Posts tagged ‘self-awareness’

December 28, 2011

How to believe in people even when you know they’ve screwed up

Darin Hufford of Free Believers Network often podcasts about the importance of believing in people and being believed in. He explains his view that when you believe in someone, that empowers them to live out a higher version of their self. Conversely, when you don’t believe in them that lack of belief can really bring them down. He says that in order to progress on your spiritual journey, it’s probably necessary to avoid people who don’t believe in you.

I’m not sure exactly what Darin’s definition of believing in others/being believed in is, but my best guess is that when you believe in someone, you see the real person that they are. You see them as perfect, no matter what they do. You see them by the spirit. Conversely, when you don’t believe in someone, you don’t believe in who they are. You don’t think them capable of living out of their true self, of living out their potential. Instead, you deem them doomed to forever repeat the mistakes you’ve observed them to make in the past.

My husband and I have often discussed this. We sometimes find ourselves to feel nearly incapacitated by others’ disbelief in us and even by our frequent disbelief in each other. Having been married for 4 ½ years, we’ve passed the honeymoon stage of our marriage where we were nearly blind to each other’s faults, and we can now see clearly how the other messes up in the same way, over and over.

I have lately been reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, which goes into how our spirits and minds work. Just a minute ago as I was meditating on a part of the book, it hit me that the reason I sometimes don’t believe in my husband is because when my mind is in control it bases what it believes about people on what they have done in the past. Our minds are expert at taking people’s past actions and extrapolating a projection of what they will do in the future. Since my mind is aware of how my husband has negatively reacted to situations in the past, it fully expects him to make the same wrong choices in the future. So I don’t believe in him. I don’t believe he will change or do anything in the future different than in the past. When living by my mind, how can I believe anything better about him? It is reasonable for me to project what he will do in the future based precisely on what he has done in the past. It’s unreasonable to expect otherwise.

So I realized that though it’s unreasonable to believe in my husband, it’s vital for the future of our relationship that I do. In order to believe in him in spite of what he does, I have to be more aware of who he is than what he does, and I have to believe that he is not the sum total of what he does, but when he does negative things, those don’t come from who he is, and they don’t define him.

What I have to do in order to believe in him is to live from the reality of my spiritual being, not by the reason of my mind. My being uses my mind but is not controlled by my mind. So I can be aware of what my husband has done in the past, but not base my belief in him on that.

When you’re living by your being, you relate to others based on who they truly are, not based on what actions they have done. Thus by living in my real self, I am able to believe in my spouse not based on what he has done in the past, but based on who I know him to be. I think this is the kind of belief that can pull someone out of a rut or vicious cycle and bring them toward their destiny.

July 31, 2011

There is a world inside me.

That is how it feels so much, when I connect with my interior life. It is like a link or a portal into another whole world. And that world, I call it the world of the spirit, is the true reality. So the physical world is not as real, or at least, not as permanent. Even though the spiritual world feels fleeting and dim, that is merely because our attention is so often focused outward. When I glimpse through the portal, I get the feeling that what I am seeing there has so much more weight to it than anything I could experience in the outward world.

There is a world inside me, or at least an opening into another world. There is a world inside me, just waiting to be expressed. Just waiting to be revealed. Through contemplative prayer, I dive into that world. And I am there, instantly in the presence of eternity. I become aware of it, but I lapse back, too. I don’t say that this is something I have to do every day. But when I find it, or it finds me, I feel alive. Alive to Reality.

There is a world inside me of vast proportions. Matter flows from it, matter returns to it. It is pure energy, pure life. This is reality. I open the door and let it flood me for a few minutes, so that I become aware. I close the door and go do something else and don’t come back here for weeks. There’s no guilt in this practice, not unless one chooses guilt. I choose acceptance. Acceptance of myself, but also a real feeling that this is me, this is my identity, and in going here I connect with real life. I can do it as often or as seldom as I want.

In church I used to hear people talk about the spiritual world and the physical world. I heard a lot of talk about it, but I rarely met someone who experienced it. It’s easier to talk about than to do. But it is the connecting that really matters. A lot of people I have met are actually scared of the spiritual world. It is funny, because we all have the world inside us. We all have the portal opening into that vast realm where space and time probably don’t even exist. Yet most people would rather get their spiritual instruction 3rd hand and never experience the spiritual world with their own spirits. Sad but true. The spiritual world is not something to fear. It just is. It is reality, and if we choose to live in reality, we can find the most beautiful, wonderful, and amazing revelations of life and love are flowing into us.

So how does one do this? Go lower. Dive down through your heart, which is you, into your spirit in your belly which is connected to the life force that flows through all eternity, connected to God. This is knowing God. Open the door. Walk through the portal. Glimpse reality.

