In the first two parts of this series, we looked at the meanings behind the first 4 of 29 questions designed to help you see the pattern of life you live that suppresses your spirit, which separates you from your Creator. Continuing on…
5. Who is in your life?
Who you choose to hang out with and whom you don’t, says a lot about you. Deep down, we all want to be surrounded with people who love and accept us for who we are. Yet we rarely reveal that true self to others, so we sabotage ourselves – settling only for those who are attracted to our masks.
We pick ‘safe people,’ people like us who won’t call us out on the unworkable strategies that constitute our pattern. Indeed, they are likely living by similar schemes. That way, everybody in the group can validate each others’ self-victimization. You can figure out how you are being by looking at your friends. If you see character flaws in them, you can rest assured they are the same flaws that you believe you have.
The solution is to let the real you out to play and see whom that attracts. (You’ll be pleasantly surprised.) You may certainly lose some of your present friends and maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
But you’re stuck with your family, yes? Consider that they might be easier to be around if you’d quit blaming them for how your life is turning out. They too have suffered from the same mind-bending as you have. Most of the time, they weren’t trying to be disagreeable; they were just acting out their own hurts. Not personal! They only want the same love and acceptance that you do. After you give love and acceptance to yourself, try giving it to them.
Your entire relationship may change – or not, if they cannot let go of there own survival strategies. Accept them for who they are and what they are able to give in the moment. Examine how you let them push your self-conditioned ‘hot buttons,’ and refuse to play on that level anymore. You will then know that you did your best. At the very least, your relationship to them will change for the better.
Let’s say that you did have someone who truly was malicious in your life but they are not in it anymore for whatever reason. You must still forgive them for your sake.
They did perpetrate a real hurt upon you, which led to sadness and eventually to suffering. You may even blame yourself for what they did, feeling hopeless, helpless, and guilty. This ‘frame of reference’ affects the way you look at everything.
Consider what kind of abuse could have caused your abuser to be so monstrous. Apply compassion and forgiveness when you realize what a great pain they must have suffered. Then you will be able to get on with the business of living. And forgive yourself. Maybe you aided your abuser, maybe not. Either way, you made the best choice at the time with the tools that you had to survive. If you could have seen a better way, you would have taken it.
If you still have abusive people in your life, forgive them as above but firm up your healthy boundaries so that they can no longer do you harm!
Accept that some people allow evil to fester within and steer clear of them. You’re not responsible; neither can you change them. You can pray for them.
Apply gobs of love and compassion for yourself if you see that you’ve allowed this evil to stay in your presence, because you were hoping that some scraps of love and acceptance would be thrown your way. (Look deep, because it’s probably how you relate to everyone.) In which case, you’ve been trying to recreate the perfect parent, friend or lover in that toxic relationship. Just acknowledge it and let that person in the mirror know that it is time to quit beating him or herself up.
When you give yourself that love and compassion, you will attract the kind of relationships that enhance those qualities in your life. As you recognize that only you are responsible for how your life turns out, you will be able to steer it on a much more loving course.
You’ll be able to see who and what anyone around you is being, which allows you to be free of their strategies, and stop making what they say or do personal. Your life will be cleansed of toxicity.
There was a sub-question to #5. It was ‘How do you want these people to change?’ If you examine your answers, you’ll see that most of the changes are the ones you want to see in yourself. Take them to your meditation, asking yourself: ‘Do I need to make these changes? Why have I been running strategies in opposition to them?’ Drop the strategies and the changes will happen by themselves.
6. Who have caused or continue to cause you pain?
7. Who have you chosen not to forgive?
8. Who are your enemies?
These 3 questions are a subset of question #5.
No one can cause you pain; you must choose to be hurt. (I’m not talking about those who actually abuse you physically or emotionally. However, if it is in your power to get away from them and you’ve not done so, you need to look deeply within, to find out what your ‘payoff’ is that you believe is worth the pain of remaining a victim.)
