“It is extremely important for all of you who work on this path to find where you fear the negative and therefore grab for the positive alternative. When you find the areas of fear, and see how you want the positive for negative motivations, you will be able to accept the rich abundance of life with a raised head, as a free person. It is this soul movement that makes all the difference.
The soul condition of fearlessness produces the conviction that nothing negative is ever necessary and that the human entity’s fate is bliss, unfoldment, and dynamic life. And where such conviction exists, outer facts must follow suit. Shrinking away from a feared alternative and wanting the positive alternative because of that, makes the latter an unreachable illusion. This may explain to many of my friends why a number of doors have remained closed for them, in spite of much progress and insight. However, it requires an extended awareness to notice the existence of fear, and to be aware of the fine differentiation between wanting happiness for the sake of happiness, or wanting it in order to avoid unhappiness.
I have discussed general aims, but your specific desires, with the fear of their opposites, have to be ascertained in your personal work. Nothing is too big or too little, important or unimportant, when it comes to the human psyche. For anything that may appear to be an insignificant aspect is, in the last analysis, connected with the great questions of life. When you find these elements, new doors will open to you, my friends. Even before you can shed the fear itself, ascertaining it and knowing what it means must make a great difference in your attitude to yourself, to life, and to the particular desire that has remained unfulfilled because you have overlooked the shift in motivation. This is an all-important key.
Don’t overlook either that the presence of a fear of the negative does not necessarily annul a healthy wish for the positive for its own sake. It is absolutely possible — in fact, it is frequent — that a healthy wish exists simultaneously with the distorted motivation.
Once you put your finger on the fear, you can directly treat it in your meditations. This will make a great deal of difference on your path. It can be a solution to many problems that have remained stubbornly locked so far. The mere realization, “I cannot step out into freedom because I want freedom not for itself, but because I fear to be imprisoned,” will bring liberation a great step closer. If you realize that you cannot be free because you fear unfreedom, in that realization greater freedom is yours. This may sound complicated and quite paradoxical, but if you deeply think about it, you will understand how true it is.”
– Eva Pierrakos, Pathwork Lecture 130: Finding True Abundance by Going Through Your Fear
I haven’t yet come out the other side, but these are some things that I found important when making decisions/ figuring things out.
1. Find your real motivations for doing something:
“As you view what is at stake in an issue, you will seldom find an answer by asking whether the action you contemplate is right or wrong. Since none of you would ever consider committing an antisocial or sinful act, the decisions you are faced with could be right either way in principle. Yet, for each individual there is always only one right way and many, many wrong ways possible. So you have to consider your honest motives behind your apparent good motives; that will determine the right or wrong action for you, not the ethical value of the action itself. As long as you have not found all the motives behind a desire, you will not be able to know the right action for you. The right procedure is not to ask God simply to let you know whether to do such and such, thus avoiding the work of self-knowledge on your part. There may be isolated instances where this can be the right thing to do, but not generally, not when there seems to be a repetitive pattern and a conflict involved. The right procedure is to decide wholeheartedly that you wish to find all the motives behind the conscious motive, and for that you should pray for God’s help.” – Eva Pierrakos
“People who do not recognize their hidden motives cannot conduct their lives freely. They are enslaved to their lower selves, to their unrecognized desires, which push and pull them backwards and forward, left and right.” – Eva Pierrakos
2. Consider whether you are ready to pay the price:
“You often desire the impossible, like a child: you find yourself desiring something that cannot be had, or for which you are not prepared to pay the price.” – Eva Pierrakos
“In your unwillingness to pay the necessary price for a desired goal, you leave the issue in the unconscious, thinking childishly to go around it.” – Eva Pierrakos
3. Don’t expect the Divine to solve your problems without your active participation:
“If your present situation feels unsatisfactory in any way, or if you are not clear about a decision you are called upon to make, do not expect God to decide for you or to alter an unpleasant situation without your active participation in the process. You have to realize that there must be something in you that contributed to the undesirable circumstance to begin with and be willing to find what it is and change it. Do not forget that the wrong is not necessarily a sinful action or thought, but an unrecognized emotion that surges in a wrong channel or violates a spiritual law. God recognizes your goodwill, and if you combine prayer with the work of self-examination and tearing down your masks, His answer will become ever more clear, so that there will be no possible room for doubt in you. But as long as your resistance against this way of working persists, no matter what the pretexts and excuses are, the sluggishness and the immaturity of your lower self has the better of you. You will have wrong reactions and distorted instincts, which you will then want to interpret to fit the resistance of your lower self.” – Eva Pierrakos
“Those who will not make a decision are often the same who most sincerely strive to follow their soul’s yearning. Although they truly want to do what is right and just, they shy away from doing something because it may not please God. They are afraid of doing wrong so they do not do anything. They do not understand that by not making a decision they also make a decision. The world, and what you call time, never stands still. Everything is in the stream of life, and whatever you do, including not doing anything, must have a consequence. When you shy away from making a decision, it means you have not yet found a key to your soul. You live, possibly without being aware of it, in fear. You do not take command of your ship, believing and hoping—again unconsciously—that God or fate will make the decision for you. Once in a while this may even happen, but, in general, God’s world is not permitted to interfere, since one of the things you have to learn is to take responsibility for your decisions. You have to learn to pierce the dark cloud which obscures the truth and creates confusion. You must do so by your own effort, by your personal spiritual endeavor, by your increasing self-awareness.” – Eva Pierrakos
“The answer and the key to God’s will are within you.” – Eva Pierrakos
This makes me realize that words of wisdom need to unlocked. It’s like you receive a treasure chest, but you have to find the key within yourself to open it. The tricky part is that we may interpret certain words to mean something that appeals to the lower self, so experience/reflection is needed.
