As I continue to read The Untethered Soul, I realize that I must power through all the things I want to avoid. I must be daring. I must be willing to step outside my comfort zone. I must be willing to risk looking foolish. I must be willing to risk rejection. I am limited by my fears and the only path to freedom is to prove to myself that they are meaningless.
I don’t consider myself a particularly fearful person, especially with regard to what others think of me, but like most humans, I hold back to avoid rejection. If, for example, I suspect that our political views don’t mesh, I am probably not going to express my opinion on certain subjects. I don’t enjoy conflict and so I avoid situations that may elicit attack. I don’t want to attack anyone, even if I think that they are delusional, and I don’t want to be attacked.
Today’s ACIM lesson is I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts. Until this moment, it never occurred to me that that includes the expectation that I might be attacked for my views. I always thought about it in terms of me attacking others even though this lesson, which I’ve done multiple times, clearly says, “…be sure to include both your thoughts of attacking and of being attacked. Their effects are exactly the same because they are exactly the same.” So what happens when I extend that idea to include the thought that others are waiting to attack me for what I believe?
As I read Singer’s book, I notice that it does require some effort to hold that façade in place. It’s not that I am trying to pretend to be something I am not, it is more the sin of omission. I don’t want to debate illusions.
But I am noticing that I really need to be more open about things. I need to venture outside of my comfort zone and risk expressing views that may not be met with concurrence.
Singers says, “So there are two ways you can live: you can devote your life to staying in your comfort zone, or you can work on your freedom.”
The other day in the office, someone made a comment about not trusting people; that they will “fuck you over if you give them a chance.”
I said, “I don’t believe that. I believe that if you always look for the worst in people, that is what they will give you.”
Now, I know the person in question thinks I am gullible. So what? What was important to me in that moment was that I refused to support what I consider to be a toxic belief. I don’t care about changing her opinion, but I do care about not feeding it.
The other night, my husband and I were watching porn (get over it!) and it struck me that part of the reason that a person could make a career out of fucking on camera is that they are iconoclasts. Their inner rebel gravitates towards shattering taboos.
Singer says, “Limitations and boundaries only exist at the places where you stop going beyond.”
Naturally, this morning, I felt a lot of resistance about finishing this post that I started yesterday (I had to get out the door early). The “porn” revelation makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want to destroy my “image.” That is the challenge of putting things in writing because it is out there to be judged.
Except that, honestly, there are only a handful of people who read the stuff I write anyway, so who exactly do I think is going to attack me???
I am not here to talk about my sex life, but it occurs to me that part of the reason my marriage “works” (translate is comfortable) is that as Jay and I get older, we are less fearful about presenting “acceptable” versions of ourselves to each other. We don’t fret so much over being judged and so we push the boundaries. (Though, trust me, there are still plenty of areas that we approach with trepidation.) I mean, isn’t that the most challenging part of relationships? We prune ourselves to present acceptable facades (in Course terms, idols!) so that we can stay in our comfort zones. We HIDE the things that could cause issues.
I catch myself daily. Nearly all of my so-called fears revolve around maintaining my “image” (false self aka ego). I like to think that I am fairly authentic but I catch myself several times a day. I notice how I don’t say this because it would cause an adverse reaction. I don’t do that because it would be a problem.
I’m not suggesting that we say/do whatever we want with no regard for the consequences. Filters are not necessarily a bad thing. There is a quote, I think by the Dalai Lama (though I can’t locate it) that says that wisdom is being appropriate. But being appropriate can simply be being kind rather than abrasive; it is not an excuse to be dishonest.
Daring to be open means being uncomfortable. It means that they are people who won’t like you (me) or agree.
“There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically.”
Jay and I were watching Vice News’ Tonight (episode 275) show on America First: Trump’s First year.
What was fascinating to me was to witness how vehemently people defended their beliefs. In Singer’s terms, “You must realize that when you defend yourself, you are really defending your walls.”
“Time and again, every day, the natural flow of life collides with our walls and tries to tear them down, But time and again, we defend them.*”
In Course terms, “In my defenselessness my safety lies.”
What I know is that when I notice the resistance, when I see myself reaching for my default escape mechanisms, that is the time to just witness and stay open. It is the time when I must allow myself to stay with being uncomfortable, in fact push myself to be uncomfortable. I must be daring.
Singer says, “This is the core of spiritual work. When you are comfortable with pain passing through you, you will be free.”
I’m working on it.
Namaste, my friends, Namaste.
*Singer, Michael A.. The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself (p. 116). New Harbinger Publications. Kindle Edition.