— Brené Brown
The ego’s mantra is to feel more, do more, have more, be more. It screams, “I am not enough!” It believes the next moment, the next hour, the next future will better. We humans can so easily get pulled into these thoughts.
I find it easier to be with these thoughts and feelings when I realize they are simply part and parcel of the human experience. I have heard George Pransky say, if you are a dishwasher, you have to expect that some dishes will get broken in the course of your job. If you play a sport, you will win some games and lose others. This helps me to see if you are human, there will be times when you feel unworthy and not good enough. It simply comes with the territory. It is no big deal. Somehow understanding this makes it easier for me to accept those experiences. It shrinks them down to size and supports me with getting dehypnotized by the thoughts.
Understanding the cause-effect relationship between thoughts and feelings is helpful too! Knowing I am feeling my thinking and not reality puts things into perspective. Recognizing these thoughts will pass makes them more bearable when they occur. Understanding the negative quality of my feeling state is a tip off to the distorted quality of my thoughts is useful as well because it helps me to take them less seriously.
I used to think I needed to work at having less negative thinking. I wanted to have more good feelings so I put pressure on myself to feel good. I believed being in my line of work meant that I needed to feel good most of the time. I didn’t realize how much suffering this pressure was creating for me. I didn’t see that I was actually torturing myself.
It may sound silly, but giving myself full permission to feel bad was liberating for me. It was another peeling away of a layer of perfectionism I had running. It meant I could relax and not be on guard with respect to my moods. I could allow myself to be and not worry about what I felt like.
Ironically, this felt good. This was actually what I was looking for all along. Rather than what I was searching for being out there at another time, I found myself not seeking. I hadn’t realized I wasn’t giving myself permission to be exactly as I was moment to moment. I didn’t know I was restricting myself. I couldn’t see the bars I was putting on myself, until I did. This doesn’t mean I don’t still have invisible bars, but I don’t have to worry about them.
I feel fresh and new.
I experienced this shift from understanding that I would always experience my spiritual nature through the world of form. This turned my thinking around and woke me up. I saw how I had been seeking my spiritual self. I had ideas about what were spiritual experiences and what weren’t.
What I saw is that I will always have human experience. My spiritual nature is experienced via my human form. Therefore, all of my human experience is of a spiritual in nature. I had a good vs. bad dichotomy running in my consciousness. This is spiritual, this isn’t. Feeling bliss is spiritual. Feeling angry is human. Feeling loving is spiritual. Feeling sad is human. When really it is all human, and it is all spiritual.
The fact that we can have any human experience at all is spiritual. That we can have thoughts, be conscious of our thoughts and experience them is spiritual. The formless intelligence coming into the world of form via human thoughts is spiritual no matter what the content of our thinking, no matter what the feeling of our experience. Now that is miraculous!
I didn’t see that before when I was busy categorizing my experiences as spiritual and unspiritual, and judging my worthiness based on how many “spiritual” experiences I was having.
I feel embarrassed to admit it now because it looks so crazy, and is probably so obvious to everyone else, and that is a spiritual experience too!
I feel like I have been looking at all of the different forms of water from tap water, to pond water, to waterfall, to ocean, thinking they are different, and finally waking up and seeing they are all made from the same stuff.
Knowing all of my human experience comes from the formless intelligence behind life helps me to experientially understand I cannot ever be separated from my spiritual nature, and understanding I will only ever experience my spiritual nature consciously via the form of thought helps me to relax. I will never be able to consciously know my formless, spiritual nature without the intermediary of my thinking. I had been trying to do this. It wasn’t rational. I wasn’t aware I was doing this to myself, but, nonetheless, I had been striving to experience the impossible. I may as well have been trying to turn myself into a dog.
Now I feel much relief letting go of at least this layer of striving. I can be satisfied with the unlimited range of my human experience without feeling I have to transcend the world of form in some magical way in order to be good enough.
That time will come soon enough when I transition out of my body and out of this life, but I don’t feel the need to rush that process.
Rohini Ross is a psychotherapist, a leadership consultant, and an executive coach. She helps individuals, couples, and professionals to connect more fully with their true nature so they can experience greater levels of wellbeing, resiliency, and success. Her years as a therapist give her significant insight regarding the impact and importance of state of mind on fulfilling potential. You can find out more about Rohini’s work on her website, rohiniross.com