus create unhappy when we do not have it. We can also create unhappiness when we have it, by fearing that we will lose it. Such as fearing losing our love partner to someone else. or fearing losing our health or our fortune. An addiction can also be expressed in the negative as an aversion towards something. That is, one can have addiction to something not happening, such as the loss of some object or relationship, or disrespect from one’s child, or being caught in a traffic jam,or being kept waiting at the bank or at the doctor or the bus stop. Addictions and attachments are the cause of all suffering. When we feel unhappy we can be sure that there is some attachment that is preventing us from feeling well. We believe that we must have something that we do not have, or do not want something that we do have. Simply, we cannot accept what life is offering us. As we often do not have the power to change the world, or the people around us we are prone to become depressed, angry, jealous, fearful, hateful, bitter, upset and generally unhappy. It is important to remember here that it is not the life-event which causes our negative feelings but rather our addictive programming which is preventing us from being able to accept what we cannot change.
CAPTURING MONKEYS WITH BANANAS
The following true facts about how monkeys are captured in Africa, India and South America will allow us to understand the power of attachment. They tie a narrow neck bottle to a tree. In the bottle they place a banana (Or some peanuts). The monkey sees the banana and very smartly manages to squeeze his hand into the bottle and slips his fingers around the banana in the larger inner area of the bottle. Now he tries to pull his hand out in order to eat the banana, but it won’t come out because his hand, which is now holding the banana and is in the form of a fist, cannot pass through the neck of the bottle. He pulls and pulls, but cannot get his hand out. He sees the trapper approaching him and tries to get away, but cannot, because his hand is wrapped around the banana and thus unable to be removed from the bottle. Although he is obviously going to suffer under the hands of trapper, and although the bottle and the banana are the cause of his demise, it never crosses his mind to let go of the banana so that he can extract his hand and be free. He is literally attached to the banana, and the banana, which was previously a potential source of happiness, has become a source of his suffering. We are like those monkeys. We have a variety of “bananas” in our lives to which we are attached, and although they create much suffering for us, we cannot let go of them. Although we are aware of this, we are unable to get free from them, because we are attached to them. Some attachments may be more mental, such as the acceptance, approval or love from specific persons or from all persons. Or we might be attached to professional success, or recognition, or to having things done the way we believe that they should be done, or to being the smartest or prettiest, or to having perfect order and cleanliness in our home (where others might not share the same need). None of these are wrong or bad, but our attachment to them will create suffering when we are not able to have what we are attached to. When we are attached in this way, we have two choices. We can suffer because we cannot get the banana out of the bottle and, thus, get trapped in vicious circle of suffering and unhappiness. Or, we can let our attachment become a preference for the “banana” (any banana) and let go of it when we see that we are only creating unhappiness for ourselves (and probably for others). It often happens that we get so caught up in trying to force that specific “banana” out of a specific bottle, that we are blind to the fact that there are hundreds of “bananas” lying all around that bottle free for our taking, if we could just master up the intelligence to let go of that which we are trying to force life into giving us. A good example of that is when we become attached to acceptance, approval or love from specific persons such as a parent, spouse or child. When we cannot get that affirmation, we feel hurt and angry. In our obsession for recognition from these specific persons, we loose sight of the fact that we have love, acceptance and approval from so many other persons. We are so focused on what we cannot get, that we are blind to what is offered so abundantly to us from other sources.
We have a choice. We can change our attachments into preferences. We can prefer something to happen, but if it doesn’t, then we can learn to accept and be happy without it. This does not mean that we do not act, or do not try to change whatever we can in the outside world in accordance to the way we prefer things to be. But while we do this, we are able to accept whatever the result is. This is clearly a practical solution when we have already done and are doing everything we can to change the external circumstances. Thus the only way to find inner peace and happiness now is to change the internal programming. Remembering the following prayer by St,. Francis will help. “Lord help me to change what I can, to accept what I cannot and to know the difference between the two.”
