Who Do You Think You Are?

The other day I was watching a television program with my wife. The program was about disease and the part we can play in it. At one point, the presenter stated how several people had received wonderful benefits from being sick and that they did not experience the disease itself as a negative which needed to be eliminated. He further stated that the healing people seek may not necessarily include the complete healing of their body.

After the program I turned to her and said, “Yes, I agree that disease can be a teacher, but if one does not know that they can eliminate their disease then it’s just another box. A glorious box, perhaps, with great lessons and insights to be gained. But, it is still a box and something that we 'can’t change'. And in that box there is no freedom in choice, only degrees of helplessness.”

When I was sick with what my doctors said was an incurable infection in my spine, I was sent to a psychiatrist who wanted me to work with him so that I could learn to live within what he called “my human limitations.” He said that there was a good chance I would spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair and he could help me face that reality with dignity. I told him that I didn’t want to learn how to live in a wheelchair with dignity, but that I wanted instead to learn how to get well. He said that I was living in a dream world.

We argued for almost an hour. He read from my medical records and I quoted from scripture and self-help books saying, “All things are possible if only I believe.” It became a very heated discussion. He told me that I was in denial and I told him that I thought he was a jerk. He confronted me with all the evidence that he knew about me being an angry young man who was afraid. And I threatened him with bodily harm.

Finally, I stood up and told him, “I won’t believe you! I am not my medical records, I am not my past, and I won’t use what is going on now as a predictor of my future!” As I walked out of the office I heard him ask, “Who do you think you are?” With that question filling my mind I went back to my hospital room. This hospital stay happened to be for the fourteenth surgery on my spine.

At first I was just angry and resented him for confronting me. Then that anger, mixed with the fear I had within my own beliefs, really plugged me in. But the more I thought about what he had said, the more I had a sense that he was getting to a core issue when he asked, “Who do you think you are?”

Oh, I had read positive books. I had sayings and positive affirmations on my wall. I had started my days with various rituals that were supposed to be meaningful. Yet, when I stood in front of the mirror after shaving to declare my reality I would begin with “I am a survivor.” The entire universe would respond with “Ok, survive this” and I then would own up to all the rest of what I had been taught: I am the adult child of an alcoholic parent…I’m terribly co-dependent. My small self and the saboteur within were always separating me from my good and my ego was always leading me astray.

I was so busy owning up to my human frailties and shortcomings I had no clue about my divine magnificence and authority. And from that limiting perception of self I began to realize that there was no way I would be able to create the health I wanted. That’s when I changed my mind. I was no longer going to validate suffering and disease as the great teacher.

It was nine years and thirteen surgeries later before I was whole and infection free. It then took another five or six years for me to create my body so that it was pain free. I wasn’t always on track or disciplined with what I thought I should be doing. But I did it. There were days, weeks and even months when I was angry and depressed, but I kept using the tools of choice as I knew them and, finally, I created the health that I wanted.

Certainly, I learned some great lessons while I was sick. And the most important lesson was: I am not my stuff, I am not my past, I wasn’t even what was going on in my now. I was and am a magnificent expression of the Divine, and the rest I get to make up.

Looking back, I know the psychiatrist gave me just what I needed when he asked, “Who do you think you are?"

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Come From Being

Early in my study of how to make my life work better, I read an article that asked the question: “Is the glass half empty or half full?” There were quotes from prominent scholars and leaders that spoke to the perilous condition of human life as we know it. The wording of each of the comments were very similar in their reference to war, mistrust, greed, and the urgency of change before it was too late. As I continued, I noticed I did not like reading these negative perspectives of the human condition over and over. Once would have been enough. I had those same kinds of thoughts myself at times and I didn’t like to dwell on them.

The author then dated each of the comments. They started in the tenth century, moved to the fourteenth century, to the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth. Her point was that there has always been evidence that accentuates dis-ease and the hopelessness of the human condition. But, those who have changed the world for the better did not come from believing in that evidence. They were positive and moved in their life to make a difference.

As she went on in her article she asked, “What are we, as individuals, focusing on?” She acknowledged the many challenges we experience in today’s world. And the purpose of the article was to assist the reader to examine their own beliefs about what they focus on.

When I did that, I was shocked to find that I had vast amounts of negative information and judgments that spoke to the pitiful shape the world was in. And these negative tendencies had drifted over into how I perceived my self, my hopes, and my dreams.

As I explored these thoughts and feelings, I tried to get underneath them and find where they came from, to see if there were any habits I had that made it easier for these negatives to be “real.” It was a good lesson in introspection, value clarification and being aware of what information I was letting into my consciousness. I believe the lessons I learned in exploring that early example are still part of the foundation of how I want to play this game I call Me.

There is so much in our society that encourages us to focus our attention on what could have been, what should be, and what isn’t working, that it can be difficult to stay in what I call the “joy of being.”

Think for a moment. After you read the paper, listen to the news, as you drive home from work, are you excited about life as a grand and glorious adventure you are playing? When you go to bed, as you wake up in the morning, are your thoughts naturally focused on love and joy, or are you caught up in problems and challenges?
Many people believe this is the golden era in the history of humankind. Productivity has never been greater; the standard of living is at an unprecedented high. We can communicate with others in seconds who are a world away. Leisure time is more available to each of us than ever before. We really do have the time and the resources to make of our lives whatever we want.

Yet, it appears that many people are not happy. They are not finding their lives as satisfying and fulfilling as they would like. They are not experiencing their life as a joyous adventure.

I am not saying they are in the depths of depression or on the brink of ending it all. What I’m talking about is that many of us are conditioned to be problem oriented and dis-ease focused and in too many cases this focus takes much of the enjoyment and satisfaction out of what we experience now.

The first step in the creative process in most of the metaphysical disciplines I have studied is to identify with what might be called the eternal I Am. There are any number of ways this facet of Self may be described or defined: and to me, it’s the part of me that’s not my stuff, not my story (no matter how good my story is). This being that I Am is not my results, not my past, it’s not even what’s going on in my now. It’s what I sometimes call my observer, and I have lots of names for it. Others have called it the life force, the cosmic identity, the Spirit, the Christ within, the Buddha Nature and many more. You can define what this state of being is for yourself.

If I come to the game of my life from being that essence, that Truth, I feel joy and I have joy in the things I am doing. And this enthusiasm for the game can be there no matter what is going on in my now.

Then, when I combine this sense of Self with what I know regarding my intention, focus, or goal directed action, the creative process I’m involved in becomes magical. The results or demonstrations I achieve are my heart’s desires. My focus is no longer on problems and obstacles; it’s not even on my beliefs or my story. My focus is on coming to the game of my life from a new field of reality where I am the most magnificent idea Spirit holds, and from there I get to create, allow, and make up the reality I want. My life becomes a Joyous Adventure.

So, my day starts with: Remember to Come From Being.

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