4. A shift in perspective can bring about change on its own:
“So you overlook the simple fact that first your ideas have to change before the vexing conditions have a chance to change too. Thus you find yourself at a certain crucial point on this path in a vicious circle: you wait for a change in your conditions, while the conditions wait for you to change your ideas.” – Eva Pierrakos
“But whatever the problem is, be aware that this problem is in direct connection with an inner wrong attitude of yours and pray for recognition, for guidance, for enlightenment in this respect. If you search in this direction at all and if you are really open to find your particular answer and to see the connection of your outer problem with the inner one, guidance can be given; or rather, the recognition will come to you, for often the guidance is there but you refuse to see it! You refuse to see the signs, the many pointed signs, that are constantly given you.” – Eva Pierrakos
5. Abundance needs to be cultivated from within:
“The open energy system which creates richness flowing into you both from within and without must come from your own richness that can afford to lose at the moment. Then you can afford to tolerate the temporary pain of finding what really obstructs the fulfillment of the unfulfilled need, and ultimately remove it by changing an inner attitude. This is the way to create richness from poverty.
A sequence of steps must be undertaken in this process. Step number one: recognize the conflict we have just discussed where you struggle between resorting to hopelessness or to pushing, holding, and applying pressure from above. Step number two: see that this conflict exists because you operate from the premise of an imaginary poverty, convinced that you could not have what you need if you gave up the pushing, holding, pressuring struggle. You believe that you are condemned never to experience the fulfillment you long for, without which your personality cannot thrive. Step number three: commit yourself totally to working out the real reasons for your unfulfillment in the usual way you learn on this path. This must be done in a spirit of honesty, perseverance, patience, and humility. Humility means not blaming the universe for your poverty in a particular area of your life, but instead searching for your distortions that have created this poverty.” – Eva Pierrakos
“You must first create the inner attitude in which you can accept the not having with good grace and still feel, perhaps even because of it, your inner wealth.” – Eva Pierrakos
6. See the connection between freedom and self-responsibilty:
“The infant in you desires everything the way it wants it, how it wants it, and when it wants it. But it goes further than that. This desire includes wanting complete freedom without responsibility. You may not be aware that you desire just this. But I am sure that by investigating some of your reactions and asking yourself what they truly mean, when you come to the root, you will undoubtedly find that this childish part of your being desires just that. You want to have a benign authority above you who steers your life in all ways as you desire. You wish complete freedom in every way; you want to make independent decisions and choices. If these prove good, it is to your credit. However, you do not wish to be responsible for anything bad that happens. Then you refuse to see the connection between such a happening and your own actions and attitudes. You are so successful in covering up these connections that, after a time, it takes a great deal of effort indeed to bring the connection out into the open. This is so because you wish to make this authority responsible for the negative things only.” – Eva Pierrakos
“It is not only the pain of unfulfillment that you cringe away from, however. You also do not want to take upon yourself mature self-responsibility. This may not apply to all your outer material life, but may affect the emotional plane. If you do not wish to love, and live in fear of being hurt, if you do not wish to take the risk of living upon yourself, you wish to remain the child who waits helplessly for life to fulfill its needs without the necessity of self-involvement. The price you pay for such evasion is very high. Many of you do not yet realize how high that price is. This running away from self-responsibility and from the apparent risk of living and feeling is caused by an original sense of inadequacy, and continuing to run away increases that sense of inadequacy. Only as you change this pattern will you find your sense of adequacy and self-confidence. The psychic law that says that running away from the original pain of unfulfillment increases the unfulfillment, and therefore the pain, operates here, too.” – Eva Pierrakos
7. Identify dual either/or thinking (rebellion vs submission) / Accept current limitations:
“As you accept the narrow structure and recognize it for what it is—the product of your limited thinking—so will your scope of freedom widen. But it does not widen by rebelling against the necessary outer boundaries, and against what appear to be restrictions. Freedom comes from an intelligent recognition of the structure and from the choice to accept it. This choice is made not out of fear and weakness, dependency and submission, nor is it a rebellion of the inner tyrant, which disregards reason and wisdom. It is made with the will to see the truth and meaning and lovingly accept, on those grounds, the narrow structure of the present, even if this seems at first to restrict personal desires. This is the act of love and freedom. The first two alternatives of fearful acceptance and blind rebellion are obviously unloving and unfree. They are not deliberate choices, but blind, automatic reactions, and they bear the seed of hate, distrust, suspicion, selfish demands, maligning of truth.” – Eva Pierrakos
8. Save yourself:
“When I cast my mind back to my upbringing and my life overall, I recognize the times when I was hostage to factors which set me desperately searching for rescue. Rescue implied to me that an outside force, person or persons, would appear to help me out of my unhappy circumstances. But no one would appear. No rescue was at hand. I could have sat on the “rock” of my solitude until I was a very old man, awaiting some nameless, faceless rescue “party”, like someone lost in the wilderness. But when I realized that the wilderness was the landscape of my own making – and of my own mind – I began to feel a strong impetus to take action to get out of the uncomfortable place in which I had somehow landed. That rescue, I eventually concluded, could only come from within myself.” – J. Paul Nadeau, Hostage to Myself
9. Use your willpower wisely:
“You can use your willpower in two very distinct ways. One creates a pressure and tension that will rob you of your peace; it leads you away from the state of detachment so necessary for attaining spiritual and emotional maturity. The other flows freely, strongly, and vitally and will never hamper your serenity; it works deep inside and yet quite consciously; it wills strongly and yet patiently; it leaves you free and detached, yet never passive and resigned. One will-stream comes out of your higher self, the other out of your lower self. If you will something that is against divine law and divine will, it will never give you peace. However, it is also possible for you to will something that is utterly right for you, but to do so in the wrong way, thereby mingling in wrong currents or wrong motives.” – Eva Pierrakos
10. Choose wholeheartedly:
“unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.
