The Happiness Manifesto Blog

How I Beat the Living Hell Out of Suffering and Made It My Bitch

Archive for the tag “spiritual”

The Vision Quest

I have come to understand that my current state of existence is me experiencing a vision quest of sorts.  I have grown increasingly isolated:  one undertakes vision quests alone.  I have become increasingly detached from things of this world.  I am seeking my raison d’être.  I keep tearing aspects of self down, then building anew, then tearing down, then building anew, and every time the tearing down goes deeper and the building up goes higher.  I don’t need to be under a drug’s influence to feel the euphoric highs when I have an epiphany, and the crushing lows when I am unearthing old wounds and limiting beliefs, swimming in the mire of wretchedness: that’s just been my life, as of late.  I have the distinct sense that when I finally emerge, I will be better equipped to serve the world.

And it’s hard as hell.

I better be a fucking amazing Druid after this.  And I better have my home.  This tree-hugger needs to put down roots next to some tree friends.  You hear me, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?  Fuck you.  I kill you.  I kill you two times.

Yes, I am threatening the well-being of psychological concepts.  Because that’s how I roll.

To the nemeton!

 

NaPoWriMo VI

I stand beneath the waterfall, the miracle of indoor plumbing

And watch as the dirt and crusted blood

From old wounds washes away

In the torrent of cleansing

I scrub at the floors

Dust every shelf

Burn sage in an old glass jar and watch

The smoke curl as I fan it with a feather

I eat green, healthy, real foods

Soak in a mineral bath

Release negativity through my pores and

Shed some of that protective layer we call fat

I dress myself in ritual garb

Bells jingling against my bare foot

I am prepared to face

The rest of eternity

I open the front door

NaPoWriMo

So, I am going to participate in NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) here on the blog: write a poem a day for the month of April.

It’s exactly midnight as I’m posting this, but I really did write it on 1 April. ;)

Here’s today’s poem:

 

From destruction, creation

Tearing apart to start again

From the hurt, comes the pleasure

Ecstasy of growing pains

Never knowing when you’re learning

Or just masochistic, until it’s over

Then the light shines in the darkness

And you know why you put it out in the first place.

Thank You

So I have been a lover of the law of attraction and everything it represents for a while now.  And while I’ve had my ups and downs, my “oops!” moments and my “aha!” moments, I’ve been slowly moving forward, making incremental progress, learning some hard lessons and seeing deeper into myself than I ever could have imagined going in.  Last night was another one of those massive info dumps that feels so much like a meteor crashed into my mind planet, and my ecosystem is going to have to rebuild itself again.

If you’ve been reading for any length of time, it’s quite obvious that I am obsessed with making a home of my own.  Whether that’s a tiny house on wheels, a cob house, a beautiful old Craftsman bungalow… I just feel this inner longing for *home* the way that normal women who don’t, as Margaret Cho put it, ovulate sand might long for children.  I cry about it – a lot.  Not like, oh boo hoo, I want a fancy house to be a status symbol cry, but deep, profound sadness that can only be described as being adrift on a violent ocean, yearning for home.  I want my safe harbor.  I *need* safe harbor.  My ship has broken apart in the storm.

As much as I have tried to be positive about it, I’ve struggled.  I’ve done all the envisioning exercises I could think of – I printed out house listings I was in love with and hung them up where I could see them; I bought a few books on tiny house building and a couple of small tools that I didn’t already have as gestures that I was going to DO this; I bought beautiful vintage light switch covers to put in my new home; I said mantras like “I have everything I need and want available to me.”  And by the way, when you are paying for groceries with pennies from the penny jar and behind on rent, dropping $10 on a tool you don’t need yet is a big deal.  I thought I was sending clear signals of faith to the universe, so things were sure to happen!  And yet.  I would look at those house listings and think, good things like that don’t happen to you.  Other people get to have a home of your dreams, but not you.  I felt like I was torturing myself a little.  Real estate was already way beyond my income – and it’s only been getting more expensive.  But I kept looking at it.

