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Enlightenment isn’t all love and light. It’s not for wimps. Enlightenment embraces the truth. And the truth isn’t always pretty.
If you are seeking personal enlightenment, then you won’t 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 list….
1. You secretly enjoy what you hate.
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. It’s 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, “One part of me thinks it is better than another part of me.”
Well, you’re taking perverse satisfaction in the self-justification, are you not? It’s self-sabotage all over again.
2. And you’re subconsciously seeking more of it!
And the cycle repeats itself endlessly, doesn’t 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.
3. Your problems will never go away.
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, “Life is a series of problems. Do we want to moan about them or solve them?”
If you love to solve problems, then you’ll be good at living.
4. You don’t really want to change.
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.
5. You’re not special – you’re pretty ordinary.
Everyone is indeed extraordinary. So much so that extraordinary people are common. Extraordinary people are quite ordinary. As soon as you think you’re 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.
6. It’s probably your fault.
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, that’s a tall order. But we are discussing enlightenment here.
7. No one is coming to the rescue.
A lot of us spend our lives waiting for the “big break” or for when things “get better.” Better to assume that no one or nothing is going to magically happen that will rescue you from your trials.
If you’re 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.
8. You’re a limited being.
I’m not sure what good it does to pretend you don’t have any limitations. It doesn’t 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
9. You get a psychological boost when other people fail.
Aw, that’s too bad. You failed…I’m so sorry for you. (Not. I am so glad it was you and not me).
To pretend that you don’t secretly wish to be better than others is to pretend that you are not a natural, competitive human being.
10. You’re morally flawed.
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 I’ve ever met. I also don’t like to be put on the spot, confronted with my moral misgivings.
I do have moral flaws, to be sure. But don’t remind me! And, hey, what about yours? How dare you judge me!
You can manage them. You can’t 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 you’re in the habit of pretending you don’t feel what you feel, then you’re in the habit of harboring feelings that you don’t want.
12. You’re just like your parents.
Right? No one escapes the influence of parents. And nobody wants to be told, “You’re just like your father!”
I don’t anyway. But, I am just like him in so many ways. Interestingly, I am most like the parts of him that I hate.
13. Your good intentions count for nothing.
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 doesn’t matter anymore. If it does, then you are better off spending your energy by simply correcting the miscommunication rather than becoming defensive.
14. People love you conditionally, not unconditionally.
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 you’re really asking for a free pass that absolves you of the responsibility to keep your love alive.
15. You want to be the nail, not the hammer.
The most insidious of human problems is called inner passivity. Inner passivity is the tendency to believe that things are happening to us that aren’t really happening to us.
This inner voice criticizes me all the time.
There’s always junk food in the house, so I can’t 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.
You’re actively doing the things that upset you.
16. You crave approval.
Of course we all crave it. Who doesn’t love being thought well of? Yes, there are people who claim that they totally don’t 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 it’s 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 you’d 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:
• Understands the sticky nature of hatred and can address it honestly within herself.
• Understands her tendency to seek out negativity and works to end this self-sabotage.
• Accepts that life is difficult and soldiers on.
• Admits when she doesn’t want to change and deals with the consequences.
• Accepts her ordinary nature and doesn’t pretend to be “all that.”
• Takes responsibility for her moral choices rather than blame others.
• Isn’t waiting to be rescued or for magic to happen, but works, works, works on her life.
• Accepts limitations and works with them.
• Is aware of her human tendency to compare herself favorably and works to build compassion.
• Is willing to admit when she is wrong.
• Accepts her feelings and can therefore resolve them.
• Is open to seeing how she is like her parents and can work on releasing those tendencies.
• Doesn’t defend intentions, but focuses on results.
• Wants to actively create love and doesn’t expect something for nothing.
• Fights passivity with proactive effort.
• Admits wanting approval and therefore appreciates approval when she gets it.
• 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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