when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.
there is no other way.
and there never was.”
– Charles Bukowski
“Wherever conflicts exist, in one way or another, you have not made your decisions properly. Do not remain on the surface level; you will have to dig deeper into your emotions in order to find the answer. Within your emotions, sooner or later you must find—provided you search honestly—that you have somehow not made a whole decision; you had somehow hoped to gain the advantage without accepting the disadvantage. And often you even hope—again without thinking it through clearly—to at the same time gain the advantage of both alternatives and to be spared the disadvantage of either. This amounts to cheating life, and the result must inevitably be that life will teach you a lesson and you will reap the disadvantages of both or all sides which you wished to avoid.” – Eva Pierrakos
11. It’s ok to admit that you don’t yet have the answer:
“If, after taking on the problem, you come to the conclusion that you are not yet capable of making a decision because you are not yet able to perceive which direction to take, you are in a totally different state. Then you can ask God for inspiration and knowledge and thus be ready to receive it and act accordingly. The needed recognition will come to you when you have prepared yourself through your own endeavors. It is one thing to avoid a decision, cover up everything that relates to it, and turn away from the problem altogether. It is quite another to strive for truth and knowingly and willingly decide not to make a decision until, after more personal effort, you are ready to take the right course. And when the decision is truly the right one, no shadow of a doubt will be left in you. The result will be ever-increasing inner peace and harmony in your soul. Only in this way can you become the captain of your ship.” – Eva Pierrakos
12. There is a difference between intuition and resonance:
Ideas can resonate with the lower self or with the higher self. They can resonate with hidden motivations and fears that haven’t been made conscious and they can feel ‘right’ too, although from my experience they have a more temporary nature.
13. Being aware of your fears helps:
“The great enemy is fear, and the best way to meet and conquer this enemy is first to ascertain, admit, and articulate it. This approach will diminish fear to a considerable degree and open the way to further measures for ousting it. Of course, the desire to do so must, as always, be clearly expressed in one’s thinking and intentions. However, if you struggle against fear out of fear of fear, this will be difficult. Therefore, the calm admission and the momentary acceptance of it will do more toward its elimination than fighting against it would.” – Eva Pierrakos
14. Ideas of right and wrong (should/must/have to) can delay/hinder progress:
One time during meditation I had the following thought:
“I want to… because… ! I don’t wanna hear any I have tos! ”
And I believe that the motivation for doing something is where it’s at.
“As long as your “right” conduct is motivated by stringent self-moralizing, based on “good or bad,” your goodness or righteousness is not genuine. It does not come from natural insight and inner growth but from fear: the fear about your imperfection. Therefore, such “goodness” is ineffectual, unconvincing to yourself as well as to others. It is a compulsion, not a choice. And you cannot be in reality when you are compulsive, for reality cannot be evaluated in the extreme terms of good or bad. When these terms cease to apply to anything but very crass issues, the borderlines become subtle and hazy. The issue is no longer capable of being settled by quick judgment about what is good or bad. Then the truth can be found only deep within yourself, instead of in the rigid laws and rules you borrow because you are too insecure to delve into your own soul. But since you don’t dare to find the truth there, you adhere to ready-made rules, and the moment you do you moralize.” – Eva Pierrakos
“This moral structure actually takes the place of the self: you trust in rules rather than in yourself. This is a very shaky trust, for such rules may often be inapplicable to certain real situations. You may often have to grope when you find yourself not knowing what is right. However, if you cannot accept yourself as a human being, fallible and often confused, then this unavoidable confusion has the power to disrupt you completely. You may attribute the disruption to the situation itself, but in reality, it stems from your attitude about yourself. You will always want to find the final solution at once. And this urge is dictated by the false belief that you prove yourself unworthy if you admit that you do not know the answer, or simply have negative, undeveloped reactions.
