[*How to “use” your Relationships *
For Spiritual Growth]
By Steve Pavlina
Edited by Christine van Elslande
Part 1: What is Conscious Spirituality?
a) CONSCIOUS SPIRITUALITY
b) THE PURPOSE OF LIFE
c) LIGHTWORKER SYNDROME
Part 2: Finding win-win relationships and creating an environment that supports your growth
a) THE POWER OF CONNECTIONS
b) ARE YOUR FRIENDS AN ELEVATOR OR A CAGE?
c) TOLERANCE IS RESISTANCE TO LOVE
d) YOU NEED PEOPLE
Part 3: Accepting yourself as well as others in order to experience authentic connections
a) JUDGE NOT
b) SELF-ACCEPTANCE VS. PERSONAL GROWTH
Part 4: Your relationships are external manifestations of your inner world
a) UNDERSTANDING FAMILY RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS
b) UNDERSTANDING HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS
Part 5: Soul to soul communication
a) SOULFUL RELATIONSHIPS
b) INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION AND THE AWARENESS GAP
Part 6: Social interactions and spiritual development
a) HELPING PEOPLE SURPASS YOU
b) CAVE FREE SPIRITUALITY
Part 7: Finding Joy
b) CONNECTING FROM THE HEART
Part 8: Maintaining Conscious Spirituality during Difficult Times
a) DEALING WITH TRAGEDY AND LOSS
Part 9: Waking up at a collective level
a) RISE OF THE LIGHTWORKER
b) WAKING UP
Let me share some thoughts and ideas about consciously exploring your spiritual side, in the form of questions and answers, with the intention that it may help you explore your own spiritual path.
I use the word spirituality to refer to your current understanding of the entire universe of existence and your role within it as a conscious being. Who are you? What are you? And what is this reality in which you find yourself?
The word is just a label, so don’t get caught up on the word or attach too much baggage to it. The concept behind it is what matters. You can refer to this same concept as your philosophy of life, the big picture, the meaning of life, etc.
What are we? Are we physical beings with minds? Are we spiritual beings?
We are what we make ourselves to be.
From one perspective we’re all separate individuals. From another perspective we can see ourselves as a unified whole.
Imagine a gigantic sheet of aluminum foil with billions of tiny indentations in it, like protruding fingers. As individuals we’re the dents. Collectively we’re the foil. You can choose to adopt either perspective, or switch back and forth.
As an individual your power is limited. You’re just a dent in a sea of other dents. But you have an interesting perspective on the whole sheet. No other dent sees the same picture you do. No other dent experiences the sheet in the same way. The collective perspectives of all these individual dents add up to the self-awareness of the entire sheet. As individuals we help this reality understand itself.
Acting through the perspective of the entire foil, however, we’re much more powerful. The better we understand this foil, the more we can consciously create eddies and ripples in it that will influence the other dents. But in order to do that, we must learn to think beyond the level of individuality.
The primary reason these dents exist is to help the foil understand itself. Our greater mission or purpose is to explore the foil. The foil is vast, almost endless.
[* What’s the point of human relationships?*]
Other people are our co-explorers. We’re all part of the same foil, helping reality explore itself. Part of this exploration includes our interactions with each other.
All possibilities for human relationships are being explored.
This includes relating to each other with love and affection… or peace and harmony… or force and conflict… or rape and incest.
We can agree with each other. We can butt heads. We can hug. We can fight.
We can explore cooperation. We can explore domination and submission. We can explore power and powerlessness.
We can approve or disapprove of any aspects of these interactions, and then we can explore and experience approval and disapproval too.
We can explore being rewarded and being punished.
We can judge each other, or we can forgive and accept each other.
We can explore connection, and we can explore solitude.
We can give. We can take.
All of this is valid. We’re exploring all of it.
If you have no particular preference for how you’d like to relate to other people, those choices will be made for you. Do nothing, and your social relationships will be assigned. That’s a perfectly valid option.
If you’d like to explore something other than your current assignments, you have a say. You can consciously choose what you’d like to explore, and you can learn to channel more energy in that direction to create it. You can influence your social experience.
I find this to be a particular rich area for exploration. I especially enjoy exploring with other people who see themselves as conscious explorers, ideally in person.
What does it mean to live consciously?
Living consciously means that you choose to actively participate in helping reality explore itself.
Living consciously means saying yes to your spiritual job, which is to be a good explorer.
You’re going to be an explorer anyway. You can’t help but do that. You’re guaranteed to live a unique life with a unique perspective. Even if you refuse to explore, you’re still exploring refusal.
You can either let these explorations be doled out to you — by other people, by society, or by the fluctuations of the universe — or you can consciously choose some of these explorations for yourself.
The more you deliberately decide how you’re going to participate in reality’s exploration of itself, the more consciously you’re living.
Personally I find this to be a wondrous opportunity. We have an entire universe of possibilities in front of us, and we’re invited to dive in and explore. It’s like being invited to an infinite amusement park. Some rides are fun. Some rides are adventurous. Some rides are scary. Some rides are spooky. The whole park is a gift.
Here’s my attempt to write a short post, which for me means staying under 2,000 words.
Channeling my inner Seth Godin, here we go…
What is the purpose of life?
The purpose of life is to increase your alignment with truth, love, and power.
You are here to:
The point of life is to learn to be wise, joyful, and strong — all at the same time and without compromising or sacrificing any of these. In order to improve one, you must improve all three.
If these pursuits aren’t your life’s highest priority, you’ve missed the point of life entirely. You’ll have a better sense of that when you die, at which point you will lose:
If there is an afterlife, it’s likely that the only element of your existence you can possibly retain is your consciousness. Therefore, if you seek to increase your alignment with truth, love, and power, you may have the opportunity to retain those gains even after your physical death because such gains are nonphysical. Everything else stays here.
On the other hand, even if there is no afterlife, the pursuit of truth, love, and power while you’re here will make your physical existence much more meaningful and fulfilling as you experience it. Physical life becomes significantly easier when you root yourself to the permanent instead of chasing the temporary. Truth, love, and power are permanent because they’re universal concepts. Wherever there is consciousness, these concepts have meaning.
Regardless of what happens when you die, if you center your life around the pursuit of truth, love, and power, you can’t lose. You’ll have done your best.
Whenever you turn your back on truth, love, or power, you distance yourself from experiencing wisdom, joy, and strength. This means you’ll experience confusion, unhappiness, and weakness instead. Whatever problems you currently face can be resolved by realigning yourself with truth, love, and power.
This is how you win the game of life.
Questions? Ask Seth.
One obstacle that traps a lot of highly conscious people is what Erin and I call Lightworker Syndrome. This is what happens when someone wakes up to a higher level of consciousness, but they can’t figure out how to live on purpose and feed themselves at the same time. Such people have a lot of trouble staying connected to higher levels of consciousness while also remaining solidly grounded in the physical world. Many of them get so frustrated with the experience they become depressed and have feelings of wanting to give up and just “go home” (i.e. return to the nonphysical world).
Spiritual connectedness vs. physical groundedness
These troubled lightworkers often feel they must compromise: either stay connected up top and be totally ungrounded, or lose that higher connection and become more grounded. But this is a really tough compromise, so many of them oscillate back and forth, never quite sure which is the right way to go.
Consequently, these lightworkers either do empty work they don’t enjoy but which pays OK, or they do purpose-centered work that hardly pays anything. They end up sacrificing either their purpose or their income, since it’s very, very challenging to satisfy both at the same time. But this either-or decision takes a toll in the long run. It’s hard to stay on purpose if you’re worried about paying the rent, and it’s hard to generate good income if your work doesn’t inspire you.
The real trap is the either-or belief itself. It’s a mistake to think you can’t attract abundant resources doing what you love. It’s also a mistake to think that staying broke is the best way to help other people. Many lightworkers are so sensitive to the idea of sacrificing their purpose for money that they figure it’s better to have no money at all… or barely enough to get by.
As is typical of other lightworkers, I’m very sensitive to the idea of making money “the wrong way.” I have a strong disinclination — I would actually call it total disgust — of violating my values to generate income. However, when you’re faced with financial scarcity and have to pay the rent or lose your home, it’s really tough to maintain integrity because under stress you’ll likely lower your vibration and bring your awareness down. You effectively become a different person. When your survival and stability are threatened, those become your priority. Fortunately I haven’t been in this situation for a long time, but I certainly know what it’s like. It’s pretty darn hard to think about serving others when you’re behind on your rent, deep in debt, and you discover a 3-day pay-or-quit notice taped to the door of your apartment.
I’m not going to tell you the solution is to choose between your higher connection and your groundedness. As you can probably guess, the solution is that you need both. But you won’t be able to get there until you understand why you don’t already have both right now.
Fearing your own power
The reason you can’t maintain your stable connection to Source AND remain grounded at the same time is that you’re afraid of what it will mean if you succeed.
There’s a good chance you won’t agree with that statement — I wouldn’t have agreed with it a few years ago — but please keep an open mind while I explain why this is so.
First of all, it is possible to stay connected to Source and be grounded at the same time. This isn’t just some new agey concept — it’s downright practical.
On the one hand, I have my purpose, my spiritual beliefs, and my feeling of connection to everyone. When I resonate with those thoughts, I’m motivated to serve and help people all day long. On the other hand, I also live in the physical world. I need to provide the basic needs for myself and my family, which in practical terms means I need an income. So I can’t be too airy-fairy if it means I don’t have a place to live. I have to stay properly grounded.
Connectedness + groundedness = synergy
At their core these two sides aren’t really in conflict. They may be different energies, but they’re not inherently opposed to each other. In fact, they serve to support each other. The spiritual side provides abiding motivation. When I feel connected up top, I’m driven. I’m passionate. I’m energized. And I’m also peaceful. That’s powerful motivation to do some kind of work — work that could very well help me become more grounded simply by generating some income. And on the other side, when I’m more grounded, more physically and financially stable, I have more freedom. I have a greater capacity. I don’t have to worry about paying the bills. And that lends itself to the spiritual side because I have the capacity to devote more time to spiritual pursuits. So these two energies are naturally complementary. When they work together, they work synergistically.
Truthfully I can say to you that this is what I experience in my life as my normal state of being. I feel I have a great balance of conscious connectedness and physical world grounding. I attend to both sides.
This did not happen by accident though. It happened by conscious choice. I really had to stop and do a total life redesign to make it work. That happened in 2004 before I made the decision to start this web site.
What will happen if you succeed?
Now this may sound a bit strange, but for me the decision wasn’t as balanced as I probably just made it sound. I know a lot of would-be lightworkers are concerned they can’t make a living pursuing their purpose. I didn’t have that problem though. I felt confident I could make a living at it somehow. What really held me back was whether I felt comfortable doing it at all. My real fear was: What’s going to happen if this actually works? What if I succeed?
Only after I achieved a stable balance between connectedness and groundedness did I begin to recognize this same pattern in other lightworkers. At first I figured it was unique to me, but I was wrong about that. I see the same pattern everywhere now. Whenever I see a broke lightworker, I invariably see an underlying fear of success. If I confront the person about it, they will usually resist the notion, which I completely understand, but the pattern is so strong that once you see it, it’s undeniable.
The real barrier to achieving the connectedness-groundedness balance is the limiting beliefs you may have about what will happen after you achieve this balance. What will realistically happen when you’re honoring your life’s purpose and making more than enough money to sustainably do it for the rest of your life?
Well, I can tell you what will happen because I’ve already turned that page. Here’s what’s likely to happen. You’re going to succeed in a big way. When you’re doing what you love and generating plenty of income from it, it creates a positive spiral. Those two sides support each other. Your purpose drives your actions, your actions drive your results, and your results produce income. Your income gives you more freedom and more fuel for your purpose. And the whole thing just keeps going because once achieved, it’s a stable pattern.
With great power comes great responsibility
This might sound like a good thing. And truthfully it is a good thing. But I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “With great power comes great responsibility.” And that is exactly what lightworker syndrome sufferers fear most. They fear that if they actually succeed, they’ll have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders.
That fear is what kills their income. The best way to increase your income is to help more people. In practice it’s not that difficult to do — IF your beliefs will let you. The desire to reach out and help more people is what drove me to build so much web traffic. I’ve met many lightworkers who are able to provide genuine value to others, but they’re doing so on a very limited basis. When I toss out a few simple suggestions on how they could fairly easily double their income (or more) by doubling the number of people they help (without working harder or longer), the usual response is resistance and excuse-making. I can see the real answer in their eyes though — they fear what will happen if they actually succeed. So they keep themselves in a position where they make just enough to maintain the status quo, but not enough to get ahead. And if they do somehow make lots of money, they’ll keep themselves so busy they won’t have the time to seriously think about their true purpose for being here.
Overcoming fear of responsibility
I ran this exact pattern for many years. The only way I escaped it was to confront those fears head-on. I admitted to myself that I had the internal resources to be doing much better, but I was holding myself back. I knew I wasn’t doing my best, but why not? I wasn’t doing my best because I wasn’t ready to accept the consequences of doing my best.
If I really did my best, I’d have a bigger impact. I’d draw a lot of people to me. I’d end up with a lot of responsibility. Scary.
Well, guess what. Those fears were accurate. I do have a lot of responsibility. Once I achieved the connectedness-groundedness balance and got that positive spiral going, my results took off. They’re still taking off. This web site is now getting about 200,000 page views a day. I’m generating way more income than I need to cover my basic needs… more than $1000 per day, whether I work or not. I fully expect this increase will continue spiraling for a long time to come. But I didn’t reach this point by focusing on getting more and more for myself. That kind of motivation would have been too weak. My real motivation comes from a deep desire to make a positive difference in the world. My passion comes from my purpose, not my income.
However, I couldn’t tap into that motivation until I first overcame my fear of success. I had to first accept that if I did my very best and succeeded, I was going to end up with far more responsibility. I had to become a “vibrational match” for that scenario; otherwise I’d never be able to attract it and maintain it.
I had to answer those tough questions: Who am I to reach the point of influencing thousands of people a day, even while I’m sleeping? Who am I to tell people how to improve their lives? Who am I to try to make a difference?
Subconsciously I couldn’t handle those questions, so for years I just maintained my status quo position as a seemingly contented computer game developer. Occasionally I would journal about them though, but it wasn’t enough to get me past the underlying fear of success.
Position vs. power
What eventually allowed me to break that pattern was when I looked at the situation from a different angle. I was thinking about the idea, “With great power comes great responsibility,” and I noticed I’d been assuming that my power would increase if I really did my best. In other words I equated power with position. As my position increased, so would my power… and thereby so would my responsibility.
At that point I had a revelation that threw me for a loop. What if power didn’t come from position? If I have the potential to achieve a greater position, but I’m not pursuing it, doesn’t that mean I actually do have the power? If I don’t exercise my power, it doesn’t mean I’m powerless. It just means I’m inactive.
I thought to myself, “Crap! I’ve been thinking all this time that I’m staving off power (and thus responsibility) by declining to act. But all I’m really doing is giving up control. If I have the potential, then I have the power, which means I have the responsibility too, whether I act on it or not.” Failure to act does NOT relieve one of responsibility.
It was then that I had an epiphany. I realized I could never escape responsibility by failing to act. The only thing I could escape was control. This is why I say you can give up control but never responsibility. Responsibility is a given.
That realization gave me a good kick in my complacency. Even though I felt like I was in a relatively powerless position on the outside, in that moment I finally accepted my inner power. That included accepting responsibility for that power. And of course by the law of attraction, once I began resonating with that inner power, it was only a matter of time before the outer world reflected it. If you’ve been following this web site for a year or more, then you’ve seen that manifestation unfolding before your eyes, and you’ll see that process continue over the next year as well.
Responsibility is a privilege
That thinking process got me out of my ego and past my fear of success. When I realized I couldn’t escape responsibility no matter what my external position looked like, it made sense to just accept it. My fear wasn’t at some distant point in the future — it was already here and now.
You see… even though my external position may seem more burdened by responsibility than yours, in truth you have just as much responsibility as I do. And that’s because you have great inner power just as I do. Maybe you’ve accepted it, and maybe you haven’t, but the power is there, and the responsibility it bestows is inescapable.
Even though we’ve probably never met, I feel a deep sense of responsibility towards you right now. I feel honor-bound to do the best I can to help you grow — because I can. It may seem like my position gives me the power to do that, but that isn’t accurate. Power doesn’t come from position. Position comes from power. Because I have the power to help you grow, I must help you grow. You may not accept my help, but that doesn’t make me feel any less responsible to you. I feel responsible to everyone.
That feeling of responsibility, however, isn’t the burden I once feared it would be. When I accepted my inner power, responsibility became a privilege. I’m truly grateful to have the opportunity to help so many people each day, even while I’m sleeping.
Overcoming Lightworker Syndrome
So what does all of this have to do with overcoming Lightworker Syndrome? Lightworker Syndrome is a lack of acceptance of one’s power. That lack of acceptance is what manifests the apparent conflict between connectedness to Source and groundedness in physical reality. As within, so without. Your inner conflict manifests in your external reality. In truth you are simply getting what you’re intending. You fear your real power, so you silently intend it to remain dim. This manifests a never-ending series of distractions to keep you preoccupied enough that you don’t have to think about what you’re really doing — keeping yourself small because you’re afraid of too much responsibility.
If you recognize you’re suffering from Lightworker Syndrome right now, I have a lot of compassion for you. Having gone through it myself, I know how hard it is. But you must recognize you’ll never solve this problem at the same level of thinking that created it. Realize you’re the one who’s manifesting the annoying health problems, the “unexpected” financial crisis that suddenly wipes out your savings just when you start to get ahead, the unfulfilling relationship, etc. You’re manifesting all of it because you’re resonating with fear — it’s one giant distraction. You can hack at the branches all you want, but you’ll only be spinning your wheels. Whenever you’re ready, you have the power to turn off those petty problems and stop manifesting them, but once you do that, you’re going to have to deal with the real issue of why you’re here. Deep down you know that’s the truth, don’t you?
The major turning point for me occurred when I finally surrendered and said, “Enough already! I’m done with living small. I’m tired of dealing with one pointless crisis after another. I know this isn’t what I came here to do. I don’t know if I can handle what might happen if I tap into my real potential, but I can’t accept going my whole life without finding out. So I’m going for it. If I go broke, I go broke. But if I go this route in good faith, the universe had damned well better back me up.”
I have to credit the results of the past two years to that decision. That’s what cured me of Lightworker Syndrome. Once I experienced the inner shift, I entered that positive spiral where my connectedness and groundedness supported each other beautifully. Attracting more money and a larger audience just means I have a greater capacity to give. And I’m always finding new ways for my connectedness and groundedness to move into better harmony with each other.
Embracing your inner light
If you consider yourself a lightworker, understand that your real work is to accept and embrace your inner light. You are meant to shine, not to be snuffed out. If you feel that life in this physical universe is dragging you down, it’s because you aren’t yet in vibrational harmony with your light. The more you fear it, the more you’ll attract distracting problems that have little or nothing to do with your purpose. But whenever you’re ready, you can say to the universe, “OK. I’m ready. I’m going to pursue my purpose with all my heart and soul, and you’d better back me up.” Once you make a committed decision, you’ll attract all the help and resources you need. You’ll be shocked at just how easy it is.
You came here to do some serious good for this planet, so get busy and go do it. You’re not fooling anyone by standing still. You’re responsible to do what you came here to do whether you do it or not. And if you’re going to be responsible, you might as well accept and embrace the power to do something about it. Staying small serves no one, least of all you. This planet needs you now, not tomorrow… not someday. Don’t let us down, and especially don’t let yourself down.
I shall leave you with a quote from Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 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 doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
One of the conscious growth principles I’ve been teaching for years is the principle of Love. This principle states that you’ll grow significantly faster — and enjoy the process of growth much more — when your life is rich in supportive, encouraging connections.
People violate this principle constantly — and to their detriment when they do so. Partly that happens because they don’t understand this principle deeply enough.
Consider two scenarios:
Scenario A – You wake up on a typical weekday morning, alone. As you open your eyes, you see several piles of clutter, including bills, reminding you that you need to sort through them. Your roommate hears you get up, pops through the doorway of your room, puffs some smoke from a cigarette in your direction, then glares at you and says, “Hey lazy ass, you’d better hurry up or you’ll be late. By the way… Greg is coming over tonight. I know you don’t like him, so just deal with it.” You go to the bathroom and brush your teeth, noticing how dirty the place is.
Scenario B – You wake up on a typical weekday morning. Your lover is lying in bed next to you, and s/he cuddles up against you, embraces you tightly, and says, “It feels so good to cuddle you. I love you. Mmmmm… And you really turn me on, sexiness! [Snarl]” S/he massages you a bit, which generates some feel-good endorphins. As you get out of bed, you notice a shelf full of books and pictures that inspire you. You go to the bathroom and see your list of goals taped to your mirror, so you review them as you brush your teeth.
What’s the difference between these two scenarios? Essentially it comes down to each person’s alignment with the principle of Love.
Which situation would you prefer? The second one seems like a nicer one to experience, but there’s a more subtle difference that might be harder to accept. The second person is likely to grow and change much faster than the first.
In the first case, the person is wallowing in unsupportive connections. The cluttered environment, the unsympathetic roommate, the messy bathroom — these will typically build stress, which reduces the person’s inner resourcefulness and promotes stagnation. It’s hard to feel motivated when your day begins like this. Imagine how the rest of the day is likely to turn out if this is how it starts.
In the second case, the person has created an environment that’s positive and supportive. From the lover’s touch to the positive books and pictures to the list of goals, this person is likely to start the day with uplifting, motivating thoughts. Imagine how the rest of the day is likely to turn out.
Which scenario does your life resemble?
Perhaps you’re in the middle somewhere. You might think that’s a neutral situation. Maybe you don’t have much positive support, but the negative stimuli aren’t present either. Generally speaking, that’s still a negative situation growth-wise. A lack of positive support will slow you down tremendously. It’s not enough to avoid the negatives. You need to add the positives. Otherwise you’re still likely to stagnate. Neutrality is just another form of stuckness.
Positive support is like gravity. It pulls you in the direction of positive growth. It might take some work to set it up at first, but it usually takes little effort to maintain. Without that gravity helping you out, you’ll have to push yourself constantly, and that isn’t very sustainable. You want to give yourself every advantage, and this includes creating a super-supportive environment.
Each scenario maintains itself. You can expect that the following days in each timeline will look essentially the same. The clutter will probably still be there the next day. So will the inspiring books and pictures. Neither person has to work at it — the continuity just happens.
Unconscious vs. Conscious Connecting
Which scenario you experience is a matter of choice. But it’s not about choosing between A or B. It’s about exercising your power to choose vs. not exercising it. It’s about being conscious vs. unconscious.
No one really chooses the first scenario or even a neutral scenario. It’s just something you fall into. In the absence of direct conscious intervention, these types of scenarios happen organically.
Scenario B, however, is no accident. This scenario happens because someone deliberately chooses to create it.
Even the presence of a supportive lover isn’t an accident. It’s a choice. Sure there may be a lot of action steps and some courage required to make it happen, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a very achievable part of the picture if you make it a priority.
Alignment with the principle of Love is one of the key differences between unconscious and conscious growth. When someone is truly on a path of conscious growth, the telltale sign is that they’ve deliberately sculpted their environment to support their highest and best vision of themselves. Whatever doesn’t fit that vision gets cut.
If you took a highly conscious person and put them into scenario A, what would they do?
Get a new roommate or move to a new place. Clean up the clutter and dirtiness. Make new friends who are supportive and invite them over. Write out some goals and post them. Decorate the place with some inspiring pictures.
