One of the things that put me off writing in the past was the blank page. I didn’t know what to write. I didn’t trust that something, anything, would come forward. And if it did, I didn’t trust that what I wrote would be good enough. I felt I would be faced with my unworthiness, lack of competence, and impotence — my nothingness. What I didn’t understand was that nothing is not the same as unworthy. I didn’t know that not knowing is actually a transformative experience, not something to avoid. I now see that not knowing is not to be feared. Nothingness is not empty. It is the pure potential from which all things come.
I was so used to basing my worth on being a know-it-all, that to let go of the delusion that I could figure everything out was not easy. I liked to feel better than more than I liked to feel less than. I lived for many years bouncing between the dichotomy of feeling special or feeling worthless. I thought the way off the roller coaster ride of my high and low self-esteem was to work so hard on myself that I banished any sign of human weakness and frailty.
This notion came crashing down while participating in a residential intensive with Pransky & Associates in La Conner, Washington. I went to the retreat with my usual goal of self-improvement. What I experienced instead was four days of peacefulness that comes from a quiet mind. I had no idea of the contentment possible in the not knowing. I didn’t even have enough thoughts to articulate what I was feeling. I still can’t do the experience justice with words. It sounds cliché, but I had the most amazing feelings of peace, equanimity, and love.
What was interesting to me in this awakening moment, was my flaws and weaknesses did not go away. I could see all of the parts of myself that I had previously judged as shameful. They were not gone, but I no longer judged them as bad or wrong. I no longer felt shame about them. I also saw all of the things I thought were wonderful about myself that I was proud of, and I saw they didn’t mean anything about me either. They didn’t make me good. I shifted to a new level of understanding in which I felt a level of peace of mind I had never previously felt in my life. I had a profound feeling of wellbeing than I had not imagined possible.
This experience changed my life. It was not the result of any spiritual technique or deep psychological work. It resulted from a conversation. What I saw as a result of this conversation is that all of my feelings of insecurity did not make me subhuman. I heard that I was normal, and I didn’t need to work at not feeling insecure in order to be good enough, to measure up, or to connect with my divine nature. I recognized by spending time trying to get rid of feelings of anxiety and stress, I was actually spending more time and energy feeling insecure. When I was doing this, I was not recognizing that my feelings resulted from thoughts. I believed they were based on something real. By trying to change myself or my thinking, I was bringing the thoughts of insecurity more fully to life, rather than letting them go.
I also saw it is possible to accept that I get insecure, sometimes very insecure, and it will always pass. I no longer felt the need to worry about my feelings, no matter how uncomfortable they are, because they come from thoughts that are transitory. Once the thoughts pass I return to feeling stabilized. This was all very matter of fact, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. In an instant, I let go of layers and layers of self-judgment, and my mood lifted sky high. I didn’t need to hear anything else during my stay. I just bathed in the feeling of wholeness.
This experience lasted in an intense way the four days I was there, but even though the intensity dissipated the experience did not end. I see myself and others differently now. I have a greater level of compassion for my human frailties and the frailties of others. My intention to is to help people see they don’t need to be fixed or improved. Each one of us is perfect exactly as we are, no matter what the hot mess is we perceive. Whatever it is, it will pass. Our experience only ever comes from the thoughts we breathe life into, but they eventually shift. Where we get ourselves into trouble is we engage in behaviors of varying levels of self-harm and negative consequences to cope with the uncomfortable feelings rather than recognizing the feelings will naturally pass. Our experience will change when our thinking shifts. We don’t need to work at this. The innate intelligence of our body mind system does this automatically when we get out of the way.
The suffering we experience comes from believing our self-created erroneous thoughts. We don’t need to stop these thoughts in order to feel better. We just need to understand they are thoughts, not reality. As soon as we understand the thoughts aren’t true, we know we can wait out the storm of negative thinking until we can once again experience the truth of who we are.
The shift for me was in letting go of trying to change and eradicate my insecure thoughts. It was such a huge relief to know that I am okay and valuable even with all of my insecure thinking. I don’t need to change one thing about myself or my thoughts. I could stop striving for the impossible and surrender my quest for self-improvement. When I did this, I naturally experienced more of the formless energy of my divine nature. I experienced a taste of pure awareness. I saw that we are all one. I am part of that one, and there is nothing I can do or think to change that. Oneness is simply what is. Nothing exists outside of it.
I can create all kinds of thoughts good, bad, and ugly, but the content of my thinking doesn’t change that it comes from the formless energy of my divine nature. That is what is behind every thought. That is what we are all made of and come from. Nothing can take that away from us. Therefore, there is nothing to do.
I surrender my judgments so I can experience more of the not knowing. And, against all of my fears, I don’t self-combust and disintegrate. I simply experience more of my loving nature and live a very human, ordinary life.