So the first thing to learn on this path now is the ability to accept not only your fallibility but that you often do not know the answer. If you learn this and at the same time still like yourself, then slowly but surely your emotions will mature and your reactions will change, and a healthy trust in yourself, in your natural, spontaneous reactions, will follow. You will become more lenient with yourself and will no longer need perfection as the only basis for respect.” – Eva Pierrakos
15. Difficulties can be linked with personal defects:
“Although you really want to claim your goal, you still feel it is impossible. There is some wall that does not let you get through. This wall must never, under any circumstances, be disregarded or glossed over. You must never use pressure from your will to overcome the “no” of this wall. Such forcing will remove you further from your real self within and hence from the reality of the life where all good is available. Instead, you have to interpret the meaning of the wall. Translate it into clear words. Whether you doubt that you can have your goal or feel guilty about getting it, or have a sense of not deserving it, or are afraid of life’s demands when you do have it, these still do not add up to the final answer. The reservation within yourself must be linked with a character defect you have not really faced, nor do you wish to, because you do not want to abandon it.” – Eva Pierrakos
I was in an antique book store a few weeks ago and among other interesting titles I found Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss. I had never read a book by her before but I wanted to so I bought it. I noticed that one page was bent at the top corner, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. A few days later I started reading it and I was amazed at how good this book was. I have read many books on topics like these, yet this one felt so unique. It was about how the reality we experience is closely related to our state of consciousness. In particular this book looked into how people can get sick when they don’t deal with the catalysts in their lives properly. It made a parallel between the 7 chakras (Buddhism), the 7 sacraments (Christianity) and the 10 sephirot (Kabbalah/Judaism) in order to show that they referred to the same things and provided insight into how imbalances can develop into our systems in relation to these energy centers. She explained through many stories of her patients how these imbalances are ways of showing us that we are refusing to acknowledge something in ourselves and how illnesses develop in our bodies in order to get our attention. If the catalyst is not dealt with at a mental level, then it moves into the body.
The stories were the highlight of the book and were very powerful illustrations of the insights that Caroline provided. A chapter was dedicated to each Chakra/Sacrament/Sephirot correspondence. The page that had a bent corner was on the Third Chakra chapter: Personal Power (now that I think about it, it seems very fitting). It was on page 180 (180 degrees = changing directions/changing mind?) and this is what it said:
“ For the most part information that is accessible to intuition makes its presence known by making us feel uncomfortable, depressed, and anxious – or at the other extreme, drifty and detached, as if we were suddenly cut off from all of our own feelings. In dreams of an intuitive nature, we receive symbols of change or chaos. Such dreams often occur more intensely during emotional crises. Energy or intuitive sensations signal that we have reached a crossroads in our lives and  that we have an opportunity to influence the next stage of our lives, at least to some degree, through the choice we make now.
The intuition and the independence of the third chakra together give us the capacity to take risks, to follow through on gut hunches. Evan, twenty-eight [my age], contacted me because he was suffering from a severely ulcerated colon. As I evaluated him, I kept receiving the impression of a horse being led to the starting gate but never running the race. He seemed to have no energy left to stand on his own. In fact, he seemed to have fled from the opportunities life had given him because he was afraid of failure. He would not take even one chance to seek confirmation of an intuition.
In his own words, Evan’s life had been a series of false starts. He had considered all sorts of business ventures, but had decided against each of them. He was forever studying the stock market, looking for a formula that revealed the rise-and-fall pattern of stock prices. Obsessed with this ideal, he had carefully accumulated statistics. Actually, he had become pretty good at identifying stocks that were about to increase in value. When I asked him why he didn’t just go ahead and invest in some of those stocks, he said, “The formula is not yet perfect. It has to be perfect.” Yet, he was filled with bitterness toward himself because he knew he would have earned a great deal of money had he followed through on some of his hunches. In fact, he would have become fairly wealthy. When I commented that, having done so well on paper, he was equally likely to succeed in an actual investment, Evan responded that the stock market is volatile, and he could never be certain that his hunches would prove accurate.
With the ulcerated colon, Evan’s body was being ripped apart by his inability to act on his gut hunches. He could not bring himself to invest even a little money in a stock. His fear of taking a risk was literally destroying his body, yet he was completely obsessed by a business that is nothing but risk. Telling Evan to use a relaxation  technique would have been about as helpful as telling a teenager to be home on time. Evan needed to release his computerlike mind and shift to his gut instincts. He insisted his gut instincts don’t provide “proof” of outcomes, but only suggest possibilities.”
— Caroline Myss, Anatomy of the Spirit
I was blown away by how much this resembled the biggest challenge I was facing. I too felt too afraid to try anything as long as I didn’t have the certainty it was going to end in success. This was a beautiful synchronicity telling me I had to initiate something, whatever it may have been. And I wasn’t doing anything. I had received similar guidance at the beginning of the year when I was watching The Office. It was that episode when Jan comes to Scranton to talk to the girls and she tells Pam about some free art courses that are available, and Pam doesn’t know whether she should take the opportunity or not. My right ear started ringing just as Jim was telling Pam “you’ve gotta take a chance on something sometime, Pam.” I usually get ear ringing in my right ear when I need to pay attention to something I’m experiencing, whether a thought, or something I see or hear somewhere. It usually means “this is important!” or “pay attention!” or “this!” At that time I had quit my job for a few months and I still had no idea what I was gonna do next. So the message was spot on. I found it incredibly beautiful to receive such graceful guidance.