A truly conscious person could make these changes within a few days max. The conscious person would be unwilling to tolerate an environment that doesn’t support his/her vision. Their standards would be higher than that.
Create an Environment That Supports You
If you think you’re strong enough to be immune to the effects of your environment, then let’s put you in prison for a year and see how well you thrive there.
If you look at the most conscious people on earth, you’ll see just how refined their environments are, both physically and socially. Having a home base that’s super-supportive gives them the strength to handle less friendly situations without getting overly discouraged. Such people surround themselves with positive, loving support.
Start with the easy stuff. Change some elements of the physical space you live in.
This can be really simple, so don’t overcomplicate it. Google a picture of a place you’d like to travel to, print it out, and literally tape it to your wall. How long will that take? A few minutes perhaps. You can fancy it up later.
Take the piles of clutter, and stick them in a closet or drawer somewhere, so they don’t serve as a constantly stressor each time you see them. Pull out a small bit of the pile each day, and sort through it little by little. Or set aside a chunk of time to go through the whole thing as fast as possible. Don’t let clutter become a negative visual stimulation that broadcasts, “You can’t have what you want because you’re overwhelmed as it is.”
Make a list of qualities you’d like to have in friends, lovers, coworkers, etc. Post it where you can see it. Spend 10 minutes a day imagining that you’re already there. You can do this while lying in bed as you drift off to sleep.
Don’t hang out with people who disempower you. Not only will they discourage you, but they’ll turn away the very people who’d otherwise support and encourage you. Supportive people are repelled by negative-minded people.
Don’t leave your social and environmental support to chance. It’s too important. These daily influences matter. Put yourself in the advantaged position of scenario B. You’ll grow much faster in that situation, and you’ll enjoy your life more as well.
Make it so.
As a follow-up to the last entry, let’s explore the role of the people in your life. Are they elevating you to be the best person you can be, or are they holding you back?
I mentioned in my last entry that when going through major life shifts, like changing careers, I would shift the people with whom I spent the most time. We’ve all gone through periods where the people in our lives have changed — graduation, moving to a new city, getting a new job, joining a new club, etc. I don’t think I need to convince you just how much influence other people can have over your identity. If you’ve ever experienced a major shift in your people environment, then you know that you change as well.
Most people don’t make these choices consciously though. You might consciously decide to spend more time with a certain friend, or you may ask someone out on a date to begin a new relationship. But few people choose the bulk of their existing friendships deliberately. Chance meetings may be out of your control, but the strength or weakness of your existing connections is largely under your control.
Think for a moment about the 5-10 people with whom you spend the most time. Even include online communities if you spend a lot of time reading them — which individuals are having the most influence over your thinking right now? Actually write out the list — it should only take a minute. And this includes family members.
Now look at the list. It’s been said that this list will give you a glimpse into your future.
Do you want to become more like these people? Yes or no. Is anyone on the list a bad influence that causes you to backslide? Is anyone on the list a shining light that encourages you to reach new heights?
Now have you ever thought about consciously changing this list? Do you realize that you have the ability to populate this list by choice instead of by chance? You’re free to say no to having certain people in your life, and you’re also free to make the effort to introduce new people you want in your life. Sometimes there are serious consequences, such as with family members and bosses, but it’s still a choice.
There’s no “getting rid of people.” People are always drifting in and out of each others’ lives. Associations grow into friendships, and friendships fade into associations. You don’t get rid of anyone. The truth is that in order to make room for new people and new experiences, you may need to loosen up some of your existing connections.
What about loyalty? Shouldn’t you always be loyal to your friends? Once you have a close friend, even if their influence on you is somewhat destructive, shouldn’t you stick by them?
Loyalty is one of my personal values. But my value of loyalty means being loyal to my vision of my highest and best self and to my core values. And this runs both ways. While I know I can’t afford to hang on to friendships that conflict with my values, I also can’t hang onto friends that I may be holding back in some way. I only want to have win-win relationships where everyone benefits.
Loyalty to a friend sometimes means having to let go. It means being loyal to their highest and best self as well. If someone is destroying their health by smoking, for example, you aren’t showing loyalty by smoking right along with them. What are you being loyal to then? Death? True loyalty sometimes requires that you break destructive connections, get yourself back on solid ground, and then decide what you can really do to help your friend (which sometimes requires letting them hit bottom).
How about a realistic example? Back when I was in college, I would occasionally use pirated software. I had several friends who were software pirates and who’d keep offering it to me, and I’d sometimes accept if it was something I wanted. But when I started my own software business after graduation and began thinking about the kind of person I wanted to be, I realized that software piracy had to go. So I decided to stop.
But of course what happened next? You guessed it. Some more pirated software was offered to me, and I gave into the temptation. And then I beat myself up about it. And that pattern cycled a few more times until…
I realized if I wanted to stop using pirated software, I had to stop associating with pirates. So I consciously decided to let those relationships fade, which on a couple occasions required actively telling the other person I couldn’t have them in my life anymore (and why). Then I built closer friendships with more honest people who would never consider software piracy. My new friends and associates elevated my thinking to their level, and I found it easy to let go of software piracy permanently. I was positively infected by the thoughts of those who don’t pirate software, so my new mindset just doesn’t even consider piracy. I either buy what I want, or I do without.
Today I use a lot of shareware programs, and they’re all registered. Even though I could save money by tracking down pirated versions, I just don’t. I won’t even consider it. And it has nothing to do with being worried about getting caught or getting a computer virus or not having the latest version or wasting too much time. Software piracy just isn’t me. I’m a non-pirate.
This change had some unexpected positive side effects too. When I let go of piracy, I felt a lot more deserving of my successes. It elevated my sense of self. There was nothing on my computer to give me the subconscious message: yeah that was a nice success, but you’re still a thief. This is one very basic example of how consciously changing the people in your life can change you for the better.
What about trying to change/rescue people in need? Although I don’t think it’s impossible to transform a destructive relationship from within, it’s very difficult unless you have a lot of support. While you’re trying to elevate the other person, you’re sinking at the same time. You’d probably need a buffer of many other strong relationships in order to transform one destructive relationship. I think the best approach is to leave the destructive relationship behind, form new relationships to get your strength back, and then (keeping those new relationships), you’ll have the ability to revisit and transform the old destructive relationship with a much reduced risk of being sucked back into old patterns.
I think you can get a pretty good idea of what a person is like by looking at the people who surround that person. Think about it for a moment. What kind of people does George Bush spend the most time with? What about the Dalai Lama? Your children? Even Jesus was surrounded by the 12 Apostles. So one betrayed him, and one thrice denied knowing him, but 10 out of 12 isn’t bad. If you had a dozen loyal devotees following you everywhere, perhaps you might enjoy some fairly elevated thinking too.
It can take a lot of courage to tell someone, “I’m sorry, but I can’t have you in my life anymore.” But even though this might seem like a selfish act at times, it’s often the best thing for the other person too. If a relationship is holding you back in some way, understand that it’s also hurting the other person. For example, if you work for an abusive boss, your acceptance of that situation constitutes silent approval, encouraging your boss to continue to behave abusively (towards yourself and others).
If you smoke and suddenly say to all your smoker friends, “I’m sorry, but I can’t continue to be friends with people who smoke anymore. I’ve decided I need to be a nonsmoker,” you’ll probably meet with a lot of resistance. But if you follow through with it, your actions will eat away at some of those old friends. And a year later when you’re a nonsmoker, one of them will contact you privately, “I’d like to quit too. Can you help me?” And you will be able to help. You might even renew your old friendship, but at a whole new level.
The kinds of relationships I seek out today are those which have the potential to be win-win, where both people can help each other to grow in positive ways without holding each other back. Not one person using the other — synergy. I’m always open and inviting of new friendships of this kind. If I ever feel like I’m stuck in a cage, I know it’s time to reach out and make some new connections and/or loosen up some old ones.
One of the traps that’s easy to fall into is filling your life with too many incompatibilities — people, places, objects, circumstances, and activities that just don’t mesh with the person you are on the inside.
When your external reality is out of sync with your inner self, your inner self will resist it. This creates the feeling of wanting to escape your circumstances. You may feel powerless to make big changes, but deep down you’ll still sense a strong desire to “get out” and leave parts of your reality behind. You’ll fantasize about quitting your job, moving out, or ending a relationship.
It’s easy to lose years of your life while surrounded by incompatible energies. This problem is so common that some people just consider it normal. They figure it’s normal to dread going to work or to feel disconnected from the people around them. This may be common, but it certainly isn’t a healthy situation.
When you look at the different parts of your life — your career, health, relationships, spiritual practice, daily habits, and finances — and ask, “Is this really me?” do you hear some no’s? How long have you been tolerating these incompatibilities? Why don’t you simply kick them out of your life, so you can replace them with something more compatible?
Some people think it’s a good thing to tolerate the parts of life they don’t like. That’s dumb. Tolerance isn’t acceptance. Tolerance is resistance. To be more specific, tolerance is resistance to love.
When you fill your life with energies you must tolerate, you prevent yourself from attracting what you really want. The more incompatibilities you tolerate in your life, the fewer compatibilities you’ll be able to attract and enjoy. Keep this up for a few years, and you’ll be drowning in a life that feels totally wrong for you.
What bothers you about your life? What are you tolerating right now? I’d like to challenge you to stop tolerating your life. Either fully accept it, and love it as it is. Or kick out the incompatible parts to create the space for a life you’re able to love and accept completely.
Out with the old, in with the new
When you boot the incompatibilities from your life, you raise your energy and your consciousness because you’re no longer stuck in a state of resistance. Now you feel relief and freedom. This opens the door to attracting and experiencing what you truly want.
Many people, upon quitting an unfulfilling job or leaving a draining relationship, feel a sense of relief. There may be some anxiety and uncertainty about what to do next, but the feeling of relief is very strong. “Wow, I can breathe again! I’m glad that’s finally over! Time to move on to a new chapter of my life!” Relief feels like a heavy weight has been set down.
Some people think they can attract what they want while continuing to tolerate the negative elements from their lives. This is a mistake. Again, tolerance is resistance, and resistance keeps you stuck. When you resist what is, you can’t create and attract what you want. That resistance you feel acts like a delete key on all your best intentions.
Stop saying yes
The first step in resolving incompatibilities is to stop saying yes to them. Just stop. Accept that you don’t want what you’ve been getting, and realize that it makes no sense to keep saying yes to what you don’t want.
If someone asks you to do something that doesn’t feel right to you, say no. That may feel very uncomfortable at first, but there will also be a twinge of relief each time you do it.
When you get that twinge of relief, it means you’re on the right path. If you decline something you really should have accepted, you’ll feel more guilt and disappointment than relief.
If you know you’re in the wrong business, for example, then stop saying yes to new clients. Stop marketing and promoting the business. Stop pouring your energy into something you know you don’t want. I know — some people will be upset by this. So what? Let them be upset, and do it anyway.
This is the approach I used when I realized I wanted to retire from computer game development. I no longer felt compatible with that work, and I was merely tolerating it. But I didn’t feel I could just up and quit. So my first step was to stop saying yes to it.
I stopped developing new games. I stopped licensing games from other developers. I stopped actively marketing and promoting my existing products. When new “opportunities” to grow the business came my way, I just said no.
Obviously this caused my income to decline, but it also raised my energy. It allowed me to start accepting that it was time to change careers.
When you know you’re on the wrong path, stop. Just stop. Don’t take any more steps along that path. Just stand still for a while, even if it means your life starts to fall apart a little. You’ll survive.
Watching my income drop was actually a very healing experience for me. It gave me a sense that change was inevitable. I was letting go of the old, and this gave me the time and energy to explore what I wanted to do next. Creating that space is a heck of a lot more important than financial security.
Commit to quitting
After you’ve stopped saying yes, your energy will rise to the point where you’re ready to commit to quitting. You may not be ready to say, “I quit,” right this minute, but you know you’ll get there soon. You know it’s inevitable.
You may give yourself a specific deadline to quit, but that isn’t always necessary. The most important element is that you’ve reached the point where quitting is a done deal. Whatever incompatibilities you’re facing must go. Their days are numbered.
Once you’ve stopped saying yes, the death of the old becomes a certainty. It’s only a matter of time before it dies on its own. Once you’ve stopped putting fresh energy into a career, relationship, or activity, it’s on its way out. The only question is how long you’ll remain in this limbo state before you’re able to fully leave.
Quitting is an essential part of transitioning. If trying to “transition” has been keeping you stuck, then focus your energy on quitting instead. Make a commitment to quit the old, even before you’ve figured out what the new will be.
I’m currently in this stage with some changes I want to make to my business model. For a while I’ve been feeling that the advertisements on my website aren’t compatible with me anymore. In 2005 and 2006, I liked earning income from ad clicks. It seemed like a great business model. But today I just tolerate the ads (which means I resist them). Many of the Adsense ads served up aren’t a good fit for the message I want to convey. So I finally realized they had to go.
Consequently, I’m committed to make StevePavlina.com ad-free by the end of this year. This means eliminating all the Google Adsense ads and text link ads from the site. I won’t be replacing this with other forms of ad sales. I’m just going to eliminate third-party advertising on the site completely.
Earlier this summer I went through the phase where I stopped saying yes. I turned down several advertisers that wanted to buy new text link ads. When one of my existing advertisers wanted to renew, I told him that I was sorry but I couldn’t continue to sell advertising to him. This decision has already cost me thousands of dollars in “easy money” that I could have earned for a few minutes work. But each time I say no, I feel a greater sense of lightness and relief.
When incompatible ways of earning income exit my life, I gain the energy and freedom I need to begin attracting other ways of generating income that are more compatible with me.
While I’ve posted my commitment to an ad-free site publicly now, that doesn’t make me feel any more committed because I was already committed on the inside. I can clearly see that I need to switch to an ad-free site. I’m not worried about figuring out the right sources for income generation between now and then. I’m just enjoying being in that place of holding the vision of what I want and letting go of what I know I don’t want. When the time is right, I’ll be ready to transition completely. But for now I like the sense of inevitability that it’s going to happen… and that I’ll have an ad-free site in 2009.
I know I have to say “I quit” to what I don’t want before I can summon the energy and consciousness necessary to attract what I do want. If something isn’t right for me, it doesn’t matter whether or not I can see a more compatible match standing in the wings. I have to say “I quit” first. I probably won’t be able to see the new, more compatible match until I’m ready to release the old one.
If you work at a job you don’t like, but you don’t feel ready to quit right now, then say to your boss, “I have to tell you that I’m going to be leaving in 6 months. I just want to give you as much notice as possible, so we can have a smooth transition.” At least this way, you’ve gotten things rolling. This also makes it easier to stop saying yes to anything that would keep you stuck. Of course there’s a good chance your employer will help speed things along, so it may not take anywhere near 6 months to transition out. If you find yourself out the door in less than a month, that says something about how essential your job was, doesn’t it?
Eventually we must say a firm “I quit” to incompatibilities we’ve been tolerating. It can take a while to build up to this stage, but if we’ve worked through the first two stages, this stage is inevitable. In fact, this step is often a non-event.
It may still take some courage to get yourself to finally say, “I quit” to what you know you don’t want, but by this point it has become a necessity. The desire to quit has probably been building for quite a while. When you finally cross the line, there’s a great feeling of relief and a sense of new possibilities.
Don’t let fear stop you from extricating yourself from what you don’t want. If you know you don’t want it, you’re going to have to quit. The longer you remain stuck, the worse it is for you. Your inner self will keep nagging at you. You’ll be stuck dealing with a lot of negative emotions until you summon the courage to kick the incompatibilities out of your life.
Don’t get so attached to your status and your stuff that you can’t quit what you’ve been tolerating for too long. Your job title, money, and possessions won’t give you much comfort. Better to lose all of that than suffer through a phony life that just isn’t you. If you can’t make money authentically and without lowering your consciousness, it’s better to be broke for a while.
If you ever get tempted to lower your consciousness (by tolerating parts of your life instead of loving them) in exchange for more money, security, or comfort, realize you’re about to step foot through the gates of hell. It’s a trap that can see you wallowing in negativity for years to come.
When you quit something you’ve been tolerating, whether it be a job, a relationship, a bad habit, or an unhealthy diet, you raise your energy and your consciousness. This enables you to imagine, intend, attract, and receive what you really do want.
You won’t be able to attract what you want while you’re still tolerating what you don’t want. You have to say “I quit” first. This is life’s test of courage. If you can’t summon the courage to quit what you know you don’t want, you certainly won’t have the strength to receive and hold onto what you do want. So you have to pass through this qualification test first. I know it sucks to have to go through it, but it’s there for a good reason.
You’re being asked, “Are you willing to step up? Are you willing to demand more from life? Can you prove you won’t settle for less than what you want?”
If you get scared, run back to the familiar, and settle for tolerance, you lose this challenge. You’re saying to life, “Sorry, I’m not ready for anything more than what I have right now. I’m too scared. Let me stay here for a while longer, wallowing in what I don’t want. I need to build more strength before I’m ready to ask for what I do want. Please keep making my life harder until I’m finally able to let go of this.”
Fortunately there’s no limit to how often you can take this test. When you ask for what you want, you can expect some resistance to come up. You may have a financial setback or a health problem that makes you want to run back to what you know, even if it isn’t what you want. If you do that, however, you’re proving you aren’t ready to receive what you want. You can’t hold onto what you want if you’re going to run back to what you don’t want every time life throws a little obstacle your way.
The real test is whether you will choose to resonate with courage or fear. If you choose fear, you aren’t ready to have what you want. If you choose courage, you demonstrate your readiness. Courage is the ability to choose love rather than fear, regardless of circumstances. When you’re able to choose love no matter what, then you’re finally ready to receive what you’re asking for.
Another word for tolerance is cowardice. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s fairly accurate. If you’re experiencing what you don’t want, it’s because you’re allowing it. You remain free to choose something else. The question is whether you’ll step up and claim it… or chicken out and tell yourself it’s too big or that you aren’t ready or that you can’t possibly make it happen. That’s cowardice.
I enjoy a pretty abundant lifestyle, but what compensation would that be if I had to sacrifice my courage to keep it? Life without courage is nothingness. It’s an empty void. If you can’t “bet the farm” on a new direction that calls to you, you aren’t free, and you certainly aren’t living consciously. Better to go broke and have some incredible learning experiences than to lower your consciousness and trap yourself in a gilded cage. Money should always be your slave, never your master.
If your life isn’t filled with what you love, who chose that? Who’s choosing it right now? Who’s free to say no at any time? Who’s responsible for fixing it? If you can’t say no to what you don’t want, then how are you supposed to experience what you do want? If you want to travel the right path for you, then isn’t it reasonable to stop taking steps along the wrong path first?
If you’re experiencing what you don’t want, then stop choosing to experience it. Quit. Leave. Stop. Enjoy the sense of relief that comes from releasing what you don’t want. This is much better than dying a slow death on a path you don’t even want to pursue.
If you don’t want it, let it go. Say goodbye to the old with love, so you can say hello to the new with love.
If you take this simple advice and follow it for a period of years, you’ll soon find that your life is filled with what you love instead of what you tolerate. But eventually you’ll be guided in yet another direction, and it will be time for another round of releasing. This process never ends because it’s necessary for us to grow. We can’t grow if we keep repeating the same experiences over and over. We must continue to engage new energies that bring us fresh growth experiences.
If you’re stuck living a life you wouldn’t have consciously chosen if you had it to do all over again, what can you realistically do about it?
The Black Hole
By “stuck” I mean truly, deeply stuck. You’ve got the stable job, the family, and the mortgage. But even though your situation looks pretty good from an external standpoint, you’re not happy about it. It’s not fulfilling, and you know you should be doing something else, but at the same time, you know there are no guarantees, and you feel as if the only way out would be to destroy what you’ve got and rebuild from scratch. And that isn’t something you’re willing to do.
It’s not like you haven’t tried, but realistically you can’t see any viable, intelligent options to get things moving in a new direction. It’s like you’re in a black hole, a gravitational well that makes it impossible for you to ever reach escape velocity. It seems to take you a massive amount of effort just to move an inch, and if you let up for an instant, you’re sucked right back down again. You feel trapped, maybe even depressed, and perhaps you even wonder if you should just suck it up and take it. It’s not really that bad compared to most people, right?
On your best days, you’re consciously aware of your situation but still don’t see a way out. But on your worst days, you’re in denial about the whole thing and may succumb to escapist tendencies.
You might read books that even directly address your situation, but they don’t help you much. Their solutions don’t seem practical for you. Perhaps they rely too much on things like putting your faith in the universe and hoping things will work out, and that sounds risky and foolish to you.
What can you do in such a situation? Is there a way out?
Yes, there is a way out. The solution is people. Throw different people at the problem.
When you’re stuck in a black hole where it’s impossible for you to reach escape velocity, your only hope for escape is to find an even stronger gravitational field to pull you out. People act a lot like gravitational fields, and when you put enough of them together, all tugging at you in a consistent direction, you’re going to move.
On the positive side, this is how groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Weight Watchers work. Take an overweight or alcoholic person, surround them with people who will help pull them up to a new level, and given enough time, it works.
On the negative side, this is how cults work as well. Take a person out of their ordinary environment, surround them with crazy people, and a nutso they become.
Unfortunately, most people join the cult of mediocrity without realizing it because they surround themselves with average, ho-hum, dull, going-nowhere people. This cult is one that many people join by default.
If the people in your life right now are causing you to remain stuck, you need to find ways to spend less time with them and more time with people who can help pull you up to a new level. It’s really that simple. Drop the losers lest ye be one.
If you find that the people you spend the most time with are high achievers, I’d bet you’re either a high achiever yourself or quickly becoming one. And if the predominant people in your life are going nowhere, you already know how stuck you are.
To escape mediocrity requires that you surround yourself with the exceptional. Steal time from your mediocre relationships, and invest it in building new relationships with people you find extraordinary. Join clubs and organizations you’re just barely qualified to join. Apply for a job where you’ll be surrounded by highly competent people. Join a gym that intimidates you. Volunteer for assignments that allow you to work with higher caliber people, even if you do it for free.
Once you meet such people, find ways to do favors for them. Give, expecting nothing in return. Build the relationship first, even if it seems very unbalanced in the beginning. The energy of such people will rub off on you. And with enough rubbing, you’ll have raised your own energy and awareness enough to reach escape velocity and break out of mediocrity.
So much of success is nothing but a mindset, and mindsets are contagious. You limit yourself unnecessarily when you surround yourself with people who are just as limited. Instead, spend more time with people who intimidate you until you’re no longer intimidated. Find a herd where you’re one of the slowest stragglers instead of one of the pack — you’ll move a lot faster and make rapid gains that way.
Whenever you want to pull yourself up to a new level of performance, start by asking yourself, “Who’s already getting the results I want, and where can I find them?” Then just start showing up where they show up. Introduce yourself to as many people as you can, and go from there. But most importantly, show up.
Have you ever met anyone who was normal?
I’ve met a lot of people on this planet so far, and none have ever seemed normal — or average — to me. Not even close.
Being normal is a myth. There’s no such thing.
Despite what some people say about me, I don’t consider my lifestyle radical, abnormal, or extremist. I don’t do what I do to rebel against society. That would be pointless because no matter how I live my life, it’s guaranteed to be unique anyway. I can’t possibly live a normal, average life even if I tried. No one can.
Even if it were possible to live a normal life, would you even want that? On this planet, normal means living on less than $2 a day… and that’s just for starters.
Exposing Your Uniqueness
The reason my work tends to polarize people isn’t because I’m so “out there.” The reason this happens is that I openly share my uniqueness instead of keeping it hidden. Being different is commonplace, but exposing those differences is fairly uncommon.
