After fifteen years working with people, I’ve noticed that one of the major obstacles to spiritual growth is the way we think. Often we trap ourselves with our own thought processes and don’t even notice. The way we think can set up a wall we then struggle to get over. Or even keep failing to get over.
A wonderful feeling of relief occurs when we realize the wall is in our heads. It is created by the way we think about the things in our life. I saw an example of this when a client, who desperately wanted to become a personal coach, had dropped out of training due to ill-health and fatigue. A year later, now a woman in her late 40’s, she was determined to become a fitness instructor.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I want to be bold, confident and be able to speak loudly,” she said with great intensity. “When I was a child, I was sick, shy and quiet.”
A Life Pattern
This woman’s mother had been very dominant, very capable and never more loving than when her child was ill. Perhaps early conditioning had suggested it was safer to pull back into weakness and inability rather than compete with her mother by being strong and confident.
So the pattern of weakness was repeating, although it was wearing different clothes. Problems with her knees and back were forcing her to interrupt her training as a fitness instructor. So here she was again, reaching for happiness only to find it turning into a mirage.
Adding to her anxiety was her fear of her husband leaving her if she didn’t stop “being such a drag.” (To quote her.) It seemed pretty obvious that she was dealing with conditioning left over from her relationship with her mother who was now long dead.
Fear was giving her the storyline that the only gateway to become the woman she wanted to be – bold, confident and able to talk straight from the hip – was to become a fitness instructor.
A Path to Transform
“Why do you have to be a fitness instructor to be that way?” I asked. “Why don’t you just practice behaving that way, just in your day-to-day life?”
“Oh,” she said, the light dawning. “But how do I do that? I don’t know how to change?”
“Will it. Really let yourself feel how much you want to be that way. Then every night before you go to sleep, review the events of the day and redo them. See yourself being bold, confident and speaking with presence. You’ll start seeing the change right away. If you keep doing your nightly review and revisioning, you will change permanently.And the more passionately you wish to drop the old game, the sooner and more completely you will.”
I think the world lost a fitness instructor but gained a woman living with more integrity.
Releasing Old Conditioning
Usually when one is growing out of conditioning as this woman is, one experiences both a repeat of the old behaviors and feelings of intense vulnerability at the same time.
Many of us try to avoid dealing with vulnerability because of fears of weakness. But vulnerability can be the doorway to God because it often forces us to open the door to the higher power, to ask for help, and also to take action that support ourselves, such as using our mind to help rather than hinder ourselves.
Sometimes, if we’re feeling good and not experiencing pain, it can be easy to forget about God entirely. In any spiritual path, it can be very helpful to actually look at how one is thinking and bring it out into the light of day, rather than circling round in a labyrinthine structure of what we think is true.
Sometimes our mind is being controlled by fears we adopted early in life more than we realize. Once we recognize it, however, the game can’t continue which leads to the good news. The answer can be simpler and more direct than we ever thought possible.
Next time I saw my client, she spoke more true to her heart and more confidently. Yes!
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