More recently I was on Omegle and I was feeling king of discouraged and I just needed to talk to someone. For those who haven’t used it, Omegle is a website where you can chat with random strangers. It has both a video version and a text version, though I wouldn’t recommend the video one. I was connected to a guy from Australia who had woken up too early and couldn’t fall back asleep. He was a psychology student, so I became his subject for a good chunk of our conversation which was kind of fun. I started telling him about my exaggerated sense of self-doubt and this is what he told me:
Stranger: I think to succeed something you should be okay with failing
Stranger: Because you can’t get anything without struggling
Stranger: And through that struggle you draw your path better than before
Stranger: Which might lead you to success
Stranger: Thus, failure is a risk that should be taken to succeed something
Stranger: Like for example
Stranger: Let’s say you were hurt from your ex
Stranger: And you’re very done with your love life
Stranger: But that shouldn’t stop you from loving someone again
Stranger: Like I get it, you might end up getting hurt again but what if you become very happy
Stranger: So that’s the risk to take to become happy
And it was like, oh wow, how do I manage to forget the basics so often? Why don’t these things stick with me? Why are my whys not strong enough? Why am I avoiding choice? And I figured I have a big commitment problem, I always want to keep my options open. I seem to be afraid of taking risks, even though I thought myself to be courageous. And I have been courageous in many instances, and yet there are some things that I just don’t seem to want to risk. I think these are some things that have made me lose confidence in myself:
- I take on challenges which are too big, and I get discouraged when they don’t work out and I attribute the failure to my lack of skill.
- I don’t break down challenges into achievable milestones and so the climb seems too long and the rewards too little.
- I change my mind too often and it has become too strong a habit. It’s like a black hole sucking me in whenever I need to make a decision, like I can feel the pull of doubt dragging me into confusion.
- I have bathed into victim mentality for a while and I have allowed myself to believe that I was powerless. I refused to take responsibility for the way I feel and I let others decide things for me.
- I am afraid of missing chances and of making mistakes. I feel pressured by the idea that each choice has vast ramifications, and I want to make sure that it leads to good things.
- Once I make a decision I go through the decision process again to make sure I didn’t overlook anything, which starts making the other option more appealing.
- I question myself too much. I try to analyze too many aspects of a problem and I lose perspective by focusing on the details.
- I have a sense of guilt which creates mental confusion.
The guy from Omegle reminded me that any choice implies some form of struggle and has attached to it the possibility of failure, of making mistakes and that’s perfectly ok. It’s not about right or wrong, it’s about being clear on what you want and need and seeing which choice can provide that for you. Also it’s about choosing (the fuck) something so that you can advance by finding out once and for all if it works or doesn’t work so that you can learn something and adjust. Otherwise you’re wasting your energy on self-doubt, weakening your soul, distrusting your ability to decide and enhancing this self-image of powerlessness. Lingering there can only put you in a feedback loop. So you need to trust yourself and have faith that the path becomes clearer after you make the choice. Even if you have to change your decision afterwards. It’s exploration, learning by experiment, trial and error. Once you get the confidence, your intuition becomes stronger as well. Intuition needs to be developed too. It is strongly linked to the faith you have in yourself. But you have to choose, you have to explore, you have to start the experiment, otherwise there is no data to gather. And it doesn’t help if you’re just sitting there waiting to be illuminated as if from the ether without anything on your part.
I recently had a thought that went like “faith in yourself is the same thing as faith in God/Truth/All That Is”. I don’t know if I got it from somewhere, or if I came up with it, but I found it to be an extremely powerful idea. It may seem paradoxical, because one could say that if they had faith in God to look after them, then they wouldn’t care about doing anything in their life, and so they would just rely on the Divine Will to work things out for them. But that is not how I view it at all. That interpretation does not take into account the will as a creative act. Trusting that things will work out is both an affirmation of your own power and that of the Divine. The way I see it is that if you have faith in God/Truth/All That Is to take care of you, then you will have the courage and the confidence to do anything in life, and you wouldn’t experience self-doubt and fear, because you would know you are being supported. It’s like the saying goes “God helps those who help themselves.” The Universe seems to respond to your intentions and your thoughts.
A great book I read right around the time I was thinking about these things is The Way Out by Joseph Benner. This 45-page book is one of the most profound things I have ever read. I took some very important teachings from this book, mainly how we should defend the fortress of our mind with great care from thoughts that have no place in being there. I found the same idea of “faith in yourself is the same thing as faith in God” in this book as well. Doubts and worries weaken us and they show a lack of faith in the path that is laid out for us, a lack of faith in the Divine Will. Therefore, it is advised to relinquish such thoughts of despondency, discouragement, disappointment, doubt, fear and whatever darkness may cloud our minds and to have faith that everything is taken care of, just like a small child doesn’t doubt that his parents are taking care of his needs. That makes room for joy and curiosity and completely shifts our focus from what we think we should do to what we like and want to do.
“We will take as an illustration a friend who recently lost her position. Several weeks before, this friend mentioned to the writer that their business was very poor and that they had laid off several who had charge of departments similar to hers, and she supposed she would be the next to go. The writer remonstrated with her and tried to show that that attitude of mind would bring to her what she did not want. Two weeks later another friend reported that she had said the same thing to her, and we do not know to how many others she had voiced it. But a few days afterward, as she had pictured it, the notice of her dismissal came.
Now let us analyze the mental process which created and brought to pass the losing of her position. The conditions of the business, the letting go of other department heads and clerks naturally caused our friend to build a picture in her mind of her also probably having to go sooner or later, and through the fear of it she actually saw herself leaving. Day after day the conditions in the office, her talks with fellow employees and with others in other businesses in similar bad straits, and with those who had lost their jobs, increased and intensified her fear and helped her to build in the details of her picture, until she had it all finished and perfect. Then she naturally felt she would soon have to go.
So of course it had to come to pass.
Now do you understand? The proof that she and she alone created the necessity of her going was,
- she was the last of all the heads of departments let go, for she was the most efficient;
- she began criticizing her employers and their actions;
- she learned afterward that they did not want to lose her and they might give her back her position, having hired two young men to replace the other women let go.
