The Ironies of Life

There are several important ironies in the process of life. The FIRST IRONY is that in this moment you cannot be any different than you are. Beliefs do not change precipitously. They must be chipped away. You came to your beliefs through a good deal of pain and struggle, and you’re not going to just toss them over on a whim. Controlling the pace of change is also a shock-dampening mechanism, as a good deal of change at once can be overwhelming.

If your life is filled with fear and anxiety, even though you do the best you can, you must protect the parts of yourself that feel vulnerable. This means that some, perhaps many, of your life decisions will be short-term and protective rather than long-term and proactive.

You can always try to do things better, and trying does help. But until you get inside yourself and start to heal the woundedness that drives your beliefs and life decisions, trying will at best, be only be a stopgap. Those short-term decisions set in motion the energies that will eventually force you to face your inner pain, whether you wish to or not.

And that brings us to THE SECOND IRONY.

The Second Irony is that you cannot avoid your issues. Every time you try by making a short-term decision, there will be a consequence. The Universe has been designed so that no matter what you do, your inner disharmony will create problems until you heal it – THIS IS WHY WE CAME TO EARTH! Avoidance creates problems. It is a law of nature.

When you avoid facing a problem, life eventually gives you a crisis, perhaps a serious one. The irony is that your problems and crises bring you back to the very issue you were trying to avoid in the first place! Later is always more difficult than now. The mental gymnastics some people engage in to avoid dealing with their pain is sometimes nothing short of incredible! We are after all, very creative beings.

THE THIRD IRONY is that none of the beliefs you hold about yourself can possibly be true. In the first place, no belief is true. Only Universal Truths are true, anything else is a substitute, ND  poor one at that. “All people are created equal” is more than a belief, it is a Universal Truth. And the greatest untrue belief of all is that something could be wrong with you. It is simply impossible for you to be the damaged, defective, unworthy being you sometimes feel yourself to be. Of course, you can feel and act unworthy, but that does not make it so. It only means that you believe those things. So, you may not always act in your own best interest, but there are reasons for that. And those reasons and the beliefs that drive them can be changed, primarily because they do not express the truth.

It is The Third Irony that gives us the doorway we need to help you begin to say “Yes” to life and significantly improve the quality of your life. Since your problems are based in what you believe, and not in who you really are, and since untrue beliefs can be changed, all we need do is address the misunderstanding that was created when you formed your beliefs.

I don’t mean for this to sound simple, it’s not. But it can be done. I have dedicated my life’s work to helping people make that transition, and I can confidently tell you that you can change the beliefs you hold about yourself. I have written extensively about how to do this in my books Healing the Shadow and Journey to Enlightenment.

THE FIRST STEP in changing your beliefs is to become aware of them and of how they manifest in your life. The Universe has provided a wonderful warning mechanism, we call it “emotion.” When fear and stress rise up, you will have a physical reaction. You will feel the discomfort of emotion. It is painful! Your pain is The Universe’s way of signaling you that your “threat threshold” is about to be breached. It is also telling you that something inside is not in alignment. Otherwise, you would not be having an emotional reaction. You might have feelings, but without your internal “stickiness,” you would not have an emotion.

Think about the “check engine” warning light on your dashboard. That is what your emotions are warning you about. You need to “check your engine.” When the light is on, the beliefs that drive your behavior are not aligned with the truth. In all likelihood, she is afraid and you are responding to the short-term based ego needs. You may not be able to change in the moment, but being aware of which master you are serving is important. Most people chose to drive around with their “check engine” lights on.

A good analogy for life is a brick wall. A well-constructed wall is an example of harmony – each brick contributing to the unity and strength of the whole. Each row of bricks is supported by the ones before it and will in turn provide support for those that come afterward. If the bricks are set squarely and solidly, then the wall will be strong and stable. But if enough bricks are set poorly, the wall will collapse when stressed.