July 5, 2011

Becoming energized: developing a zest for life from the wellspring inside

I awake and lie in bed, thinking of all the things I could accomplish today. My house is a mess. I just returned from a trip, and there is stuff everywhere to put away–both from rushing around before the trip and from the trip itself. Not only that, but there is just stuff everywhere. My husband and I are in the middle of a major project to declutter our life. Our stuff is driving me crazy! My goal is to get rid of everything unnecessary so we can travel the world without too much baggage. Every time I look around at all the clutter we still have, I feel my energy draining away.

On days when my husband is gone at school, I try to get a ton done, but I just cannot seem to make headway. Instead I scan paper after paper, trying to digitize my files, and the lethargy sets in. I look around at all the dishes, think about how many hours I spent on them yesterday, and just cannot find the willpower to clean the kitchen today. I glance around the living room and see all my daughter’s toys scattered everywhere, but I cannot find it in me to pick them up. So that is how my husband finds me when he gets home–depressed and bored.

Today in my contemplation I took the question of energy. Where does my energy come from? What gives me the ability to get things done?

Have you ever worked a job you hated? I have, several times, and I find myself just barely able to go through the motions. I count the hours until I can leave. On the other hand, I have had plenty of energy for most of the jobs I have had. My creativity was stimulated, my problem-solving skills were in demand, and people were depending on me to finish my projects. I derived energy from the things I had to do. So much so that I became completely unbalanced, not having energy for fun or life outside of work. I simply was not happy unless I was working or thinking about work.

Now there is a certain energy to be derived from working with other people: the synergy that comes from sharing a common goal and working towards it together. I used to love that kind of thing, but at the end of the day, I would be miserable, knowing that I was not living out my true self.  So I no longer want to live my life for other people’s goals.

Even though I am not working at a job with a team of people right now, I still rely on other people’s energy an awful lot. This is not necessarily a bad thing–I feel the synergy when my husband and I work together on decluttering, and I have been very inspired lately by reading blogs such as Married with Luggage and Miss Minimalist. Married with Luggage inspired me to take big steps to change my life into the way I want it to be. Miss Minimalist inspires me to get rid of the crap from my old life that is keeping me from coming into my new life. The other day I read her post about a minimalist kitchen, and I got up, walked into my kitchen, and took a whole box of stuff out and into the storage room (I’ll garage sale or thrift store it all later after I see what it is like to live without it).

Yet I find that other people’s energy is not enough to sustain me, and reading blogs can turn into a distraction that keeps me from having to face the big jobs in my path, like cleaning out my pantry and selling stuff on ebay.

When I start to feel drained, I often turn to cooking and eating. While cooking is an activity that I enjoy, and food does give energy to my physical body, it does not deliver much energy to my soul. Instead it often has the opposite effect of making me even more lethargic.

So in my contemplation today, I realized that all those papers I am scanning have a low energy flow. Even though it feels good to be rid of them, I am not getting through them fast enough to keep up my energy while I declutter. Moreover, those papers are not my source of life; actually they are something I am trying to rid myself of.

In reality, all those sources of energy–working with others, reading inspirational writing, eating, doing stuff, having stuff, decluttering stuff–all come from outside me. Though I can feel energized from these sources, the energy does not last. It does not make me reverberate with a steady hum from who I really am, and at the end of the day, I feel low, like nothing got done, and I go to bed depressed. My happiness comes from what I have accomplished, and I usually have not accomplished enough to feel happy with myself.

I dream of the day when I can look around at my house and see hardly anything in it. I think then my energy will be able to flow more freely, yet I have come to the realization that as long as I derive my energy from outside sources, I will never be happy or balanced. Worse, I will never be myself. Always striving for yet another project just to try wring a little more energy from it, to live a little longer–all this effort pales in comparison to true reality. When I gaze at the ball of fire inside that is God, decluttering my puny little papers seems like a stupid way to try to get energy.

What I heard this morning centers around the meaning of the name “Jehovah,” the English version of the Jewish name of God. I was taught that “Jehovah” means something like “I am that I am.” This has been a powerful idea for me every time that I contemplate the being-ness of God. I got the idea this morning that “Jehovah” is not only the identity of God, but also of each of God’s children. That is the part of me that is divine: I am that I am. I am who I am. I am not saying that I am the person of Jehovah, but that I am the person of myself. I am.

And in my being, there is a wellspring of abundant energy, not just to scan puny papers, but to really LIVE. Living off the energy of doing stuff is fake. It’s a fraud. It’s nothingness and distraction and lifelessness and busywork that keeps me from living. I cast it off!

In contemplation, I center myself on who I am. As I come into the core of my being, I tap into a limitless well of energy that will never run dry.

Today I challenge myself that whenever I feel my energy running low, I am going to close my eyes to the outside world and contemplate, even if just for a minute. I hope that in this way, I can connect to the energy of my being, not my doing.

How do you get energy? Do you find it easy to derive energy from the core of your being? Do you have any method you use to switch to “being energy” from “doing energy”? Let me know in the comments.