Most people lead with their sameness and hide their uniqueness, so as to maximize their chance of being accepted by others. I prefer to share my uniqueness openly. As you can probably guess, this exposes me to criticism — sometimes a great deal of criticism. But I’d rather be judged for the man that I am than accepted as someone I pretend to be.
The truth is that if any other human being on earth shared their honest history, thoughts, and aspirations publicly with an audience the same size as mine, they’d likely receive just as much criticism as I do. As long as they reveal the honest truth, someone, somewhere will judge them harshly for it.
Does it bother you to know that if you totally opened up and shared your real self with the world, warts and all, that you’d attract some criticism, judgment, and condemnation? Would it bother you to discover that some of the harshest judgment might come from the very friends and family you keep right now?
I’ll be totally straight with you. If you open up and share your real self with the world, you will indeed be criticized for it. Some people will take issue with your very existence, as if you’re somehow a personal threat to them. But at the same time, you will invite new connections with the most honest, authentic, compatible people you could ever wish for. Believe me — that’s a very worthwhile trade off.
When you show the world a false front, the world responds with false acceptance. When you show the world your true self, you’ll receive both harsh judgment as well as genuine acceptance.
The former approach is worthless. The latter is absolutely awesome.
Where Do We Connect?
You and I are two different people. We may have a great deal in common, but I’m sure we have many differences too. If you’ve been following my work for a while, you can probably name several things off the top of your head that you really like about me. And you can probably name other things that seriously bother you.
Some people absolutely love that I’m a raw foodist and a vegan — this deeply resonates with them. Other people go kittywompus whenever I write about diet or health. Some people are absolutely ebullient about the decision Erin and I made to have an open relationship; they genuinely look forward to watching our journey unfold. Other people are completely freaked out by this decision and predict nothing but doom and gloom.
And guess what. If I knew as much about you as you knew about me, I’d probably feel the same way about you. There would be some things I’d absolutely love about you and other things that were a total turnoff. Some things about you would attract me; other aspects would make me nauseous.
Consider that we’re all puzzle pieces in the larger body of humanity. We connect well with certain people on one side but not on all sides. We have some compatibility but never perfect compatibility. This is true even in a long-term committed relationship.
So the question is this: Should we hide our differences from each other and reveal only our commonalties, or should we expose our differences openly?
Imagine if I ran this website so as to avoid revealing anything about myself that might offend or annoy certain people. Suppose my goal was to create a website that could gain the acceptance of nearly everyone — or at least avoid any serious public condemnation. That means I’d have never written anything about polyphasic sleep, spirituality, eating vegan, raw foods, juice feasting, manifesting intentions, being arrested, my college experience, being happily jobless, and for goodness sakes — certainly not polyamory!!!
What would be left? Most likely we’d have a pretty generic self-help site. There would still be some decent articles, but I think you’ll agree that something precious would be lost. The spirit of my work would be totally absent.
However, if I actually ran a site like this, certain people might accept me more easily because they wouldn’t have as many reasons to reject me. They could more easily delude themselves into believing that we’re 100% compatible. But would they really like and accept me? Or would they merely accept the false image I projected?
When I share a part of my life that doesn’t resonate with you, there’s no need to go kittywompus and become judgmental. Simply do the best you can to accept our differences. You see… it’s our differences, not our sameness, that stimulate us to learn and grow. If you and I weren’t different, we’d learn nothing from our interactions. There’s no point in exploring the creative work of someone who agrees with you on everything; that would be a complete waste of your time. Our differences fuel our growth.
When I meet people who lead lives that are very different from mine, I’m usually fascinated by them. I become intensely curious. I want to know why they live as they do and what I can learn from them. I recognize that their puzzle piece is able to make connections that my own piece cannot, and this means they’ve learned things that — without their insights — I may otherwise never learn.
I’m especially turned on by people who follow non-mainstream paths that expose them to a lot of criticism. I’ve found that such people tend to be far more conscious than most, often because the harsh judgment they receive helps them grow stronger and more committed to doing what they believe is right. When you finally realize that it’s impossible to satisfy everyone, you stop worrying so much about the opinions of others, and you start tuning in and listening to yourself more and more. This can be a powerful catalyst for a very conscious life. Not always… but quite often.
Last week I was hanging out with some friends on the Vegas Strip. The Sands Expo was hosting a popular adult convention (i.e. a porn convention). As it turned out, I had some interesting conversations with a few of the porn stars who were in town for the convention. While some people obviously hold strong opinions of those who work in this industry, I approached them with an attitude of openness and genuine curiosity. I’ve never had any connections to the porn industry, so these are people I might otherwise never meet.
Overall I found these conversations fascinating. I was surprised to learn how much I had in common with these adult performers. Perhaps my sex life has been a lot more vanilla than theirs, but I soon realized that my pre-judgments of such people were totally inaccurate.
Specifically, these people were able to communicate very openly and authentically. I could tell I was talking to a real person, not a false front. Maybe when a person has exposed themselves on camera, they feel less of a need to hide other parts of themselves. They also made no apologies or excuses for their lifestyle choices. They owned their power and were congruent with it. They may follow a path that I wouldn’t choose for myself, one that entails certain risks, but I could understand why they made the choices they did.
Does this mean I want to turn around and start shacking up with porn stars? No. But I could easily see myself connecting with some of these people as friends, hanging out and having interesting conversations about life, the universe, and everything.
Accepting Your Imperfections
One of the key turning points in my life happened when I crashed and burned after becoming addicted to shoplifting. By disappointing everyone who knew me, I stopped worrying about what other people thought about me. I reached the point where I just assumed everyone’s opinion of me was negative. I felt like I’d been rejected by virtually everyone and that there was no one in my life I could really trust. I had to learn to accept myself in order to make it through those dark times, even though no one else seemed willing to do so. Otherwise I’d have totally given up on my life.
After going through such an experience, how could I be judgmental of anyone else? To this day my attitude is, “Look where I came from. I’m a convicted criminal after all. I know what it’s like to feel the whole world is against you. How could I possibly judge you for your choices? I’d rather accept you as you are. I know you’re doing the best you can.”
Being judgmental of others and hiding your uniqueness go hand in hand. How can you go around judging others if you aren’t willing to put yourself on the line as well? If you expose yourself to daily criticism and judgment, this will teach you to be much more compassionate and non-judgmental toward others. You will see just how important it is to accept everyone as they are, including the parts you may not like.
Some people who’ve never met me mistakenly assume that I’m very judgmental. I often write in a direct, opinionated manner, and the reason is that I’ve found that style to be very effective at stimulating people to grow. I’ve been experimenting with different writing styles for years, and I know from experience that being direct and strong in my language really does have a positive, long-term impact on people. It gets people thinking and discussing issues that they’d otherwise leave buried. The process of consciously reexamining your assumptions can lead to huge personal breakthroughs.
When I use that particular writing style, it’s not because I’m criticizing you for being where you are; it’s because I’m nudging you to re-examine your motives and to consider alternatives. In order for you to make committed decisions in life, you also have to consider and accept some of the paths you’ve decided not to follow. If I post an article about an alternative choice, and you’re really bothered by what I’ve written, perhaps it means you aren’t fully comfortable with your current path, and maybe it’s time to explore alternatives. As I previously noted in the article Self-Acceptance vs. Personal Growth, it’s entirely possible to accept ourselves as we are and yet still push ourselves to learn and grow. So when I nudge you to grow in some way, please don’t interpret it to mean that I don’t accept you as you are. That simply isn’t true. I’m quite certain that you’re awesome. 🙂
Do I hate people who eat animals, people who are very religious, or people who can’t wake up before 10am? No, of course not. If that was how I really felt, I’d end up living a sad, lonely, and disconnected life. My life purpose is to embody and stimulate conscious growth, and I can’t do that if I put up artificial walls between myself and everyone else.
I was raised in a very judgmental environment. From my earliest memories, I remember being on the receiving end of a tremendous amount of criticism. Many times I felt I couldn’t do anything right. When I was around 4-5 years old, I would try my very best to be “good” and to avoid upsetting people. But over and over again, I kept failing. Then I’d be punished for it. As a result I began to hate myself. I felt like I was trapped in a game that was impossible to win. No matter which direction I turned, it always led to judgment and punishment. My only real defense at the time was to create a false shell around myself, one that would hopefully be satisfactory to others, while I was a totally different person on the inside. I felt no love toward anyone or anything.
It wasn’t until my teen years that I finally began to realize this game was totally unfair. I gradually stopped trying to live up to the expectations of others. I began doing what I felt was best. Initially this led to an extended period of self-destructive behavior, but eventually I got through that and learned how to meet my needs without hurting others. And much later I figured out how to meet my needs in a way that helped other people too.
When I’m really in touch with my feelings, I don’t judge other people. As a human being though, I’m not always at my best, and I often screw up. Those mistakes help me renew my commitment to being non-judgmental. First, I feel that a person with my past has no right to judge anyone. And second, I know what it’s like to be subjected to harsh criticism and punishment, and I don’t wish that on anyone.
There’s something really amazing about being around people who love and accept you as you are. This doesn’t mean such people won’t stimulate and challenge you to grow — in fact, they often will. But it means you can feel totally safe in their presence. There’s no need to worry about being rejected or condemned for being who you are.
Being nonjudgmental is a step toward unconditional love. A good place to start on this path is to love and accept yourself. Stop beating yourself up for past mistakes. If you can’t love and accept yourself, you’ll have a hard time loving and accepting others, and vice versa.
Learning to accept myself as I am was a long and difficult process. The first step, however, was to realize that it was essentially a choice. I didn’t need to meet any special conditions, satisfy any prerequisites, or gain anyone’s approval. I could simply decide that I would accept myself no matter what. In the long run, this decision has made me very happy. 🙂
This wasn’t remotely easy for me. I was raised from a young age to believe that life was all about judgment. As a child my entire world revolved around trying in vain to earn the conditional acceptance of others — my parents, my teachers, my peers, and God himself. Later in life I had to unload a tremendous amount of baggage, and new stuff still comes up from time to time.
My heart really goes out to those people who haven’t been able to unload such baggage yet. The simple truth, however, is that you’re free in this moment to decide to unconditionally love and accept yourself no matter what. You may have been taught all sorts of reasons why you can’t do that. None of them are true.
If you can learn to love and accept yourself completely, then it doesn’t matter if the whole world turns against you. Self-acceptance changes the way you look at people who are judgmental. Instead of seeing them as attacking you, you realize they’re battling with their own lack of self-acceptance. Deep down they wish they were free enough to be truly themselves.
When I started writing about polyamory, did I lose some friends? Yes, that has happened in a few cases. Some people became very judgmental and critical as a result of my decision. On the other hand, I attracted many new friendships as well — far more than I expected. I lost some people who couldn’t accept me as I am, but I gained many new friends who do accept me.
If friends decide to dump me as a result of the personal choices I’ve made, then at best I only had their conditional love and acceptance, so our friendship was never that deep to begin with. Consequently, I don’t feel that anything of value was truly lost. All that happened was that some inauthentic connections were revealed and released. This creates a space for more authentic connections to be formed. It also means that my future relationships can be more strongly aligned with truth and love than my old relationships that didn’t survive.
The road to misery is trying to satisfy other people’s expectations. Instead of trying to please others, decide to live congruently with your own ideals and values, and allow others the freedom to do the same. Some people will accuse you of being selfish for doing so, when in truth you’re performing one of the most important services this planet needs — demonstrating how to live honestly and authentically.
If you cannot share your true self with the world, your life will be filled with shallow, inauthentic connections at best. The relationship you maintain with your inner self, when you’re all alone with your private thoughts, will be very different than what you experience with other people. Your personality will be split between your private persona and your public one. You will probably crave solitude more and more because at least when you’re alone, you’re free to put down your mask and be yourself, without risking the judgment of others.
What would happen if you allowed your social self and your private self to become the same self? Why not allow your true self to shine as a beacon of openness and honesty?
Yes, this will require facing more rejection and judgment from false friends. But it will also open the door to the most honest, authentic connections with other human beings you can imagine.
If people want to become close friends with me (as opposed to mere acquaintances), I require that they unconditionally accept me as I am. This means accepting that I’m a raw foodist; that I’m married to a popular psychic medium, one who also happens to be my best friend; that I love working on spiritual growth, but I’m allergic to organized religion; that I have a geeky/nerdy/Trekkie side; that I have a quirky, playful, and irreverent sense of humor; that I love to write, often for hours at a time; that I’m very open-minded and love to explore new growth experiences; that I have lots of energy and don’t tire easily; that I like to get an early start to each day; that I don’t have a job, nor would I ever want one; that I don’t subscribe to scarcity thinking; that I love helping people grow; that money is very low on my list of priorities; that I tend to be very focused when I’m pursuing a new goal or activity; and that I’m currently exploring polyamory and will no longer remain monogamous.
If there’s anything about me you can’t accept, you’re welcome to keep reading my work from a distance. I hope you still find parts of it helpful and worthwhile. Just be aware that as long as you maintain such judgments, the wall you’ve erected will prevent us from becoming any closer. We’ll never be close friends, nor will we likely do any business together. So please keep that in mind if you ever decide to contact me about anything.
Some people compartmentalize their personal life and their career/business life. I do not. To me it’s all the same thing.
I don’t mind if people tease me about some of my attributes or if they challenge me to grow in various ways. In fact, I rather enjoy those kinds of interactions. I’ve been known to dish out a fair bit of teasing myself. However, don’t put yourself in the position of expecting me to change who I am just to please you. I wake up happy and excited about my life each morning, and I’m absolutely delighted with my current direction. Some days I can hardly believe how fortunate I am. If you would seek to derail me from this path, while you yourself seem largely unhappy and unfulfilled, I will likely question your intelligence and refer you to resources for the non-smart folk.
Deep down we all want the same thing, don’t we? We all want to love and be loved. We would all love to be open and honest about ourselves and be accepted for who we really are. We’d all love to lower our shields and trust that we aren’t about to get phasered. Am I so different from you in this regard? I seriously doubt it.
Imagine what a delightful world this would be if we were all open and honest with each other, while also being completely accepting and nonjudgmental with respect to our differences. This is the reality I wish to experience. I previously shared this vision in my book as the Oneness World exercise, and it’s also reproduced on this site in the article Oneness.
I understand and accept that I’ll be criticized and condemned for my choices. I imagine this will likely continue for the rest of my life as a human being. I just want to say in advance that regardless of what happens, I’m simply going to forgive all of it. I won’t always be at my best, and sometimes I get dragged down by negative energy for a little while (those slings and arrows get stuck in my teeth). However, the more people criticize and condemn me for my choices, the more it deepens my compassion and my commitment to conscious living. My greatest wish is for all of us to live conscious, happy, fulfilled lives together.
How do you balance self-acceptance vs. the drive to grow and improve yourself? On the one hand, it’s a good idea to accept yourself for who you are… faults and all, right? But on the other hand, isn’t it also a good idea to set goals and aim for something even better than what you already experience now? How do you resolve this conflict?
Is compromise really the best solution?
I believe most people simply compromise. They don’t fully accept themselves as they are, but nor are they fully committed to lifelong growth. I think that’s a lame solution though. Why not have both? Why not fully accept yourself as you are and also be totally committed to lifelong growth? Can’t you enjoy both? Is there a way around this apparent conflict?
I often receive feedback, both publicly and privately, that suggests that because I’m so openly committed to personal growth, that therefore I must not like and accept who I am right now. It’s assumed that since I keep pushing myself to grow in new ways that I must be sacrificing the self-acceptance side.
The linear mindset
Why does there seem to be a conflict between self-acceptance and growth anyway? I think the conflict is actually a result of a particular mindset. I’ll refer to it as the linear mindset.
The linear mindset says that your life is like a point moving down a line segment. Your life is a journey through time. The end points represent your birth and death. The points behind you are your past. The points ahead of you are your future. And your present moment is a little dot on that timeline, slowly inching its way towards your death.
Every point on your life line can also be said to have a certain quality. You can look at any point on the line and measure your instantaneous state at that point. On any particular day of your life (past, present, or future), you can pose questions like: Where do I live? What’s my job? What’s my net worth? Who are my friends? What’s my relationship status? How much do I weigh?
Self-acceptance vs. personal growth
Within this paradigm it’s only natural that the conflict between self-acceptance and growth should arise. Once you start labeling some points of your life as being of “higher” or “lower” quality than others, then you have the means to compare any point to any other. How does your life today compare with your life five years ago? Are you richer? Happier? Healthier?
Now you have to decide how much you want to push things to improve in quality as you progress through life. You can accept your current position as adequate and opt to simply maintain it, or you can strive to achieve something greater. You can also adopt the belief that your life is largely out of your control, in which case your best bet would be to learn to accept whatever outcomes you experience, regardless of how you might rate their level of quality.
The more you accept where you are, the less motivation there is to grow. And the more you push yourself to grow, the less satisfaction you derive from your current position. You might end up oscillating back and forth along this spectrum, sometimes being very complacent and other times being very driven.
Limitations of the linear mindset
The linear mindset is very common, especially in the Western world. We love to measure things and assign them grades and ratings. Which car is the most fuel-efficient this year? Is company X more profitable than it was last year? How fit and healthy am I?
And that mindset certainly has value, especially in business. I’m not suggesting that it’s an inherently undesirable paradigm.
However, there are areas where this model works, and there are areas where it doesn’t. And one of those areas where it doesn’t work so well is your self-image.
Trying to apply the linear mindset to your self-image creates the conflict between self-acceptance and growth. Instead of merely measuring various aspects of your life and noting how they change over time, you identify with them. I am richer than I was last year. I am more depressed than I used to be. I went from being a telemarketer to being a sales manager.
When you identify with the positional aspects of your life, you pull your ego into the picture. Your sense of self then becomes dependent on your particular position.
If you primarily think about life in terms of hitting new highs, such as better health, greater net worth, or a more anal job title, then what happens when you experience a setback in your position, maybe even a big one like being charged with a felony?
We all experience setbacks. It’s only a matter of time. If your self-esteem is based on your position, then you’ll suffer greatly when your position declines. What would it do to your self-esteem if you lost all your money? What if you gained 50 lbs? What if your life mate dumped you? If you lose your position, will you lose your sense of self?
Even more problematic than a real loss is worrying about the possibility of a loss in advance. You may hold yourself back because you fear becoming too dependent on a certain position. If you stay low, you don’t have far to fall when things go bad. Gaining a few pounds over the holidays isn’t as painful when you’re already 50 lbs overweight. Going broke isn’t so terrible when you only have $1000 to your name vs. if you’re a multi-millionaire. And how much worse can your relationship situation get if it’s already lousy (or nonexistent)?
Perhaps by setting up camp in mediocre land and staying far away from super-achiever, you’re protecting your ego from inevitable setbacks. You know that even the most successful people in the world experience setbacks, so why would you risk subjecting yourself to such dramatic highs and lows? What goes up must come down, right?
The underlying problem is that by rooting your sense of self in something that will fluctuate, like the current position of any measurable part of your life, you’re going to suffer in one way or another. Either you’ll push yourself to achieve, achieve, achieve, and then suffer emotionally when things take a turn for the worse, or you’ll become attached to outcomes to an unhealthy degree, such that you may sacrifice your ethics to maintain your position. Or you’ll settle for much less than you’re capable of achieving and probably give yourself regular beatings for being too lazy and for over-procrastinating — you’ll always be haunted by the knowledge that you could be doing better. Or lastly you may decide to withdraw from society in order to escape/transcend this whole punishing process; but still your contribution is far below your potential.
Beyond the linear mindset
This whole situation is basically win-lose, isn’t it? You have to compromise somewhere. You can’t play the positional growth game full out and still accept and enjoy every moment along the way, right?
Or can you?
Let me suggest an alternative paradigm.
Instead of rooting your sense of self in your position, which is changeable, what would happen if you rooted your sense of self in something permanent and unchangeable? Stop identifying yourself with any form of positional status, and pick something invulnerable instead… like a pure concept that nothing in this world can touch. Examples include unconditional love, service to humanity, faith in a higher power, compassion, nonviolence, and so on.
I’m certainly not the first person to suggest something like this. Stephen Covey wrote about this in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He refers to it as true north.
When you root yourself in unchangeable “true north” principles, you may still measure the various metrics of your life and notice how they change over time, but you won’t make them part of your identity. Hence, you keep your self-esteem separate from your particular circumstances.
This isn’t easy to do. Covey himself has admitted how difficult it is for him personally. But you don’t have to be perfect to get results from this paradigm. Even a small move in this direction will reduce the conflict between self-acceptance and growth. Essentially you’ll gain the best of both worlds.
Separating position from identity
By rooting yourself in the permanent, your position detaches from your identity. This makes it possible to unconditionally accept yourself as you are while still courageously playing the positional growth game, regardless of the outcome. Self-acceptance and growth are no longer in conflict because now they don’t apply to the same thing. You’ve separated your identity (self-acceptance) from your position (growth).
Covey’s true north principles are based on effectiveness. Mine are based on fulfillment, so they’re slightly different, but there’s certainly a lot of overlap between them. For example, one of my principles is service to the highest good of all. This is close to Covey’s principle of thinking win-win. Either version of this principle is independent of position. You can be homeless and forgotten, or you can be rich and famous, and you can still do your best to serve the highest good of all and to think win-win. These principles do not depend on circumstances; circumstances only affect the manner in which you’d apply them.
Detaching ego from outcomes
If I were to look at a snapshot of my life right now, I’d rate it as excellent in terms of its positional (i.e. growth-related) aspects. I received 320,000 visitors and 664,000 page views last week, and I topped my one-day Adsense record too ($330.69 on April 12). On Thursday I did a magazine interview, on Friday I did a nationally syndicated radio interview, and on Saturday I joined the Las Vegas National Speakers Association and went to my first meeting. Later today my family and I will enjoy an Easter picnic in the park with some friends, and I’ll spend the rest of the day having fun and relaxing. Positionally everything is wonderful. Lots of higher highs.
But if I let my self-esteem and my identity get too wrapped up in these external outcomes, I’ll be setting myself up for ultimate failure. When the pendulum swings the other way, and of course it eventually will, I’ll get frustrated with my less than stellar performance. And from there it’s a slippery slope into the realm of ego-driven attachment to outcomes. What will happen when my traffic or income takes a nosedive at some point? I’ll either resist accepting my present situation, or I’ll withdraw into a shell and settle for mediocrity for a while, or I’ll put on a fake front and pull an Enron. None of those are good solutions.
The solution is upstream… to keep identity and position as separate as possible. I find that a couple practices help a lot with this: journaling and meditation. I’ve been doing both for many years, and these practices help me keep my internal compass aligned with true north principles that aren’t going to change within my lifetime. I keep my sense of self rooted in permanent concepts like service, awareness, and peace. Those concepts don’t change, so my deepest sense of self remains fairly fixed. That makes it easier to fully accept who I am in every moment. But on the positional side, I’m still able to enjoy the pursuit of positional growth and play full out without settling for underachievement.
If I stray from these practices for too long (more than a few weeks), I gradually fall out of alignment with true north. I eventually get sucked back into the prevailing social climate that loves to identify people with their positions. For example, while I was doing my polyphasic sleep experiment, some people started identifying me with polyphasic sleep. And that’s OK until they start becoming too attached to that person-position pairing. Positions are always temporary, so it’s best not to become overly attached to them… whether in yourself or others. It would have been problematic if I fell into the trap of letting my ego become overly attached to my position as a polyphasic sleeper. The ego resists positional changes it perceives as negative — it doesn’t like to be wrong. So I might have clung to polyphasic sleep even when it didn’t serve me as well as monophasic sleep.
