It feels good to be back. :) I realize it had been a while (4 days) since my last blog post. I live in Indianapolis and this past weekend was the Indy 500. I grew up going to the track and still love it. So that has taken up a good deal of my time the past week or two, with all the activities there. But... back to my normal, amazing, peaceful life. :)
I'm still reading "The Untethered Soul" by Michael Singer. Last night what he wrote in chapter eleven was an eye-opener for me. Seriously... this book is full of eye-openers, I feel a little like I'm becoming a broken record.
We all carry pain around inside us. Deep hurts that affect the way we conduct ourselves and the choices we make. Most of us can easily identify at least some, if not all, of our triggers. What really pushes our buttons and brings up our insecurities and fears. It could be fear of abandonment, rejection, not being loved, not being heard, not being good enough. The list is endless.
Singer points out in his book that these deep-seated fears have shaped our entire lives and in fact our personalities too.
I don't know about you, but I feel I'm just getting the hang of who I am. I'm finally accepting myself and my personality, and learning to love it. I'm a quiet, introverted person. That's what I've always "known." I often prefer to be alone, or with just one close person, as opposed to with groups of people. I've taken this as "who I am." Until now.
Our fears, the deep ones, are so entrenched in our beings that when we recognize our other fears and insecurities, we don't see these. Or if we do know they're there, we don't grasp the depth. The depth, as Singer teaches us, is that our entire life and way of living in this world is built upon these deep fears and avoiding the pain we're afraid to feel if these fears are realized.
I'll share an example from his book to hopefully make it more clear:
"One of the essential requirements for true spiritual growth and deep personal transformation is coming to peace with pain....There is a layer of pain seated deep in the core of your heart. This pain is so uncomfortable, so challenging, so destructive to the individual self, that your entire life is spent avoiding it. Your entire personality is built upon ways of being, thinking, acting, and believing that were developed to avoid this pain....The psyche is built upon this pain," (p. 99-100).
Now to his specific example:
"Notice that if the feeling of rejection is a major problem for you, you will fear experiences that cause rejection. That fear will be come part of your psyche....[A]ctual events causing rejection are infrequent...[but] you will have to deal with the fear of rejection all the time....[The] pain is always there.... Any behavior pattern based upon the avoidance of pain becomes a doorway to the pain itself. If you are afraid of being rejected by someone and you approach that person with the intention of winning their acceptance, you are skating on thin ice. All they have to do is look at you sideways or say the wrong thing, and you will feel the pain of rejection," (p. 100).
That's how our inner fears affect us and alter our personalities. Our actions and beliefs are built around avoiding the pain and fear we have inside. We're so afraid of this pain, and we believe our fears as truths, that we're constantly seeking to avoid this pain. So we don't put ourselves into situations that might get to our pain. And if something does happen, we use it as "affirmation" that we were right. And it further entrenches the pain and fear inside us. So much so that eventually actual pain-causing events don't even need to happen. We go there in our heads all on our own.
This led me to look at myself and my life in a whole new light.
I'm quiet and prefer one-on-one interactions. I've taken this as my "personality" for the past 30+ years. But what if it's the manifestation of my avoidance of my fear of not being loved or wanted?
I don't feel loved or wanted...and that's painful. So instead of putting myself out there, instead of reaching out to people, I withdraw. I'm afraid that if I do reach out, the other person's actions will affirm that they, in fact, do not love or want me around, so I'll just beat them to the punch. I'll avoid the pain altogether and avoid the interaction in the first place. I will get "comfortable" being alone because that's safe. I've done this so many times that it's become my personality. "I like to be alone." But perhaps there's something deeper to it.
It's perfectly normal to avoid pain. Physically speaking, it's a positive, instinctive quality. Our minds and hearts do the same thing. When something painful happens, or even something we perceive as the potential for pain, we pull back. Our heart wants to protect itself. We close up. This is the root of insecurities.
"Somebody says something displeasing, and you feel some disturbance in your heart. Then your mind starts talking, 'I don't have to put up with this. I'll just walk away and never talk to them again. They'll be sorry.' Your heart is attempting to pull back from what it's experiencing and protect itself so that it doesn't have to experience that feeling again. You do this because you can't handle the pain you're feeling. As long as you can't handle the pain, you will react by closing in order to protect yourself.... Your thoughts will try to rationalize why you're right, why the other person's wrong, and what you should do about it. If you buy into this, it will become a part of you....It will shape your future reactions, thoughts, and preferences," (p. 104).
Have you ever said those words to yourself? "I don't have to put up with this. I'll just never talk to them again." I have. It's my automatic response when someone does or says something that hurts or offends me. I'll just shut them out of my life. Then I won't have to deal with them (it) ever again!