THE BIRD ON THE BRANCH
The following example might help us understand this balance. Once a tired bird rested on a branch for support. He rested there and enjoyed the view as well as the safety it offered him from dangerous animals. Just as he was used to that branch and the support and safety which it offered, a strong wind started blowing and the branch started swaying back and forth, with such great intensity, that it seemed that it was going to break. But the bird was not in the least worried for it knew two important truths. One was that even without the branch he had his own power and was able to fly and thus remain safe through the strength of his own two wings. The second was that there were many other branches upon which he could temporarily rest. This small example represents our ideal relationship with our possessions, relationships and social and professional positions. We have the right to enjoy all these. We can enjoy their support and comfort. However, we need not fear when they seem to waver under us and appear to be disappearing. For all is in a state of change and can disappear at any time. Our real strength lies not in those external ephemeral things, but rather in our two internal wings, LOVE and WISDOM. These will eventually become our security base, our source of enjoyment and happiness. We can enjoy this material world and not be suppressed by it because of our fear and dependence upon it. When we are dependent on someone or something we eventually become their slave and loose our freedom.
There are basically four categories of addictions. They are related to our four basic needs security, pleasure, freedom and affirmation or power. Our security attachments are relics from the thousands of years as primitive human beings. In those days security, in terms of food and shelter, were not so easily fulfilled as today. Satisfying these needs occupied a great portion of our time, energy and thought. Instincts developed for the sake of survival of the individual and species. If we were to once again find ourselves living in jungles, we might find these instincts useful. Few readers of this book are likely to be in danger of starvation or lack of shelter. Rather the opposite is more likely true. Most are unhealthily over-fed and physically weak from too much shelter from the natural elements. Yet, although these needs are satisfied beyond healthy limits, we continue to be preoccupied with them as addictions, accumulating more and more possessions and eating far beyond physical need. This can create weak and «dis-eased» bodies and minds. We live in constant fear of losing those things upon which we depend for our feeling of security. This is especially so in the case of relationships. Certain relationships such as husband-wife, child-parent, brother-sister, friend-lover etc. give us emotional and sometimes financial security. Many women, especially in the East, have been programmed to believe that they cannot exist alone without their husbands or families and live in constant fear of that possibility. We we are attached to someone or something we tend suffer abuses and hardships because we are afraid of giving up whatever security we «think» we have. Separation from all and everything is not only definite (at least at death) but even more probable, because we tend to attract what we fear, through our continually thinking about it in negative way. We tend to attract exactly that which we fear, by having it so constantly in mind. If in our insecurity we fearfully think often that someone will rob our possessions, we are sending out clear and strong mental messages into the cosmos attracting thieves. We do not however create the others’ reality through our fears. We do not cause loved ones to suffer or die because we fear that. Of course, we do not help them by projecting such negative thoughts. When we feel weak and insecure, we deny our true inner immortal nature. We make ourselves weak and feel helpless to change our unhappiness. This seriously inhibits development and keeps us lost in negative emotional states like frustration, depression, anger, bitterness, hate, envy, jealousy and fear. We might then over-eat, smoke, drink or take tranquilizers or other drugs in order to relax from the anxiety created by those unfulfilled security addictions. The truth is that total inner security can be achieved only by the development of self-confidence and faith in our spiritual existence beyond the death or suffering of the personality and body. This will be discussed later but a first step towards reaching that stage is discovering our security addictions and transforming them into preferences.
All that we have said concerning security addictions also applies to pleasure addictions. Only the focus or motive is different; the result is the same. Our sensation addictions cause us to try to control the situations and people around us so that we may obtain the sensual pleasure we desire. We are seldom successful in obtaining all the sensations we “need”. We can seldom control circumstances so as to have all sensual stimuli such as tastes, sexual experiences, and visual and audio experiences as frequently as we want them. And even when we can, the pleasure that we receive from having them is very short lived. There is a saturation point after which the stimulus ceases to be pleasureful. We move feel aversion towards the stimulus until we begin desiring all over again. This keeps us constantly dissatisfied, unhappy; wasting tremendous amounts of thought, energy, action, money and time on superficial pursuits. It also causes us to perceive people as objects of pleasure or threats to our pleasure. As in the case of security and power addictions, our love will be self-seeking and conditional. If those we «love» do not supply what we want, i.e. security, pleasure or obedience, we stop loving them and feel hurt and angry. Much of what we call «love» is actually addictive attachments to people, or things motivated by needs for security, sensation or power. Very few of us, if any, love selflessly, and unconditionally without looking for something for ourselves in the relationship. Sensation addictions are the cause of much unhappiness and conflict with our environment and others. We will be much happier when we transform these desires into preferences, when we prefer certain tastes, or experiences, or comforts. Then we are happy when we have them but can accept not having them, if that is what life is offering at the moment. Then we do not become depressed or angry at others around us, when our pleasure needs are not fulfilled. It is natural that we need to find a balance between satisfying sensual needs and being also free from them. This is not a matter or good and evil or right an wrong, or purity or sin. It has to do with freedom from mechanisms which limit my freedom, love and happiness. If we try to deny our selves the pleasure which we seek, we might become dry and lifeless in many ways, seeking balance in perhaps other even less healthy ways. If on the other hand we are slaves to our desires we can easily destroy our health and happiness.
