Learning to Love our Inner Enemies

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Loving our enemies needs to start inside ourselves. Each of us has a dark part, a side of ourselves we don’t like and may not want to acknowledge. This is our own internal enemy or shadow self. This aspect of ourselves is the part of us from which we react to people and situations most strongly. Imagine situations where you react out of strong fear or anger, or when a person just rubs you the wrong way for no apparent reason. This is the part of you that judges. It judges you and shows you all the things others have judged you for. It causes you to react in judgment to others. This internal enemy is where shame comes from.

We are very fearful of our internal enemy. We want to conceal from the world and even from ourselves, the parts of us that we don’t want to look at. They hurt too badly to tend to. These are our own inner open wounds, the crying child in our soul. But we feel unable to help because they hurt so badly. So, often we look the other way just as we would when we feel afraid of the gore at an accident scene or the need of a lonely beggar. We leave it, hoping it will go away. Doing this is causing more pain, of course.

Imagine an injured child coming to you, bleeding and crying. If you strike the child and tell it to go away, you cause further injury in numerous ways and the child cries louder. If you soothe the child and reassure it, tending to the injury, then it stops crying and the bleeding soon stops. When we ignore our own internal cries out of fear, it is as if we are striking a bleeding and crying child who has come to us for help. We create shame over having these feelings and needs and then we create new shame over the behavior we demonstrate when we don’t acknowledge our own needs.

We all have a shadow self that we ignore. And we have all seen and experienced the many expressions of this fear and shame, this disconnect from our inner selves. We see and experience it every day, directly and indirectly. It can come through overt means such as any form of judgment against self or others (self-harm, self-abasing speech, racism, classism, homophobia, religious exclusion, etc.). It can also be more hidden, such as when a person fears speaking what they feel or believe, saying what their needs are, or hiding their true self out of fear (subconscious or otherwise) that they will be “seen”. It can arise in co-dependency, dishonesty, or manipulation. We all judge and hide to some degree and more in some situations than in others. Extremes can cause physical and/or mental illness to differing degrees when the same cycles keep repeating unnoticed and unhealed.

Shame is not the same as guilt. Guilt is that uncomfortable flickering emotion that we experience as a sinking feeling in our stomachs and a clenching in our chests. It lets us know we have just done or said something that falls out of step, out of alignment, with our greater good. We have done or said something that created cognitive dissonance.

Sometimes when we feel guilty, the negative consequences are seen immediately and so the reason for the guilt is clear. Other times we may need to take a deep look at how we have come out of alignment with our greater good. Guilt serves as a red flag to tell us to do this looking. It is not helpful if we carry it as a punishment in order to continue feeling bad over and over. This will only keep us out of alignment, leading to shame and holding us back from doing the necessary work to break the cycle of negative consequences. We can’t think or see clearly when we are feeling upset. We think at our best and resolve issues in our highest form when we are in a clear and positive state of mind. So it is most helpful if we can thank our mind and body for offering the red flag to us in the form of guilt feelings, acknowledge the feelings, then let go of the guilt and move on to resolving the behavior that created it. Staying stuck in it is more likely to leave the problem unresolved and thus lead to the behavior (and the guilt) returning.

Shame runs very deep and can control our every move and thought–our programming. It does not leave until we understand and heal the pain from which it came. Changing a behavior won’t solve shame, though we often believe it will. This belief is what leads some to use shame and fear as a tool to correct behavior. The fear of punishment, fear of Hell, fear of the apocalypse, and fear of loss are used as pervasive tools to control behavior. Individually we may fear things such as exclusion, bombs, all the way down to spiders. The fear isn’t wrong and it doesn’t even mean that the things we afraid are not or were not real, but being stuck in the fear does not help us stay safe or satisfy our needs for happiness and growth.

Fear is at the bottom of shame and every other negative emotion. When we can see that we are fearful, sometimes that is enough for the fear to dissipate. Other times, we see a deeper wound that we need to heal. If you don’t see the fear, and then the wound, you can’t heal it. Seeing is the first step. Sometimes it won’t be any more difficult than acknowledging the fear and that you are willing to face it. Again, I see it very much like acknowledging an injured or frightened child. Sometimes just a hug and letting them know they have been heard is enough to calm them, other times it takes some time and some pressure on the wound, and there can be times that need professional help, but often, a hug is all it takes.