I would get bitter about how easy it seemed other people had it – either now or in the past.  My most teeth-gnashing knowledge was that when my parents were my age, my father earned more at his job, with only a high school diploma, than I have ever earned in my life (and I’m not talking about inflation-adjusted dollars – I mean in unchanging numbers), plus they had my mother’s income as well.  He wasn’t a great employee – I grew up hearing tales of he and his friends going out drinking during their extended lunch breaks and going back to the office sloshed, or sometimes not going back at all (and yet, no one got fired for this, while I’ve been fired for showing up to start my shift ten minutes late one time too many).  With the gobs of money (in my eyes) from his dial-it-in job, he bought a two-bedroom house that cost five thousand dollars less than he made in a year, in a nice neighborhood in the suburbs.  Cars cost a few grand.  And yet, due largely to his gambling habits, my parents lost everything – the house, the car, everything.  When opportunity after opportunity had been handed to them as a gift from on high, they squandered it.  And it pissed me the fuck off.

Now, I get that it pissed me off because it’s all a matter of perspective.  To a kid that lives in a shanty town made of cardboard and spends their days fetching water from three miles away and can’t go to school, I’m the one who has had opportunity after opportunity handed to me as a gift from on high.  Just as to my parents, it wasn’t a big deal to have what they had – jobs were plentiful and stuff was cheap; the economy was good and don’t all the Mad Men drink cocktails in the office?  Normal!  Why would they have seen it any differently?  But I was so angry.  That anger said, I wouldn’t squander those blessings if I had them.  I wouldn’t take them for granted!

Which was all just a great big block to me ever getting any kind of blessings that I dreamed of.

Now, I tried gratitude exercises – but I felt like I was giving thanks for largely little things.  Somehow I thought that would translate into big things.  Well, it didn’t.  Because I was thinking of them as little things.  Hence the incremental progress instead of large leaps forward in the physical realm.

I tried making myself feel like I already had the thing I wanted – and envision it in detail.  I was good at the envisioning.  I am a writer/artist, after all.  I came up with house design after house design after house design.  I thought, this is the one!  I’m going to get some money, and build this house.  I did it with cars, too – you can see the Smart Car picture in an earlier post from me going to their website and designing the one I wanted.

But did I feel like I actually owned that house?  Despite all my mantras, no, I did not.  The car?  Not that, either.  For a long time, I was sad when I saw cars that I liked – I felt like I was being teased with something I couldn’t have again.

For the past several months, I have been sending out love when I see a car I like (for the record, Universe, that’s Smart Cars, VW bugs, Mini Coopers, and Subaru hatchback station wagons.  Yes, I have to have the one big car outlier, because that’s how I roll).  Now it’s not forced, and I honestly smile when I see one and feel like the Universe is smiling back at me instead of teasing me.  It’s saying, “Hey look, here’s that cool thing you like!”  So I feel a lot better on that front.  But I was still at a loss as to how I was going to earn the money (because that’s what I was focused on) to build or buy my dream home… or my dream car.  The writing muse has been flirting with me but I don’t have a book near completion.  No publishers have responded to my short stories or found my blog and said, “Hey, we like your writing!  Want a book contract?”  I wasn’t hearing back anything from jobs I had applied to.  I didn’t suddenly have a sewing tutorial or cat video go viral on YouTube.  I wasn’t selling out of inventory at craft fairs or Etsy, or having people beating down my door to buy Beachbody products en masse.  So, barring a lotto win (I probably buy a ticket once every two months or so), I couldn’t see a way out.  It was “I need,” and “I want” …which is, say it with me, NOT what you should be thinking if you are trying to attract things to you.

In other words, I was dialing in my manifestation efforts, like I had always felt my dad had a dial it in job.  I was saying what I wanted but not feeling it.  I was faking it ‘til I made it.  I was smiling on the outside but crying on the inside.  But just like they say, if you smile even when you don’t feel like it, the action will often lead to you honestly feeling happy.  Well, the project-positivity-project has finally taken root, and I truly do feel positive about my life and the future.

What brought this on?  Well, I’ve been reading lots of books on manifestation, the law of attraction, and “new thought,” as they call it.  One of the pillars of these teachings is that you have everything available to you in the universe.  If it exists, you can manifest it.  If you can dream it, it exists.  “Hold,” you say.  “What about people who dreamed up things that never existed before, like inventors?”  Well, those inventions were made, weren’t they?  The components for anything you can ever dream are there – we just have to lasso them in.  The elements that made the resources that made the parts that made the first computer always existed – it’s just that no one put all those things together to create it until it was first imagined and designed, the international trade network was there, and prior inventions that were necessary for its creation – like electricity being harnessed – had been realized.

I understood this premise on an intellectual level, but I didn’t know it in my bones.  I didn’t feel like, okay, I have access to anything, my abundance is limitless, the world is my oyster!  Mantra after mantra did not seem to be infusing it into my core any more than I can learn through osmosis.