June 27, 2011

Why I stopped going to church

So often in life I have found myself in bondage to something I “should” do. A big one for me has been church. I was raised with the idea that I not only should but must go to church, and not just now and then but to every meeting of my church, and not just any church, but the particular one my parents believed has the “truth.”

Although I left the church I was raised in years ago, I could not get away from the command that I must be a part of some church. Yet my heart screamed an emphatic NO! The mantra “I do not belong here!” reverberated from my heart while my will and reason demanded that I faithfully attend.

illustration by Brian Linn

This internal battle grew to the point that going to church became sheer torture. When I went, the ache in my heart grew to unbearable, almost physical pain. I became panicked, ran outside the building, huddled down in my car, and sobbed. The pain often did not subside until after a good night’s sleep. I convinced myself that these were simply demonic attacks, and I was just lonely. When it became clear that I could not stand going to a certain church even one more time, I would move to a new town and try all over somewhere else. Yet no matter how hard I tried to connect with the people at church, and even after I became very happily married, the feeling that I cannot belong at church would not leave.

In December 2008, I discovered a book that would change the course of my life: The Shack. The funny thing is, I learned about this book at church. While The Shack spoke to me in many ways, what really helped me get free of church was the podcast I found by the co-authors of the book–Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings. I needed to hear that I was not crazy to think that going to church was just not working for me. Listening to their podcast, I realized I am not alone. Lots of people have stopped going to church, and I can too. Wayne and Brad supplied the permission I still needed at that point to leave the church.

I don’t need their permission anymore; in fact I rarely listen to those guys now. When I do hear a podcast it is usually my husband’s new fav: Into the Wildbut sometimes I go weeks or even months without listening to any religious voices at all. I stopped reading the Bible. I stopped praying. I can feel my soul clearing.

Sometimes it scares me that I am wandering so far from my religious roots, but at the same time, I am filled with exhilaration. I no longer am chained to a certain way of thought that demands I put on a certain mask and pretend to be a person who fits in that archaic mold.

One turning point came more than two years before I found The Shack. In my last few days in California, I took a personal retreat at the beach. I didn’t hear much or progress far spiritually; I was actually very distracted. But I did hear one thing: “I would rather have you be yourself than worship me.” Sorry God. I just cannot pretend to be someone else in order to please you any more. The good news is, you never wanted that in the first place.

June 23, 2011

I rename myself

I have never really liked my birth name. Going into my contemplative mode the last couple of days, I have been toying with changing my name. I finally thought of one I like: Eva. It is simple with only 3 letters. My old name has 5, but it is hard to spell. It is old-fashioned and archaic. Worse, it is my mother’s middle name, and though I love my mother, I need to pursue my own identity completely separate from hers. As I sat in contemplation today, the thought came to me: why do I have to spend the rest of my whole life with a name I do not like? I feel that it sets the tone for my identity, that I can never rise above the feeling that I get from that name, and honestly, I am sick of it. It feels like settling for less that who I am to keep my old name. Every time I say it, I have this feeling, “Here’s my name. I wish it weren’t, I really don’t want you to think of me this way, but I am lame and weird, so just think of me as that anyway.”

(I am not going to say what my old name is–I am sorry if you are dying of curiosity, but I do not want my readers to think of me by my old name.)

I have already tried to change my name once. I moved to a new city to go to college, and I introduced myself to everyone by my middle name, Michelle. The name stuck, and though it was hard to get used to, to all my acquaintances there, I was Michelle. I did eventually get used to it. The problem was, I actually did not like that name a whole lot better than my first name. And when I left that town at the end of the year, I decided to go back to my original name.

So I know I can do it. Right now I cannot imagine myself as Eva, but I do like the meaning: “giver of life.” This is so much more “me” than “gracious warrior,” the meaning of my old name. I no longer want to be a warrior, but as you can see from the name of this blog, the idea of life and being alive is very important to me. At one time I heard the name LIVE! as coming from the core of my identity, so “giver of life” falls right into that.

And Eva is not so out-of-style as my old name. Although it is uncommon enough that I don’t know anyone by that name (thus it is fresh to me with no baggage associated), it is ranked as #99 in popular baby names. My old name is not even in the list at http://www.babynames.com.

So I am going to try out Eva as my new name and see if it fits. As I am about to make a major change in life and move away from Georgia where I have lived for the past 4 years, it is perfect timing. I will simply introduce myself to people I meet as Eva. The only problem I can see is that I am moving to a Spanish-speaking country (Uruguay), and in Spanish the long sound of our “E” is their “I”. I don’t want to be spelled “Iva”! So I guess I will still have to explain my name’s spelling or just pronounce it with a short “e” like the “e” in “egg.” I actually think that pronunciation is sort of pretty, and it reminds me of “ave,” the Spanish word for “bird.”

Have you ever tried to change your name? Do you think your name sets the tone for how you see yourself as well as how the world sees you? Let me know in the comments.