Friday, September 18, 2009

Do you control yourself, or does your 'self' control you?'

"This is just the way I am."
"It's the way I was raised, so..."
"This is my personality."
"I've been this way ever since I can remember. There's nothing I can do about it."
"I can't help it. I was born this way."

Have you ever uttered these phrases? I know I have. All of the above statements are excuses for complacency in unhappiness, and for us mothers, that unhappiness spreads to our children. Not sometimes, all the time. If we are simply a victim of our personalities, then we don't have to try to change, because change would be impossible.

Why don't we want to change? Why is it easier to do the same things we've always done? Is it laziness? No. There is no such thing as laziness. I am a firm believer of that, and so is Kirk Martin, my most quoted philosopher. "Lazy" is a put-down, as hurtful as "stupid" and we should never use the word to describe ourselves or anyone else. But what is the cause for lack of progress, growth, and hard work, if it's not laziness?

There can be many causes for this hiding from progression. It can be lack of vision, direction, motivation, but today I want to address the one that is often the most elusive. Safety. There is always fear, no matter how old you are, of the unknown. If none of my family or friends do things my way, I'm alone in my thinking, and it is scary. I firmly believe humans are herd animals, and it takes overcoming the herd instincts to discover our higher nature. There is a false perception of safety in a herd. We think that if we do what everyone else is doing we will be fine.

But all too often, herds are in danger and don't know it. They follow eachother off of cliffs and into high water, and wander into dangerous places where they are attacked by preditors. If we truly want to be safe, we have to rear up on our hind legs, and look out ahead to where the herd is going, and search those few sheep who've been to the edges of the clearings, and ask what they have seen. Safety is not garunteed, even then, but we will not make the same mistakes as we would have if we weren't paying attention. Think of how scary it would be for a sheep who's only looked at the ground and followed the sheep next to him, to stop and raise his head above the crowd, to see where they are going.

Can you remember being a child, lying in bed, certain there was a monster under the bed. Simply looking under the bed would have calmed your fears, but it seemed safer to simply stay put, and not move.

That is the instinct we have to overcome if we want to grow. How do we overcome those fears?

Thought patterns that portray ourselves as victims are evidence of lack of Hope. If we want joy, we must have hope. Naturally, my next question is: How do we find hope?

That is when my answer is give up.

Want to grow. Then give up trying to force growth on yourself. Seriously. Surrender. No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to change yourself. Certainly that has been my experience. Sure, I could change myself for a few months, even years, but eventually, I just couldn't keep up the effort any more, and slipped back to who I used to be. The phrase "Lift yourself up by your own bootstraps" was first coined to show how impossible that is! So where does that leave us?

The only way to change is through a higher power who possesses the strength and growth we need as well as the ability to endow that upon us, and then instead of trying to change ourselves, we are acting in faith in that higher power. We do not need to believe in ourselves, only believe that something bigger than ourselves, who cares deeply, and knows all will do that which we cannot do.

So if my goal is to stop smoking, or to stop yelling, and I have tried for years and years to kick the habit, but always find myself retreating back to a percieved, false safety, the answer is to first surrender--not to the habit, but to a loving God, and admit my powerlessness.
Then, I will receive a gift that will enlarge my soul, and change my very desires down to the core. Falling off the wagon, turning back to old habits, and other retreating actions, often stem from a desire for safety. Whether it be to follow friends and family like a herd animal, or to retreat toward a habit--to do what we have always done when we felt threatened--in other words, safety in sameness, it all stems from the same basic fear.

Fear of what? I have already stated that fear of the unknown is a factor, but searching deeper still, I ask, unknown what? Often the real triggers seem hazy. Perhaps nothing happened, or our reaction to something that happened was unbalanced. So the answer is then to dig deeper. I believe the deepest core of the issue is found in the truth in this quote attributed to Nelson Mandella:

"Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous. Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the World. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own Light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." -

My goal this week is to rely in the arm of God when I feel threatened or scared, instead of my own base coping mechanisms. My goal is to believe in Christ when I cannot, and have proven that I cannot, believe in myself. My goal is to surrender every day to a loving God through prayer. My goal is to release my crutches, and walk in faith, not in my imperfect self, but in a Jesus Christ, my savior. I love that this works every time. HE can do what I cannot do--again and again and again, He's proven this to me, and I am learning slowly, to let all the Glory be his forever and ever, Amen.

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