Have you fallen into any person-position pairing in your own life? Do you derive your sense of self from things that are changeable and vulnerable, such as your income, your job title, your relationships, or any other form of status? How much energy are you investing in defending those positions out of fear?
When you loosen your attachment to positions, you don’t have to defend them. I disliked when people started giving me labels like “the internet king of polyphasic sleep” (not my words)… because if you’re a king, then you’ve got a kingdom to defend. People like to attack kings simply because of their position as kings. I’d rather not be perceived as a king of anything positional, since I don’t want to spend my time defending temporary positions that are eventually going to crumble anyway. Trying to defend your position as if it were the real you is a losing battle. None of the positional aspects of your life are going to endure, so it’s best not to become too attached to them. Enjoy them while they last, but don’t seek your self in them.
When you root your self in something permanent, then your sense of self is effectively untouchable. Your position can be attacked, and you can still defend it if you like, but you won’t feel irrationally compelled to defend it out of fear. You won’t feel you’re being personally attacked when your position becomes vulnerable.
Enjoying inner peace
What I’m really getting at here is inner peace. When you keep your sense of self away from third-dimensional positions, your position can rollercoaster all over the place, and you can still be at peace on the inside no matter what happens. You don’t have to withdraw and be totally passive. You can enjoy being an ambitious overachiever and set and achieve goals like a maniac — and have a great time doing it. But meanwhile you don’t seek your identity in those fluctuating outcomes.
If you find yourself succumbing to the ego-position trap, add some practices to your life like meditation, journaling, time with kids, time in nature, and so on. This will help you reconnect with what’s most sacred to you (your own version of true north principles) and keep your identity separate from your position. Then you can experience drive without attachment, ambition without ego, and peace without passivity.
One of the most difficult matters to confront with respect to family relationships is that you don’t control the entire relationship yourself. Whether the relationship thrives or withers isn’t up to you alone. As the saying goes, it takes two to tango.
When major family relationship problems are encountered, it’s common to attempt a control strategy. You try to get the other person to change. Sometimes this approach works, especially if your request and the other person are both reasonable. But many times it just leads to frustration.
On the other hand, if you can’t change the other person, maybe you should just accept them as they are. That’s another strategy that sometimes works, but this one can also lead to frustration and even resentment if your needs aren’t being met.
There is, however, a third alternative for those times when changing the other person and accepting the other person as-is are both unworkable for you. And that option is to change yourself in a way that solves the problem. This requires that you redefine the problem as an internal one instead of an external one, and then the solution will take the form of an expansion of your awareness and/or a change in your beliefs.
An internal way of viewing relationship problems is that they reflect back to you a part of yourself that you dislike. If you have a negative external relationship situation, it’s a reflection of a conflict in your own thinking. As long as you keep looking outside yourself for the answer, you may never resolve the external problem. But once you start looking inside yourself for the problem, it may become easier to solve.
What you’ll find when you tackle such problems is that you harbor one or more beliefs that perpetuate the relationship problem in its current form. Those beliefs are the real problem — the true cause of the unhealthy relationship.
For example, consider a problematic relationship between yourself and another family member. Suppose you hold the belief that you must be close to every family member simply because they’re related to you. Perhaps you’d never tolerate this person’s behavior if it came from a stranger, but if the person is a relative, then you tolerate it out of a sense of duty, obligation, or your personal concept of family. To push a family member out of your life might cause you to feel guilty, or it could lead to a backlash from other family members. But genuinely ask yourself, “Would I tolerate this behavior from a total stranger? Why do I tolerate it from a family member then?” Exactly why have you chosen to continue the relationship instead of simply kicking the person out of your life? What are the beliefs that perpetuate the problematic relationship? And are those beliefs really true for you?
I love my parents and siblings unconditionally (I have two younger sisters and one younger brother). However, I haven’t had a particularly close-knit relationship with any of them for many years. There was no major falling out or anything like that — it’s just that my personal values and lifestyle have moved so far from theirs that there isn’t enough basic compatibility to form a strong common bond anymore. My parents and siblings are all of the employee mindset with a very low tolerance for risk, but as an entrepreneur, risk is my favorite breakfast. My wife and kids and I are all vegan, while my parents and siblings celebrate the holidays with the traditional consumption of animals. I don’t recall anyone in my family ever saying, “I love you,” while I grew up, but with my own kids I’m very affectionate and strive to tell them I love them every day. My parents and siblings are all practicing Catholics, but I left that behind 17 years ago in order to explore other belief systems. (Technically within their belief system, I’m doomed to hell, so that sorta puts a damper on things.) Even though this is the family I grew up with and shared many memories, our core values are so different now that it just doesn’t feel like a meaningful family relationship anymore.
Despite all these differences, we’re all on good terms with each other and get along fairly well, but our differences create such a big gap that we have to settle for being relatives without being close friends.
If you operate under the belief that family is forever and that you must remain loyal to all your relatives and spend lots of time with them, I want you to know that those beliefs are your choice, and you’re free to embrace them or release them. If you’re fortunate enough to have a close family that is genuinely supportive of the person you’re becoming, that’s wonderful, and in that situation, you’ll likely find the closeness of your family to be a tremendous source of strength. Then your loyalty to family closeness will likely be very empowering.
On the other hand, if you find yourself with family relationships that are incompatible with your becoming your highest and best self, then excessive loyalty to your family is likely to be extremely disempowering. You’ll only be holding yourself back from growing, from achieving your own happiness and fulfillment, and from potentially doing a lot of good for others. If I retained a very close relationship with my birth family, it would be like putting a lampshade over my spirit. I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
My way of dealing with my family situation was to broaden my definition of family. On one level I feel an unconditional connection with all human beings, but on another level, I see people with whom I share a deep compatibility as my true family. For example, my wife and I both have a strong commitment to doing good for the planet as best we can, which is one reason we each find each other attractive. And that’s partly why she’s my best friend as well as my wife. When I see people who are living very, very consciously and deliberately and who’ve dedicated their lives to the pursuit of a worthy purpose, I have a strong sense that on some level, those people are members of my family. And this connection feels more real to me than the blood relationships I was born into.
Loyalty is a worthy value, but what does it mean to be loyal to one’s family? Since loyalty is very important to me, I had to refine my view of this concept to place loyalty to my highest and best self above loyalty to the people I was born with. That was a difficult mental shift to make, but in the long run it has given me a sense of peace. I realize now that family is a concept which is capable of extending far beyond blood.
What I’m suggesting is that in order to solve family relationship problems, which exist at one level of awareness, you may need to pop your consciousness up a level and take a deeper look at your values, beliefs, and your definitions of terms like loyalty and family. Once you resolve those issues at the higher level, the low level relationship problems will tend to take care of themselves. Either you’ll transcend the problems and find a new way to continue your relationship without conflict, or you’ll accept that you’ve outgrown the relationship in its current form and give yourself permission to move on to a new definition of family.
You see… when you say goodbye to a problematic relationship issue, you’re really saying goodbye to an old part of yourself that you’ve outgrown. As I became less compatible with my birth family, I also gradually dropped parts of myself that no longer served me. I drifted away from rigid religious dogma, from fear of risk-taking, from eating animals, from negativity, and from being unable to say, “I love you.” As I let all of those things pass from my consciousness, my external-world relationships changed to reflect my new internal relationships.
As within, so without. If you hold onto conflict-ridden relationships in your life, the real cause is your inner attachment to conflict-ridden thoughts. When you alter the mental relationships within your own mind, your physical world will change to reflect it. So if you kick negative thoughts out of your head, you will find yourself simultaneously kicking negative people out of your life.
There is a wonderful rainbow at the end of this process of letting go, however. And that is that when you resolve conflicts in your consciousness that cause certain relationships to weaken, you simultaneously attract new relationships that resonate with your expanded level of consciousness.
We attract into our lives more of what we already are. If you don’t like the social situation you find yourself in, stop broadcasting the thoughts that attract it. Identify the nature of the external conflicts you experience, and then translate them into their internal equivalents. For example, if a family member is too controlling of you, translate that problem into your own internal version: You feel your life is too much out of your control. When you identify the problem as external, your attempted solutions may take the form of trying to control other people, and you’ll meet with strong resistance. But when you identify the problem as internal, it’s much easier to solve. If another person exhibits controlling behavior towards you, you may be unable to change that person. However, if you feel you need more control in your life, then you can actually do something about it directly without needing to control others.
I’ll actually go so far as to say that the purpose of human relationships may be the expansion of consciousness itself. Through the process of identifying and resolving relationship problems, we’re forced to deal with our internal incongruencies. And as we become more conscious on the inside, our relationships expand towards greater consciousness on the outside.
One of the most important relationship lessons I learned was this: The relationships we have with other people are projections of the relationships we have within ourselves. Our external relationships and our internal relationships are in fact the same relationships. They only seem different because we look at them through different lenses.
Let’s consider why this is true. Where do all your relationships exist? They exist in your thoughts. Your relationship with another person is whatever you imagine it to be. Whether you love someone or hate someone, you’re right. Now the other person may have a completely different relationship to you, but understand that your representation of what someone else thinks of you is also part of your thoughts. So your relationship with someone includes what you think of that person and what you believe s/he thinks of you. You can complicate it further by imagining what the other person thinks you think of him/her, but ultimately those internal representations are all you have.
Even if your relationships exist in some objective reality independent of your thoughts, you never have access to the objective viewpoint. You’re always viewing your relationships through the lens of your own consciousness. The closest you can get to being objective is to imagine being objective, but that is in no way the same thing as true objectivity. That’s because the act of observation requires a conscious observer, which is subjective by its very nature.
At first it might seem troublesome that you can never hope to gain a truly accurate, 100% objective understanding of your relationships. You can never escape the subjective lens of your own consciousness. That would be like trying to find the color blue with a red lens permanently taped over your eyes. That doesn’t stop people from trying, but such attempts are in vain. If you fall into the trap of trying to think of your relationships as objective entities that are external to you, you’ll be using an inescapably inaccurate model of reality. Consequently, the likely outcome is that you’ll frustrate yourself to no end when it comes to human relationships. You’ll make relating to other people a lot harder than it needs to be. Intuitively you may know something is off in your approach to relationships, but you’ll remain stuck until you realize that every relationship you have with another person is really a relationship that exists entirely within yourself.
Fortunately, once you embrace the subjective nature of relationships, you’ll have a much easier time relating to people. It’s easier to get where you want to go when you have an accurate map. The subjective view of relationships implies that you can change or improve your relationships with others by working on the internal relationships within yourself. Furthermore, you can improve your internal relationships, such as your self-esteem, by working on your relationships with others. Ultimately it’s all the same thing.
Here’s a basic example of how this works.
When I first met Erin, I quickly noticed she had an aversion towards orderliness. Having a messy room was a habit since childhood, and being organized was a concept forever alien to her. In Erin’s filing cabinet, I once found a file labeled “Stuff I Don’t Need.” Chew on that for a while.
On the other hand, I grew up in a house that was always — and I do mean always — neat and tidy. Even as a child, I took pride in keeping my room clean and well organized. So it probably comes as no surprise that I often push Erin to be neater and more organized.
If we try to look at this situation “objectively,” you might suggest solutions like me working on becoming more tolerant of disorder, Erin working on being neater, or a mixture of both. Or you might conclude we’re incompatible in this area and that we should try to find ways to reduce the level of conflict. Basically the solution will be some kind of compromise that seeks to mitigate the symptoms, but the core issue remains unresolved.
Let’s see what the subjective lens has to say now. This model says that my relationship with Erin is purely within my own consciousness. So my conflict with Erin is just the projection of an internal conflict. Supposedly my desire for Erin to be neater and more organized means that I really want to improve in this area myself. Is that true? Yes, I have to admit that it is. When I criticize Erin for not being neat enough, I’m voicing my own desire to become even more organized.
This is an entirely different definition of the problem, one that suggests a new solution. In this case the solution is for me to work on improving my own standards for neatness and order. That’s a very different solution than what we get with the objective model. To implement this solution, Erin needn’t even be involved.
From the standpoint of the objective model, this subjective solution seems rather foolish. If anything it will only backfire. Wouldn’t my working on becoming neater just increase the conflict between me and Erin?
Now here’s the really fascinating part. When I actually tried the subjective solution by going to work on myself, Erin suddenly began taking a keen interest in becoming more organized herself. She bought new home office furniture and assigned new homes to objects that were previously cluttering her workspace. She hired a cleaning service to clean the house and did more decluttering before they came over. She bought new bedroom furniture for our children. She did a lot of purging and donated many old items to charity. She began looking for a housekeeper and wrote up a list of cleaning tasks to be outsourced. And I really wasn’t pushing her to do this. If anything she started pushing me a bit.
Somehow when I worked on myself (recognizing that this is an internal issue, not an external one), Erin came along for the ride. I’ve tested this pattern in other ways, and it continues to play out. My “external” relationships keep changing to keep pace with my internal relationships. I’ve seen this effect with other people too, but it’s been most obvious with Erin and my kids, since they’re the people I spend the most time with. It’s rather spooky at times how strong and immediate the effect is. However, the subjective model suggests that this is exactly how reality works, so I’m glad to have a paradigm that fits the results.
I encourage you to experiment to see how your external relationships reflect your internal ones. Try this simple exercise: Make a list of all the things that bother you about other people. Now re-read that list as if it applies to you. If you’re honest you’ll have to admit that all of your complaints about others are really complaints about yourself. For example, if you dislike George Bush because you think he’s a poor leader, could this be because your own leadership skills are sub par? Then go to work on your own leadership skills, or work on becoming more accepting of your current skill level, and notice how George Bush suddenly seems to be making dramatic improvements in this area.
It can be hard to admit that your complaints about others are really complaints about yourself, but the upside is that your relationship issues reveal where you still need to grow. Consequently, a fantastic way to accelerate your personal growth is to build relationships with others. The more you interact with others, the more you learn about yourself.
I believe the true value of human relationships is that they serve as pointers to unconditional love. According to the subjective model, when you forgive, accept, and love all parts of yourself, you will forgive, accept, and love all other human beings as they are. The more you improve your internal relationships between your thoughts, beliefs, and intentions, the more loving and harmonious your human relationships will become. Hold unconditional love in your consciousness, and you’ll see it reflected in your reality.
What determines the quality and quantity of your personal relationships? I think the #1 factor is your mindset towards relationships. There are many ways to frame the role of relationships in your life, and some options are more empowering than others. Look at relationships one way, and you’ll find it difficult to relate to others. But change your mindset in a certain way, and you’ll find yourself attracting compatible people with relative ease.
In this article I’ll share with you a mindset shift that significantly improved my personal relationships, including my marriage, friendships, and even everyday encounters with total strangers. I’ll say up front that this was not an easy shift for me to make, but the results have been well worth the effort.
The mindset of disempowered relationships
First, let’s consider the basic objective mindset about relationships. This mindset assumes that other people are separate and distinct from you, and you communicate with them through words, voice, and body language.
Here are some facets of the objective relationship framework:
[*● Separation *]– Other people have their own thoughts which are separate and distinct from yours.
● Risk of rejection – Human relationships are both imprecise and risky because you never know for certain what other people are thinking.
● Potential resistance – It takes courage to approach a stranger; you never know what kind of resistance you may meet when you try to initiate a conversation with someone you don’t know.
● Trust takes time – Relationships are built on communication, trust, and familiarity, which takes time to build.
● Bonding takes time – You feel closer to people you know and more distant from people you don’t know. Total strangers are the biggest risk of all; the less you know about a person, the less certain you are of your mutual relationship prospects.
● Risk of attachment – There’s a risk of becoming attached to destructive or abusive relationships (or simply those that no longer serve you) because you’ve invested so much time and energy in building them.
This is the basic relationship framework that most people identify with. It’s so common we could call it “common sense.”
However, I consider this a disempowering mindset, not because it’s so terrible — it is fairly functional — but because there’s a more empowering alternative. I spent most of my life using this framework, and I got average results with it. I had fun spending time with friends, and I didn’t suffer from undue loneliness, but I never had close relationships with friends who’d encourage me to live up to my true potential or who’d allow me to do the same with them. It was sort of an unspoken rule that you didn’t talk about things like mission, purpose, or service to the greater good. Such topics were the domain of saints and historical figures, not ordinary people with bills to pay.
A chance encounter
One day I had a chance encounter with a peculiar woman. I call it a chance encounter because our meeting was the result of an odd synchronicity. During one of our first conversations together, I practically bared my soul to her. She learned more about the real me in a single conversation than my other friends learned in years. At the time I didn’t know why I felt open to discuss such things with her — I just felt safe with her, and I could tell she wasn’t judging me for being who I was. We became close friends almost immediately. I’d never had such a deep emotional bond with another person occur so quickly before.
As I got to see this woman interacting with others, I noticed how ridiculously easy it was for her to relate to people, whether in person, online, or on the phone. Total strangers would just open up to her and tell her their darkest secrets in the first 10 minutes of conversation — I could scarcely believe it. I had to ask this woman how she did it, and she explained that it was the result of a particular mindset she had about people.
For many years I resisted adopting her mindset as my own because even though I could see that it worked for her, it just didn’t seem accurate. I felt like I’d be adopting a false view of reality, but I also wondered how a false view could produce such positive results.
Eventually I relaxed my skepticism enough to try it, and she was right. It made a huge difference for me too. I began attracting new friends much more easily.
As you might have guessed, that peculiar woman was Erin. If you’ve ever talked with her yourself, you already know what she’s like. She talks to you as a fellow soul, treating you as a real human being instead of as your job title, your physical appearance, or your personality. She connects with people so easily and so naturally that grown men often cry during readings with her.
While Erin certainly has some serious natural talent in this area, I’ve seen that her mindset is a key component of her ability to genuinely connect. She doesn’t do anything premeditated or manipulative — her ability to connect is a natural consequence of her beliefs. And to the degree I’ve been able to adopt her beliefs in this area, I’ve been able to get closer to her results. My results aren’t a match for hers, but fortunately this isn’t an all-or-nothing deal.
The mindset of empowered relationships
So what is the mindset that makes it so much easier to relate to people? Here it is in a nutshell:
Everyone you meet in your life — even total strangers — is already intimately connected to you. The idea that we are all separate and distinct beings is nothing but an illusion. We are all parts of a larger whole, like individual cells in a body.
Moreover, everyone and everything you see out there in your world are reflections of you. Just as the cells in an organism carry the same DNA, other people are walking around with some part of you inside them. When you look at other people, you’re really looking at yourself. When you notice other people, it’s just like your eyes observing your hands. We’re all parts of the same whole.
Here are some facets of this interconnected model of relationships:
[*● Oneness *]– Other people are not separate and distinct from you. In fact, they are you.
● Connectedness – You don’t have to “build” relationships with others because you’re already connected. You need only tune into the pre-existing connection that’s already there.
● No risk – Little or no courage is required to approach strangers. You’re never actually building new connections from scratch. You’re just recognizing what’s already there.
● Equality – You can feel just as close to total strangers as you do to your friends.
● Significance – All relationships are significant; none are irrelevant. Even the strangers you pass on the street are important parts of you.
● Love without attachment – Letting go of harmful relationships is easier because you’re still unconditionally connected to everyone else. As you release old relationships that no longer serve you, you’ll attract new ones that are compatible with you.
Initially I found this a totally alien mindset. It was only in seeing the results first-hand that I became a convert. Interestingly, I wasn’t into subjective reality when I first adopted this mindset, but this is in fact the subjective reality view of relationships in a nutshell.
One of the side effects of this mindset is that Erin and I are constantly meeting people through synchronicities… people we feel we were supposed to meet. I first read about these kinds of encounters in The Celestine Prophecy. When you have a certain mindset about relationships, you begin to attract the right people at the right times. That’s precisely how Erin and I met as well.
For example, Erin and I recently spent several days in Sedona, Arizona. This was the first time either of us had ever been to that city. One day we walked into a shop we’d never been to before, picked up a strong vibe from a total stranger, started talking, and 30 minutes later we had become friends and said goodbye with hugs. This woman also sent us a gift in the mail a week later to thank us for some guidance we gave her. For Erin and me, this has become an increasingly common event. And believe me — before I had this mindset I could never walk into some random store and expect to be hugging someone I’d never met only 30 minutes later.
I think the reason this mindset is so effective is that when you assume a pre-existing connection with another person, s/he will tend to respond in kind. Usually the best way to break the ice with someone is to assume there never was any ice to begin with.
I also like that this is an easy way to identify highly conscious people. The more conscious and self-aware someone is, the more easily and naturally they’ll respond to someone who relates to them as a real human being right off the bat.
Applying the empowering mindset
When you adopt the mindset that we’re all inherently connected, these are some of the actions and results that will come naturally to you:
● Easy rapport – You’ll connect with strangers almost as easily as you connect with your closest friends, sometimes more easily. The difference between strangers and friends is intellectual familiarity, but you can tap into an intuitive familiarity even with someone you’ve never met.
● Fairness – You’ll begin to feel a kinship with everyone, regardless of familiarity.
● Attraction – Because you’re always open to connecting with people, you’ll begin attracting new relationships fairly easily. Compatible people will be drawn to you.
● Synchronicity – You’ll experience a swell in synchronicities that lead to chance encounters, meeting people you feel very drawn to meet.
● Social courage – Have you ever seen someone at a distance you felt you were supposed to meet? Have you ever run into the same stranger multiple times in the same day? With the right belief system, you’ll feel confident beginning a conversation with such people, and you’ll find that your hunches were right on — you were supposed to meet.
[*● Deeper relationships *]– You’ll enjoy deeper, less superficial relationships, getting to know people at the level of soul.
[*● Energy *]– You’ll attract relationships that energize you rather than drain you.
● Reading people – Because we’re all connected, you can mentally connect with other people and literally share the same thoughts in a way that goes beyond words, voice, and body language. You can even do it at a distance. With practice you can get an accurate read on someone you’ve never met, picking up specific data about that person that you couldn’t have known in a purely objective sense. Practice increases both your accuracy and your ability to trust the information you pick up.
These benefits aren’t either-or. You gradually gain them as your awareness of our spiritual interconnectedness grows.
While you can get some of these benefits while still clinging to an objective model of relationships, I think it would be very difficult. The real key is removing fear from the equation. When you can relate to people without fear, which is a natural consequence of the belief that we’re all connected, then it becomes much easier to form deep connections with other human beings.
If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you can probably guess that if you were to meet me in person, you wouldn’t have to begin a conversation with me by chatting about the weather. We could just talk soul-to-soul about anything, and you needn’t be afraid of me judging you because my belief is that you’re an integral and inseparable part of me. But that’s because you already know a lot about me and my mindset from reading my articles, so you already have some familiarity with me, and that reduces your social risk with me. However, the truth is that you can achieve the same level of rapport with a total stranger when you get an intuitive read that s/he will be receptive. Your social conditioning will cause you to focus on the fear of rejection, but with the mindset of interconnectedness, you’ll focus on the opportunities for connection instead.
My understanding is that the mindset of interconnectedness isn’t only more empowering than the objective mindset — it’s also more accurate. Our fundamental interconnectedness was one of the most empowering realizations I ever had… and also one of the most humbling. It keeps my ego in check to know that this Steve person I inhabit is just one cell in a much larger body. We all are. And the best we can do with our lives is to achieve the point of optimal balance whereby serving our own needs and serving the whole body are congruent. A body does not survive by sacrificing the cells that serve it, and a cell does not survive by sacrificing the body that hosts it.
Interdependence is a higher level of consciousness than independence. Fear serves the latter; fearlessness, the former.