But she had created on the mental plane the finished thought form of being dismissed and had vitalized it with her fears and other feelings, and as a result that thought form had to outmanifest; and so it forced itself into the minds of her employers and impelled them to do what they otherwise would not have done.”
— Joseph Benner, The Way Out
So were she to have faith that everything would work out, she would have projected that image into reality instead of feeling like a victim of circumstance. We often forget that we are creators and that our will is our greatest asset. Giving it up is equivalent to succumbing to determinism or refusing catalysts. The biggest growth we experience is when we choose.
Lastly, here are some things that I find helpful whenever I experience self-doubt:
- If I find myself overthinking things, I just stop. I postpone the decision, I give it a few more hours or days and I distract myself with something else, preferably something I enjoy doing.
- I try to see whether I got myself into this predicament due to some assumptions or shoulds. Maybe I think I should do this or maybe I’m doing this for the wrong reasons.
- I try to get into my body. Move, go out, do something. Dance, do yoga, jump around, play some sports, go running, anything that can get me back in touch with my body, as overthinking things can make you dissociated from the intelligence of your body, which is where you get your intuitive impressions.
- Breathe. Relax. It may not be that big a deal.
- Be more organized in my approach to my decision. Deal with the facts of the situation, try not to project into the future. Focus on your whys, not your shoulds and forget about the consequences.
- Realize that there are no mistakes and whatever you choose will still lead you to the right path.
- If you experience resistance to doing something, maybe you don’t really want to do it or perhaps you are not ready yet. It could be a possibility that you pushed yourself into it too soon.
- If you made a choice and old addictions start resurfacing or they get more intense, it probably means that you’re not satisfied with that decision. For me that addiction is buying books, but it can have varied and subtle manifestations, it’s whatever recurring pattern of repetitive or compulsive behavior you might find yourself engaging in.
- If your mental clarity decreases and you don’t find a sense of determination and/or joy, then you probably aren’t satisfied with the decision you made.
- If you want to do something, but you just can’t pull through, you may be holding contradictory beliefs that are causing friction with your intentions.
“Choice is the act of hesitation that occurs before making a decision.”
– Alan Watts
A few months ago I was met with a trivial decision. Do I spend another night at the country side or do I go back home? One moment the best decision seemed to be to leave, the next…to stay. Following moments…changed my mind again. Aaand…again. I probably would have gone on either changing my mind or worrying about the right decision for a while, had it not been for the heavy rain that started pouring soon after that which made it clear that I wasn’t gonna leave anywhere that night. These sorts of “hard” decisions were beginning to be regular occurrences since I made some mistakes relatively recently that I found difficult to live with [Part 1]. Decisions of whether to read a book or not, go out or stay indoors, buy an item of clothing or not soon became of life and death importance, as if the fate of the world depended on it. All aspects of the problem needed to be examined before proceeding with an action. If there was reason to suspect that the outcomes were going to be less than perfect, then the action needed to be abandoned. Due to this, I withdrew myself from many situations that I had signed up for, often times wasting money needlessly because of it.
That night at grandma’s I started feeling sick for no apparent reason other than the fact that I had induced that state to myself with excessive worrying. It started with a mild headache. Then it grew, and it grew and it grew until I started feeling feverish, the back of my neck was all clenched up, my stomach was hurting and I felt so sick I thought I was going to die. It was another “dark night of the soul”, another initiation. These were starting to get very violent. I lied in bed for a few hours and then I went outside and purged. I kept on feeling very sick, so my Mom made me some chamomile tea. When she gave me the cup, there was one word, and one word only that I could see on the cup. It was “Indecisiveness”. It hit me like a bus. There it was, the answer to why I was experiencing all those things delivered to me by the universe. I turned the cup and I saw that it was one of those cups designed for each astrological sign. This one was Libra – my sign – and it was a list of traits that were representative of it. I was amazed at this synchronicity. Soon after I was done purging I started feeling much much better. I was exhausted, but my two cats found their way to me, one on my stomach and one at my feet and all was well again. The danger had passed. But I have to tell you, for a brief moment I thought I was going to die and at times I may have even wanted it to happen.
Tom Montalk of montalk.net has spoken of a concept called Plausible Deniability, which is a way to explain away something by invoking a cause even though that cause is unlikely to be powerful enough to provoke the observed effect. That day I ate a few blueberries – which apparently can cause acid reflux/acidity in the stomach – but not nearly enough as many as would have been needed for me to have that disproportionate reaction. There was something more there, and I was being shown the weakening effects of self doubt on the soul.
I think that night was when I realized that my indecisiveness had turned into a big problem. Before that it was perhaps something to be amused about, like one of the strange things I just do. But something had changed and it was no laughing matter anymore. It was beginning to have a life of its own, like a force exercising its influence over me. Whenever I doubted myself, I could feel its presence, like it was torturing me with my own thoughts. Whenever I settled on something, it would make the other option more appealing, like I was a puppet it manipulated to its amusement. I was starting to feel like a leaf in the wind, going with the feel of the moment which could change at any time. I had lost my center. I had allowed self doubt to seep in too deep. And I was losing my sense of self.
Paul Levy described in his phenomenal book Dispelling Wetiko how humanity is exposed to a psychic virus – which the Native Americans have called wetiko – which often influences our thoughts and exploits our vulnerabilities, making us believe things that are not true or that are unproductive. I suspect my challenge that night was of a wetiko kind.