Last night was the shift that changed everything.

What triggered it?  Another Rhonda Byrne book?  Source material?  A great meditation session?  Nope.  It was one of those viral videos full of NASA footage, stirring music, and Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about how we are all stardust.

I had seen videos like that before – in fact, I think I had even heard that particular quote by Neil deGrasse Tyson before.  I loved them both, and thought they were beautiful at the time.  But just like sometimes, you read a book for the second time and all new things jump out at you, or it speaks to you in an entirely different way as you are at a different place in your life, this video hit me like a ton of bricks.  And I cried (this post is full of crying, isn’t it?  I swear I am not a geyser 24/7).  But it wasn’t “I’m sad,” crying, or even “I yearn,” crying – it was understanding crying.  It was feeling connected with everything and everyone in the universe crying.  It was a beautiful moment crying.  It was gratefulness crying.  I actually felt it.  It was a spiritual experience.  I felt myself expanding.

And in that moment, I truly, for the first time, knew that I was one with everything in the universe.  Not just on an intellectual level – but in my bones.  In my heart.  In my soul.  I knew I had access to anything and everything.  And I had gratitude of such a profound depth that it eclipsed all my little gratitude games and mantras.  I’ve had a great day today, and more is to come.  I don’t say that to mean, I hope I have more great days.  I just know that I will.

This blog is to say, don’t lose hope!  Keep at it.  Even if you are not feeling it at first, it will come.  Read, study, meditate.  Do all the mantras and exercises.  All those little efforts will prepare you for the much larger breakthroughs, like paving the road for a manifestation superhighway.  I think I just opened my on-ramp.  And I’m driving along in my dream car (I’m looking at you, Einstein)!

Inside Out

So, probably at least partially due to the sacral chakra sledgehammering, I have been taking a long, hard look at some self/body image issues.  Yes, I’ve had them.  Most of us probably have, to some extent.  But as “sledgehammering” implies, I haven’t been dealing with a sigh-in-the-mirror type of reaction – I’ve been calling it “there was a f**k-up in the soul-depositing factory on the day I was made.”  So… pretty hardcore discrepancies between what I feel like on the inside and what I look like on the outside.  And I knew these feelings were resurfacing and running me through the mud for a reason.  Cue the major insight music!

You see, despite these major discrepancies, I have not gone the route of body modification.  Of any kind.  There have been no surgeries.  I have no tattoos.  The only piercings I have are one in each earlobe.  I’ve never even dyed my hair… and except for hunting-and-pecking for split ends, it hasn’t been cut since I was nine years old.  The extent of my makeup inventory is a stick of eyeliner… that I don’t even wear most days.  I neither lie in a tanning bed nor paint myself a chemical shade of orange (I’m so pale I practically glow in the dark).  Basically… I am au naturel.  What you see is the way I was made.  It’s not what is on the inside, but it is the way I was made.

It is weird, despite the disparity between my “inside” and my “outside,” that I never tried to make the outside match more.  Certainly many, if not most folks do, to some extent or another.  But it has always seemed – and this was part of the insight tonight, why it bothered me so much when I thought about doing it – to me, at least, a violation of self.

Now let me clarify.  I take no issue with other people engaging in body modification.  I’ve seen plenty of piercings and ink that I thought looked great on the person who had them, and many folks who got a boost of happiness and/or self-confidence with their newly-dyed tresses.  If it makes you happy, go for it.  More power to you.  I am not at all saying that it bothers me to see *others* change their outside to better match their inside.  And certainly for the more serious changes – transitioning surgery for transgendered folks kind of serious – if that gives you peace with yourself for the first time in your life, by all means – be happy.  Please do.  But when I considered various changes that would better reflect my inside on my outside, on a personal basis, I always had this rather viseral reaction of revulsion.  Like, made-me-shudder-to-think-about-it disgust.  And I never knew why that was.  I have spent many nights in abject misery, wallowing in the it’s-not-fair bog of self-loathing, and yet I just couldn’t do it.  I just have always felt that somehow, the modification would bother me more than the original misalignment.