Each brick in a wall is like a life decision. Each decision, no matter how inconsequential, contributes to the strength and stability of the whole. Your choices, ranging all the way from what will you have for breakfast to who you marry, impacts the quality of your life. Thousands of decisions, stacked one on top of the other, creating the structure we call a life. The question you need to ask yourself is, “How can I lay this brick so that my wall (my life) will be straight and true (harmonious)?” “What do I need to do in this situation to remain in harmony with the rest of The Universe?” In other words, “How can I make better decisions?”

As regards The First Step – awareness – simply being aware that you are about to put an unstable brick in your wall is helpful. You begin to see the role that your fear and anxiety play in diverting your life. In the ideal, you will return to this decision, and move to The Second Step so that you can work with your fear and resolve the beliefs that drive it.

The question before you is, “How will you set your bricks?” Will you create a firm structure, able to withstand life’s challenges, or will your wall be unsubstantial, likely to collapse when pushed on? No one sets all their bricks perfectly, but if you get most of them right, your wall will be able to withstand the vagaries of life.

No one wants to create a shoddy wall. We get backed into our problems. We all want to be loved, but putting a brick out on your wall means being exposed. It means taking a risk because everyone can see it what you have done. You might be criticized or rejected for not doing it right, for not being good enough, not doing it well enough, etc. and of course, that then takes us to being an unworthy person.

Some people become so anxious about the judgment and criticism around taking a risk that they fuss incessantly over every decision, obsessing about not making mistakes. Our pound themselves into the ground for their previous errors in judgment. Other people will add very few bricks to their walls so that their small structures will not create attention, but that is a difficult way to live.

Other people substitute efforting for quality and engage in a flurry of activity, hoping to cover over the holes they feel in themselves. One thing about sloppy bricklayers – they are fast! You can put a ton of bricks on a wall if you don’t care how well they are set. Slap one here, throw one there, get by for the moment. The result will be a flurry of activity and motion, with little meaningful work being done. These people don’t look down the road, don’t pay attention to the longer-term implications of what they are creating, their intention is to just get something up! Don’t deal with this, don’t address that . . . get through the moment – you know how it goes. What eventually happens? What is guaranteed to happen? In that same way, if your life decisions are not done with integrity, that wall too, must eventually collapse.

It is important for you to remember that you came here to learn to build a wall. If you already knew how to do it, you wouldn’t be here! And because the process involves learning, a certain amount of failure is necessary! Because you are not skilled, you will set some of your bricks poorly. Think about learning to walk or learning to ride a bicycle. The first few attempts will include a lot more “down” time than “up” time.

Even though it bothers us, we learn most powerfully from failure. Your screw-ups, once you get past the shame, will teach you far more profoundly than your successes ever can. It is through practice and experience (failure) that we learn! It is later, after you become skilled, that you can spread your wings and soar. Then the learning becomes less “clumsy.” But, initially it is a lot of “crash and burn” time. Do you remember being a socially clumsy teenager? I certainly do. Why was that? You were learning to ride the social bicycle. You “wobbled” a lot as you learned. Later, with practice, (hopefully) things went better.

There will be consequences for your failures, but they are earthly consequences, not eternal ones. Nothing that you do on earth is eternal, other than what you learn here. Life has been designed that way! But although failure is a powerful teacher, you don’t set out to fail. You do everything you can to prevent it. But at the same time, when failure comes (as it must), you learn to work with it rather than be emotionally attached and then devastated by failure. This helps you to not repeat the same mistakes.

Once you get out of the victim state and start working with life, the thing you learn is that failure is created because of what you believe. Change your beliefs and you don’t fail as much or as painfully.

Ideally, parents teach us about laying bricks and help us through our early failure experiences so that they are not traumatic events. But unfortunately, most parents didn’t get very good training themselves, so they could only pass on what they had learned. Along with the rest of us, you probably ended up learning most of what you needed to know on your own. How? By failing. This is not a fluke. Consider that almost all parents do this to their children. Doesn’t that seem a bit odd to you? I do not have the space to explain it here, but this is an important aspect of the process of life on earth. (See Journey to Enlightenment.)

If the first few rows of bricks in your wall are not straight and level, anything you attempt to build on top of them is not going to be stable. You can try to work around having an uneven foundation – we all do – but it eventually catches up with you.