Have you noticed that when you communicate with another person, sometimes you get a wonderfully effective exchange of information that leaves both of you changed for the better, and other times you just seem to butt heads with both of you only becoming more entrenched in your views?
What’s the difference?
The difference is that when you and the other person are at a compatible level of awareness, communication will be smooth and effortless. But when your awareness levels are incompatible, communication is largely ineffective. Anything you say will simply fall on deaf ears.
The Awareness Gap
Awareness incompatibility is a matter of degree rather than essence, a sliding scale if you will. The bigger the “awareness gap” between you and the other person, the less effective will be your communication. The smaller the awareness gap, the more effective your communication. Communication friction is therefore a function of the magnitude of the awareness gap between you and the other person.
How do you measure the size of the awareness gap, and how do you know which person is at a higher level of awareness than the other?
Generally speaking, the higher awareness person is the one who’s more at peace with him/herself. With a little practice, it’s usually easy to tell which person in any situation is at a higher level of awareness than the other. For a complete list of awareness levels in order from lowest to highest, see Levels of Consciousness. By using that list as a guide, you can count how many levels separate you and the other person.
The specific reaction you get when you communicate will depend heavily on the awareness gap between you and the other person. If the gap is narrow, you can expect a reaction based mainly on the content and intent of your communication. Two people at similar levels of awareness will tend to communicate very effectively. But if the gap is wide, then instead of reacting to the content of your communication, the other person will react more to the gap itself.
Recognizing the Gap
This is not so much a problem to be solved as a situation to be accepted. When you recognize the role of awareness gaps in your communication, you will be able to listen more effectively. You will be able to discern when the other person’s response is actually providing you with valid feedback on your statements vs. when it’s really providing information about the other person’s level of awareness relative to yours.
With the high traffic levels StevePavlina.com receives, you may imagine I get a lot of reader feedback. You’d be right. But typically only a small fraction of the feedback I receive will actually influence my actions, even when detailed suggestions are included. Why? Because most of the feedback I receive is mainly about the other person’s reaction than it is about my actual content. I still consider this valuable feedback because it helps me know my readers better and understand the issues they face, but it usually isn’t actionable. Often the seemingly actionable feedback is contradictory. An article I write may receive both praise and criticism which has little to do with the article itself but rather with the relative awareness levels of the people reading it. On the other hand, there are times when I receive feedback that I’ll act on almost immediately because I recognize that the feedback is indeed about my work and not merely the person’s unique personal reaction to it.
For example, suppose I write an article about my views on the afterlife, such as Life After Death. Upon posting such an article, I may receive a scathing 2000-word email from a Christian fundamentalist (wouldn’t be the first time), giving me a list of dogmatic counter-arguments to my statements. However, such feedback is wasted on me. I won’t even read the whole thing once I can see where it’s going, and I usually won’t bother to respond, except maybe to say something like, “You amuse me” (which is the truth). Why don’t I regard such emails as genuinely useful feedback on my content? Because religious fundamentalism falls at a fairly low awareness level, too low to be helpful to me. On the levels of consciousness scale, a fundamentalist philosophy will typically fall between the levels of desire and pride, which is below the average level of awareness for conscious human beings (courage). This is also well below the level of awareness at which I normally write (willingness and higher). So the awareness gap is simply too large, and such feedback says more about the gap than it does about my actual content. Hence, it isn’t actionable except perhaps in a very general sense.
What you’re reading right now would likely fall at the level of reason. If you’re at this level of awareness yourself or one level below it (acceptance), you may find it helpful, interesting, insightful, or even actionable. Below this level you probably will have already stopped reading, claiming my writing makes your brain hurt. And above this level you may merely give it a ho-hum nod; your perspective may be such that my statements simply don’t apply to you because you’ve already moved past this level of awareness.
Bridging the Gap
Even when the awareness gap is very wide, it can still be bridged if meaningful communication is desired. In order for this to happen, both people must move to a similar level of awareness. The most effective way for this to work is that the higher awareness person temporarily lowers their energy to the other person’s level and then gradually leads him/her back up to a middle ground.
For example, suppose you feel very peaceful and happy (high awareness), and your partner comes to you upset and starts yelling at you angrily (low awareness). Little communication will occur in this situation because the gap is too great. You may choose to remain in a state of peace and ignore your partner’s temper tantrum, but another option is to lower your energy down to his/her level and start yelling right back, even if you have to fake your anger at first. Then as you both work through this anger, you can gradually raise your energy back up again and bring your partner along with you. Once you reach an acceptable level of awareness that feels comfortable to both of you, real communication can occur — a meaningful exchange of information that isn’t merely about the awareness gap itself.
This process works, but it can be very time consuming and unpredictable. If you’re the higher awareness person, you’ll need sufficient leverage on the lower awareness person (so they don’t simply give up and leave the room) as well as plenty of patience to work through their initial defensiveness. Face to face communication is almost a necessity. It might work over the phone too, but it would be really hard to do it via email.
I think of this as the process of resonance. If I want to help someone raise their level of awareness, first I must resonate with them, so we’re both vibrating at the same frequency, so to speak. Then if I change my own frequency gradually enough, the other person will come along for the ride.
This is how impactful human communication works, although you may not have been aware of it. If you’ve ever seen a talented motivational speaker in action, you may notice they often begin speaking at the audience’s level of awareness — a fairly mild opening is common, like “It’s great to be here with you in Vegas this morning.” But once they’ve built rapport with you (i.e. awareness compatibility), they can lead you on an awareness rollercoaster as long as their shifts are gradual enough. A common situation is to take an audience that’s at the level of neutrality and lead them to the next level up, which is willingness. This is what great sales trainers often do. Whether or not that new level of awareness sticks is a whole other matter; usually the boost is only temporary.
Awareness of Awareness
One of the best skills you can develop is the ability to become aware of your own awareness level. Check out the levels of consciousness scale, and see if you can identify your level right now. Then as you encounter people through your day, see if you can identify their awareness levels too. When you interact with people, notice the size of the awareness gap between you, and compare it to the effectiveness of your communication. Is your communication deep and meaningful, is it merely superficial fluff that’s soon forgotten, or is it high-friction head butting?
As you gain the ability to identify awareness levels, your communication effectiveness with other people will increase dramatically, at least on a one-on-one basis. With groups of people, effective communication is always more of a challenge because you must target the average awareness level of the group at first and hope to pick up others along the way.
Don’t waste time butting heads as soon as you realize the awareness gap is the culprit. If you’re the high awareness person, drop your awareness down to collect the other person, and then slowly raise him/her up to a higher level. And if you’re the low awareness person, inform the other person your awareness level is too low to have a meaningful exchange, and ask for his/her help, or simply postpone the conversation to another time. For example, if I’m emotionally exhausted and my wife wants to discuss her day with me, I may tell her my awareness level is too low to listen. In that situation she knows that if she wants to have the conversation she intended, she needs to stop and help me raise my energy first. She might give me some space to relax, or she might offer me a massage to help me let go of any tension quickly. Once my awareness level has rebounded, I’m usually able to listen attentively.
It’s been said that we’ll usually help our friends reach a level close to ours, but we’ll decline to help them surpass us.
For example, if a friend is struggling financially, you may be willing to help them avoid a foreclosure if you’re able to do so. But can you summon the will to help a friend become much wealthier than you?
If a friend is struggling in their relationship life, could you help them find and experience love and fulfillment even more deeply than you’re currently experiencing it?
Can you help a friend surpass you?
Can you do this without feeling envious? Can you feel a sense of compersion for their success?
Or do you resonate with the Morrissey song, “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful”?
Is there a limit to how far you’re willing to help someone?
Helping My Friends Surpass Me
One of my early lessons with this occurred when I was a Boy Scout. I joined a local Scout troop when I was about 12 years old after my parents nudged me to try it. Friends of theirs had a son around my age who was into it, so I guess that’s how they learned about it.
I went somewhat grudgingly to my first meeting of Troop 961, but I fell in love with it almost immediately. One reason I enjoyed it so much was that this troop had such a cool Scoutmaster, a Search-and-Rescue guy named Robert Gibbs (“Bob”) who was in his mid-20s. He was adventurous and loved the outdoors, so we went on camping trips every month, plus week-long Summer camps on Catalina Island and Winter camps at Lake Arrowhead. Bob gave me the nickname Gilligan because I used to wear a white Navy gob cap on camping trips. He even filled out one of my award certificates with the name “Gilligan Pavlina.”
In Boy Scouts I learned first aid and lifesaving techniques, wilderness survival, wood carving, and countless other cool skills. I enjoyed cliff diving, snorkeling, canoeing, archery, rifle shooting, backpacking, and much more. I pushed myself to keep trying new things, eventually earning 21 merit badges, including 5 in one day. I also began to develop some early leadership skills, serving in roles such as Patrol Leader and Senior Patrol Leader.
In Boy Scouts you’re encouraged to rise through the ranks, which include Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle. Each rank has many requirements, such as earning certain merit badges, serving in leadership roles, and doing community service projects. The early ranks are pretty easy, but the requirements become increasingly challenging as you get closer to Eagle.
I made it to Life Scout, but I didn’t make it to Eagle before I turned 18. For a while I was disappointed that I didn’t do the extra push to make it to Eagle in time. However, I did help some of my friends complete their Eagle projects. At first I was a bit envious that they made it to Eagle and I didn’t. But when I saw them being presented with their Eagle badges, it was a moving experience for me. On the inside I was celebrating too because I helped contribute to their accomplishments. I was proud of them.
One Scout friend did a service project to clean up a community park. It was sweaty work, but the park looked much better after we were done, and there was a shared sense of accomplishment afterwards.
When you help someone achieve one of their goals, you participate on an emotional level. Their success becomes your success.
This is especially true when you help someone surpass you. It would be great if you could achieve their level too at some point, but even if it doesn’t work out that way for you, you can still celebrate their success as your own.
The people you help may get most of the accolades and honors of that success. They’ll be the ones wearing the cool new badges on their uniforms, but that doesn’t prevent you from sharing in their joy.
You don’t need anyone else’s permission to share in their success. Regardless of their attitude towards your contribution, you can still celebrate in silence.
Part of me still wishes I’d made it to Eagle instead of “only” making it to Life Scout. But that regret is greatly softened by knowing that I helped others surpass me and achieve what I could not. To this day when I think of Eagle Scouts, I remember those particular boys and the roles I played in helping them achieve that goal. For me the rank of Eagle Scout has become a personal symbol of contribution to others rather than of my own success and achievement.
As I’ve been blogging for more than six years on personal growth, I’ve seen many people use the ideas I’ve shared to surpass me in every area of life I can think of.
People have used my writing on health as inspiration to help them achieve levels of vitality and fitness well beyond what I’ve achieved for myself. Others have used what I’ve shared about abundance to earn 10x what I earn and then some. Bloggers have used my blogging advice to help them create sites with traffic levels way beyond mine.
Even going back to my days of writing articles to help out computer game developers before I started blogging, there are people who credit me for helping them make their businesses successful, and they’ve since gone on to achieve successes far beyond anything I did with my own games business. I’ve helped inspire the creation of many more games that I was able to create personally.
Taken as a whole, I feel that my personal accomplishments are quite modest compared to what others have done with the work I’ve shared.
Staying Humble and Teachable
I feel honored to be in the position I’m in. It’s deeply gratifying to know that by sharing my best lessons, I can help people achieve successes I’ve never achieved for myself.
This is both inspiring and humbling at the same time. It helps me see that we’re all teachers and students of each other.
I’ve seen this from the opposite side as well. I’ve been able to use the ideas shared by other teachers in this field to surpass their results in some areas. By combining their insights with my prior knowledge and skills, I was able to progress further down certain paths than they’ve been able to. And then I’m able to turn around and be a teacher to them.
For example, in January I gave a presentation on building massive web traffic to share my best insights with dozens of well-known transformational leaders. I felt honored to be able to give back to those who’ve taught me so much. When I saw that they were eager to learn from the youngest guy in the room and respected what insights I was able to share, it served as a reminder that I need to keep learning from those who’ve learned from me… and never to feel like such an expert that I deny myself access to their valuable lessons.
When you help a friend surpass you, you can celebrate their successes along with them. Their victories become your own. And if you can remain humble enough, you can also learn from them by allowing them to contribute to you. Don’t let pride get in the way of that.
It’s good to celebrate your personal successes and accomplishments. Success is a team effort though. Be sure to express your gratitude for those who helped you get where you are, and if you someday surpass them, consider returning the favor by offering them a leg up now and then. Better yet, do us all the honor of sharing your own insights, so that we may all learn from you.
Life can be a team effort; it doesn’t have to be a competition. We can play the game such that when one of us lands on the Moon, we all celebrate it.
I want to see you surpass me in whatever capacity you can. Then I can celebrate along with you, and hopeful you can turn around and teach me something as well. 🙂
I wonder what my old Scoutmaster is up to these days. He must be in his mid-50s by now. If I could find him, I’d love to get together and catch up. Thanks for being such an inspiration to so many boys, Bob, and thanks for so many cherished memories. 🙂
Incidentally, a very heartfelt movie about this topic is Mr. Holland’s Opus. If you’ve never seen it, I encourage you to check it out. It really demonstrates the power of inspiring others.
Silly beliefs sometimes steer people away from the pursuit of spiritual development and higher awareness. One of those is the belief that the pinnacle of spiritual evolution is to become a hermit-like cave guru who’s completely withdrawn from active participation in the world and basically does nothing but meditation and fasting.
While some spiritual seekers eschew the modern world and withdraw into solitude, there’s no reason you must share this type of lifestyle if you choose to pursue higher awareness. Personally I think withdrawing from the world like that is a cop-out. How spiritually advanced are you if you can only experience bliss in complete isolation? I’d give a lot more credit to someone who could feel complete oneness on a Manhattan street corner.
I consider myself a deeply spiritual person, but I have no interest in cave life. In fact, I absolutely love living in Las Vegas. You might think Sin City is about as unspiritual as you can get, but I actually find it’s just the opposite. Just go to one of the casinos and look at all the people praying for the right cards and dice to come up.
Actually it may surprise you that Vegas has more churches per capita than any city in America. Perhaps they’re counting all the wedding chapels.
A fun element of pursuing spirituality in Vegas is that you have virtually every human vice all in one place. Gambling is ubiquitous even outside the smoky casinos – even the grocery stores and restaurants have slot machines, and the Vegas airport is full of them. Free alcohol flows 24 hours a day. And of course there are the gluttonous buffets, the topless dancers, the strip clubs, and the call girls. It’s hard to ignore the presence of the casinos, since the Strip is visible from just about anywhere in the city. I can look outside my bedroom window and see the Luxor Hotel’s powerful light beam shooting off into outer space; when driving at night, it even acts as a navigational beacon. But with so much excess, there’s an honesty about it. Nothing is bad or wrong – it’s all just a choice. If you want to drink, gamble, and watch naked women all day, no one is going to stop you or judge you for it. The doors are wide open. And strangely I find that this open shamelessness makes Vegas a very conscious place to live. With fewer social inhibitions, fear is somewhat removed from the equation, so what you’re left with is a more pure form of free choice.
I find Vegas to be a truly amazing place in which to pursue spiritual development. With such an abundance of energy here, it’s a very vibrant place to live. The vast majority of my local friends chose to move here at some point – very few were actually born here. And because there was a conscious choice involved (both for those who live here and those who visit each year), somehow I feel this elevates the consciousness of the whole place.
Almost immediately after my wife and I moved here in January 2004, we noted that the people behaved differently than their counterparts in Los Angeles. This was especially true of service personnel like grocery clerks, waiters, and salespeople. I’m referring to the non-tourist residential part of town, miles away from the Strip. At first we thought we were just experiencing some kind of new resident syndrome, but after several trips back to L.A., we confirmed the difference. The typical Vegas dwellers we met seemed a lot happier and even more aware than people who worked similar jobs in L.A.
I actually feel the vibrant energy of this place has enhanced my spiritual pursuits. Vegas has been the fastest growing city in the USA for years now, so with all this fresh energy flowing into the city, I think there’s more motivation for people to reach out and make new social connections. And this greater desire for social connection is something I find has greatly enhanced my spiritual growth. I found it extremely easy to make new friends here, and this social connection helps drive my spiritual development.
While it’s possible to pursue spiritual development in isolation, I think it’s even better to pursue it through interaction with other people. If we’re all spiritually connected anyway, then why not explore that connection through direct interaction with other human beings? As my wife likes to say, “Everyone holds their own piece to the puzzle.”
Personal relationships can be a tremendous source of spiritual growth. While it’s possible for us to fall out of touch with reality if we spend too much time alone, that’s less likely with abundant social interaction. If we become too impractical in our thinking, the people around us will tell us we’ve gone off the deep end.
My opinion is that the pursuit of spirituality is really the pursuit of accuracy, where our goal is to develop the most accurate model of reality we can. If we fail to include other human beings in this model, we toss away too much potentially valid information, so our model will be doomed to inaccuracy. Spirituality is really understanding. The more accurate your understanding of reality, the more spiritual I would say you’ve become.
If the pursuit of spirituality causes you to lose the ability to function in the modern world, then I’d say you’ve taken a wrong turn. Genuine spirituality should be immensely practical. If your model of reality is accurate, then you shouldn’t have to escape reality to feel whole and complete. You should be able to function even better than the average person, especially when confronted with modern day challenges.
It isn’t necessary to pursue spiritual development in isolation. Yes, quiet reflection now and then is wonderful, as is meditation. But this should be combined with abundant social interaction. Allow yourself to gain spiritual lessons both from your inner world and your outer world. Sometimes your answers will come from silence; other times they’ll come from communication. Listen to both channels.
When you’re on a path of personal growth, inevitably you’re going to encounter some social resistance as you grow and change.
For example, suppose you make major progress in improving your diet. Maybe you go vegetarian or vegan or raw. Or perhaps you find another path that generates positive results for you. And suppose most of your family and friends still eat something close to the Standard American Diet (SAD), with lots of animal products and processed foods. Your way of eating falls out of sync with theirs, and everyone can’t help but notice. Now you’re in the minority — you no longer quite fit in.
Or suppose you decide to give up alcohol, and most of your friends are still social drinkers. Maybe they invite you to go out and drink with them, but this is a lifestyle element you’ve shed. Perhaps you’ve outgrown the desire to consume toxic substances because you’ve learned that being super healthy allows you to access much more vibrant states of being, but your social circle hasn’t yet made the journey you have.
Or maybe you’ve worked a lot on your attitude, and you’ve fallen in love with talking about your dreams, goals, opportunities, and positive ideas. Meanwhile other people in your life still insist on complaining about what they don’t like, and they want you to participate in their pity parties.
Or possibly you’ve had some kind of spiritual awakening. Maybe you’ve gained a new level of clarity about your life purpose, but no one around you can grasp what you’re going through. Often it seems like they don’t care to hear about it, and you lose interest in wanting to explain it to them, yet you still wish they could understand — and share — in the new joys you’re experiencing.
Or maybe you’ve had a relationship breakthrough. You’ve discovered a whole new way of relating to people — with love — and it creates very positive results for you. You see your friends and family suffering in disempowered relationships (more like shells of relationships), and it breaks your heart to watch them suffer needlessly in apathy and confusion. You very much want to help them achieve greater happiness, but if you reach out to them, they resist your help and defend their decisions.
In such situations you’re going to experience a disconnect — a disconnect between your new self and your preexisting life situation. You’ll notice that you’re no longer vibing with certain people, places, and circumstances anymore. Maybe at one point you got along great, but now something feels off. At first it may be this nagging sense of discomfort, but over time it can grow into a massive chasm of disconnection. You feel like you’ve drifted away from your old life, and you don’t know how to recreate the feelings of belongingness you once took for granted.
Initially there’s a certain sadness when this happens — a feeling of loss. In a way, it’s sad to see yourself drifting away from people you care about, especially if you’ve enjoyed a lot of closeness and camaraderie with them over the years. But you can’t deny the disconnect. It’s there, and it’s real. If you try to pretend that everything is “normal,” it just makes you feel empty inside.
In your mind you may try to rekindle the old feelings of closeness. You may dwell on remembering the good times — when you felt really connected and close — and try to recreate them. But your attempts meet with failure, and you always end up disappointed in the end. You might even feel a bit disgusted with yourself afterwards.
You may also try to distract yourself from the mounting feelings of emptiness. You may find yourself more prone to procrastination. Perhaps you’ll catch yourself spending inordinate amounts of time web surfing, checking email, watching TV, or playing video games. The pattern will be that you’re desperately trying to recreate a feeling of connection in your life. You’re trying to re-ground yourself. Even answering emails can give you that feeling, but it’s only temporary. When you aren’t obsessively checking back in, the emptiness returns. You may find it difficult to feel grounded while alone without this clawing feeling that you need to reconnect with someone or something… just to feel that sense of belongingness again.
Partly you may be disappointed in the other people in your life. You may feel disappointed that you’re on this incredible path of growth, but they’re declining to join you. You want so much for them to come along and share in this wonderful journey with the same level of enthusiasm that you have, but it just isn’t happening. The more you talk about how great things are, the more they resist you, and the more disconnected you feel.
At this point most people go through a period of clinginess. They try to keep one foot in both worlds. On one side they pursue their own amazing path of conscious growth. And on the other side, they cling to their old family and friends. So they try to keep one foot on the accelerator and the other foot on the brake.
Unfortunately this pattern ultimately leads to stagnation and a feeling of pervasive inner emptiness. This is where people feel like they should be happy — because they are indeed learning and growing — but when they take a good look inside, they have to admit they aren’t really, truly happy. Something is missing. The desired feelings of joy, bliss, and centeredness simply aren’t there consistently. In their place are feelings like dread, boredom, disenchantment, and quite often… addiction.
This is the period where someone who’s a vegan clings to sharing meals with meat-eating family members who neither respect nor understand the vegan diet. It’s a time when positive, goal-oriented people still hang out with stagnant, low awareness friends simply because it’s what they’ve always done. It’s a time when a person clings to a dying relationship, hoping against hope that his/her partner will eventually grow into someone else.
The problem of trying to keep one foot in both worlds is that it inevitably degrades one’s self esteem. It leaves you feeling empty, alone, and misunderstood. The people you cling to don’t really know you anymore. They may have known you quite well in the past, but they don’t understand the person you’ve become on the inside. You’ve changed, and they can’t keep up. And consequently, the way they relate to you is at odds with the new self image you’re struggling to step into. The more you connect with them, the more their communication makes you feel diminished. You feel less than whole in their presence.
Asking for Help
This Dark Night of the Soul period may continue for years. In fact, people rarely get through it on their own. Without outside help most of the time they’ll continue to remain stuck, repeating the same patterns over and over and feeling increasingly disconnected. For some people this feeling of disconnection becomes so great that they contemplate — perhaps even commit — suicide.
If you find yourself in such a situation, let me tell you that it’s not your fault. It’s not a matter of self-discipline or courage to push through it… not really. Those factors play a role, but it isn’t a question of willpower. As an individual you most likely aren’t strong enough to complete this transition process on your own. You need help to get through it. Fortunately such help is available.
One of the best intentions you can hold during this time is to request help. Simply hold that intention in your heart. Instead of dwelling on the relationships that aren’t working, focus on the person you’re becoming — the person you most want to be. Then hold yourself in the place of requesting guidance to take the next step. Remain open to that guidance appearing in your life.