It finally came to me that that wretched feeling was a feeling of violation.  The violation of self.  I couldn’t modify my outside because I felt that would be violating it – violating me, somehow.  That seemed like a rather arbitrary assessment, in the that’s-not-very-rational sense, until the latter part of the insight came: because seeking inner peace by aligning my outside to my inside was going about it wrong.  Happiness, inner peace, and calm don’t come from external forces – at least not if you want them to stick.  You may get a shopping high when you buy some new gadget or gizmo, but that high doesn’t last forever.  You can’t force happiness by shoving it through your pores with acquired goods.  Would finally owning my own home (if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably know I’m a little obsessed with that idea) make me happy?  Absolutely.  Would it solve all my problems in the world so that I had no more reasons to be sad?  Decidedly not.  A new house wouldn’t be a replacement for a new friend, or fulfilling my higher calling, or any number of not-stuff things that rank much higher on the happiness scale.  My body matching my mind (if that was even possible) might make me smile when I looked in the mirror or give me more confidence when dealing with others, but I would never be truly free of the limitations of the physical self if I aimed to modify it instead of my inner self.  It would be like chasing my own tail (no, I do not have a tail – but you dog people and cat people know what I’m talking about).  Why waste energy chasing after something that is already a part of me?

I am what I am.  My inside is what it is.  My soul and my mind will be what they are no matter what my body looks like.  Maybe people won’t relate to me the way I would like, because they are going on my outward appearance rather than my inward reality… but that happens anyway, and frankly, those aren’t the relationships we should be worrying about.  I don’t want shallow relationships with people who look only at my cover and not the inner chapters of self.  The person who takes the time to read those chapters is going to know me, whether my cover reflects that or not.  My inner self is incorruptible.  Fixating on the exterior is tilting at windmills.

The foreman at the soul-depositing factory is off the hook.

The Chakra Sledgehammer

So, as you may or may not know, I am, among other pursuits, a painter.  I paint mostly abstracts, and one of my current projects has been a series of chakra paintings.  This has been a longstanding project, because I am only working on them as I feel moved, spiritually speaking, to do so.  Generally this means that as I am working with a certain chakra, or have made some breakthrough with it, a painting gets made.

I have four out of the traditional seven chakras painted (my original plan was to do the seven; if I feel compelled to move beyond – some systems speak of even more chakras being in existence – I will do so).  The last one I completed was of the heart chakra:

Heart Chakra - ©Wren Paasch 2013

Heart Chakra – ©Wren Paasch 2013

Currently, I am working with my second chakra.  And when I say, “working with,” I mean smashing through blockages with the proverbial sledgehammer.  Plowing into it headfirst.  Crashing through it.  There is no gentle way of expressing what it is that I am doing.  Every time I have tried to put it into words, it is some destructive act that comes to mind.

(Amused grammar nazi side note – I got a little red squiggly line when I wrote the word “ploughing.”  So I Googled it to figure out how I was spelling it wrong.  Apparently in America and Canada, “plowing,” is correct, and “ploughing” is correct in all other English-speaking countries.  I am an American.  Apparently, I read a lot of books written by Brits?  But I digress.)

Historically speaking, it is my second chakra that has been my “problem child.”  If it’s not blocked like Gandalf is standing in front of it yelling “You shall not pass!!”, then it is leaking energy like a drafty old house leaks heat.  Yes, I am magickal enough that I can both be stopped up and leaking at the same time.  Woo!

So this work is simultaneously desperately needed, wicked difficult, and vastly rewarding.  And it also makes me wonder what the hey I’m going to paint when all is said and done.  As I’ve been making progress, I get an idea, but am not moved to act on it.  A couple of days later that idea is radically changed.  Then it’s changed again… so basically, as I purge and cleanse the chakra, my perception of it is changing.  A lot!  At this point, I’m kind of giving my painting muse a confused dog look (complete with head cocked off to the side), and a bemused grin.  She just laughs.

So yeah… I’m as unsure as to what I’m going to paint next as a stranger on the street might be.  But that’s half the fun!

If you were curious, here are the other three completed chakra paintings:

Solar Plexus Chakra - ©Wren Paasch 2012

Solar Plexus Chakra – ©Wren Paasch 2012

Root Chakra – ©Wren Paasch 2010

 

Third Eye Chakra - ©Wren Paasch 2010

Third Eye Chakra – ©Wren Paasch 2010

Up next… orange fireballs?  Stay tuned!

 

Spiritual Detox

I’ve mentioned before that I viewed discovering some old emotional/spiritual wound, feeling its pain as I processed it, and then ultimately letting it go as a sort of spiritual detoxification.  Those instances usually occurred rather unplanned: “Oh hey, what’s this?  A scar I didn’t know was there!  Christmas!!”  But today, boys and girls, we’re gonna talk about doing that quite on purpose.