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” –Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

When you are stuck in the fear/shame cycle, the only thing you can see is to avoid the thing you are afraid of, usually at all costs. This is very limiting and defeats the purpose in the bigger picture. When you can be at peace, having dissipated the fear, you can see the bigger picture much more clearly. We can’t see where the pain-shame-behavior cycle started if we continue to add shame to the behavior. Again think of a child, but this time think of one who has hit his sister. Clearly, you don’t want the child to hit his sister. But you have choices. You can ridicule and criticize him in various ways, even humiliate him, thinking this will teach him not to hit. Or you can find out what caused him to hit in the first place and really listen to all of his feelings. He will better hear you if you hear him and he will trust what you say. Understanding is much more important and useful than fear and shame. We need to do this for our inner ‘enemy.’

When someone is honestly heard they can heal amazingly quickly. That healing causes the shame to go because shame comes from pain and it is self-perpetuating. If the negative behavior is what you want to get rid of, then treat the root cause, not just the symptom! The behavior comes from the pain, which creates the shame we all recognize so well at some level.

We need to heal ourselves by seeing, honoring and loving our own enemy deep inside, recognizing it as part of ourselves and becoming fully whole. Patience and practice are necessary, but if we implement these with ourselves first, we will become masters at loving others.

Blessings,

Angie

angie-webster-healing.thinkific.com

Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities

Rights Responsiblities2There seems to be a general clamoring, grasping and hungry dissatisfaction that infects so many individual people across the world. It spreads like a virus from one of us to the other. We often urge each other to carry this misplaced longing for more into the streets, the media, our politics, driving each other to anger and, often to acts of hate or at least unkindness and inconsideration.

I feel in my heart that we all hold the light of God inside of us. None are separate from this, as far as I can see, though some chose to hold themselves as separate. In my eyes, if we all carry the light of God, then we all are the same. Kindness and love are for all, without question.

Most everyone seems to feel that they have had rights taken away and many feel inner shame for taking the rights of others, though the latter are usually too defensive to admit it. In the end, it seems that people everywhere are mad as hell about the whole “rights” and “freedom” issue, regardless of their gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, or anything else.

That leads to a whole lot of people pushing against each other. That is not the same thing as loving each other or being kind. It is not the same thing as recognizing the light of God in ourselves and each other. Whenever you hear someone say, “I have the right to fill in the blank“, that is said from a place of victimhood and anger. It is said with indignation.

I don’t deny that there are injustices. They are everywhere. But becoming reactionary certainly doesn’t resolve that. Many of the greatest injustices are created either by those who have forgotten their own inner light or by those who refuse to recognize it.

When you find yourself using your rights to do or say something unkind, even if you really do have the legal right, maybe it is a good time to consider the other person’s rights, even if only for a moment. Or even more importantly, consider the larger ramifications of the thing you are about to say or do. How will it impact you? How will it impact the other person or the people around you? Does it have possible larger consequences for society or for your family? Every action you do and every word you speak ripples out beyond your immediate sphere. It has an effect on others far beyond what you see right in front of you.

The right to worship as we choose does not mean that we are ought to mock those who don’t choose to worship as we do. It means that we are all free to perceive the world, ourselves and God in whatever way makes sense to us, without forcing those views upon others. That implies respect of each other’s views and an allowance that they will differ. If that respect is present, violence has no need to rear its head.

It may be true that we have the right to express ourselves freely, but does that mean we have to use that right to scornfully condemn or mock another? To use shame to control what another does? We can choose simply express who we are respectfully, with love, honor and dignity for ourselves and all others. We can honor the fact that everyone else has the right to express themselves freely, too. Even if we don’t like what or how they express. Otherwise we are only choosing this freedom for ourselves, not for others.

Maybe a law has given you the right to express yourself in a way that allows you to say cruel things to another, to mock them and ridicule them. Maybe you have the legal right to even say that you want them dead, as long as you make it clear that you are joking or you do it within a creative context. Does this mean it is not hurtful or even frightening for that person or group of people? It would be for me, especially if this was done by a large group of people. This is bullying, not love. It does not honor our inner light. This is one person using their “rights” to violate the rights of another.

How many times in the last 20 to 30 years have you witnessed violence erupting because a person or group of people felt they had to push back because their rights were being violated? Particularly their rights of speech, expression or religion. If you look at the larger picture, how many times has it been because of situations just like the one I just described?