POWER AND AFFIRMATION ADDICTIONS
Power and affirmation addictions create the similar results; anger, fear, bitterness and conflict with one’s self and others. We seek in many subtle ways to have our own way, to control others into behaving as we would like or as we need them to in order to feel affirmed and powerful. We may do this with angry, aggressive words, or with soft cajoling, or by appearing weak, hurt, ill and helpless. The goal is to get things to be the way we want them to be, and not the way the others would like them to be. Everyone is seen then subconsciously as a being to be controlled, or as a threat to one’s power. True love is not possible. We can easily feel attached to a person who increases our feelings of power or self worth. But if that person should decide to rebel or change or give affirmation to others or prefer them to us, then we suffering and lose our feelings of “love” for that person. Money is often used as an instrument of control. Parents often control their children, by bribing them or withholding money. Parents may also withhold love and acceptance from the children as a way to manipulate their behavior. This results in negative consequences for both the children and the parents. It is simply impossible to love steadily, while playing power games, or being motivated by power addictions. It is also difficult to be happy, for there is no love or peace in such motivations. The result is argumentation, hurt feelings and alienation. It becomes apparent that we need to seriously think about the difference between attachment and love, between being with someone because we need them or because we love them. This is the essential difference between relationships based on codependency or cocommitment. We will investigate this later on. On the other hand, As Ken Keyes, the author of the “Handbook to Higher Consciousness”, appropriately points out, it is important to remember «You create as much suffering in the world when you take offense as when you give offense.” In other words we can play the power game from the other end by feeling the victim and wallowing in feelings of helplessness and bitterness and hate. This is an addiction to powerlessness which is a good excuse for not taking responsibility for our life and situation.
Quite a number of us fear that our freedom is in danger. This is a natural result of the fact that we did in fact experience a lack of freedom at times in our lives or witnessed others who did. We have various ways of satisfying our freedom addictions. Some feel free because they can smoke or eat or take drugs. Others because they can have multiple sexual partners, others because they can buy whatever they like. Others still because they refuse to do what others want or because they are rebelling towards the social norms. We seldom ask whether in fact we are free to be happy in all situations. Whether we are happy not to eat excessively, not to smoke, not to take tranquilizers. Whether we are free to be true to one love partner or free to cooperate with others when we would like to. Whether we are free to employ the disciplines which will create the health and vitality and peace of mind we are seeking. Obviously one type of freedom is slavery to another. We usually seek freedom from externally obstacles rather that internal ones such as from fears, attachments, addictions which limit our love, peace and happiness.
Consequently our happiness is basically obstructed by our attachments to various people, behaviors, roles, objects, and situations which we allow to create for us feelings of security, pleasure, power, self affirmation and / or freedom. These attachments are manifestations of certain beliefs which need to be changed in order to transform the attachments into preferences. Then we will be able to seek after and enjoy what we desire without losing our peace, love and happiness if we do not succeed.
CONCEPTS – TOOLS AND METHODS FOR SELF TRANSFORMATION
We have established that happiness can be created by transforming our belief system and this the way in which we perceive and react to the world around us. This process will be aided by contemplating the following concepts.