When you detox physically, you usually plan it – sometimes a lot – with special recipes, supplements, baths, juicing, etc.  This usually involves a trip to the grocer for ingredients, and perhaps timing it to your days off if you think you might have a bit of a health crisis and don’t want to be miserable at work.  So why not plan our spiritual detoxification the same way?

Now obviously, you don’t need to head to the grocer -or your favorite religious/metaphysical shop, as it were – for ingredients (though planning it for your days off might be nice) in order to spiritually detox.  But a little intention goes a long way.

I recently made my first foray into the Akashic Records, and despite warnings from others to just “get a feel for the lay of the land” the first trip in, I felt driven to ask my guides to “bring it on.”  My guides get a kick out of that.  I heard them chuckling.

Bring it on they did.  And ever since then, I feel like I have been doing The Master (Spiritual) Cleanse.  Old, dusty, forgotten relics are getting expunged from my mental attic at such a rate that I very quickly stopped wondering why I was reliving this old feeling again and found myself just hanging on for the ride, like an old rickety roller coaster that bumps you around and gives you a minor case of whiplash.  It became evident that this was a detox.  A bring-a-good-book-to-the-emotional-toilet detox.  Don’t fight it; that will only make things worse.

After several days of just hanging on for dear life and squeezing my eyes shut on that roller coaster, I began to peek out of one eye.  I began to work on the physical purging project on overdrive, but was under no illusions that this was the purpose of my purge: this was merely a reflection of my inner workings.  Some people turn their outside lives inward; I tend to turn my inner life outward.  My cycles of messy chaos, focused organization, and pure creation have always reflected what was going on in my mind.  My packrat habits developed during the years that I was stashing away those emotional injuries so they wouldn’t hurt me in the present, only to be dealt with later; my purging project began when I started to unearth those old storage units and let them see the light of day.

Though I am still in the middle of this ride (I think presently my coaster is on the upside-down section of track), I can say this for sure: God, do I feel better.  And then worse, and then better, and then worse, and then better.  It’s kind of like when you have the stomach flu, and eventually you get to the point where you are just willing yourself to toss your cookies, just so you can get it over with and feel better.  And you really do feel better once it’s out.

…Doesn’t that simile just make you want to spiritually detox right now?  Eh heh.  I promise, it’s worth it.

So, put it out there.  Even if going to the Records is a little “out there” for you, or you just don’t feel ready for that yet, talk to your guides.  They’re listening.  Let them know you’re ready to start dealing with things that you previously couldn’t.  That you want to get rid of negative toxins in your thought process.  If we’re going to improve the world, we first have to improve ourselves.

But maybe do that meditation on your day off. ;)

Do A Little Dance

Sometimes, when dancing, you have to let go and just trust.  If you’ve got a partner, you have to trust that they won’t drop you or step on your toes.  If you’re alone, you have to let go of your inhibitions and stop wondering what others will think of you.

This applies to life, too.  Sometimes, you have to let go and just trust.  And sometimes, that can be scary as hell.

I find myself doing the throw-my-hands-up-in-the-air-in-unabashed-trust move, only to take a good look at what I’m doing and grab onto that safety bar in a gut-clenching, reflexive spasm, like letting go on a roller coaster.  There you are, feeling all secure in your seat, hands waving in the air, then you tip over the top of that hill and… hold on for dear life, even though you’re just as secure as you were on the way up.  I have to learn to keep my hands up there, and just scream my head off like all the other thrill-seekers.

First I was dancing, now I’m riding roller coasters.  Because that’s the kind of blog post this is going to be.

It’s never the metaphysical stuff I fear.  “The Shift”?  2012?  Unleashing the oddness that is the Real Wren upon the world (well, perhaps y’all should be afraid of that one)?  Unearthing old psychological scars?  Downloads?  Hippies (I live in Colorado, I had to make a South Park reference)?  Nope.  All good.  Bring it on.  I want to bend the metaphoric spoons with the best of them.  It’s the old Maslow’s hierarchy of needs thing: I look at my bank account, which I was completely unconcerned about this morning, and clench.  I start adding up bills in my head, minus planned income, and I start freaking out about where the remainder is going to come from.  This morning I was in happy, it-will-all-come-in-time land.  Then cold, hard numbers had me looking up at the sky, wondering where the hell that you-don’t-have-to-worry-about-this-anymore windfall is when I really need it.  Which of course (*cough*LawOfAttraction*cough*), is exactly what I shouldn’t be thinking.  Thinking I need, thinking I want, thinking I don’t have it already just attracts… needing, wanting, and not having.  It’s fear-based thinking.  I need to dance on over to the love side of the spectrum.