“Wetiko can insinuate itself into our decision making process by making us too intellectual, overly mental, and cut off from our feelings. And yet, wetiko can just as easily work the other way around, too, convincing us to naively and unilaterally trust our gut feelings above all else. Of course, at certain points in time we have all experienced how our gut feelings are the very form our inner knowing and wisdom is manifesting, and therefore at these moments these deeper feelings most definitely should be honored and listened to. But there are times when our thinking itself produces what seems like a gut feeling, which we then mistakenly interpret to be an expression of our inner wisdom. Our thoughts profoundly affect our emotion and the whole state of the body, which in turn affects thought in a self-reinforcing feedback loop which can easily lead us astray. Wetiko distorts our ability to differentiate between true feelings and feelings that appear to be deep feelings but are produced from thought. In addition, wetiko can obscure our discernment for when we should listen to our thoughts and follow our reason instead of simply going with our gut feelings.”
– Paul Levy, Dispelling Wetiko
Around this time of my life I would start different projects and I would abandon them soon after because they didn’t “flow” easily which is how I imagined things should go. I would start something and then lose interest, then move to the next thing and do the same. I needed the certainty that what I was doing was going to lead to great things, that the path I was pursuing was going to be fruitful. Due to this attitude towards work, I found myself discouraged by the smallest obstacles. I was in it for the outcomes, not for the struggle, and you cannot have one without the other. Of course, if you truly enjoy what you are doing, then you are willing to go through any obstacle in order to develop yourself in that area. In fact you wouldn’t even perceive those as obstacles, but like challenges in a game, thresholds that you need to pass to advance to the next level. And so work becomes play. But what I was doing was different. I constantly needed confirmation that I was going to get something out of my endeavors. If the result of my work was less than perfect I would became discouraged and I would take it as as proof that I didn’t have the skill/talent to create great things. I wasn’t willing to put in the effort, but I was expecting results. Self doubt was affecting many areas of my life.
The universe kept bringing to my attention things that showed me the erroneous assumptions I was making. One of those things was Mark Manson’s book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. That book reminded me that in life you always struggle with something, but in order to make it meaningful you have to figure out what struggles you are willing to bear. That’s why they say pick your poison. Because some poisons weaken you and even kill you while others help you become stronger. Another thing that found its way to me was an interview with Bernhard Guenther of veilofreality.com. In it he was talking about how Terrence McKenna had introduced him to psychedelics and the idea that they were tools for transformation. He said he was curious about them and he experimented with them, even taking them at rave parties in the desert. Nowadays he no longer uses psychedelics, as his journey has brought him to new realizations, as can be read here. But this story made me realize that if he had not made that choice to try psychedelics back then, had he let doubt conquer him, maybe he wouldn’t be where he is today. Had he not allowed himself to try anything because of the bad things that could happen, he would have learned nothing and he would have kept himself safe from experience. And so, even if from the perspective of today he wouldn’t do the same thing, because he’s learned a lot in the meantime, his choice at that point put him on the path to self-discovery because there were valuable lessons in that experience. He had made the right choice at that time, because that’s where his sincere seeking had taken him. And by trial and error you learn what works and what doesn’t.
Life is choosing pathways of experience. It is an awesome web of potential, highlighting threads with each choice. Focusing on the impact of your actions can remove you from the energy of the choice and instead make you imagine their consequences and implications. This backwards perspective is a way to avoid responsibility and can act as a way to justify your choices in a way that ignores the means. The choice is where it’s at, that’s where the learning occurs, the choice is what tells you who you are or where you are, not your imagined outcomes. So choose what is right and ignore the consequences, because you are choosing causes, not imagined effects. Your choice is a new cause, a new ripple, a new thread and it would be preferable to give it the momentum of truth, authenticity, wisdom and love, because that is what it will propagate. What you choose and the true intentions with with you choose create echoes that ripple across time. Infinity arrives at this one point and it’s asking you ‘how should I flow next?’ And you have the answer.
[TO BE CONTINUED…]
For quite some time now I’ve been feeling very indecisive about things. Whether it’s about important decisions like moving to a new city or minor ones like what movie to watch, it’s been taking me way too long to decide what the best options are. Usually I narrow it down to two options but the problem is that both of them seem appealing yet neither quite fitting. I mean which option is the right one? Am I selfish to be doing this or am I just doing what is right for me? Do I really need to do this or am I fooling myself? Are my motivations pure or am I deceiving myself into picking what is advantageous? These are the sort of questions that I have been torturing myself with for a while now.
The latest difficult decision I had to make was today and it was about whether I should buy two books I found in an antique store. Because…there are so many things to consider like…am I just being a compulsive book buyer? Do I really need this book? I don’t even read that much science fiction. Do I buy just one, do I buy both of them or do I not buy any at all? Ah, but I’ve been here for so long, it’d look suspicious not to buy anything. And this other book…it seems like I already know much of what it’s about…do I really need it? This is the sort of questions that arise in my mind whenever I doubt myself. Eventually I was so worn out that I just bought both books and got the hell out of there, because I was starting to have panic attack symptoms. The moment I stepped outside I started feeling better. The major challenge of casually shopping found its resolution…one way or another.