THREE CONCEPTS WHICH FACILITATE OUR TRANSFORMATION
1. WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR REALITY We are responsible for our reality,our happiness, our health and our transformation. We will benefit greatly by accepting that we are responsible for the inner reality, which we have created until this point, and that only we can transform ourselves. We would do well to stop placing the blame for our problems on the people and world around us, and realize that every situation offers us the choice to accept and change or resist, resent and descend into negativity. In the same way we need to realize that only we can change ourselves. We cannot wait for someone else to come along and change our lives, by giving us security or love or understanding. We will find these within ourselves. We cannot lay the responsibility for our health and happiness on our doctor. psychologist, priest or guru. They can help us but not do it for us. We are responsible for learning how care for our bodies and our minds. We have the power to create health or suffering. The choice is ours. We are not, however, at fault. There is a great difference between “fault” and “responsibility”. The word fault indicates that there has been some wrong doing or mistake. It is not a matter of fault that we are not as well as we could be. It is a matter of evolution. We simply have not yet arrived at the level of awareness where we can create a more harmonious reality. We are presently learning to do so. A flower bud is not at fault because it has not yet blossomed. It will eventually become and flower. We do not look for the fault which has prevented it from becoming a flower. We do not reject the bud, we accept where it is at is evolutionary state. We know that it is a matter of time. Thus, taking responsibility for our life doesn’t mean feeling guilty for what we have created. It simply means moving forward and blossoming into the flower which we really are.
In the same way we cannot create happiness, health or success for others.
2. WE ARE ALL ABLE TO CHANGE. We are able and have the right to change any aspects of our personality which we would like to change. If we do not believe that we can change, then we, simply, will not. Believing that we can change allows us to be focused on what we can become rather than get lost in feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. On the other hand it is essential that we also accept out selves exactly as we are. Acceptance and self esteem are the first steps towards self transformation and while self rejection usually obstructs the process.
3. We are all eternal souls in the process of evolution. It is not mandatory that all accept this concept in order to benefit from this system of self analysis. This belief does that we exist as a spiritual consciousness beyond the body-personality complex does, however, offer us greater security and objectivity in our self-analysis process. Believing that we are separate from the personality, and that it is like an instrument through which we are functioning , we are then able to accept changes in the personality more easily. We can be more objective in analyzing the personality, for we can look at it from the outside, in a more objective way. This identification with our spiritual nature offers us a position of security during this difficult period in which the personality may go through crises and changes of value systems, habits and belief systems. The personality seldom feels secure and safe, for any period of time, unless it has contact with this spiritual center, which is unaffected by the changing external factors of relationships and situations. We would do well to learn to feel this I who is beyond all these temporary, passing identifications and states of mind, and to accept and love this part of ourselves as well as our body and personality. When we identify with our true self, we can then objectively observe and correct our personality.
THREE TOOLS WHICH WILL FACILITATE OUR TRANSFORMATION.
1. I accept and love myself as I am. Many of us do not accept and love ourselves, but rather feel that we are unworthy and unlovable. The process of self-analysis is more painful when we do not start out with some degree of self-acceptance and self-love. Otherwise as we discover the many weaknesses, attachments and fears that we have been operating from, we may begin to feel even more negative about ourselves, and our situation may worsen rather than improve. We have had the luxury until now to blame the others for our unhappiness. Realizing that we our selves create our reality can lead towards self rejection. This occurs because we believe that some one has to be wrong and that there must be some mistake. When we realize that no mistake has been made and that all is happening in our lives in order to provoke our growth process, we will be able to accept and love ourselves and others exactly as we are. For some it may seem contradictory to accept and love ourselves while, at the same time, we are seeking to change some of our behaviors and improve our attitude toward life. Deeper thought will, however, show that they are not contradictory when understood in the right sense. When we speak of accepting and loving ourselves, we mean loving our selves on three levels. We love the the true the inner self which is constant throughout the years of growth and change. That is, we love ourselves as a being which is beyond our actions, thoughts and works, as souls in the process of spiritual growth. We also, however, accept and love our personality and body, as vehicles through which we are evolving. We accept them as we perfect them. When we are in the fourth grade, we do not hate ourselves and feel guilty because we cannot do what the tenth graders are able to do. We have patience with ourselves and know that some day we will arrive at that level as we grow and learn. At the same time, however, we would not like to stay in the fourth grade. Thus we can accept ourselves exactly where we are, but also desire to keep evolving and improving ourselves. Our inner self is the self which we call «I» throughout the various changes of age, character, roles, habits as well as the states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep. We manifest ourselves in so many different roles, such as mother, daughter, sister, friend, house cleaner, employer, employee, artist, cook, business person, driver, secretary etc. All these roles are temporary and do not define what or who we are. We pass through many states of mind such as anger, fear, hate, joy, pleasure, pain, discontentment, contentment, love, peace, anxiety and depression, yet there is an «I» who remains constant throughout all the above mentioned changes. When a child is at fault or makes a mistake, we try to help the child by correcting him, but we do not stop accepting or loving him. We can treat our personalities in the same way. When our car or camera breaks down, we do not feel badly about ourselves. We try to find out what is wrong with the machine or instrument and fix it. The body and personality are instruments which we use in our contact with, and our evolution through, the physical world. Thus if we discover some weakness or faults within the personality complex, we do not need to feel self-hate or guilt, but rather consciously and clearly decide to remove that weakness or fault which is causing the problem. Thus self-acceptance and change are like the two peddles of a bicycle with which we progress through the fields of self-discovery.