Meditate about the people who ‘hurt’ you. How do you feel when they are around you? Do those feelings have any validity in present tense? It’s very possible your feelings are rooted in past events and may not be related to this person at all.
If, after careful consideration, you still feel justified, look to see if you’ve earnestly tried to communicate what you feel to this person. It’s possible they have no clue about how you feel because they are too far into their own head.
Apply compassion. They too have been wounded in life. Perhaps you can help them see something they have not been conscious of.
For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend… Job. 6:14 NASB
The people you have chosen not to forgive are those with whom you have a pain response. Ultimately, whatever they have done, you must forgive them as God forgives you. (Mk. 11:25) It doesn’t mean that you have to like them or have them in your proximity.
If you don’t forgive, you lock up hate and bitterness inside, and it eats away at you like a cancer. You will hate yourself for hating. Every human problem is rooted in a lack of love for oneself. You must expel any and all forms of hate from your heart.
Who are your enemies? They are the same people whom you perceive have caused you pain and that you’ve chosen not to forgive. You cannot afford to have enemies. Jesus told us to love our enemies. (Mt. 5:44) Begin by loving the person you’ve made the biggest enemy – yourself. Then, you can radiate that out of you. Acceptance always follows unconditional love. When you become your own best friend, your world will be filled with friends.
A friend loves at all times… Pr. 17:17 NKJV
9. What are you afraid of?
Writing down all the thoughts, emotions, and sensations that appear before your fear manifests, shows you how you do fear. Remember, most fear is based on imaginary future possibilities (that voice in your head invents) that are based on unresolved anxieties over your past.
Most people run from their fears in a frantic dash that actually keeps their fears in front of their face. That’s a sure way of guaranteeing a life full of misery. Let’s bring all our fears to our meditation:
Are you afraid someone will find out who you really are? That’s funny because most of us don’t know who we are. However, we can find out if we lovingly examine the construct of our masks. Every flaw that you think you have is a product of a broken relationship, out of which you desperately and courageously created a survival mechanism. You only had a wounded heart problem. There was no problem with your true self – never was, never will be.
All you’ve ever deserved was unconditional love and compassion. Give it to yourself. Be yourself. And then the opinions of others won’t matter, because they have as much value as farts in the wind.
Are you afraid of failure? Failure is only a step that brings you closer to success. Without failure, there is no forward progress. It doesn’t mean there is anything inherently wrong with you.
There is no perfect way of doing anything and you’ll have far more freedom without the bondage of perfectionism (which is only a way of protecting ourselves from failure by continuous tinkering instead of finishing).
Are you afraid of relationship? More fear of rejection. The only way to move beyond this fear is to form an unconditional love relationship with God and with you. Then everyone around you will want to be related to you.
Are you afraid of dying? Only having a relationship with God can cure that.
Are you afraid of the unknown (change)? Other than God, there is no constant. Change is the only guarantee that we have. In fact, if not for change (e.g. cellular growth and differentiation) there would be no life. No one knows what’s going to happen next. Even that what you think works best in your life will change.
Neither do we have any control over this universe. Freedom appears when we let that notion of ‘being in control’ go. (The only thing that can control your life is what you don’t know. That’s why it’s so imperative to stay conscious.)
We are all part of this changing universe, which makes every moment a gift with endless possibilities. We should be living in awe at this mysterious chaos, at this chance to take this love-filled journey that is always available to those who choose to remain awake and to let go – again and again.
Regardless of what you’re afraid of, those fears are only based upon unexamined beliefs from meanings that you made up as a child. Love and happiness cannot coexist with fear. I vote for letting the fear go. Look at your fears and the strategies you support them with, and see how they’ve kept you from living.
Commit to not running. Face those false fears and see the lies that they are constructed from. Let go, and live…
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Ps. 27:1 ESV
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? Ps. 118.6 NKJV
Next time: more of what inquiring minds need to know.
Good night and God bless.