I’ve already been working on exercises to change the way I think about money.  How many of us have this problem: I’ve heard over and over how “dirty” money is.  I’m not speaking metaphorically, here: I mean it has germs on it.  Think about where it’s been.  So I got into the habit of, touching money = germy, so I should wash my hands after I touch it.

Think about what message I was sending the universe: money is dirty and gross, I don’t like touching it, and I must wash myself clean of its essence any time I have some in my hands.

That’s a solid F- in Law of Attraction abundance thinking.

So I’m trying to override the hand-washing need and the “ew, germs” thoughts; I keep two dollar coins in my pocket (dollar coins make me happy, I like them) to look at and think, “I like this money; I like holding it; I’m keeping it” when I come across them; I’m doing an exercise from The Power that has to do with how you store money in your pocket/wallet, and what you think of when you look at it.

OK, so I promote my grade to a C-.  I’m still looking at that bank account and going, “I must plan!  That bill is due, and that one is soon due, and that one is overdue!  I must know how I’m going to pay them!  I must have details!  And what about the rent?!”

I need to look at my bank account and think, “I have so much money in there!  I never have to worry about this again!  I should go car shopping and buy Einstein right now!”

And as much as I try to Stuart Smalley my way around that one, my inner “realist” is like, “Groceries, Wren.  Concentrate on what you can actually do.  Concentrate on what you need right now.  Groceries.  Rent.  Bills.”

I hesitate to, say, go to the Smart dealership and look around because I feel like I’ll be wasting the salesperson’s time if I don’t have the ability to sign on the dotted line today.  But that’s exactly what I need to do.  I need to go and sit in the car, and imagine owning it, and feel what it’s like in there.  I need to act, with confidence, like I’ve got all the funds in the world.  Because otherwise, I’m just sending the universe mixed messages.

So my assignment, if I choose to accept it, is to go and drool over Smartcars, and possibly annoy some innocent salesperson asking about getting it in that nifty brown color.  It’s not wasting their time or mine, if this prompts the universe to channel the funds to me, and then I go back and find that nice salesperson and buy the car a month from now.  That will be my dance of confidence.

So what dance do you need to do to move forward, and show the universe that you fully believe you’re doing it?  Leave a comment – let’s give ourselves homework assignments!

Working On Forgiveness

We’ve all heard some variation of the idea that holding a grudge is hurting ourselves rather than the person we’re angry at, right?  We understand, logically, that getting ourselves worked up does not make the offender feel bad (especially since most of the time they’re unaware that we’re worked up, or why), and having an internal dialogue full of “GRRR!” and “RAWR!” not only does nothing to solve the problem, but doesn’t even make us feel better – usually it just serves to inflate our anger.  So those of us that are on this path and trying to better ourselves are usually working on forgiving those that have hurt us, and letting go of grudges.  Sounds like a great idea!

But there’s a key point: we’re working on it.  Now I don’t mean to say that if you haven’t achieved total forgiveness of everyone who has wronged you, you’re doing it wrong.  On the contrary.  I think we’re working too hard.  Let me explain.

If you’re working on something, you’re thinking about it, right?  Whether that thing is a project, dinner, or A Book, you have to be actively thinking about it in order to work on it.  So… in working on forgiveness, we’re… dwelling on the thing that hurt us.

And that is just about exactly what we don’t want to do.

Law of attraction time!  What you think about is what you attract, right?  So why the hell are we thinking so hard about things that have hurt us, in an effort to let those things go?  That’s not letting them go, that’s letting them take up residence in our minds.

But Wren!  I hear you say.  We need to process the hurt in order to let it go!

Yeah, yeah, okay.  At a certain point, you do.  As I’ve said, I do not advocate plastering on a fake smile and pretending that nothing is wrong when your insides are doing their finest impersonation of paper in a cross-cut shredder.  But eventually, you’ll have all the insights you’re going to have on the subject, and dwelling on it further is just rubbing salt in the wound.  Or lemon juice.  Or anti-bacterial gel.  Because holy hell does that stuff sting when you’ve got a cut on your hand, no?