2. Honesty with ourselves and others. If we hide the truth from ourselves or others, we will only delay our progress. We must be ready to see and express the truth about ourselves, no matter how uncomfortable or vulnerable we may feel in the process. The self-acceptance mentioned previously will help us to find the inner security necessary to recultivate this honesty.
3. Practice – Persistence – Patience. These are the three P’s which will propel us towards success in our self-transformation process. Without practice of the various techniques offered, not much progress will be made. This practice must be persistent and regular. If we make effort for a short period of time, or only sporadically, then again, we will not have results. Patience is absolutely essential, for we are not going to change 30, 40 or 50 years of conditioning in a few weeks, or even in a few months, or perhaps not even in a few years. Thus we must make regular effort and be very patient about the results.
THREE METHODS OF OBJECTIVE SELF-OBSERVATION
This process of self-observation can be facilitated in three basic ways: 1. Keeping a daily dairy. Our observations will be much more clear and fruitful if they are written down on paper. When we simply observe mentally, there is ample room for contradictions to coexist and details to slip by. Our problems breed in a confusion of unclear emotions and thoughts. Writing down our thoughts helps us to see our personalities much more clearly. These observations are even more effective when written in the third person using the pronoun «he» or «she» or our first name, i.e. Mary or John, so as to observe even more objectively. If we use the pronoun «I», then we might be less able to write the truth. Also we will be identifying with the wrong us, that is with the personality rather than with the soul, who is now observing the personality and is writing about it in the third person. In this daily diary we can keep a record of the major emotional experiences and thoughts of each day. In this way we will gradually uncover the basic emotional patterns which we have repeatedly created in our lives. We will be able to analyze the inner causes of these experiences. We can daily record the major positive and negative emotions. Then, each month, we can set aside a special time to read through what we have observed and draw conclusions and make some decisions about what we would like to do, to improve our reality, if we are not satisfied with it.
2. Questionnaires for more objective self-analysis. In later sections we will discuss some penetrating questions which will help us to discover our attachments, aversions, fears, goals, values, talents and inclinations, which motivate our thoughts, works and actions and thus create our reality. It is best to answer these questions also in the third person for increased objectivity as explained above.
3. Psychologically oriented growth groups can be very helpful in giving support and feedback to those who are going through this process. Being with others who have the same goal of self-discovery, offers us strength and courage to continue, despite whatever difficulties might arise. The group may also offer insight into the problem. Most groups have guidelines which discourage giving advice, since the basic premise is that we have our own particular answers within ourselves, and it is best to learn to dig within ourselves and find it. In such groups the members learn active listening techniques, through which they help each member through their questions and not through advice. As the members of the group begin to trust each other more, they begin to open and become freer and more honest in their communication. The group becomes a laboratory in which we try out new ways of relating and being as a step towards doing the same in the society at large.
Our results will be proportional to the energy, sincerity and thought which we put into it.
HOW TO ANALYZE EMOTIONS
In order to transform the way in which we respond emotionally to the various events and changes which presently stimulate within us negative and unpleasant feelings such a fear, jealousy and emotional pain, we will need to investigate more deeply the mechanism in which these emotions are generated.