It all started in the relatively recent past when I made a couple of really bad decisions which seriously crippled my confidence in my ability to choose correctly. Since then I’ve
been trying to ensure that all things are considered before making a decision so that I don’t end up repeating past mistakes. However, this approach turned out to be a form of punishment, holding myself accountable for actions I hadn’t even performed yet. The threat of making a mistake again was enough to keep my nerves stretched until I’ve analyzed all aspects of a problem which could take hours, days, weeks or why not, months. Because you want to make sure that the choice you make is the right one. Not that it might be the right one, but that it definitely is the right one. And that’s how you fall into the other extreme where you postpone choices as much as possible until you either lose both options, or one option chooses itself by default. The fear of not making a mistake turns into the refusal of choice/agency and that is the equivalent of powerlessness.
[Duality by Louis Dyer]
Even if you eventually choose something, the doubt behind it is enough to overshadow the positive aspects of the choice, like trying to kick a ball in a straight line, but bending its trajectory instead. It soon becomes apparent that the attitude with which you make a choice influences how you will feel about the choice once it is made. For instance, now that I bought those books, I am not that excited to read them, because I bought them as an act of resignation, not as an act of joy. Some of the doubts I had about buying those books were reasonable. But I’ve become so fed up with changing my mind so often that I sometimes just get tired of arguing with myself and randomly pick something. I suppose that on top of the choices I have to make, I now have to deal with the fear that indecisiveness might turn up again. Like a self fulfilling prophecy or a feedback loop.
I’ve been reflecting on this problem of indecisiveness and I realized a few things. The first is that I have this expectation of knowing in advance whether a choice is the right choice. I need to somehow intuit or feel that my decision is the correct one, I need to feel good about it before I experience it. It’s like wanting answers to a problem before you start solving it. I think this sort of thinking switches the focus from the reasons why you are making the choice to the imagined outcome of the choice you make, which triggers what is referred to as analysis paralysis, overthinking things to such an extent that you lose sight of the bigger picture. Basically you are acting on what you think you should do instead of primarily considering your motivations for doing so.
A few months ago I was on the verge of making a very important decision. I was very conflicted about it because it was about something I didn’t want to do but I thought I needed to do it or that I had to do it. I was driving myself a bit mad with thinking about what I should do and I could not get clarity. As it happens, I sometimes like to listen to psybient music when I meditate or when I reflect on things. So I sat down on the floor in my room, thinking about all the aspects of the problem I could think of, wearing myself down with overthinking things. I was really absorbed by my thought processes, I probably wasn’t even aware of myself at that point. Each decision had its advantages, but both implied some form of struggle. So I kept analyzing things, trying to figure out what was the best course of action. And then, as if out of nowhere, I heard a voice. It said…”do you understand what I’m trying to tell you? There are no answers, only choices.” It was so sudden and unexpected that it startled me. For a second I thought that it came from the ether or from my subconscious/unconscious, or…who’s to say if they’re not one and the same thing. But no, it wasn’t a mystical experience, even though that would have been cool. The voice came from the speakers. It was a sample taken from the movie Solaris used masterfully by the guys from Carbon Based Lifeforms in a song called Set Theory. I think it was the question that woke me from my reverie: “do you understand what I’m trying to tell you?” as if shaking me into focus. I was so moved by it that I even shed a few tears. Somehow that quote was all I needed to hear. It was as though it switched something inside of me. I wasn’t going to get the answer of whether my choice was correct if I kept focusing on the outcomes.
The following days came with a few insights, though I was still confused about what to do next. The decision was about whether to go back to an old situation and synchronistically I kept meeting people from my past that were involved in that situation. My self doubt was so strong, that one night I experienced a true “dark night of the soul”, feeling as though I was under siege, and the fortress of my mind and soul were under heavy assault. That night was a much needed initiation because it opened my eyes to the fact that I’ve been lying to myself for a month and a half, thinking that going back to that old situation was a good idea. The only thing I should have considered was whether I really wanted to do that and I 100% didn’t. I even convinced myself that going back was the better option and that the friction was due to the difficulty of the choice. But that was not the case, the friction was because I was opposing myself, trying to persuade myself into thinking I was doing the right thing. Really I was just afraid of the consequences of not doing that thing, of losing people’s support for doing so. I was refusing to take responsibility for my experiences and I was going to act the way I thought I should have or the way I was supposed to, the approved way. I was quite amazed about how easy it is to deceive yourself when you don’t frame things the right way. So once I stopped resisting and made the choice, it became apparent that it was the right decision. The realization of whether the choice was good or bad would have arisen regardless of what I would have chosen. The feedback comes afterwards. The only thing you need to do is to have self awareness and honesty to call things by their right name. For me a clear indicator of having made the right choice was a sense of relief and determination and a willingness to bear all the consequences of that action. If I were to choose differently I could see myself blaming other people for it and bracing myself for the unpleasant consequences that I would not have embraced as necessary steps in my evolution, but that I would have regarded as testaments of my cowardice.
Ultimately it’s a matter of honoring yourself. You have to ask yourself whether you are choosing something you really want to do, regardless of how others feel about it. It’s a matter of principle and of courage because you have to be willing to bear the unpleasant consequences of your actions and also you have to take responsibility for the way you feel. You cannot blame others for the decisions you make, they are not responsible for your well being. That’s not to say that you should never consider how you impact others, this is an important aspect that needs to be taken into account. But you have to think about your motivations for doing something, not the consequences. Otherwise you end up negotiating with yourself about what you should do and you end up compromising.
[TO BE CONTINUED…]