Nor does this apply necessarily to hurts in order.  Sometimes the most recent hurts are the easiest to let go; sometimes the old ones are.  Sometimes you can say, yeah, that was a long time ago, and it can’t hurt me anymore.  Goodbye!  And sometimes those are the ones that thirty years later will whack you upside the head so hard cartoon birds will be singing in your ears from the sudden shock.  I’m not saying there are hard-and-fast rules, here.  But we shouldn’t be defining ourselves by our hurts; we shouldn’t be labeling ourselves a victim; we shouldn’t play over and over again past tragedies on repeat in our minds.  Nor, for that matter, should we wish to make ourselves martyrs.  I think God’s got enough of those, don’t you?  He is not asking you to suffer needlessly for some Greater Good.  What greater purpose could be served by you living a life of fear and anguish?

So… if you discover some old, heretofore unexplored specimen that reveals some insight into Why You Are The Way You Are, great.  Self-realization is a fabulous thing.  But then I don’t want you to make it Your Project to study the hell out of it like a scholar with the Dead Sea Scrolls – see what it had to teach you, appreciate it, and keep the lesson, not the hurt (and by “lesson,” I don’t mean keep the lesson that your mom calling you fat when you were ten means that you have to obsess over your weight now and for the rest of your life – I mean, keep the lesson that sometimes things we didn’t realize the origins of (obsession with weight) have a very discoverable source, and don’t define us.  We can let them go, because our mother’s judgement all those years ago was hers, not ours).  Let the hurt evaporate like morning dew under the bright sun.

And don’t, for the love of God, go around patting yourself on the back about What A Big Person You Are for no longer being angry at whoever the perpetrator of that past hurt was; that’s making yourself a martyr.  Don’t believe me?  You’re thinking of yourself as saintly for enduring cruelty at the hands of the unenlightened from your place of Spiritual Greatness – isn’t that, essentially, martyrdom?

OK, you say, I got it.  I’ll just let go all those times someone hurt me, and not think on it anymore.  I’m done!

But wait, there’s more!

I was thinking on this very subject the other day in response to a friend on some message boards online, and her comments made me have a realization of my own: there is no finish line to forgiveness.

Yup.  It’s unlikely that you’re going to forgive someone for something, and then cross them off your list, like a to-do for inner peace.  Maybe you forgive your mom for calling you fat when you were ten.  You let go the notions you carried all these years about weight.  You think you’re done forgiving Mom.  You cross her off your list.  But then – shock! – a year later, you remember some other comment of hers that altered your world, and you find her square in your “working on” area again.

I do not then want you going through your mental catalog of Mom Comments, searching for any and all instances of How She Messed You Up, so you can thoroughly and completely forgive her, and be done with it.  You’re not going to find them all!  And then you’ve spent all that time (and perhaps therapy) rehashing every not-so-nice comment she ever made, essentially re-flogging yourself, in pursuit of some “finish line” that doesn’t exist.

We’re humans.  We’re messy.  We don’t stay within the lines.

I have a person (who shall remain nameless) that I’ve got a catalog of instances like the Mom Comments in my example above, who I’ve been “working on” forgiving.  I felt like I was “making progress,” and was going through the catalog, page by page, banishing those “lessons” from my psyche that no longer served me.  It’s great that I let those things go.  But was I serving myself by examining things that didn’t need to be examined?  Do you enjoy unnecessary, invasive medical examinations?  Didn’t think so.

It wasn’t until I gained the perspective of that person as just a human – a weak human, sure, but a human – instead of some large, looming monster lurking in my closet at night, waiting to pounce – that a much larger shift began to take place.  I turned on the proverbial light, and saw that this person was just a shadow, not a monster.

When you’ve got someone that has made such an impact on your life such that they are a huge, powerful creature in your head – it’s a bit of a different animal to forgive.  It’s unlikely you’re dealing with one issue, which you can forgive and forget.  You’re likely dealing with patterns and behaviors – theirs and yours.  But when you realize they’re just a messed up human, and can see all those individual instances of pain add up to a pattern of behavior because they’re messed up too, suddenly they don’t loom so large.  They shrink in your psyche.  They become… spirit.