A group standing for their right for something can become very indignant and that can lead to irrational decisions. Our egos get in the way when we are stuck in being right and proving it. We lose sight of the bigger picture and of other people. We forget how to be kind. There are often much more important things than our rights. Like the rights of us all. Like simply being loving and patient and gentle with each soul on this planet instead of running with the belief that any of us have the right to trample on any of the others. Even if they trample us first.

Having the belief that we have to kill or be killed leads to us all treating each other like crap, every day. It leads to more death, war and chaos. There is no chance, ever, for light to come in and let something new grow. We have had a long rampage of destruction, hate and oppression in the world. The only way to stop that and turn it to something new is to be different inside ourselves and in the way we treat each other.

We have to start looking for what we can give to each other and move away from the attitude of concerning ourselves with what others may be trying to take from us. We have to look for opportunities to show compassion and to see the soul of our fellow human, rather than find opportunities to close our hearts and turn away. We have to do the best we can to see the fear that drives us, and recognize that it’s the same fear that drives our fellow human as well. We are not different inside, though we may live our lives in different ways.

We will not all get to the place where we can honor each other’s inner light at once. Try not to concern yourself too much with those who aren’t there yet. That puts you back in the mindset of believing someone else needs to change and the whole cycle starts again. Change yourself and your behaviors. Others will follow. This may be our greatest responsibility to ourselves and to each other. Rights don’t work very well or last very long without honoring that.

Stop Reacting and Look Inside Yourself!

Change yourself tolstoyEvery day I see people saying how much they want there to be love and peace in the world. I do it too. We want people to stop hating, to be kind, to be considerate, compassionate and respectful. We also want people to be wiser, stronger, braver.

In fact, it seems we all have a long list of things we expect from other people. Lots of shoulds and shouldn’ts. Even truly kind, loving and patient people have a hard time making it through an entire day without being rubbed the wrong way or feeling deflated by another’s actions at some point in their day.

There is nothing wrong with having our own perspective of how we wish to see things go. Each of us brings unique view of the world and this world would give us less to learn if that weren’t true.

But what happens when you feel yourself getting aggravated because someone is taking longer than you feel they should in front of you in line? Or they are behind you in line and are rushing you to finish?

What happens when you see a news story where people died because people were displaying their religious or political views in a violent way?

What do you do when someone speaks aggressively to you out of their own hate or their own intolerance for another’s hate? Or in any number of similar situations throughout the day when our views and needs push up against the views and needs of another?

Most all of us react, at least inside ourselves, at least for a moment, by wanting the person we are upset with to behave differently. We are internally alarmed that this person is not following the path we have decided is the safe and appropriate one. We are angry or afraid.

So our typical reaction is to respond by hating back or being angry with those who are angry. So that news story that outraged us? What is outrage but violence? When we rage about something we feel is wrong are we actually changing it or are we sending more hate and anger out into the world?

Emotions can be signals for us to make a change. These emotions are meant to protect us. But we can also get very swept away by the chemical reactions they create in our bodies. We can start to believe everything these chemical reactions tell us and we can develop thoughts and stories–lots of them–to back all this up.

Maybe a change does need to be made when we hear another story about a murder or a suicide or you hear others gossiping. But maybe the first change needs to start with how we respond inside ourselves.

Maybe we can pay attention to how we tend to our emotions and our thoughts and treat them as real things that have an effect on the world, because they do. Other people’s emotions and thoughts are what created the very issues we react to all day, right? We can’t ever change other people’s emotions and thoughts. But we can deal with our own. Those we can change.

When we feel someone is sending anger and hate toward us, it is hard to respond with something different. Your mind tells you it is only safe to respond with anger and hate. But that only creates more of the same. It is the mentality that starts arguments, leads to murders, suicides and wars. It leaves us all empty.

We can teach our brains that it is safe to respond differently. We can learn to respond to our body sensations and our breath and recognize that underneath it all, we are feeling the need to protect ourselves or society. By responding to our immediate surroundings, body sensations and breath, we can begin to calm down a bit. We can see choices.

Sometimes the choice is simply to release the need to react. To have compassion for another’s human failings, just as we have failings throughout our own day. But, even if an action does need to be taken, having the space of calmness opens our mind to seeing what responses might make a true change in the situation. And it allows us to respond with an open heart as well.