Most people wait and avoid dealing with their issues until they are forced into a corner. For most people that “opportunity” comes when they find themselves sitting in the midst of a pile of collapsed bricks. You feel like a failure when the wall collapses – it’s a pain, no one likes having to start over, so you get angry and judgmental on yourself – but this is also an important opportunity. Those feelings you are experiencing lie at the core of what you need to address if you are ever to learn to build a really good wall.

Some people spend their entire lives sitting in the rubble, repeating the same mistakes over and over, but most people, after failing a few times, get sick and tired of their own behavior and decide that they are going to make some changes to what they have been doing so that they don’t have to keep crashing and resurrecting. This is the beginning of THE SECOND STEP.

When people set out on unfamiliar ground they don’t know what the answers are, or what to do, but they do know that it sure isn’t gong to be what they have been doing! At this point they often seek help, and hopefully, that help will take them deeply enough to reach the fear underneath the beliefs that keep them from creating a stable and happy wall (or life). This is The Second Step, the process of growth.

If you think about it, having to rebuild a collapsed wall is really a good thing. Each time you rebuild the wall you learn important lessons about your previous decisions so that (hopefully) you will not repeat the same mistakes. Build and re-build a few times, and your wall will get closer to being perfect (think about enlightenment). And, the wonderful thing is that unless you quite, you get to rebuild your wall as many times as you need. There is no judgment or criticism.

The more you work more with your beliefs, you get better at managing your life. You begin to see unstable bricks as you set them in place. You start to re-do them right on the spot. Later, you come to feel their instability before you even put them in place and correct things before they can happen.

Some people see the God Space as a place of weakness. This is an error. They fear that if they open their hearts, they’ll just get abused or run over as they have in the past. This is because they have become accustomed to living their lives according to the ego’s rules. The God Space is a place of incredible power, but it is Power With, not Power Over.

Power Over works for a while, but the consequence is that it generates resistance from others. The God Space works with others wherever possible. If they refuse, then in a few cases it will be necessary to control or confine them. On the backside, if, I abandon my responsibility to myself and knuckle under to you, I am not holding the God Space. I am just playing a power game. I am not being with you in integrity. Gandhi was non-violent, but he was (compassionately) confrontational in addressing the wrongs he observed.

While you are busy building and re-building your wall, it is important to remember why you are here, because the struggles you get caught up in are just window dressing for the really important transformational process that is taking place. We get hooked into the idea that we are here to build some kind of monument – either to ourselves or to mankind. Therefore our focus ends up on how our wall looks, how it compares to other people’s, that sort of thing. But the Creator’s interest is elsewhere.

The Creator does not care about how big your wall is, or whether it is made of gold. Speaking generally, God doesn’t care at all about the “stuff” of life. The Creator doesn’t care whether or not you make money, or whether you are famous or successful. Money and success are fine, so long as they are achieved with compassion. But remember, although those things can make earthly life easier or maybe more exciting, they have no use in “heaven.”

The Creator’s only concern is how well you live your life. Were you loving and compassionate? Did you help others? Were you greedy or were you concerned with the common good? Did you lift others up, or did you bring them down?” “When you built your wall, were you loving and compassionate?” The Creator is just as concerned with a beggar in Bombay as he is with the President of Toyota Motors. Neither one stands higher in God’s hierarchy. The ONLY thing the Creator is concerned about is, “How well did you set the bricks in your wall?” But even more important than this, the real question is, “Were you loving toward yourself? Or, did you beat yourself up and struggle with life?”

In other words, “How well crafted was your wall?” Like all other earthly things, your wall will not come with you when you leave. But, the learning you gain in the process will remain, for it is eternal.

Life is about learning how to achieve harmony. Remember that a well-built wall is an example of unity and harmony. So long as you hold beliefs, especially the ones you have about yourself, you will not be able to remain in harmony with the rest of The Universe. What you do with those feelings of disharmony will determine the quality of your life.

And if all of this is just too complicated, Bernie Siegel has a great simplifier. He advises that when you are in a situation when you are unsure about what to do, just ask yourself, “What would Lassie do?”

But then, you’d have to be willing to do it . . .

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2016

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