Because we’re all spirits!  We’re all spirits having an in-body experience.  Sometimes we mess up in this grand experiment called life, but I just can’t bring myself to believe that a person’s spirit, their essence, is “evil”.  I don’t care what they’ve done.  They could be the most evil SOB ever to grace the planet – something made them that way.  Maybe it was ignorance, their own hurt, delusions, or some combination thereof.  I don’t think when they die, they’ll still be the same.  I don’t think, in spirit, racists will be racists, or there will be religious intolerance.  Because when we’re all spirit, there is no race – and I seriously doubt there is a Protestant/Catholic, Jewish/Palestinian line in the sand in the afterlife.  Do you?

When you look at the people that hurt you as just little spirits, same as you, they are no longer big scary monsters out to get you.  They are just humans who messed up.  Maybe you don’t think they are just awesome now, but what they did no longer looms so large.  Thinking of them does not produce the same anger or hurt that it once did.  You are no longer punishing yourself for once being hurt.

And that, my friend, is pretty darn good work.

The Best of All Possible Worlds

For those of you familiar with The Law of Attraction, you know what I’m talking about when I say sometimes it feels “forced.”  I feel a little Candide in me, repeating over and over again that I Live In The Best Of All Possible Worlds, until I truly believe it.  Kind of like when you’re in a foul mood, and if you force yourself to smile, even if you don’t feel it at first, the physical act triggers the emotional feelings that normally accompany a smile (science!).  Some days, when it’s feeling forced, I can get over myself and just keep at it, confident that it does indeed work (it does).  Other days, I’ve got my grump on and I feel like I’m allowed to be grumpy today, godd***it!

When I’m having one of those “Get off my lawn!” days, once I have reveled in my pissed-offedness like a rebellious teenager and can see the path I’m headed down, I try to step outside of myself and look.  First, examine the little things that are teeing me off.  If I was in a good mood, would that really piss me off or be laughed off?  If the latter is the answer, then I have to look for the real reason for the grump.  I try to think of the possible logical reasons why I’m grumpy.  Is my blood sugar low?  Am I sleep deprived?  After so many years of dealing with those issues, I darn well know they can tank a mood faster than you can blink.  Sometimes the solution is as simple as eating a balanced meal.

But sometimes, it’s more deep-seated than that – especially for those of us who very purposefully are examining ourselves, our presumptions, our sense of self, our beliefs, etc., on a mission, as it were, to grow and better ourselves and by extension, the world around us; releasing thought patterns and learned behaviors that no longer serve us (and shedding physical manifestations of that baggage, to boot).  Sometimes, we unearth an old wound that we weren’t even aware of before – not consciously, anyway – and much like any wound, it festers unnoticed until pain elicits us to examine it.

Sometimes, that stubborn insistence of our right to be angry is the pain radiating from that wound we didn’t know was there.

It’s amazing how often I’ve discovered one of those old wounds, and upon examining it, gotten some message from the Universe relating to that very topic, seemingly out of the blue.  In my last post (linked above), I wrote about what I was feeling in the moment before I had had the “aha!” insight.  Shortly thereafter, while in tears to be perfectly honest, I got a message relating to that very thing that was so clear and blatant it couldn’t have been any more obvious if God had whacked me over the head with a baseball bat.  So there I was, having a low point, and I still got the positive response.  However, I was at the low point because I was “detoxing,” as it were.  For any of you who have done or have looked into doing a cleanse or otherwise detoxing, you’ve heard that as your body releases the old, stored toxins, sometimes it can cause what is known as a “health crisis” – that is, you feel sick from the icky things working their way through your system, but will be better off in the end as they will no longer be inside you to harm you in the future.  It’s kind of like that, which is why I figure the law of attraction didn’t attract negative things from my low mood.  I wasn’t letting the old pattern repeat itself – I was cleansing it from my system altogether.

Today I got another such message, from a friend’s Facebook post of all things, that wasn’t even directed at me, but it spoke to something I have been sparring with in my head for a while.  It was just such a perfectly relevant message, and put in just such a way that though I had “known” it before, it hadn’t truly “registered” – it pretty much floored me for a moment.  Sometimes you can “know” something, but not truly “comprehend” or “take it in.”  That was what this message was for me.  I can already feel the ripples making their way through my psyche, as the initial concept is accepted, and a domino effect of altering thought patterns occurs.

So though there are times when it may feel “forced,” keep at the positive thoughts.  When you hit a low, examine why, and be open to whatever reason may come.  If you’re spiritually detoxing, let the negativity be released.  You may have a health crisis of the spirit, but you will feel so much lighter and brighter in the end.

And don’t discount any source of insight as being “too trivial” – sometimes a Facebook post, a text message, or a tweet may be just the thing that gets the gears turning.

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