I wonât pull punches here because I know the following applies to me, too.
Enlightenment isnât all love and light. It’s not for wimps. Enlightenment embraces the truth. And the truth isnât always pretty.
If you are seeking personal enlightenment, then you wonât get there by pretending.
Take a look at this list of hard truths, distilled through years of coaching, that you may have to contend with along your path. And remember, acceptance is the first step to moving beyond them.
The rewards for understanding the following are detailed at the bottom of this article. Yes, there are some amazing benefits to confronting these tendencies. Keep that in mind. This is a tough listâ¦.
Hatred is a form of passion. And it contains an element of self-justification. If you hate other people, you undoubtedly think you are better than they are. Mixed into that sense of superiority-through-hatred is a self-justifying satisfaction. Dig for it. Itâs there.
If you hate yourself, the same principle applies. Think about it.
I hate myself. This sentence assumes that I can be both the one who hates and the one who is hated. It divides your soul in two. Hating yourself is like saying, âOne part of me thinks it is better than another part of me.â
Well, youâre taking perverse satisfaction in the self-justification, are you not? Itâs self-sabotage all over again.
We seek more of what we (secretly or openly) enjoy. If youâre getting some twisted pleasure out of hating, then youâll seek more reasons to hate.
And the cycle repeats itself endlessly, doesnât it? This is why such problems tend to last and last.
We are unwittingly sustaining them! Most often, we when truly want to change, we find a way to make it happen.
There will never be a time in life without problems to solve. Often, we think that if we are successful in our personal development, then we should arrive at problem-free state.
As the late M. Scott Peck, MD so eloquently stated, âLife is a series of problems. Do we want to moan about them or solve them?â
If you love to solve problems, then youâll be good at living.
Part of everyone craves familiarity. We all find safety in it. When misery is familiar, that doesnât change a thing. We still find safety is the familiar misery.
And we cling to it. Making a change away from the misery seems scary. Who would I be without this? What would life be like?
This often happens when people try to lose weight. Once the fitness plan starts to kick in, they get scared. Scared of being thin and healthy! Why? For one, it is not familiar.
Succeeding requires learning to tolerate the success and slowly adapt to it.
Everyone is indeed extraordinary. So much so that extraordinary people are common. Extraordinary people are quite ordinary. As soon as you think youâre something pretty special, look around. Everyone is pretty special in their own way.
There is a certain freedom in copping to our ordinary-ness. It takes some pressure off. On the other hand, if we insist that we are special, it can lead to anxiety. We now have something to prove.
When someone accuses you of something, there is usually a point to it. Most of us like to focus on how unreasonable the other is being. We like to point to the exaggerations or lies, skillfully letting the truth in the accusation get lost.
Anything to keep up appearances.
What if you stopped hiding from accusations and started embracing them for what you can learn? I know, thatâs a tall order. But we are discussing enlightenment here.
A lot of us spend our lives waiting for the âbig breakâ or for when things âget better.â Better to assume that no one or nothing is going to magically happen that will rescue you from your trials.
If youâre an adult, stop waiting for things to get better and start making them better. Nobody cares as much as you do about what you want or what you are going through.
Iâm not sure what good it does to pretend you donât have any limitations. It doesnât change the fact that you do. Why not work within your honest limitations and explore them? This way, you may slowly but surely expand to your full potential.
The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection.
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Itâs a known fact, your brain secretes an additional measure of serotonin when you witness someone else fail. Some of feign compassion while secretly delighting in the failures of others.
Aw, thatâs too bad. You failed…Iâm so sorry for you. (Not. I am so glad it was you and not me).
To pretend that you donât secretly wish to be better than others is to pretend that you are not a natural, competitive human being.
The number one problem in life: defending our moral integrity while blaming others for their lack of integrity. Who wants to see their own wrongdoings? No one that I know, even the most enlightened people Iâve ever met. I also donât like to be put on the spot, confronted with my moral misgivings.
I do have moral flaws, to be sure. But donât remind me! And, hey, what about yours? How dare you judge me!
You can manage them. You canât NOT have them. You cannot help but react emotionally. The worst thing you can do is deny this. Denying your feelings leaves them unresolved. When feelings are unresolved, they tend to hang around.
If youâre in the habit of pretending you donât feel what you feel, then youâre in the habit of harboring feelings that you donât want.
Right? No one escapes the influence of parents. And nobody wants to be told, âYouâre just like your father!â
I donât anyway. But, I am just like him in so many ways. Interestingly, I am most like the parts of him that I hate.
The intention of your communication is less important than the result of your communication. If you spend energy defending your intentions, then you are actively denying the issue at hand.
What you intended doesnât matter anymore. If it does, then you are better off spending your energy by simply correcting the miscommunication rather than becoming defensive.
I like to think that my loving wife loves me unconditionally. The truth is, there are conditions on our love that work both ways.
I know how much she loves me. However, I can guarantee that if I cheated on her, hit her or began to be rude and dismissive consistently, then that would affect her love for me.
How could it not? As much as we love each other, our love would be jeopardized by chronic, hurtful behavior. Over time, the hurt could (and should) win out over the love.
If you are asking for unconditional love, then youâre really asking for a free pass that absolves you of the responsibility to keep your love alive.
The most insidious of human problems is called inner passivity. Inner passivity is the tendency to believe that things are happening to us that arenât really happening to us.
This inner voice criticizes me all the time.
Thereâs always junk food in the house, so I canât help but eat it.
My boss has it in for me.
The inner voice is you.
You choose to eat junk food.
You participate in a relationship with your boss.
Youâre actively doing the things that upset you.
16. You crave approval.
Of course we all crave it. Who doesnât love being thought well of? Yes, there are people who claim that they totally donât care what others think of them. They claim this so that you will approve of their rugged independence.
Admitting you like approval works wonders for the psyche, because itâs true.
And now for the bottom line. No one causes you more problems than you do. And this is GREAT NEWS. If you were truly a victim, then youâd indeed be powerless to make any change.
The challenge is to become aware and accept responsibility for what we are all so good at denying.
Someone who accepts all of the above:
â¢ Understands the sticky nature of hatred and can address it honestly within herself.
â¢ Understands her tendency to seek out negativity and works to end this self-sabotage.
â¢ Accepts that life is difficult and soldiers on.
â¢ Admits when she doesnât want to change and deals with the consequences.
â¢ Accepts her ordinary nature and doesnât pretend to be âall that.â
â¢ Takes responsibility for her moral choices rather than blame others.
â¢ Isnât waiting to be rescued or for magic to happen, but works, works, works on her life.
â¢ Accepts limitations and works with them.
â¢ Is aware of her human tendency to compare herself favorably and works to build compassion.
â¢ Is willing to admit when she is wrong.
â¢ Accepts her feelings and can therefore resolve them.
â¢ Is open to seeing how she is like her parents and can work on releasing those tendencies.
â¢ Doesnât defend intentions, but focuses on results.
â¢ Wants to actively create love and doesnât expect something for nothing.
â¢ Fights passivity with proactive effort.
â¢ Admits wanting approval and therefore appreciates approval when she gets it.
â¢ Searches for how she is getting in her own way and strives to free herself.
Not bad, huh? I call that pretty enlightened.
Mike Bundrant is author of the book Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions, and Self-Sabotage.
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