Monday, August 19, 2013

Uncovering Core Issues

crater lake, spiritual image, core issues, spirituality, spiritual awakening
I've talked about this topic in a variety of ways, but until now, I'm not sure that I've really emphasized how jarring it is to run into a core issue on the spiritual path. In this sense, many of you will have been working on aspects of a core issue and will have probably dealt with a lot of symptoms and unhealthy habits around it. For instance, lack of self-worth is a pandemic issue in people, and you can see it in symptoms such as promiscuity, workaholism, drug abuse, food abuse (binging and purging), and so forth. So many of you probably will have had to work through a number of these symptoms first when one day everything seems to be going along well, and then wham! You run into this inner wall; an inner wall that you'd never really noticed before. It is jarring because you probably feel like you've worked and cleared out so much stuff that you can't understand what this inner wall is. Congratulations! You've finally cleared away enough of the obvious debris and distractions to really get to work on opening to the beauty of you.

Now, this is where it starts to get interesting.

Finding a Flashlight for the Dark

Depending on the issue, this may be one of the first times some of you may need outside help. Those of you who already have had people helping you along the way, you may now need some new helpers or may need to request from your current healers, teachers, or whoever you are working with that you go deeper. The reason why is because with major internal issues like lack of self-worth, you are so totally immersed in them that you don't really have any perspective on how little you love yourself. You may have very little idea of what it even means to genuinely love yourself. This is where having outside support can be critical, and it probably won't come from a lot of your current social community as we tend to attract people to us that reflect a lot of our issues. Your current community is a wonderful way to see how other people are acting out self-hatred (or another issue) because it is always easier to see the speck in another person's eye than the log in our own. But in regards to identifying and letting go of unhealthy habits and patterns, it tends to be more helpful to find someone who has already gone down that road or otherwise has a more objective vantage point.

Accelerating Into the Brick Wall

One of the hallmarks of these issues is a sense of overwhelm or impossibility. This, obviously, comes well after the part where the ego tries to deny the existence of this brick wall. If you are still in denial, you simply won't believe the wall exists, or you'll do this amazing thing of assuming that you've cleared everything and are done with your inner work. Seriously. I've seen it happen.

Better yet, consider a core issue like a spider web that you are completely entangled in and which is controlling your every move. It's so absurd to me to hear people talk about governments and what not controlling us. Until you really look at yourself, you have no idea what is controlling what at all. You are simply a puppet on strings, and for the most part, they are your own strings.

A Spider in the Web

Lurking in this web of dis-ease is a spider. That spider is also you. It's not demons, politicians, or other evil-wishers. It's your fear. It's your self-hatred. It's your lack of faith. It's ever nasty bit of yourself that you've tried to deny. In that denial, these things have been allowed to flourish, growing in the dark, which is the absence of the light of your awareness. Turning the flashlight onto these aspects of yourself may seem daunting, but that is simply the fear calling out. It is saying again and again, "Don't look at me." But for those of you who have already done some work on yourself, you are well aware that once you look at that which you are afraid of, you tend to no longer be afraid of it at all. So in your awareness, you are immensely powerful. There are no webs that can hold you without your permission to be held, so this is part of the work as well. Where are you still committed to being tied up? Where are you still committed to hating yourself or living in fear?

The Slow Grind of Breaking Through

As you re-teach yourself to lean into places of emotional discomfort instead of running away or avoiding them, it may feel like tectonic plates are grinding against each other. I call this phase the reversal of momentum and the overcoming of inertia. For most of our lives, we have unconsciously believed in things, acted out, and sought specific experiences without really understanding any of this. People try to earn six-figure jobs, get spouses, have kids, and so forth without having any idea of why they should do these things or if they even really want those experiences. People go out and drink to be social, and they have no idea why they do it. They think it is fun, but in truth, they got started because others were doing it and continue because others are doing it and to continue to hide from their feelings. To suddenly stop drinking will cause quite an unsettling shift inside of you as well as in your social circles, especially if you are an alcoholic. Life will start to fall apart around you.