Change made from an open heart and an open mind is expansive, creative and loving. It heals. Change that is attempted from a reactionary place of indignation, resentment or outright hate may even lead to something happening. We may even call this a change, but it will seldom be for the long term good and it will never be loving or healing. It is not growth.

I know we really want the world to heal. I know we really want to see, feel and experience love and peace in the world. I know we all want to be supported and accepted in the world. We each have to take our own responsibility for our part in that puzzle.

That doesn’t mean working harder to make the other guy change. It means we each have to keep taking a closer look inside. Over and over, all day long, every single day. And changing ourselves .

Not by shaming ourselves, but by being gentle, loving and strong with ourselves. We have to be our own guides and the kindest parents and teachers we could have ever hoped for.

As we practice that with ourselves each day, we will begin to practice love and kindness with each other more easily. As our sharp reactions change to loving and wise responses, the people around us will begin to respond differently. As our energy shifts, it will ripple out. Start within yourself. Have peace there first.

Surrender: Non-attachment & Peace

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Surrender: Non-attachment & Peace

This is a link to my article on elephant journal. I hope you enjoy! Please share your comments and feel free to share the article with anyone you feel inspire to.

Healing Through Freedom

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This is for my personal healing. I will say all I need to say without holding back. By doing this I will make peace with my inner self, my Higher Self will be able to more fully flow through me and my true purpose in this life will be more fully realized.

My purpose in arriving in this body, in this realm was not to strive to impress people or satisfy their judgments. Judgments are useless and we can never satisfy everyone’s judgments. I will never seek to harm another and will strive to avoid harm and relieve suffering. I am through tying this to judging my own individual behavior in every move I make and every thought I think, simply to satisfy what I believe someone else would want me to be. I am especially done believing I am not good enough or whole if someone doesn’t like me, doesn’t approve of me or doesn’t think like I do. I am always whole.

I am here for a reason, just as we all are.

I will not forget that again simply because someone else does. I have no need to think exactly as someone else does. We are all unique and this makes life full and helps us grow.  I will appreciate that, not fight against it. I don’t need correcting, nor do I need to correct others. I am not misunderstanding things. I am not blind. I am not crazy, wrong or evil simply because I don’t see things as someone else does. We all see things in our own way and we grow in our own time. I will be my true self. By doing this, I will live in joy and health, rather than dysfunction and illness. I will shine in my freedom and I won’t let my fears about others opinions shadow my light.

I am a Child of Pure Spirit. As such, I am purifying myself of obstacles such as conformity, guilt and shame so I can see the Essence of the Pure Spirit from which I came and to which I will return. A Phoenix cannot rise if it never burns. I am burning the dark, heavy parts accumulated from this world, the things that build up in all our hearts and minds and collect in the cells of our bodies. As I transform these things, I am released to rise to higher, freer, more open levels. Like the Phoenix, I am freer with each burn.

I may be misunderstood at times. This may change in time. Or it may not. I am turning this over to the Universe.  I release past harm I may have caused out of misguided ignorance on my path to this point. Ignorance and fear have often gotten the better of me. My hope is that we all watch for them.

My freedom is as much to free others as it is to free myself.

My hope for all is that we all know we are whole and lovely. By stepping into my Oneness, I hope to help others understand their own Oneness. I have needed to heal. I could not see this for a long time. I see my life has gone just the way it needed to in order to bring me to this point.

My past has often been painful and grief filled. I have had to face those demons in order to expand and see every aspect of the beauty of life and all it gives. I am doing my work to recognize and heal any sad, lonely children inside me. This is my wish for the world.

I accept that I do not have control over everything. In fact, in the past there have been times where I had little control over my own living situation, memories or thoughts. Compassion, empathy and understanding of a larger picture are all things I am trying to practice. Not everyone is. I get that. But I am and I will also practice compassion with myself.

I will eat, live and work in a way that acknowledges that we are all part of the same Energy.

This includes everything. The Earth, the Universe, supports and gives us this life force energy and it is all around us—literally. We breathe it, it courses through us, we drink it, eat it, can’t be alive without it and when we die, every part of us changes into different aspects of this same Energy. It keeps flowing, eternally. It’s beautiful and everything has this. Nothing is OK to destroy or hate. It’s all life. It all flows into and from the same Source. Out of, into, from and through. Over and over.  I am in awe of it and I hope to honor it with the way I live.