When you’re ready, guidance will come to you, but the form may not be what you expect. It may show up as a new mentor or friend. You may happen upon an article or blog post that’s just what you needed to read at the exact time you needed to read it. Maybe you get multiple synchronicities about a certain book. Whatever shows up in your life at this time, follow it. You will know it by how you feel. Your feelings will tend towards curiosity and enthusiasm and wonder. If you wonder if you should follow a particular new lead, that sense of wonder is reason enough to do so.
When I go through this process, guidance often comes to me in the form of a person. Someone shows up in my life, and in that moment, I recognize that they have something to teach me. I feel drawn to spend more time with this person and to learn from them. I may have thoughts like, [_This person is amazing. I need to spend more time with him/her. _]And when we’re together, the time just flies on by.
It’s good to have some humility during this time. Openness is key. Be open to receiving new information. You do not have all the answers yet, but if you remain open, the answers you seek will soon come to you.
Know that help is coming. The guidance you seek is on its way. Know that you deserve help and that you’re worthy of it. The transition you’re making is a good one. You don’t have to go it alone, but you must say yes to it. Guidance cannot come into your life until you issue that internal yes. Life cannot override your free will. You must decide that you’re ready to complete the transition.
Welcoming Your New Vibration
Once the guidance begins to flow, and you follow it, eventually a whole new world opens up to you. It really does feel like that. It is a wondrous experience when this happens. Within a matter of days, your eyes are opened to wonders you never knew existed. Elements from your dreams begin to manifest in your real life. The experience may leave you breathless for a time. You may exclaim, “How is this even possible?” Life takes on a magical quality. Synchronicities are everywhere. The universe practically blasts you with clues that scream, Yes, you’re on the right path. Keep going!
This is the period where you undergo a quantum leap from one vibrational state to the next state in your evolution as a spiritual human being. You may go through quite a bit of emotional upheaval during this time. It may feel like your world is coming apart at the seams.
You’re finally letting go and allowing the disconnect with your old vibration to complete. Once you finally let go of the old, the gravity of your new vibration pulls you in. You don’t really have to do much. The process largely happens automatically. However, depending on your freakout factor during this time, you can still apply the brakes and slow the process down, such that it plays out at a pacing you can handle.
Your job (to the extent that you must exert any form of effort here) is to allow yourself to welcome the new frequencies of being that are coming into your life with as little resistance as possible. When these new frequencies show up, say yes to them. And by extension, begin actively saying no to the old frequencies, such as by declining invites from people you no longer resonate with.
Finding Your Tribe
As part of this process, you will soon find your tribe. Empowering new relationships will come into your life, possibly at such a rapid pace that it will stun you. One week your social life may become black-and-white completely different than the week before. This will be a very positive change.
As you find your tribe and begin to enjoy an unimaginable new circle of social support, your self esteem will rise a great deal. Instead of being surrounded by people who bring you down, you’ll come into contact with people who uplift and inspire you. You may even feel a little intimidated by some of the new people coming into your life because they may seem very advanced to you. You might even feel inclined to ask, Where have you wonderful people been all my life? The truth is that such people couldn’t come into your life until you were ready for them.
For example, if you’ve been improving your diet, then finding your tribe may take the form of meeting new people who are on a similar path, including some that are much further along than you and from whom you can potentially learn a great deal. You’ll meet people that feel perfectly grounded in such a lifestyle, even as you’re still getting used to it.
As your self esteem rises, it will be much harder for people to drag you down to the old frequencies you’ve left behind. You may look back and wonder how you ever could have stomached being there. You’ll cease to tolerate connections in your life that disempower you. The new, more empowering connections will feel too good by comparison, and the contrast will be undeniable.
This is one of the reasons our Conscious Growth Workshops have been so empowering for attendees. Several people have posted feedback stating that being able to hang out with so many growth-oriented people is the best part of the experience. It can indeed be a very powerful experience for people who are ready for it. Whether your personal experience of finding your tribe manifests through a workshop or through some other means, you will eventually get there when you’re ready for it. But you do at some point need to say yes to this kind of experience; otherwise you’ll repel it and stay stuck.
Life takes on a very different quality once you find your tribe. Your self esteem goes up, and there’s a pervasive feeling of optimism. It’s like being in love all the time. Life is beautiful. The flowers are blooming, and the birds are singing. You still have problems and challenges, but you feel more than capable of handling them. Exciting new opportunities surround you. You’re bathed in support and encouragement from people who care about you.
After the Shift
Once you reach this new place of being, the tone of your life undergoes a major shift.
Some of the same events from your past may still recur, but they won’t have the same effect on you as before, and you’ll respond to them differently.
For example, suppose that as part of your path of growth, you made dietary improvements that led to a disconnect with the diets of your old friends and family members. (I keep going back to the diet example because it’s fairly simple and easy to grasp — and also quite common.)
During the time when you still kept one foot in both worlds, you may encounter social situations where you’re the odd person out. Maybe you have a holiday meal with your family, and you’re the only vegan there. Or maybe your friends invite you out for drinks, and you’re the only non-drinker. Maybe you’ll feel a bit pressured or uncomfortable in such situations. You give the situation your power, so you feel weak. Other people can push your buttons by teasing you about your health changes. And even though you may not show it, sometimes they get to you. You may even dread such situations in advance because you know it’s going to be awkward. You may go into such situations feeling guarded in advance.
However, after you complete this shift, your experience will be very different. Similar circumstances may still occur, but now you’re locked in to your new vibration, and you’re radiating strength and certainty. First off, other people will subconsciously pick up on your new vibration, and they’ll be less likely to tease you. They may even feel intimidated by you. More often than not, they’ll be curious about your diet and will ask you questions about it. They’ll sense your power and vitality and will be inclined to think, I want what s/he has. Even if they tease you, such remarks will just bounce off of you, and their teasing is more likely to backfire and make them look foolish. You’ve become far too strong for them to bring you down. On the contrary you begin to elevate them instead.
It’s like you’re the Captain of the Enterprise, and in the first situation, you’re trying to sneak though through hostile Borg-controlled space, where virtually any encounter could send you running for the escape pods. The mere sight of a Borg ship makes you shout, “Red alert! Shields up!” and you go into fight-or-flight mode. You have one eye on the sensors and another on the weapons console. You maintain a defensive posture because you anticipate a possible attack at any moment.
Do you know anyone who’s still in this phase?
Now in the second scenario, it’s like you’re taking your ship through friendly territory, and you’re in command of the flagship. You have no need of shields or defensive posturing because you know you’re safe. No one would dare attack you on your home turf, and even if they did, you’d phaser and photon torpedo their asses into the Q continuum. Your posture is neither aggressive nor defensive. You’re an explorer, happy to meet and share ideas with other explorers. Sometimes people are intimidated by you, and you have to reassure them that you aren’t going to take out their freighter for spite. You have the ability to defend yourself with great force if necessary, but you don’t make a habit of picking fights. You’re too busy exploring and learning.
Those of us who are on a path of lifelong conscious growth will undergo many shifts like this.
I’ve gone through this process multiple times, and there’s usually a striking difference between the before and after phases. If you look back through some of my old blog posts on certain topics, you might even see the shift gradually taking place, reflected through my writing style. Initially when I’m embarking on a new transition, I typically don’t know what I’m doing, my competence isn’t that high, and if it’s something controversial, I’ll often assume an aggressive or defensive posture to stave off any criticism. I anticipate attacks and declare “Red alert! Shields up!” before anyone can even fire a shot.
But then once I’ve completed the shift, I become much more centered. The new place of being feels normal and natural to me because I’ve locked in the new vibration. The sense of defensiveness fades, and I’m more likely to be playful and joking in the face of criticism. I have more fun with what I’m doing. All the social support and encouragement is there. I also attract less criticism because people sense it would be futile anyway. I attract a lot more questions as well as people who are on a similar path of growth and learning. It’s a wonderful place to be.
One of the reasons I’m willing to go through this process publicly is that it keeps me from getting stuck. It’s a lot harder to stagnate when so many people are keeping tabs on you because you’ve publicly committed yourself. I also like that by sharing my own experiences along the way, many people can relate to what I’m going through and apply it to situations in their own lives, and it helps them to keep progressing too.
Ultimately this process takes us to a place of leadership.
Like it or not, if you’re committed to a path of conscious growth, you’re a leader.
There’s a reason you often find yourself as seemingly the only person you know with certain qualities. There’s a reason you seem to always be the one who goes first (or one of the first), as compared to your family and friends.
Your role is to lead.
I know that going first can feel scary. It can leave you feeling isolated, alone, and disconnected at times. That is part of the process though. Those phases are necessary to help you build your strength. You need to become resilient enough to maintain your power and certainty even in the face of adversity. You need to learn how to stick to your guns when you know you’re right, even when it seems the rest of the world disagrees with you. On behalf of the universe, I wish I could apologize to you for all the hardships you’ll endure through these transition phases, but please understand that the challenges you face are necessary to sculpt your character.
In order to live consciously, you must make your own choices, independent of social pressure. You must summon the greatest inner wisdom you can muster and learn to trust it. You must lead.
If you’re the one in your social circle who declines alcohol… if you’re the one who leaves a disempowering relationship… if you’re the one who shuns frankenfoods… then you’re the leader. As one of the first to hold that new vibration, you must give the rest of humanity a chance to catch up… without backsliding yourself.
It doesn’t matter if you’re outnumbered 10-to-1, 100-to-1, or even 1000-to-1. Being centered in your role as leader is a force multiplier. One strong, committed leader can outthink the masses any day of the week.
In your role as leader, you cannot lead by force. You must lead by true power. This is the power not to command others; it’s the power to lead by example.
You don’t have to try to convince others to be on a path of conscious growth. Don’t obsess over what others are doing. Instead, turn your gaze within, and focus on being the best example of conscious living you can be.
I’ve never convinced anyone to make serious changes by trying to convince them to do so. However, I’ve helped thousands of people make improvements simply by sharing where I’m at. For example, each time I post photos of my raw vegan meals on Facebook, I get comments from people who are inspired to make healthier choices as a result. My goal isn’t to get people to eat as I do; rather I want people to make more conscious choices that work for them — and to stand up to social pressure.
Leadership is about sharing. Think like an explorer. Report back on what you discover. Let people know about the wonders that await them. The ones who are ready to embark on a similar journey will do so.
If I’m sitting down to dinner with a dozen SAD eaters, I assume that I’m the leader. It’s not my place to convince them to eat differently. All I need to do is hold the vibration of where I am. And inevitably what happens is that someone notices I’m eating much differently than anyone else at the table, and they get curious and ask me about it. Then we have a cool discussion about the benefits. I may be just one of many influences on them that day, but much of the time the experience will plant a seed in their mind, a seed that will eventually sprout. A year later I get an email from such a person telling me they’ve lost 50 pounds after making some dietary changes.
As a leader your job is to inspire. You can do that by keeping yourself inspired. If you keep learning and growing, you’ll automatically inspire others to do the same. And when you do that, it benefits all of us. Inspired people are walking gift-givers.
When you resist your leadership role, you disconnect from your core self, and you broadcast weakness instead of strength. That weakness will attract criticism. Some people will pounce on you because you’re weak. They’ll tease you and berate you for your choices. They may rip you to shreds at times, leaving you feeling beat up.
You’re stronger than this, however. You succumb to weakness when you resist who you’re becoming, when you cling to the past, and when you try to salvage relationships that are destined for transformation.
You cannot transform your old relationships unless you complete the process of transforming yourself. You have the option of keeping your old friends and family in your life, but when this process begins to unfold, it’s better if you disconnect from those old relationships for a while. Go into your cocoon, so to speak, and allow yourself to emerge as a butterfly. Then you can return to those old relationships, and you’ll be strong enough to transform them one by one. In that case your role will be to demonstrate how beautiful it is to be a butterfly, so you can inspire the other caterpillars in your life to begin their own process of transformation.
Recognize that even though it may feel lonely at times, you’re never truly alone. There are lots of people who understand what you’re going through. We can relate to it. We know it’s hard at times. We know how it feels to be stuck with one foot in both worlds, still clinging to those old relationships while deep down knowing that you must eventually let go… yet harboring some fear and trepidation about what may exist on the other side.
Let me tell you that the other side is golden. It is wondrous and beautiful every single time. The grass is vibrantly greener.
Allow yourself to be strong. Release that from your life which weakens you. You may get yelled at for doing so, but realize that this is just your own fear and hesitation being reflected back to you. Once you reach the other side and rebuild your energy and self esteem, you’ll wonder why you ever hesitated.
When Rachelle and I were in southern Spain a couple weeks ago, we stayed with some new friends on a three-acre fruit farm. Since the weather was so nice, we spent a lot of time sitting outside, enjoying views of rolling green hills and the city of Malaga down below, while we snacked on fresh avocados and oranges straight from the trees.
(Here’s a pic, so you can see what it looked like.)
There were five animals there: a small dog, two chickens, and two baby goats. When we first arrived, the dog was very friendly, but the other animals seemed slightly aloof. They all quickly warmed up to us though.
When either or both of us would sit outside, within a few minutes we’d soon be surrounded by all five animals who seemed drawn to us like magnets. If we moved to a different part of the farm, the animals would almost always follow us.
The chickens seemed to enjoy circling around us, popping up from under our chairs (as if to say “surprise!”) and occasionally jumping up on the furniture… or onto my arm while I was reading. They’d also lightly peck at my shoes and pants.
The baby goats seemed especially drawn to us. When Rachelle would come outside after me, she’d often find one or both goats keeping her seat warm. Near the end of our stay, one of the goats spontaneously jumped from the ground onto my lap and stood balancing on my legs for a while, looking so proud of himself while he claimed me as his perch.
I sometimes talked to the goats by trying to imitate their “baaaaaah” sounds. This would cause them to animatedly run towards me and excitedly talk back, as if to say “We hear you!” I had no idea what we were saying in goat language, but it made me smile to know that on some level, we were connecting.
As I spent time with the animals, I’d often talk to them, partly with my words but more intuitively with my energy. Of course they couldn’t answer me in words, but it surely felt like they were answering me energetically. I certainly enjoyed our conversations.
As I pet the chickens, I talked with them about their evolutionary history: You guys are descended from the great dinosaurs. Your ancestors once ruled the world and were the kings of this place. It’s a shame how humans treat your species now; I’m sorry that this happened to you. It’s gratifying to see that you and I as individuals can get along peaceably with each other. I wish more of my kind would see fit to treat you with respect instead of seeing you as property and product. I’m very sorry for all the pain your brothers and sisters are going through. You are magnificent creatures. I see your beauty.
The more I talked with the chickens and had an energetic exchange with them, the more they seemed to be curious about me. They would often stand on or near my feet while grooming themselves.
For hours each day, I reveled in the peacefulness and presence of the animals, the fruit trees, and the natural beauty.
While reading outside I’d often feel a little too hot after sitting in the sun for a while. If I sat in the shade instead, it was a little too cool. I noted that the dog would normally lie in the sun for a while, perhaps for 10-15 minutes, and then she’d switch to the shade for a similar amount of time. She kept shifting back and forth from sun to shade throughout the day. I began to emulate her behavior, setting one chair in the sun and another in the shade and cycling every 15 minutes or so, which turned out to be just right. This reminded me that sometimes the easiest way to achieve balance is to oscillate between extremes. Going with the flow doesn’t necessarily mean traveling a straight line.
I observed that the two baby goats (a brother and sister) always seemed to stay together, as if they were coupled by an invisible tether. We never saw one goat wandering off without the other. They typically stayed within 20 feet of each other, frequently within 5 feet. When they lied down to rest, they’d be in physical contact with each other. But it didn’t look like either one was leading, and they never fought with each other. They just seemed to be in sync.
The way the goats synched with each other reminded me of how we’re able to sync (or not sync) with reality. We can resist what reality gives us, fight with it, or try to force it to obey us… or we can simply relax and harmonize with it. When reality relaxes, we can lead for a while, and it may follow. But when it’s racing ahead, it might be more sensible to relax and roll with it. Things are best when it feels like no one is leading, and our desires effortlessly manifest in our present moment experiences.
Most of the time the animals didn’t seem to be engaging in obvious survival behavior. They had plenty of food and water, and they also had tremendous free time. It was nice to sit back and observe how they used their time.
When Rachelle and I were inside, and I observed the animals through the window, they would mostly walk around, eat, drink, interact with each other, and rest and relax in the sun or shade. When we were outside, however, they seemed to prefer to spend most of their free time just hanging out with us.
While they were occasionally a bit rambunctious — like when one of the chickens jumped up onto the table and sent a coffee cup smashing onto the ground — for the most part the feeling I got from them was very light and playful. It felt like they just wanted to be present with us and connect. There was no neediness. No agenda. No expectations. Just a beautiful, innocent feeling of shared presence.
I think that most of all, I enjoyed the purity and simplicity of the experience. It reminded me of how pure and simple human relationships can be as well. How easy is it for us to spend time with each other, be present, and connect?
Positive connections can flow naturally and effortlessly. We can enjoy sharing our energy. We can enjoy each other’s light and beauty.
It was such a delight to be around such non-needy, trusting, uncorrupted energy, especially given how fragile that kind of energy is. Any introduction of harshness or neediness or distrust (or any other such darkness) would have ruined it.
What a joy it would be to experience more human connections that are as pure and present as these…
CONNECTING FROM THE HEART
How do you create a heart-centered connection with someone close to you?
I think the best way to do it is to let the other person see you naked.
I don’t mean this in the physical sense, but in the emotional-spiritual sense.
As you converse with the other person, talk about your career; then let it go. Talk about your past; then let it go. Talk about your other relationships; then let those go as well.
Keep talking and connecting without re-hashing the same subjects. Eventually you’ll come upon a thought that’s uncomfortable for you to explore. This is where you must summon the courage to delve in and share.
If there’s an end goal here, it’s to reach the point where you feel so safe with each other, that you can ask absolutely anything and get an emotionally deep and honest answer in response, no matter how embarrassing the questions may seem or how painful the inner wounds are. You become completely naked to each other with nothing left to hide.
In practice this involves a bit of a dance. Sometimes you’ll come upon new truths that are too intense or too difficult to face right away. Sometimes you won’t feel very connected to your inner truth, so you won’t be sure what to say. When that happens you can back off a bit and discuss something easier and more mundane for a while, or simply take a break. Then later when you feel ready, you can return to exploring the deeper levels of yourselves once again.
As the other person shares herself with you, let her know that she’s unconditionally loved and accepted by you. Don’t judge her or invalidate her experience. Just keep your heart open, and quietly observe.
Making yourself vulnerable by sharing truths about yourself in turn makes it easier for the other person to feel accepted by you because you’re giving her the chance to accept you first.
Don’t wait — initiate. When in doubt about who should take the next step to reveal something deeply personal, you go first. Prove to life, the universe, and your partner that you’re willing to take a risk and that you’re willing to trust. Magical things will happen when you do that.
Emotional risk-taking creates emotional depth. When you open your heart to someone and share the deepest truths about yourself, and they do the same, you gradually strip away layers of falsehood and self-deception, aligning yourself with ever deeper truths. Doing this with someone else creates an amazing sense of connectedness.
It’s a life-changing experience to see another human being as she really is and to allow her to see the real you — to see your inner beauty and magnificence reflected back to you in the eyes of another… and to see so much of yourself in her.
You are loved.
How does one mentally and emotionally deal with serious tragedies such as the loss of a loved one? What about global tragedies like natural disasters, genocide, or famine? Is it only human to feel down and depressed after such events, or is it possible to remain conscious and positive throughout? Is there a deeper meaning behind these seemingly random and tragic experiences?
My views on this subject stray quite a bit from the social norm, but as with all of my writing, my intention is to help you think about such things more consciously, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with me.
What is a tragedy?
Our social conditioning teaches us to interpret events like the death of a loved one, a natural disaster, or a permanent disability as tragic. To experience emotional pain when such things occur is considered perfectly normal behavior.
There’s even a process we’re expected to follow: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages were defined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her book On Death and Dying as the 5 Stages of Dealing with Catastrophic Loss, later popularized as the 5 Stages of Grief. You can find many variations on this, but the basic pattern is that we must experience the pain of the loss and then (hopefully) get over it and move on.
Of course, many people never complete the “getting over it” part. For some people a tragic loss becomes a death sentence. They simply give up on their lives. Game over.
But what defines a tragedy? Nothing but our thinking makes it so. A tragedy is a form of attachment to circumstances. When you become attached to circumstances and then experience an outcome that runs afoul of your expectations, emotional pain is the natural result. And the greater the attachment, the greater the pain.
Suppose your favorite pet dies suddenly. For many people this is a tragic experience. But is it the loss of the animal’s life that defines the tragedy? Not at all, especially considering those pet owners who’ll happily pay someone to put their dinner animals to death before eating them. What’s the difference between the pet and the meal? Emotional attachment. Where there’s no attachment, there’s no sense of tragedy.
Socially conditioned attachment
I was taught from a young age that it’s appropriate to be attached to circumstances. Moreover, I was taught which level of attachment was appropriate for each set of circumstances. I was conditioned to feel a certain way when certain events occurred.
● Death of a loved one = tragedy. Death of a stranger = news.
● Killing a dog = cruelty. Killing a pig = dinner.
● Americans killed = terrorism. Americans killing = heroism.
Current social conditioning still encourages us to think in terms of our emotional attachments. Consider the “Support our troops” slogan that you’ll often see on car bumper stickers in the USA now. Support our troops… but not theirs. We’re supposed to be attached to one set of human beings but not the other. Us vs. them. Me vs. not me.
Moving beyond attachment
The root of attachment is fear. Without fear there’s no attachment to circumstances… no emotional resistance to outcomes. If you could remain open to everything and attached to nothing, then you would experience no fear. If you would consciously chose to live a fear-based existence, then attachments are fine. But if you wish to rid your life of unnecessary fear, then such socially conditioned attachments must eventually be rejected and replaced by conscious choice.
On average over 150,000 people die on this planet every single day. That’s more than a million a week. Given those figures why should the deaths of people we know be any more tragic than the deaths of people we don’t? If we’re going to eventually confront the 5 Stages of Grief, why not do it up front? Move past denial and over to acceptance right now.
Our social conditioning frames our lives within a context whereby certain events are labeled as tragic. But there’s nothing inherently tragic about those events. They are what they are. We have plenty of other viable interpretations available. We need not remain loyal to a context that creates unnecessary pain and robs us of joy. The dead do not require that we suffer upon their departure. All the pain we create is our own — by allowing ourselves to adopt a disempowering, fear-based context.
Instead of viewing certain events as tragic, why not choose a context in which they become transformational? Change is a natural part of human existence. Perhaps instead of resisting change, we can learn to embrace it… in all its various forms. Instead of labeling events as good or bad, we can withhold judgment and simply accept them for what they are: the ever-unfolding dance of consciousness.
Free will gives us the opportunity to choose our thoughts, and that includes our context. To label events as tragic and defeating is a choice, one that fully conscious people would be unlikely to make. You are not a victim of the circumstances of your life. Sometimes you may find yourself unconsciously overwhelmed by circumstances, but when you regain your consciousness once again, you always have the option of choosing your mental response to events. And your mental response will dictate your emotional response. The more you resist circumstances, the more pain you experience. The more you accept them, the more joy you experience.
We’re taught that a painful, fear-based response is appropriate in certain circumstances. But that is an arbitrary choice… and a highly disempowering one at that. Even a seemingly tragic loss as perceived from the social context can be viewed as a joyful transformation from a different context.