Initially, this falling apart will look like bad news. It will look like bad news because you are conditioned to interpret things that way. The ego is usually programmed to try to hold onto everything and define itself by relationships, money, accolades, social approval, and so forth. These are other ways that we distract ourselves and reinforce unconscious behavior. As you really engage with a core issue, you will notice that all of these external forces are part of the momentum you have generated to go a certain way in life--usually towards greater or lesser amounts of self-destruction. But I assure you that as you no longer put energy towards the old unconscious way of behaving and direct it towards a healthier way of loving yourself and engaging with life, it is only natural that you begin to break through the old issue and move into alignment with your spirit.

Cracking the Edges Open

Along the way, you'll probably crack off little pieces of this issue and more dirt and debris will get kicked up into your face in response. You'll slice through some webbing, and then suddenly feel like you fell into a deeper, more tangled mess. It is okay. You will be okay. It is all here because you put it here, and you can remove it at any time. You can ask for help at any time, but you still have to do this on your own. We all need help, and there are things that others can show us that are almost impossible for us to see. But once we've received the help, then we have to take the next steps. That is the healer's dance--the dance with a healing practitioner and the patient. Together, you can find your way through the debris and the tangles so long as you are truly committed to breaking free.

I can almost guarantee you that you will be barraged by internal ego complaints. You probably will also hear plenty of nonsense from others who don't understand why you don't want to get drunk anymore, don't want to party anymore, don't want to work 60-hour workweeks anymore, don't want to do drugs anymore, don't want to stay with your abusive spouse anymore, and an assortment of other things (I'll let you fill in the blank). It can even be as simple as not wanting to go to PTA meetings where all the moms and dads do is gossip and complain. For those in awakening, that kind of negativity becomes toxic, and unless you feel guided to make some kind of important changes in that venue, many of you will simply leave.

With all that said, you will have to be disciplined and dedicated so that you truly allow yourself to heal and can see through your own internal complaints and fears that are trying to resist the healing.

Diagramming the Web of Issues

At times, it may be helpful to get a piece of paper to start diagramming out a core issue. Let's take the self-worth issue for example. You can break it down anywhere you like, and you can do it in a journal, as a diagram, or as a work of art. It really doesn't matter, but making it visual can give you a sense of the breadth of an issue.

On visible levels, self-worth likes to manifest as a need to get approval from one's self or from others. It can be seen in things such as:

  • Always trying to help others
  • Always trying to win
  • Being obsessed with relationships and being around people
  • Demeaning others (building oneself up as well as making other people feel as bad as you) and more
You can then take something like demeaning others, and then you can write out where you demean people. What topics are you engaging in? Do you avoid topics that you don't think you can win at? Does this keep you from trying new things? How do you treat your body? Both poor eating and excessive exercise can show how you are beating yourself up, and overeating can be a way to try and get the love energy you truly want from an inappropriate source, i.e. food.

This is the tip of the iceberg, so I encourage you to play around with it to see how it all interconnects. In seeing this bigger picture, you can start to see how you've created you and are actively re-creating you every day.

Unmaking the Ego Self

I sometimes call the unmaking of the ego self a kind of sacred destruction. In taking apart who we think we are, we are making greater and greater space for the fullness of us. Now, it gets tricky on the spiritual path because I see plenty of people who try to latch onto a spiritual tradition and create a new ego identity. That ego identity then tries to hide the self-worth issue with spiritual practices and spiritual experiences. So once again, the issue gets submerged instead of healed. But if you truly dedicate yourself to letting go of this old unconscious way of living, you can be reborn. You will have an ego; that is just how we roll on this planet. But now, you will be conscious about what you have created, and you will have the power to un-create this latest expression of you at any time because you'll understand the truth; that the ego is no thing--nothing--at all.
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