We are ALL worthy

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We are all, each one of us, children of Divine Source. Everything in creation, seen and unseen is also from this same Source, usually called God. (Replace the words I use with whatever word makes you feel comfortable. It doesn’t matter; it is all the same—Universe, Source Energy, Creator, Ultimate, or God/Goddess.) There is not only no reason for us to feel unworthy, but perpetuating feelings of unworthiness is much like denying our divine nature.

I have felt my connection to God and the miraculous since I was a child. Long before I had words to put to the experience, I felt God, angels and spirits flowing around and through me. I did not grow up in a household that attended church. I simply knew. I think this is how we all start out. As children, we understand our true origins and it doesn’t occur to us to question it.

As I got older, I asked more questions about God looking to put words to the internal knowing I felt. I remember the first time I did this. I was about six. I felt that the answers I got were incomplete and even confused. I felt like there was more that we weren’t allowed to talk about or that the adults we denying their own internal knowledge. They were holding back in some way I did not comprehend.

By seven, I sought out my answers by going to church on my own. I rode a church bus to Sunday school at a local church every week. This was the beginning of my learning that some questions are very shocking and others aren’t allowed. Ideas of shame, fear and anger seem to be the prevailing thought pattern in most churches.

Since then, I have attended various different kinds of Christian churches. As an adult, I have read and studied the texts of other religions as well. The realization I keep coming back to is that God is not limited to the definitions and dogmas of any particular religion. I do feel that religion can be and is useful. But we have to be careful not to limit our understanding of God to mere words and their interpretation. God is ultimately beyond our full capacity to comprehend while still in this dimension. God must be more intuited and felt than rationalized into words. Neither science nor religion can fully explain Truth. However, both science and every religious text I have read confirm that Energy is everywhere. Everything is made of it and surrounded by it.

If God is in us, and we are made from God, then we are not unworthy as God’s Children. To act as if we are is to deny the gift of the spark of God we are given. Psalm 82:6 says: I say, ‘You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you.’ What else would you call children of God but gods? We co-create with God flowing through us, into the reality all around us. We are miracles and we are participants in miracles through the energy of God. Yet feelings of unworthiness cause us to deny miracles all the time. We act as though admitting that we are capable of asking for and receiving a miracle is somehow wrong or to be feared.

We ignore our intuition (the voice of God) and resist even asking for the real transformations we seek. Many of us are afraid to even voice that we understand our true connection to Source. It almost seems mandated that we hold ourselves in a small place and call ourselves bad and unworthy. We fill ourselves with guilt for simply existing. But we are God’s children. Source brought us into being. Source is Love. Source is part of everything. It can be denied and ignored, but it remains.

Jesus spoke of this many times in the book of John, including referring to Psalm 82:6 in John 10: 34-38.  In John 14: 9-12, Jesus affirms again that we are all interconnected through God and that we are able to do all that Jesus did—and more. Speaking to Phillip, Jesus said “Have I been with you all this time, Phillip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say ‘Show me the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these.” To me this means learning the things Jesus taught and applying them. I don’t see that as a blind belief that we would be somehow saved through the birth and death of Jesus. I understand that we are to come back to that intuitive “knowing” that we already have Christ consciousness in us from the start. The goal then is to return to it, to resurrect it in us. It is a remembering of our true origin, our divinity. The one we were born with and forgot along the way. This opens us to much more than we are able to see without it. It also allows us to stop condemning and judging ourselves and each other. Our minds and hearts become open and able to see and perform miracles.

In John 14:20, Jesus says “On that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you”. This is interconnection! I have heard many interpret this as meaning we will not understand this until we reach Heaven, or until the Apocalypse comes. To me this understanding creates Heaven! Heaven is within, no matter where you are. God is not dependent on time or place. If God is within, we are experiencing God at every moment. We simply lose awareness of this. Reminding ourselves is so important. In remembering this, each one in themselves, we transform the world. We create Heaven on Earth and in all dimensions. The only thing we can do with this understanding is to love ourselves, each other and everything in creation. Love is transformative. It creates miracles.

When we hold ourselves or someone else as unworthy or even as separate, we are denying our essence. We need to remember that the underlying message of every religion is love, forgiveness, compassion and understanding of ourselves. Without fear. In peace. It is what Jesus taught. There is no reason to limit God in our minds and hearts. God is limitless. Christ awareness is in every person. The Divine is in every person. We are all part of God. ALL is in God’s image. ALL are worthy of love. Do not judge. Do not fear. Be at peace.