I, for one, prefer to adopt a context which leads to joy and empowerment, regardless of circumstances. I see no reason to buy into a context that disempowers me. Some would say that I’m living in denial. And from a certain perspective that would be accurate. I will gladly deny myself unnecessary suffering, so I can avoid the greater tragedy of living in denial of joy. I accept events as they occur, but I choose my own interpretation of them — the most empowering interpretation I can, one that puts me in a state of joy and peace rather than suffering and depression. From a state of joy I am free to act without fear. From a state of fear I feel trapped and usually do nothing.
Suppose you experienced an event which would be viewed by most people as a tragic loss, such as the sudden death of your spouse. Initially you’d experience an unconscious reaction. Most likely you can’t accurately predict what exactly that reaction would be. It would probably be a big shock.
But eventually you’d regain consciousness and have the opportunity to consider what this event means to you. That’s where you’d have a choice. You could opt-in to the prevailing social context and endure a long-term pattern of grief and pain. You could blame others or yourself for your partner’s death. You could be angry that s/he left you. You could dwell on the challenges of raising your children alone. You could suffer for years if you chose to. You could even choose to check out of the game of life.
But to interpret that event as a tragic blow isn’t the only option you have available. You do not have to interpret such events from a position of fear and loss. You can choose to view them from a context that leaves you empowered, one that makes you experience even deeper peace, deeper joy, and deeper love.
For example, in my belief system, none of us really die. We simply change form. Even though I would miss my wife’s physical presence if she died suddenly, our spiritual connection will always be there, and for me that’s the most important part of our relationship. Our connection would experience a transformation, but it wouldn’t end. Most likely I’d continue connecting with her higher self during meditation. I even do this now while she’s alive, and it’s a wonderful experience. She left town for several days last weekend, yet I still felt her presence with me because I’ve chosen a context that allows me to experience that. I receive tremendous joy from our spiritual connection because Erin and I are very much soul mates. So instead of rooting my feelings towards Erin in an impermanent human relationship based on attachment, I’ve decided to root it in something more permanent that has the potential to endure beyond physical death.
In fact, I actually do this with all of my relationships. Several years ago all four of my grandparents died, each at different times and from different conditions. As an adult I didn’t see any of them very often (my paternal grandparents lived in another state), but after they passed on, I began feeling their presence in my life much more strongly, especially my maternal grandparents. Another person who was doing an intuitive reading for me a few weeks ago even picked up on my grandfather’s presence and described his appearance and personality. Last year I gave a speech about him for a speech contest and often felt like he was there in the room with me while I was practicing. But I never had such experiences until I shifted to a context — a belief system — in which such things were possible. Even though my grandparents are no longer here physically, I have no doubt they’re still very much alive and well. Sometimes they even pop in for a visit while I’m meditating.
I see funerals more like graduations, an acknowledgement of passing from the physical back to the non-physical. Any pain experienced is relative to one’s attachment to circumstances. I would hope that when I die, my family throws a party to celebrate my graduation. Meanwhile, I’ll be working on Personal Development for Dead People. Anyone happen to know a good channeler? 😉
I’m well aware this viewpoint runs contrary to the social context. Perhaps I’m just a misguided left-hander in a right-handed world. If you don’t feel any of this resonates with you, feel free to stop reading.
A spiritually-minded context
To some people this context will no doubt be too much of a stretch. For others it will seem very attractive. The reason I adopt this context is that I find it extremely empowering.
A spiritually-minded context allows me to loosen my attachment to events in the physical world. Regardless of what happens, I’m able to find the joy in it. When there’s a natural disaster that sends a lot of people to the other side, I see two things happen. First, there’s a joyful transition from the physical world back to the non-physical for the departing souls. After some disorientation, most are happy to be back home again.
Secondly, many of those humans remaining behind choose to view the physical event as tragic. From a purely physical standpoint, the event does indeed appear tragic, random, and meaningless. This interpretation produces fear which fuels even greater attachment, and suffering is the natural consequence. But seeing people unconsciously choosing suffering instead of joy causes me to feel a great deal of compassion for them. And that just motivates me to want to continue the work I’m doing to help people live more consciously, work that gives me tremendous joy regardless of its outcome. No matter what happens within my context, all paths lead back to joy.
But is this spiritually-minded context empowering? I certainly think so. I don’t ignore events. I simply choose to see the good in them. To me this is actually a more accurate interpretation than labeling some things as tragic. Where physical interpretations label events as tragic, random, and meaningless, a spiritually-minded context uncovers the joy, purpose, and meaning behind them. Neither context can be objectively proven right or wrong. So given the choice between being empowered and disempowered, I choose to take the more empowering path.
On a spiritual level, I see all of us as equally precious parts of the same whole. Consequently, I do not support America’s troops over anyone else’s troops. Compassion does not confine itself to national borders. My loyalty is to the immortal spirits within us, not to the temporary labels we assign to various parts of our physical world.
I do not see my existence as more or less valuable than anyone else’s. So I don’t believe in killing because it would be like my right hand trying to kill my left. The whole body suffers. Besides, no one in a truly joyful state would ever want to kill anyway. Have you ever heard of someone going on a shooting spree because they were just too darned happy?
I also don’t eat animals, pets or otherwise, because I have no desire to see them harmed. I’m even starting to feel compassion for insects. If I find one in the house, I will often trap and release it outside instead of killing it. And the more I continue moving in this direction, the more joy I experience.
The joyful expansion of consciousness
When I look around at a world that others would have me view as discouraging, one supposedly full of corruption, famine, disease, poverty, murder, and environmental destruction, I don’t see tragedy in any of it. All I see is the joyful expansion of consciousness. I don’t turn away from such events; I simply recognize the joy within them. We have free will here in this physical universe, so anything goes. If you can accept and even embrace that fact, then human life becomes a wondrous adventure instead of a series of uncontrollable tragedies. We are free to make this reality anything we wish it to be, but we must first do it in our thoughts. I choose to hold the vision of this world as a joyful place, regardless of circumstances. Others may choose to view it in a less empowering manner, but I will not be joining them, although I do feel great compassion for the suffering they choose to experience (usually without being aware that they do have a choice).
We will not improve the circumstances of this physical world by labeling them as tragic. That robs us of all our power to think and to act consciously. Such attachment defines us as victims instead of as the creators we truly are. Victims cannot save our environment. Victims cannot end our wars. Victims cannot transform our corporations. Only creators have the power to make these changes.
But even while we regard ourselves as victims, we are still powerful creators. We’re so powerful in fact that we can even choose to create ourselves as victims.
What is your choice? Do you choose to be the conscious creator of your life or the unconscious victim of it? There is no right or wrong answer. You have the free will to do whatever you wish. But even if you choose to deny yourself the full exercise of your true power, you can never deny yourself the existence of it. It is always there, locked away in a safe place, and the state of joy is the key that opens the door.
Consider for a moment that you’re an individual cell in the larger body of humanity. What kind of cell are you? Do you strive to achieve your individual health and comfort? Do you work for the betterment of your nearby family cells? Do you have a sense of devotion to the improvement of the entire body?
I’m going to use the cell-in-a-body analogy to clarify the difference between two different kinds of people: lightworkers and darkworkers.
Both lightworkers and darkworkers are highly conscious. They each recognize the existence of the larger body of humanity, and they know their actions affect others for good or ill. Those who act without much awareness of how their actions affect the larger body (i.e. the vast majority of people) are neither darkworkers nor lightworkers. If you aren’t sure which one you are, it’s safe to say that you’re neither.
A lightworker is a cell that believes its primary role is to serve the greater good of the body. It considers this task so important that it would even sacrifice its own life in such a pursuit if it thought it was necessary. This is because a lightworker identifies more with the larger body than with the individual cell it controls. Lightworkers see themselves as avatars of humanity (or spirit); the individual ego identity isn’t as important.
In order to be effective in its role, a lightworker cell must pay attention to its own health and survival to the degree that its continued existence benefits the body. It does what’s necessary to protect itself from anything that might disrupt its mission. It tries to preserve its well-being without harming the other cells, but when a lightworker encounters other cells that actively work against the good of the body, conflict can certainly occur.
Your own physical body works via a similar mechanism. If certain disease-producing cells get out of control and threaten the health of your body, your body responds by attacking those cells.
The lightworker’s duty is to serve the health of the body. Lightworkers strive for a healthy, sane humanity. They’re like white blood cells fighting diseases such as cruelty, apathy, depression, disempowerment, dishonesty, and cowardice. Such diseases damage the health of the body. The #1 disease lightworkers battle is fear. Wherever there is fear in the body of humanity, lightworkers are driven to respond.
One goal of many lightworkers is to stimulate the creation of more lightworker cells. This may happen directly, but more often it occurs by cultivating the conditions under which more lightworkers will be created. Because of the influence of lightworker cells, other cells become lightworkers as well.
It isn’t necessary for every cell in the body to become lightworkers. The body only needs enough lightworkers to counteract current threats to its health. You could say that collectively the lightworkers are humanity’s immune system.
Lightworkers are active cells, not passive ones. These aren’t people who sit around and meditate all day, although meditation may be part of their practice, especially during the transition period when the lightworker role is gradually accepted. Generally speaking, lightworkers aren’t people who spend their lives dressing in flowery robes and selling handmade jewelry. Lightworkers are people who make it their personal duty to get humanity back on track by countering fear, falsehood, and cruelty wherever they find it. They do this by bringing light to dark situations. They empower other people to shed fear and to be strong once again because strong, empowered cells yield a strong, healthy body.
A passive or inactive lightworker is an oxymoron — that would be equivalent to a white blood cell that ignores disease, saying to itself, “Not my problem.”
A darkworker is a cell that denies all responsibility for the health of the body. The darkworker says, “I’m responsible for my individual life alone, and the rest of the body is merely a tool for achieving my own pleasure.” Darkworkers are essentially cancer cells. They have no qualms about damaging the body to further their own aims since the health of the body is of little consequence to them.
To a darkworker, most other cells are expendable. The other cells and the body as a whole are merely pawns of the darkworker’s pleasure. The darkworker’s rights and privileges are paramount, and human rights in the broader sense are irrelevant. A darkworker cares only for personal gain. The consequences to other cells are of little or no concern. Darkworkers have no empathy for what other cells experience. If others must suffer for the darkworker’s pleasure, so be it.
Darkworkers love power. Increasing their power is their primary aim, since that is the means through which they achieve more pleasure for themselves. Darkworkers commonly create and utilize methods that exploit others for personal gain. The suffering of others is meaningless. As long as the darkworker gets ahead, that’s all that matters. Darkworkers are very competitive. Winning for themselves is far more important than helping someone else. A darkworker only helps others to the extent that it furthers their personal agenda.
There are primarily two ways a darkworker will manipulate others: fear and greed. For example, if you work in a company that conditions and controls your behavior with fear-based incentives (threat of punishment or disciplinary action) or greed-based incentives (more money, power, authority), it’s a safe bet you’re a pawn of one or more darkworkers somewhere upstream. If such systems seem normal to you, you’ve been effectively brainwashed as a slave. You probably aren’t even aware of the high-level agenda you serve, since an intelligent darkworker won’t reveal it publicly. If you work for a darkworker, your real agenda is to increase the darkworker’s power, despite any flowery speeches or mission statements to the contrary.
Dishonesty and deception are popular tools of darkworkers. These enable the darkworker to build power while supposedly embracing other values. Most cells don’t question authority much, so darkworkers generally have an easy time building power if they’re semi-intelligent. If you don’t care what happens to other people, you can gobble up a lot of power, since most cells readily yield their power to any perceived authority. Darkworkers exploit this fact for personal gain.
By their actions darkworkers toxify the body of humanity, creating the conditions that give rise to more darkworkers. Darkworkers thrive in a climate of fear. Fear is the tool of their trade. The more fear they can create, the more powerful they can become. Fear creates willing and obedient slaves who submit to the will of the darkworker. Crafty darkworkers use deception to make submission seem like an intelligent choice. This approach can be quite effective. When fear is ineffective, darkworkers use greed instead.
The best darkworkers are often surrounded by armies of slaves who willingly sacrifice their freedom for a paycheck and a false sense of security. Fear and greed can’t control or motivate highly conscious people, but such methods work extremely well with those who’ve been conditioned to be slaves.
Darkworkers love obedience. In their fantasies they wish they could control or dominate other people. If you work in an organization where obedience is rewarded more than honesty, you’ve got a darkworker at the helm. It’s been said that obedience is the first milestone on the road to freedom. The person who said that was Adolf Hitler. Those who obeyed him gained greater control for a while but certainly not freedom.
While I personally would never choose to become a darkworker, there are human beings who have chosen this path deliberately. They’re well aware that their actions are destructive to the body, but they simply don’t care. They believe that self-service is the highest expression of their identity. They don’t identify with the larger body of humanity. It’s merely a tool to be manipulated at will.
I’m not quite doing darkworkers justice here because I’m admittedly lightworker biased. From the darkworker perspective, looking out for number one is seen as a common sense lifestyle choice. The world is viewed as a competitive place, so to a darkworker the strategy of self-above-others doesn’t create much of a moral dilemma.
The benefit of darkworkers is that they gradually help the body become stronger, just as getting sick can strengthen your immune system over time. Consequently, darkworkers can indirectly serve the greater good, as long as they don’t kill the body in the process.
The Body of Humanity
In the body of humanity right now, there is an unhealthy excess of darkworkers. The body’s health has been declining for a while, largely due to the influence of too many darkworkers in positions of power. The compromised health of the body is also damaging the health of individuals, causing many of them to feel disempowered, weakened, fearful, and depressed. Other times darkworkers directly kill off otherwise healthy cells.
Presently the political leadership of the USA consists largely of darkworkers. Simply listen to their words. They use lies and deception to push their agendas and to cultivate a climate of fear. This causes many people to feel disconnected from the larger body of humanity. Then those people drop into survival mode. Instead of focusing on service to the greater good, they fear for their own security. This is exactly what the darkworkers want. The more fear that’s generated, the more powerful the darkworkers become. When fear isn’t effective enough, greed is used as a control mechanism instead.
When someone opposes those powerful darkworkers, the darkworkers often respond with violent force to silence them to the degree they can get away with it. They use fear and intimidation to get new laws passed in order to increase their ability to silence opposition and to increase their power. This is not accidental. It’s very much deliberate. This is simply the modus operandi of darkworkers.
These darkworkers are not real leaders. A better word would be controllers. They’re only able to lead slaves who submit to control by fear. Highly conscious people see such darkworkers as agents of disease, not as genuine leaders.
In this climate of fear, more darkworkers are being created. More people are concluding, “Screw the rest of humanity. I’m going to live entirely for myself and get ahead as much as possible.” This further enriches the soil of fear and greed.
A protracted war, a down economy, and manufactured threats are great conditions for darkworkers to increase their power… not unlike the conditions in Germany when Adolf Hitler came on the scene. 9/11 was basically a modern day incarnation of the Reichstag fire, an excuse to curtail human rights with the promise of greater security. It’s unreasonable to expect such a situation to improve as long as darkworkers remain in power. Asking a darkworker to relax such controls is like a white blood cell asking, “Mr. Cancer Cell, would you kindly stop multiplying?” All you’ll get is a deflecting response at best.
So the basic problem we have right now is that darkworkers have been getting out of control. This problem hasn’t gone unnoticed by the larger body of humanity, and the immune system is kicking in rather strongly.
The Rise of the Lightworker
The collective consciousness of humanity is well aware of its condition. It knows the body is unhealthy and is headed downhill. It knows that left unchecked, the darkworker threat will take the body down with it. While this climate gives rise to more darkworkers, there’s also a strong counter-reaction on the rise. The presence of disease is triggering the body’s immune system to increase the white blood cell count. Those white blood cells are lightworkers.
The result is that many people are now hearing this call. It actually began decades ago, but it’s particularly strong today. The body of humanity is acting in its own defense by calling more and more lightworkers into action. Some people are born with this inclination, some have had it for many years, and others are currently waking up to it.
This call creates a feeling like, “Whoa… we’ve really gotten off track here. This isn’t how the world is supposed to be. Someone needs to do something about it. Damn… I think that someone is me. How the heck am I going to take on something so big?”
I suspect only a small percentage of readers will resonate with the statement, I think that someone is me. If you have a lot of fear and/or greed in you (which unfortunately most people do), you won’t likely hear this calling since it isn’t broadcast on those channels. But if you endeavor to move beyond the consciousness of fear and greed, eventually you’ll start feeling a vague inclination to do something “good” that helps the world in some small way. Over time that feeling will become stronger and more specific.
If you do hear such a calling, your first inclination will probably be to suppress it. I’d rather live in the matrix — life outside will be too hard. Go ahead and try if you must, but once you get the call, it’s too late for you. You’ll never be content living as a slave again, no matter how hard you try. You’ll feel more and more disconnected from other people who live like slaves. You’ll feel a strong desire to find your tribe (i.e. other people who can see what you are now seeing). The tugging of your conscience is the collective consciousness of humanity summoning you to act in its defense. Your duty is to be part of the solution. That duty cannot be ignored except to the extent you drown yourself in fear. The bright side is that you aren’t alone.
Do you have any sense of humanity’s call for help? How do you feel about the War in Iraq? How do you feel about China’s decision to systematically wipe out the Tibetan culture? How do you feel about a country governed by leaders who are caught lying repeatedly and who boast about their violent supremacy over those who oppose them? Do you feel this planet has gotten just a wee bit off course? Do you feel a sense of personal responsibility to do something about it?
If you don’t hear any special calling and have no real concern for the larger body of humanity, or if you don’t feel personally compelled to do anything about it, then just keep diligently working on your own personal growth. The body will summon you when it has need of your services. If it summons you, it knows you’re strong enough to contribute, even if you have serious doubts.
It’s been very exciting to see more lightworkers awakening to the sense of global responsibility. The transition can be very challenging, since it requires shedding so much of the past. It can be painful for people to watch their previous dreams implode, but this is necessary to make room for the much larger purpose ahead. The upside is that working on the goals of the larger body of humanity is much more rewarding than working on the goals of an individual cell.
What does it mean to wake up and become more conscious?
Let me share some perspectives that should make it easier to understand the process of waking up.
The Cellular Perspective
From the cellular perspective, you can see yourself as an individual person interacting with other individuals. You’re like a single cell in the larger body of humanity, which is comprised of billions of other people-cells.
For example, I could say that I’m a guy (a cell) who’s dedicated to helping people (other cells) live more consciously. I may communicate with many people during my lifetime, but each person is a unique individual, so the impact is different for everyone. We may all be part of some larger body of humanity, but our interactions mainly occur at the individual cellular level.
This is similar to one of the cells in your body noticing the other cells around it and deciding to do what it can to be of service to those cells. It may help a lot of cells, but it still regards itself as an individual cell helping other individual cells. And it won’t help all cells equally, nor could it do so even if it tried.
The Holistic Perspective
From the holistic perspective, you see yourself as an integral part of the universe as a whole. The overall intent is to help universal consciousness grow and evolve, particularly the human consciousness of which you’re a part.
This would be like one of the cells in your body recognizing that it’s part of a larger physical body, whereby it stops thinking of itself primarily as an individual cell and begins to see itself as being of potential service to the greater whole. Its fate isn’t as important as the fate of the larger body.
So with this perspective, instead of thinking of myself as a guy who helps people live more consciously, I can see myself as a servant of humanity helping to create a more conscious humanity, or as a servant of universal consciousness itself. My primary role here is to serve conscious evolution, which isn’t necessarily what’s best for any particular individual human in the short term.
Of course there are other perspective too. We could discuss identification with community, nation, all life, the cosmos, etc. These perspectives are equally valid, but exploring them would add complexity without adding much substance to the core ideas. So for now I want to keep this simple.
On the atomic side, you’re an individual, and other people are individuals too. On the holistic side, we’re all part of a greater whole.
I’m not suggesting that any one perspective is best. All of these perspectives are valid. But I will suggest that it’s important to integrate the holistic perspective more fully into your life if you wish to experience a healthier flow of abundance.
“Waking up” basically means that you consider and integrate the holistic perspective as part of your daily life. Of course there are degrees of waking up, depending on how aware you are of the holistic perspective and how fully you’ve integrated it into your life. In the same manner, the cells in your body may have varying degrees of awareness that they are in fact part of a larger human body.
Alternatively, to be “asleep” is to be unaware of the larger holistic perspective. We could also define this behaviorally by saying that someone is asleep if they’re aware of the holistic perspective, but they don’t attempt to act congruently with it. In terms of semantics, I’d say that the first group is asleep, while the second group is trying to sleep.
At the individual level, fairness seems to be about equality. But of course we don’t see that much genuine equality in the world. It’s quite obvious that some individuals have more resources than others. Some people seem to be luckier too.
Does your own human body care about fairness when it doles out resources like oxygen and sugar to its individual cells? To an extent, sure. When resources are abundant, there’s plenty for all, but even then the distribution isn’t perfectly equal. And when resources become scarce, the body will starve cells that are less important to its survival to divert more resources to the most crucial cells.
So the question is, are you an essential cell in the larger body of consciousness? Or are you superfluous? Well… look at the resources that life sends your way. Do you feel all your needs are well met — your physical needs, emotional needs, social needs, self esteem needs, etc? Are you a highly self-actualized individual? Or do you have strong unfulfilled cravings for things that are important to you? Have you possibly given up on meeting some of your needs? Are you flourishing or are you stuck?
If you’re struggling to get your needs met, that’s a hint and a half that life itself isn’t particularly concerned with your well-being. Don’t fret though if this describes your situation. It’s a problem that can be fixed. Just don’t try to fix it by clamoring and complaining — that doesn’t work and will often backfire.
This may not seem fair, but in a way it is reasonable. You may be a very nice, kind, and generous person, but if your focus is at the cellular level, you’re probably missing so much of the big picture that in the grand scheme of things, your contribution just doesn’t matter that much, at least not from the perspective of universal consciousness.
You may be doing what could just as easily be done by someone else, which means you’re highly expendable. You may be playing follow the follower. You may be genuinely helping, but only at the cellular level. You may be doing nothing much, which makes it easy to ignore you.
If you live in such a way that doesn’t really contribute much, don’t be too surprised if it seems like life is starving you for resources. After all, life doesn’t need you as much if you aren’t actively helping with its expansion and growth.
Consider the cells in your own body. You may scratch an itch on your arm and kill lots of cells in the process without even thinking about it. Individual skin cells just aren’t that important to your overall survival. But you’re less likely to scratch off a patch of critical brain cells. A cut on your finger is no cause for alarm, but a cut on your eyeball is something you’d do more to avoid. Your body is even designed to protect some parts more than others. If something flies at your face, you’ll automatically throw up your arms to protect your head. But you won’t normally use your head to protect your arms.
Do you think you’re among the critical humans that the larger body of humanity would move to defend and protect? Or are you among the sacrificial parts?
What Does Consciousness Want?
What do you want as a human being? Think about your goals, dreams, and aspirations for a moment.
Now consider what an individual cell in your body would want. It wants oxygen and sugar. It wants to eliminate waste. Is this on the same level as your goals? Do you aspire to breathe, eat, and take dumps as your primary goals for the year?
Now look at this from the other side. From the perspective of the consciousness itself, your human-level dreams and goals seem petty. It’s important to keep people happy to an extent, but the fate of any one human is largely insignificant. Universal consciousness really doesn’t care if you have a job or an income, if you get the house you want, if you have a good relationship or not. It doesn’t care if you get laid or remain a virgin.
Well, it cares a little, but it’s not a major concern, just as you aren’t overly concerned about the fate of any individual cells in your body. It’s the body’s overall status that matters. And you probably identify more with your mind (your collective cellular intelligence) as opposed to your physical body anyway.
Similarly, universal consciousness is more concerned with the evolution of consciousness itself (our collective consciousness) as opposed to the fate of any individual human or even of humanity itself. Now the loss of humanity would probably be a setback, but consciousness may eventually recover in other forms.