It's what I did when I broke up with my boyfriend. I was so deeply entrenched in my pain and fears and I didn't know how to get out. The only thing I knew to do was push him away. To remove myself from the situation entirely. To go back to what I knew and what was comfortable, and that was being alone.
They say that lessons we need to learn will keep appearing in our lives until we get it. I've mentioned before that my very first serious boyfriend in college was still friends with his ex-girlfriend, and this caused problems between us. Over ten years later I'm still being presented that lesson by the Universe. I finally think I'm getting it. I'm finally learning to let go and just love. I'm learning that the world is not "out to get me," as I would have been led to believe by all the things that were happening "to" me in my life. The Universe is giving me endless opportunities to learn, grow, and be the bright, loving, shining person I'm here to be! The same is true for you!
But back to how it all affects our personalities. That's what really blew my mind. It hit me as I read last night that my actions and beliefs most definitely support my false belief that I'm not loved or wanted. As I reflect back over my entire life, as much as I can remember anyway, I see how much was involved in building my personality.
We're all born perfect. We have no insecurities, no fear. But from day one, they start building. It all depends on our parents, other people in our lives, and our environment and circumstances. There's nothing we can do about it. That is, until we get old enough to see it for what it is. To recognize that we are not all that "stuff." That we don't have to be "tied down" by those false, limiting, hurtful beliefs. Because they're just not true. We can choose to get back to our core selves, as we were the day we were born. That is who we really are. Free, loving, here for a purpose, and loved immensely.
"If life does something that causes a disturbance inside of you, instead of pulling away, let it pass through you like the wind....At any moment you can feel frustration, anger, fear, jealousy, insecurity, or embarrassment....[T]he heart is trying to push it all away. If you want to be free, you have to learn to stop fighting these human feelings. When you feel the pain, simply view it as energy....Then relax. Do the opposite of contracting and closing. Relax and release. Relax your heart until you are actually face-to-face with the exact place where it hurts. Stay open and receptive so you can be present right where the tension is....But you will not want to do this. You will feel tremendous resistance to doing this....As you relax and feel the resistance, the heart will want to pull away, to close, to protect, and to defend itself. Keep relaxing....It's just energy," (p. 104-105).
"If you close around the pain and stop it from passing through, it will stay in you....[W]hy do you close around it and keep it? Do you actually think that if you resist, it will go away? It's not true. If you release and let the energy pass through, then it will go away....Every single time you relax and release, a piece of the pain leaves forever....Your true greatness hides on the other side of that layer of pain," (p. 105).
Now, I don't think our entire self is necessarily built on avoiding pain. Back to my being an introvert. People are introverts or extroverts. Psychology has shown that. Some people are energized by being around other people, and other people (like me) need to be alone to reenergize. That's fine. That's just how we're built. But where it becomes less our innate personality and more our fear-and-pain-avoidance is with our beliefs regarding the world and other people.
I can be an introvert and need time alone to reenergize, without avoiding people or social situations because I assume no one there will like me or want me there.
To truly grow, we need to let go. I've been getting this message for years now. I did a group meditation one time a couple of years ago and the only phrase that kept coming to me was "Let go. Let go. Let go." Over and over for the duration of the meditation. It was quite powerful. I'm now seeing even more how that message needs to be applied in my life.
The good news is the Universe doesn't give up on us. When it may seem like we're constantly being barraged by hurtful, difficult experiences, that's not actually what's going on. The Universe is giving us opportunity after opportunity to learn, let go, and grow into our fully actualized Love-Self.
I believe this is why (in part anyway) I met my current boyfriend. His having an ex-wife, and maintaining a friendship with her was a major trigger point for me. A major cause of pain. When we first started dating, and he told me they were still friends, I didn't like it, but I didn't want to let it bother me. I wanted to be different. I wanted to be ok with it. So I tried.
But it was painful. After all, it's a deep source of fear for me. I'm afraid that he'll feel more of a connection to her (or anyone else) than me. I'm afraid of not being good enough or important. So of course it would be difficult! I kept trying though. Sometimes I actually had pleasant interactions with her, and that motivated me to keep trying. But other times my ego and fear would engulf me and it was miserable.
Over time I started avoiding the pain. I let my ego and mind talk me out of trying to change and let go. I took the approach of "I'll just never be around her, that'll fix it." Then I told my boyfriend he could never be around her either. And he actually did it! That, I believe, shows how much he loved me. He was willing to do what he could for me.
But it wasn't enough. Not for me and my deep fears. I kept feeding this fear... and the Universe kept giving me opportunities to let it go. But I refused. So I did the last thing I could do - remove myself from the relationship and entire situation.
This time around I am more dedicated than ever to letting go. I see things differently, thanks largely in part to Michael Singer and others who have opened my eyes in the recent months. I'm sure it'll still be challenging at times, but I'm actually excited.