Question: From my experience, real change is very challenging. On the other hand, one can see an instant transformation in individuals who participate in televangelistic-type events. Why does it have to be so much work to make true changes in ourselves?
Answer: What you see in almost all of these moments where someone has a "conversion" experience is usually a certain peak emotional moment wherein the person is elevated by a flood of positive feelings about Christ's Life, or salvation, etc. What you don't see is that these emotions (all emotions) are in time -- which means they pass. And when they do, the beautiful, loving swan of the moment before returns to the ugly duckling. Real transformation can begin with such epiphanous moments, but for the change to be real, through and through, one must die to oneself… a task that takes intentionally sustained inner work.
Excerpted from Seeker's Guide to Self-Freedom
Question: How do I stop worrying about what the events of my life mean to me and just allow them to transform me for the good?
Answer: When we meet events with our awareness in the moment and we allow ourselves to be guided by and within that awareness, our experiences become transformational. When we assume false responsibility for any moment to come, and then feel worried about events because of this self-imposed concern, we remain self-formational. Meeting life in this way we are not transformed by events as we should be. When we insist that life follow the pattern we set for ourselves, we are shattered by events, and suffering becomes our only experience. Instead, we can allow ourselves to be carried by life. We can allow life to teach us the transformational lesson and turn any event for the good.
Determining the outcome of any event, including our own life, is the task of Truth and Reality. No amount of pained thinking or anxious emotion can affect what will be other than to insure that it won't be as we wish. This means that our task, in any given moment, is to meet life with awakened awareness so that our understanding of each situation reflects Reality and not our imagined self-interests. Then the choices emerging from this relationship naturally reflect what is genuinely good for us. Our decisions are increasingly effortless because they are made, literally, in the Light of a new understanding.
Everything works out as it should when we are responsible for what we are designed to be responsible for… and that is simply to discover the Truth about this life and our place and possibilities within it. When we proceed this way, events unfold perfectly and effortlessly, for something higher carries them for us.
So, whatever it is that wants us to worry — be it a job interview or a failing relationship — just let go of that weight within. Let something else carry it. Our belief that we must wrongly carry the weight of our own lives prevents our transformation into a higher and happier level of being. We can learn how to say to Truth, to God, "You handle it. You carry it." Then we do what seems appropriate, taking the best care we can, and let what happens naturally take care of itself.
Excerpted from The Intimate Enemy
Question: I know from my worldly experience that growth comes from taking risks. What risks can I deliberately take to realize inner transformation… without waiting for some painful or accidental experience to prompt me to change?
Answer: Taking conscious risks can be such a powerful catalyst for inner change. A conscious risk involves making a choice to do what's true in spite of what that choice may cost you. One fairly common example of this uncommon kind of inner valor is refusing to go along with the destructive behavior of someone you love… even though that choice may mean he or she walks out of your life. But, even here, the victory is still yours. For even in worst-case scenarios, you always discover that what you lose is never the thing you feared losing.
Yes, that self-destructive man or woman may be gone for good, which hurts at first. But it's not too long before you know something else is missing too. What you really lost was a part of yourself that had been a secret slave to a false image of what it means to be loving — or to the fear of finding yourself alone. And as this revelation strengthens, which it always does, you finally can see that all you really lost was a source of unconscious sorrow you'd always mistaken for being you! What a relief.
These discoveries deliver into your hands a personalized invitation to find what is your own free and fearless life. On the other side of any conscious risk is the realization that who you really are has nothing to fear. But, in order to make this self-liberating discovery, you must willingly face those fears, whatever they may be.
Here's some extra encouragement: The moment of real conscious risk always feels like a tunnel with no light at its other end. But, each time you'll choose to enter it anyway, that tunnel turns into a bridge spanning the space between your past fearful life… and your new fearless one.
Following are various examples of everyday events, each of which presents a unique opportunity to take a conscious risk. And, as you'll see, even the most common occurrences hide within themselves secret bridges to new self-wisdom and greater inner strength.
Risk Saying No The first step towards having your own free life begins with daring to refuse the silent demands of others. Saying "yes" for fear of saying "no" is a recipe for resentment. Risk walking away from fear. Say "no."
Risk Leaving Empty Spaces Empty Giving yourself empty things to do can't fill that emptiness you feel inside. So risk leaving that space empty. Allow it to fill itself, which it wants to do, with something you can't give yourself: the end of feeling empty.
Risk Not Defending Yourself It's only when you consciously risk laying down your armor, shield, and sword, and your quips, retorts, and criticisms that you discover who you really are cannot be hurt. Risk letting others win.
Risk Appearing Stupid Pretending to understand something you don't for fear of appearing stupid only insures that you'll remain a fearful pretender for the rest of your life… and that is stupid. Risk asking all the questions you need to ask. That's smart!
Risk Bearing Your Own Burdens The weight of any trouble is determined by how much you fear it. But the only weight any fear can have is what you give to it when you try to push it away. Risk not "sharing" your burdens. Stop pushing them onto others. You'll be amazed how light they really are.
Risk Being Rejected "No" is just a word, but the fear of it is a prophecy self-fulfilled. Be bold! Risk asking for what you really want. Reject the fear of being rejected by daring to say "no" to the fear of no.
Risk Catching Yourself in the Act Your life can't be both a show and be real. Catch yourself in the middle of some self-created drama and just drop it. Risk bringing the curtain down on yourself. Life is real only when you are.
Risk Taking The Lead You can never know the true pleasure and spiritual satisfaction of having your own life until you take the risk of finding it for yourself, all by yourself. Followers fear to tread that Higher inner road called "My Own Way." Risk going out in front.
Risk Letting Go You've been trying to run your own show, and so far, it's pretty much been just a nightmare with entertaining intermissions! Risk letting something Higher have Its Hand at directing your life. Let your show go.
Risk Being No One Everyone wants to be seen by others as being great. This makes that kind of greatness common. Be awake to what is common in your life and then risk doing the opposite. Real Greatness follows.
Best of all, look for your own moments where taking a conscious risk will lead you to a liberating self-discovery.
Excerpted from Design Your Destiny