THE BASIC PREMISE OF THIS WHOLE SYSTEM
This whole process of self-analysis, self-knowledge, self improvement and self actualization is base on one basic concept. And that is that ” my beliefs create my reality.” Whatever happens in our lives is received by our senses and then interpreted by our belief system. Depending on our beliefs we will interpret each event differently from others who have different beliefs. Thus the conclusions, which we arrive at, and the emotions surface from within, are simply a function, a creation of our belief system. If we want to get free from negative emotions, or internal or external conflicts, we will need to discover the beliefs which are creating these problems and change them.
The following figure (taken from Ken Keye’s “Handbook to Higher Consciousness”) helps us to understand how our programming affects our inner reality. This method of understanding how our mind works is based on computer programming techniques. The mind functions in many ways just as a computer. It does with any input, what you program it to do. The mind has been programmed during our childhood years to perceive our selves, others and the physical world in very specific ways which limit our joy, love and peace. We can use the following diagram in order to analyze our feelings. After observing and analyzing our experience will place its various aspects into these boxes below.
Diagram: How we create our reality
In block 1 we enter the external event i.e.:
1. Our spouse is paying attention to someone else.
2. We are given a gift which we really like.
3. Some one rejects us or our beliefs.
4. We are falsely accused.
5. We enjoy a wonderful evening with a loved one.
6. We succeed at am important goal.
7. Our child does poorly at school.
8. Someone important to us does not agree with what we have done.
9. We are intimidated by someone.
10. We have to speak to a large group of people.
11. We are informed that we have a serious illness.
12. We remember a painful event from the past.
13. We think about our security when we become older and less capable.
14. We are confronted with something we fear.
15. We have not yet been able to have a baby.
16. We have been giving a pregnancy we are not wanting at this time.
17. Our child is taking drugs.
18. Our loved one is very ill.
19. Our partner is cheating on us.
20. We win the lottery.
The stimulus is perceived and evaluated by our programming (block 2) which interprets the act as either threatening or supportive to our security, self-affirmation, pleasure and freedom needs or attachments. Depending on our beliefs about ourselves and about these stimuli, we create a wide variety of emotions. What is “small stuff” for some is “crisis material” for another. We subjectively create our reality by the way we are programmed to feel and react to these stimuli.
This creates the inner emotional experience (block 3). We can create any variety of emotions and responses. As many of us are not very much aware of our emotions, we include the following list of emotions which we might have in response to some event or thought.
Hurt – pain
Our emotions causes our reaction to that event or thought (block 4). Reactions can be internal, external, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. We might subconsciously tighten muscles of our abdomen, chest, legs, arms, arteries, throat or head. Various reactions will take place in our nervous and endocrine systems as they prepare for “fight or flight” reactions. If the emotions are positive then all the above will be reversed. We might cry or laugh. We might become defensive, antagonistic, critical, interrogative or intimidating. We might become aloof and alienated. We may or may not express what we are feeling the others. We might put on an emotional mask which prevents others from seeing how we feel. We might fall into a depression. In the case of positive emotions, we may become joyful, exuberant, more loving and open. We might also simply relax.
THE REACTION TO OUR REACTION
Our reaction now becomes a new stimulus to our environment. This is true whether we express our real feelings of not. Even the emotions which are hide are perceived either consciously or unconsciously by our environment. Our reaction becomes now their stimulus and they react according to their beliefs, programmings and resulting emotions. Their reaction becomes now a new stimulus for us which passes into our programming and comes back to them again.
Essentially what we have here are two or more programmed robots interacting in mechanical ways, none of them being able to control in any way how he or she feels or reacts. We have the mechanical interaction of deeply ingrained and inflexible belief systems. We are not generally free to select how we will react to people who “press our buttons”. When we have “sensitivities” towards certain types of stimuli or behaviors, we are at the mercy of those sensitivities and lack the clarity and strength to feel and react differently. We all experience certain behaviors on the part of others as threatening to our security, self worth, power, freedom and pleasure. Some of those might be found in the following list. Here is a brief list of some common reasons we might feel fear, hurt or anger towards someone:
1. When others do not agree with us.
2. When they do not understand us.
3. When they obstruct us from satisfying our needs. (Remember a need could be psychological, such as the need for acceptance, respect or self esteem)