What does consciousness really want? Like you and like your individual cells, it wants to get its needs met, and it wants to grow and evolve. But the level on which it’s capable of doing this goes way beyond what you’re capable of as an individual.
Look around at all the amazing — and accelerating — achievements of consciousness. It’s expanding in many directions simultaneously. Consider what’s evolving on earth. Humanity itself is becoming smarter and faster and more connected. And it’s having some health issues to deal with as well. And consciousness wants to keep going.
Living Small or Living Large
You can spend your life fussing over your own piddly cellular needs, but in the grand scheme of things, it won’t be anything to write home about. No matter what you do or don’t do as an individual, it’s just not going to matter that much.
The same can be said of any cell in your body. At the individual level, a single cell isn’t particularly important.
Imagine asking a cell in your body what he’s doing with his life, and he talks about the Bloodstream Marketing course he’s taking and how excited he is about all the extra sugar he’ll earn from his efforts. Oh boy!
But will his efforts pay off? Probably not. If he isn’t getting his needs met, there’s probably a good reason for it. The larger body will see that his needs are well met if there’s a good reason to do so. Otherwise it will divert resources where they’re needed.
This is how silly we humans appear to universal consciousness. It still cares about us and wants to see us happy for the most part, but it finds our cellular perspective to be rather limiting. If you push to get your individual needs met, but you do so in ways that the larger body doesn’t care about or which may interfere with its bigger plans, it will either ignore you, or it will swat you down like a mosquito.
Imagine if a cell in your body said, I just want to eat food and reproduce like crazy. That might seem fun from his perspective, but then the larger body has a tumor to deal with. Send in the white blood cells.
If you feel like some greater force keeps knocking you back down every time you try to get ahead, you’re not imagining it. It really is knocking you back down, and it will continue to do so until you stop trying to get ahead like a cancer cell would. Have you ever noticed, for instance, that as soon as you try to make progress on cancer-like projects, you keep getting distracted, so your attention has to turn somewhere else?
Quite often we cry “Life is so unfair” when from a larger perspective, it’s a no brainer that life is either going to ignore us or attack us. Humanity’s white blood cells will come after us and make life unpleasant for us when we forget that we’re part of a larger whole and that its well-being is more important than our individual well-being.
Now imagine if an individual cell in your body said to you, “Wait a minute. I get it. I may be just a tiny cell, but I’m a part of this whole body. That’s cool. Is there anything I can do to help?”
What would you say to it? You might wonder what one conscious cell could do for your whole body. Not much most likely. But then you might think, What if this cell could wake up many others, and what if those cells could awaken still more? Eventually you could have a body filled with cells that were aware of the whole body and seeking to serve it. This would fix a lot of your problems. You’d have much better health for starters. Cancer wouldn’t be able to take root. Most diseases would be eradicated easily. You’d always be able to maintain your ideal weight.
So you might tell that one conscious cell, “Go around and wake up more cells. Gather them together. Then we’ll talk.”
Being a Conscious Human
A conscious cell is aware of the whole body and realizes that the body matters more than any individual cell. The cells are there to serve the evolution of the body and mind, not merely themselves. There’s obviously a connection between the good of the cells and the good of the body, but it’s easier to have a healthy body if on some level, the cells are aware that the body’s health is more important than their own. A cell that works against the health of the body is a disease cell.
A conscious human being is aware of the larger body of humanity and has a sense of a greater consciousness that’s unfolding and evolving at a much higher level than any individual human can.
There is value in the lower level perspective. It’s not a perspective to ignore but rather to integrate with the holistic perspective. For example, through relaxed meditative breathing, we can connect with the lower level perspective of our own cells. Breathe in. Breathe out. We’re getting plenty of oxygen. Life is good. This cellular level perspective can help to ground us. Many meditations are essentially about tuning back in to this cellular perspective, while other meditations involve expanding to a more holistic perspective. The ideal is to be able to consider all of these perspectives as valid.
If our cells aren’t healthy, our bodies can’t be healthy, and so humanity itself can’t be healthy. And of course the opposite holds true as well. But there are ways of meeting our needs on different levels that are in alignment with all of these perspectives, and there are other ways that are out of alignment. To live consciously, we need to shift towards the ways that are in alignment, so we can meet our needs as we also meet the needs of the cells in our bodies and of the greater body of humanity.
I’m certainly not the first human being to have the experience of “waking up” and becoming aware of this. Other conscious humans helped wake me up and continue to help me stay awake… or to reawaken me when I lose that perspective. I also endeavor to do my part and help other people wake up to the realization that jobs and money and marriage and retirement just aren’t that important. There are more important things to attend to here. Meeting our cellular needs is still important, but we don’t want to fuss at that level too much. We have more significant work to do here, and we could be experiencing life at a much higher level of existence.
Living your life as a part of humanity will take your experience to a level that’s far beyond life as an individual human being. Even if your intention is to help people, try expanding it to a vision of helping humanity, as if humanity itself is a conscious entity. It’s a whole different level of being.
Now what I’m seeing is that the gathering phase is well underway. Many years ago, it seemed like conscious people were very isolated. Now they’re coming together in bigger and bigger groups. I’m involved in multiple groups of this nature, and it seems like every few months I’m hearing about new groups forming. The conscious humans are clustering, and these clusters are growing larger and more organized. It’s as if new organs are incubating with the larger body of humanity. Something is definitely happening, and it’s a wondrous thing to behold.
Consequently, while I know some people are worried about where humanity is headed, I’m not worried at all. In fact, I’m excited about it. I have the privilege of being able to see what many of these conscious people are up to, and they’re starting to create transformational ripples. If you’re reading this article, then these ripples have already reached you, and you’re being impacted by them.
Some conscious cells are still isolated, however. Others are in very small groups only. And of course there are lots of people who still primarily think at the cellular level (go Bloodstream Marketing). But this is changing.
Perhaps the simplest way I can explain what’s happening is that humanity’s Power has been increasing by leaps and bounds, and now its alignment with Truth and Love desperately need to catch up. Otherwise humanity will eventually crash and burn. For instance, the first atomic bombs were dropped only 66 years ago, yet now we must somehow ensure that they’re never used on a global scale, not even 1000 years from now. One serious mistake or lapse during any minute that we have nukes, and it’s a major setback for us all. That’s a tall order that cannot be satisfied at the cellular level of consciousness. We’ve had too many close calls already (see the documentary Countdown to Zero for details on that). The larger body of humanity is aware of this challenge, and it recognizes that we need more people who are Truthful, Loving, and Powerful to deal with this existential threat.
You’re going to start picking up on this at the individual level, if you haven’t already. For instance, you’re going to feel far less tolerant of political leaders who lie to you. We’re going to see different kinds of leaders emerge, the kinds of leaders we truly need in this day and age. There are plenty of people like that, but in order for them to become popular enough, we just have to continue waking up more individual people. Once enough people are awake (or stop trying to sleep), we’ll see some major shifts. These shifts are already happening in the world of business, where popularity with the masses isn’t as necessary.
The Flow of Abundance
What we’re seeing is that on some level, this higher consciousness is taking note of what’s happening, and it seems to be assisting and accelerating the process. It wants human beings to wake up because a body of conscious cells can do much more than a body of unconscious ones. So if you’re concerned that there are too many crises in the world, recognize that there’s an upside. These major challenges are helping more and more people to finally wake up. We can’t even begin to address these challenges with cellular-level thinking, so we have to wake up in order to solve them.
There’s a lot of rebalancing that’s occurring as universal consciousness and individual human consciousness communicate with each other about how to best meet each others’ needs. How can humanity continue to evolve and expand while keeping individual humans happy and healthy? For humanity to be at its best, enough individual humans need to be at their best as well. You’re going to see this reflected in your own life too, as you grapple with the challenge of how to serve some greater life purpose while also making sure your individual needs are satisfied. In a way, you’re helping humanity experiment in order to find good solutions, which it can then spread to other cells. This is why cells like me feel an undeniable urge to pass on what we’ve figured out thus far.
As I’ve seen in my own life, this higher level consciousness is clearly listening. Somehow it can perceive the level at which we’re thinking, and it responds in kind. If you keep thinking at the cellular level, this higher consciousness will keep trying to wake you up. You may lose your job and other possessions, for instance, until you finally realize that those things don’t matter. We have more important things to deal with right now.
I’m far from perfect in this area, but I’m gradually getting the hang of it. I’m noticing that whenever I slip back down to cellular level thinking, I get a good smackdown. I feel like everything slows to a crawl. And when I shift back up to a higher level perspective, it’s like I’m back in the flow again. The phone rings with fresh opportunities, money just shows up, loving relationships flow into my life, and more. Fortunately perfection isn’t necessary. We just have to shift the balance far enough to achieve critical mass.
For those who are stuck at the cellular level of thinking, I suspect that life is going to become increasingly difficult for you. You’re going to see your worries, fears, and frustrations magnified. Life will seem to be getting worse. It may seem like important aspects of society are falling apart around you. This is happening for a reason though. These old systems are going to be dismantled. That’s actually a good thing. They’ll be replaced with better things.
For instance, you may be worried about debt, either your own or your country’s or someone else’s. But from the larger perspective of humanity, debt is meaningless. Humanity really doesn’t care if our financial system collapses or not. In fact, it may be better for it to collapse and be replaced by something else. So if you’re really attached to the current system and the money in your bank, you may get scared. But if you’re looking at the big picture, you’ll probably feel excited instead.
Be willing to lose what doesn’t matter, so we can all gain what does matter. Jobs don’t matter, but creativity does. Paying our bills doesn’t matter, but keeping our bodies healthy does. Getting good grades in school doesn’t matter, but preserving and passing on our collective knowledge does. Start reorganizing your life around what matters, and be willing to shed what doesn’t.
Try not to be too attached to remnants of the old cellular consciousness, like the money you have, the job you do, and the home you live in. The more you cling to those things, the more stressed out you’ll be. Just notice that these are all artificial cellular level concerns. What’s important is that humanity is evolving in a very positive way. You can resist that change and see your old goals fall apart, or you can flow with it and actively participate in the process of change.
For those who are waking up, life is going to become much easier in a way. Your life will explode with opportunities to learn, love, share, and grow. The good stuff will come from your alignment with the expansion of universal consciousness. But it’s important to keep the perspective of what really matters. Money doesn’t matter. Bloodstream/Internet Marketing is pointless and shallow. Waking people up and consciously co-creating something amazing is what matters.
When you align yourself with this higher level consciousness, abundance will flow through your life with relative ease. However, this type of abundance will be universal level abundance, not human level abundance. It doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily have more money, a more luxurious home, or more possessions. That kind of stuff just doesn’t matter and represents artificial needs, not real needs. This level of abundance means that you’ll be experiencing the benefits of being in a healthier body. You’ll get more of what really matters — more growth opportunities, more love, more joy, more inner peace.
Focus on your true needs. What do you need to feel abundant? You need to keep your body healthy with healthy food, sunshine, and clean air and water. You need a reasonable degree of safety. You need love and belongingness. You need self esteem. You need an outlet for your creativity. Your true needs are quite simple in fact, and they’re easier to satisfy than your artificial needs. You don’t need the latest tech gadget. You don’t need a job or an income. You don’t need to get married. You don’t need to master Bloodstream Marketing.
Your artificial needs may not align well with humanity’s larger concerns. But your true needs certainly do align. It’s in humanity’s best interests to keep its best servants healthy, happy, and prosperous. In that sense, if you dedicate yourself to serving this greater body, it will surely watch your back.
Aligning With Higher Level Desires
In order to tap into this greater flow of abundance, you have to tap into higher level desires.
First, recognize that your human level goals are beginning to bore you. No matter how important you try to make them, you can’t get motivated to work on them. You just can’t get that worked up about making money beyond a certain point. People may tell you it’s important to have specific financial goals, but when you try to do this for yourself, it makes you feel yucky inside. You can’t get motivated to work on those kinds of goals. They don’t inspire you. And so you procrastinate and then beat yourself up. It’s time to end this cycle. It’s time to re-align your desires with something that actually matters to you. You can set better goals than the human equivalent of stockpiling oxygen and sugar.
Stop thinking about what you want for yourself as an individual. Start thinking about what you want for humanity as a whole.
In the past, you may have been hesitant to even think at that level. Start thinking at that level now.
What do you want for humanity itself? Where would you like to see this larger body go during your lifetime and beyond?
Do you want us to clean up the planet? Explore outer space? Improve our educational systems? Stop fighting wars?
Let yourself dream about what’s possible for humanity. Notice that these dreams are much more impressive than anything you could possibly do as an individual.
Become a billionaire? Who cares? Start a charity? Big deal. Discover a new planet? Nice try. When will you be ready to work on a real goal, a goal for humanity itself?
The best part is that you don’t even need to figure this out yourself. All you need to do is wake up to this higher level perspective, and then simply ping this universal consciousness to tell it you’re awake and ready to serve. Ask it for guidance, and guidance will come.
Just be aware that universal consciousness is frakkin powerful. It’s way more powerful than human level consciousness. When you tap into this resource and align yourself with it, your life is going to speed up. At first it may seem like drinking from a fire hose. It will take some time to get used to it.
If you feel that the flow is too much for you, you can ask it to slow down. I do this all the time. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I say to the universe aloud, “Okay… this is too fast. Let’s slow this down for a week or two and give me a chance to catch my breath.” Then when I’m ready, I ask it to speed up again.
With practice you’ll get used to this faster pacing. You’ll get used to things showing up when you need them. You’ll get used to experiencing synchronicities almost every day.
A synchronicity is no accident. Universal consciousness knows what you need, perhaps even better than you do. You really don’t even have to ask for your specific needs to be met once you ask to be a better servant of humanity. As Jesus said, just say, “Not my will, but thy will be done.”
Lately I’ve been holding off on setting specific goals for myself. Instead I’ve been saying to the universe, “Bring me what you want me to work on, and also please bring me whatever you know I need for optimal health, happiness, and flow.” And then I do my best to remain open-minded and detached from outcomes. I let the universal consciousness guide me instead of having to set specific goals and intentions. I still have an intention, but it’s simply to do what’s best for humanity as a whole.
Partly I’m doing this because I’ve reached the point where any individual-level goal would bore me, and I wouldn’t be able to motivate myself to work on it. I just don’t care that much about oxygen and sugar to make it the central focus of my life. So I’m willing to risk things like losing my money, losing my home, having my relationships disrupted, etc. just for the opportunity to see where this flow leads. And yet somehow when I move past this fear of losing stuff, I seem to gain much more than I lose. As far as meeting my human needs goes, they’re all nicely satisfied and then some. Bloodstream Marketing just can’t compare.
Effect on Relationships
When you begin to align yourself with the perspective of higher level consciousness, your relationships with other people will shift. Try not to be too attached to what happens here. Your pairings with any one or more individuals aren’t necessarily going to be stable. It’s how your relationships affect the whole of humanity that matters. What ripples are you and your relationships co-creating?
People who aren’t compatible with this new perspective will fade from your life. At first you may fear that you’re going to end up alone, but there’s no cause for alarm. New relationships will come into your life, relationships with people who have a similar perspective. And these relationships will be much better for you than the old ones. They’ll help you hold the new perspective.
These new relationships will be different than what you’re used to, however. There will be less rigidity and more flexibility in this part of your life. Such relationships may defy traditional labels. You may feel a bit ungrounded in this new space. It takes time to get used to it.
Eventually you’ll realize that happiness and love can come from anywhere. You may have your emotional needs met equally well by a long-time partner or with someone you just met. Universal consciousness will guide you to whatever it is that you need to sustain your emotional health, as long as you don’t get too attached to how it shows up. If you remain open and flexible, your emotional needs can be satisfied with relative ease. Trust that universal consciousness knows just what you need, and it will deliver it right to you if you’re ready to accept it. Again, you don’t even have to ask once you’re on this path. It will satisfy your emotional needs because doing so makes you a better servant. You can’t serve humanity so well if you’re feeling lonely and disconnected. You’ll be more motivated if you have love in your life, so love will be delivered unto you.
Compared to where I was a few years ago, my relationship life might seem a bit strange these days. I have many relationships that would be difficult to label, but they seem to be healthy and flourishing in ways that are hard to get my head around. I can’t really define what they are, and I can’t predict where they’re going. But it seems like these connections are good and healthy for all involved. My biggest relationship challenge is unloading the traditional-minded baggage that nudges me to lock down and label each relationship, so I can feel like I understand it. But whenever I fall into that pattern, things get worse, not better. Conscious relationships don’t seem to like being locked down and labeled. They require more freedom and flow.
At first this sort of situation could make a person feel insecure. You may be accustomed to having a sense of security based on the stability of predictable interactions with people close to you.
However, when you align yourself with universal consciousness, you’re likely to move around a lot more relationship-wise. You’re going to meet and interact with a lot more people than you’re used to. Your social life will be rich and varied. Your stability has to come from trusting that no matter where you are, your emotional needs will still be satisfied. You’ll have the opportunity to share love, intimacy, affection, etc., and it can be more abundant than what you experienced at the individual level of being. I assure you that you won’t have to go it alone. This isn’t a lonely path — it’s actually an incredibly social path.
Effect on Work
Your work life will be transformed as well. You’ll probably need to stop thinking of your career in terms of having a stable job and earning a set income. Serving humanity requires a lot more flexibility and flow than a traditional job can provide. Thinking of starting or running a business is equally limiting. This is human level thinking. What does humanity need?
Humanity is more concerned with things like creativity, purpose, and expansion. It would love to see you contribute to the ongoing expansion and evolution of consciousness. That’s what matters. The other stuff is too trivial to fuss over.
I don’t really have a job title. Sometimes I make one up like President or CEO when it’s required for social convention, but the title is meaningless to me. When people ask me what I do for a living, I don’t really know what to say. I don’t do anything for a living. I just live. In certain situations I might say that I’m a blogger, author, or speaker, but that’s mainly what I say to people who are asleep and I don’t have time to wake them up in that particular moment. If I’m talking to someone who’s awake, then either they won’t ask such a silly question, or they’ll understand my honest answer… and they’ll probably share a similar feeling about job titles.
My business cards have the wrong address because I haven’t updated them in 5 years. My website obviously isn’t the prettiest one out there. I’ve never spent money to market or promote my website, book, or workshops. I don’t think it would be a bad thing to do so; it just hasn’t ever been necessary. Humanity takes care of all my marketing and does a better job than I could.
Last year I uncopyrighted all my blog posts and podcasts, so you have just as much ownership of this article as I do. From a cellular level, that might seem like a foolish decision. But that isn’t the level at which I made the decision. What does a copyright mean to humanity? Of course it’s meaningless. What would you think if one of your cells tried to patent the Krebs Cycle? Silly cells…
Some people are repackaging and selling my work for money. Does that bother me? Of course not. Even though they may be operating at an individual level of consciousness, they’re actually helping. They’re spreading ideas that humanity wants to spread; after all, humanity gave me those ideas to share in the first place. They’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing. I think some of them have been donating back to me as well, since I’ve seen a modest increase in donations lately. But I didn’t do this to get more donations. I did it because it should help the ideas spread and get more people thinking about living consciously. It really doesn’t matter which humans get credit or make money from it.
I think my business actually works better because I don’t manage it with a cellular mindset. Millions of people have been drawn to my work, and it’s been translated into more languages than I can track. People keep sharing it, with or without my permission. New opportunities keep showing up. Money keeps flowing. Everything works. Well, aside from my web server, which I may have to upgrade yet again due to traffic growth. But that’s a good problem to have, isn’t it?
Why does my business work? Because it’s not really a business. It’s a service, not primarily for individual humans, but for humanity itself. The purpose is to help enough people wake up and live more consciously, so that humanity itself may continue to survive and thrive. And by performing this service for humanity, it takes care of all my needs. It’s really good at it too. I barely have to lift a finger to attend to such things. I rather appreciate that.
Individually speaking, there are some humans out there who don’t particularly like my work. But that’s largely irrelevant because humanity as a whole has made it abundantly clear that it appreciates what I’m doing and wants to speed things along with further expansion. These days I largely ignore cellular level feedback because it comes from people at varying levels of wakefulness, so of course they won’t all agree. But I pay close attention to feedback from universal consciousness, such as whether my life is flowing well or not. These days it’s flowing amazingly well, so I figure I’m on the right track.
Is humanity making it abundantly clear that it appreciates what you’re doing? If not, any guesses as to why? Could it be that you’ve been ignoring humanity’s needs, and thus it’s been ignoring your needs? Try doing the opposite and see what happens. I think you’ll like it.
Recently I’ve been listening to an audiobook about the history of Google. Google began as a fairly idealistic company with the grand mission of organizing and providing access to all the world’s information. Does that sound like an individual level goal or a goal for humanity itself? Of course Google has since become a giant, besting all other search companies. Interestingly, one of the reasons it succeeded is because it attracted some of the brightest minds in the world, people who were inspired by its mission and who would not have worked for the company if it was just about the money. You could say that humanity diverted the best resources to Google because Google’s mission served the best interests of humanity. In fact, Google has helped to create a smarter, more self-aware humanity.
Microsoft used to be a similar purpose-driven company, with the mission of putting “a computer on every desk and in every home.” That was an expansive goal that served humanity. But a lot of people now believe Microsoft has lost its way, and sometimes it acts more like a cancerous tumor than a servant to humanity. Do you believe that Microsoft is here to serve humanity, or mainly itself? Is it working with the expansion and evolution of humanity, or is it working against it? Probably a bit of both. Hence its mixed results and recent stagnation. Microsoft needs a new mission that aligns with humanity’s expansion. So far its current attempts at a new mission have been fluffy and noncommittal. It wastes too much energy on trying to defend its turf, failing to recognize that there’s only one turf, and it belongs to universal consciousness. If you happen to work for Microsoft, do what you can to wake more people up within your company, and eventually the culture will shift, as will the company’s results.
The irony is that companies that care less about quarterly returns and more about service to humanity can often achieve amazing growth. Why? Because humanity wants those companies to succeed. It sends them whatever resources they need to succeed.
Notice which companies appear to be serving the expansion and evolution of humanity and which are only here to serve themselves and their stockholders. If you were a genius, which kind of company would you want to work for? If you were humanity itself, which companies would you support? Which would you ignore? Which would you wish to tear down or transform? Now what kind of company do you currently work for?
Martin Luther King, Jr. said that we have guided missiles and misguided men. Let’s change that. Guidance is available to you whenever you want. You just have to be reasonably awake to receive it. Then you’ll have all the inspiration you could possibly want.
What is conscious spirituality? Why are relationships crucial for personal and spiritual growth? Why is it so much easier for some people to relate to each other than others? How can life’s challenges trigger us into more awareness and expansion? Steve Pavlina explores these questions with astonishing depth and accuracy, highlighting the traps that are easy to fall into, and showing us how to develop a spiritual path through personal and social interactions. “How to “use” your relationships for spiritual growth” will help you deal with your existing relationship problems and transform them in meaningful interactions with increased awareness. You will discover how to create win-win relationships and an environment that supports your growth. This book is a ‘must read’ for anyone who wants to find joy and love through connections and experience a new spiritual growth. 1-What is Conscious Spirituality? 2Finding win-win relationships and creating an environment that supports your growth 3-Accepting yourself as well as others in order to experience authentic connections 4-Your relationships are external manifestations of your inner world 5-Soul to soul communication 6-Social interactions and spiritual development 7-Finding Joy 8-Maintaining Conscious Spirituality during Difficult Times 9-Waking up at a collective level