4. When they do not respect us.
5. When they think they are superior.
6. When they try to control us or suppress us.
7. When they criticize us.
8. When they tell lies or gossip about us.
9. When they harm us or someone close to us.
10. When they have evil intentions or ulterior motives.
11. When they are negative, complaining, whining, criticizing etc.
12. When they think they know it all.
13. When they give us advice we have not asked for.
14. When they play the role of the victim, the poor me and want attention.
15. When they do not take care of themselves or do not carry their load.
16. When they make mistakes
17. When they do not keep their word or appointments.
18. When they are weak and dependent
19. When they act in an egotistical and selfish way, disregarding our or others’ needs
20. When they use us or others.
21. When they are cold and insensitive
22. When they are not responsible to their word or responsibilities
23. When they are lazy
24. When they ignore our needs
25. When they reject us.
When we react in these mechanical ways we often then create exactly what we are trying to avoid. A classical example in the case in which we are afraid that our loved one might be interested in someone else. IN such a case we would logically becoming more demanding, suppressive, interrogative, and some times simply jealous. This will obviously push our loved one away and even into the arms of any other. Thus we have a vicious circle of negativity, which is based on our basic insecurity. We try to force the other to act in such a way so that we may feel secure, rather than analyzing why we feel so insecure, and seek to get free from that programming. Another common case is when we take responsibility for our children’s performance in school. The more we pressure them, the less they develop inner discipline and the more they react. Eventually we may even push them into reacting in ways which bring about the opposite of the result we are seeking.
We are each conditioned to misperceive various situations because of our childhood subconscious programming. Thus we must place another square in our diagram to the right of box number 2. This represents our childhood experiences which have caused us to form certain “conclusions” about our security, self worth, freedom and other important factors. These conclusions then become our belief system which controls our emotional life and subsequently our experiential reality. The problem here is that we as children make very wrong assumptions. As children we feel responsible for how everyone feels and have very little sense of our power and our self worth.
A child can feel to blame for:
1. The parent’s anger.
2. The parents’ pain, suffering, illness or even death.
3. The parents’ separation or divorce.
4. What happens to siblings and friends.
We as children tend to develop the following false conclusions.
1. We are weak and vulnerable and need others to protect us.
2. We are not okay, not worthy or love, affection or respect.
3. Others know better than we do and we need to listen to them and not to our selves.
4. We must be like others in order to be accepted by them.
5. We must do what others ask us in order to be accepted and loved by them and not be punished.
6. We are sinners, unloved by God.
7. Others are responsible for our reality and how we feel.
8. We are responsible for the others’ reality and how they feel.
9. Life is difficult and dangerous.
10. We cannot have faith in any one or trust them.
11. Our freedom is in danger from those who want to control us.
12. We do not have the right or the ability to satisfy our needs.
13. God’s love is conditional and we will be punished is we are not “good”.
14. Our self worth is dependent on how we compare to others in terms of appearance, wealth, strength, knowledge, “goodness”, professional success.
15. Our self worth is dependent on whether others accept, acknowledge and or respect us or not.
Although we now consciously realize that these beliefs are false, they thrive in the subconscious or in what we call the inner child and subsequently control our emotional reality and reactions.
METHODS OF SELF TRANSFORMATION
The purpose of the work we will be doing here is to recognize and free our selves from these false perceptions of our selves, others and the nature of the universe in which we live. This can be achieved in various manners including:
1. Self observation
2. Self analysis
3. Positive thinking and Positive thought projection.
4. Childhood regressions with the purpose of releasing through cathartic techniques hidden pain, guilt and anger.
5. Childhood regression with the purpose of reprogramming or transforming the assumptions made in the past.
6. Logical and spiritual concepts which free us from negative self limiting beliefs and mechanisms. These and many other techniques and concepts will be simply described in this book. Many other techniques will also aid in the process, such as creating a healthy and vital body and mind through natural eating, exercising, breathing techniques, relaxation and meditation techniques, as well as faith, love and religious life. Here, however, we will deal mainly with the psychological approach.*
Note: Most will benefit from professional guidance in this work and those who have a history of clinical therapy with drugs should consult their doctor or professional counselor before digging deeply into the subconscious. Working with a group is almost always more beneficial, supporting and productive.
* The author offers books on these subjects also.