Why Would Someone Fear Loving?
Why Would Someone Fear Loving?
Imagine for a moment you’ve gone to a movie cineplex that has 16 separate theaters in it. You buy your ticket and walk into the show you came to see. But, before too long, you realize you don’t like what’s on the screen so you decide to change theaters. Unfortunately, the next movie’s just as pointless. So you change theaters again. And again. Now as long as you remain one of those audience members who live only from the level of the lower “me mind” your only choice is to ramble around within the cineplex. You move from one show to the next—all the while not remembering that the film you just walked into was unable to please you the first time you saw it.
But by learning to live from the higher Free Mind another choice comes to you. You walk out of the movies. You take yourself out of the theater complex. Now you’re free to go enjoy the rest of your day in some other way.
To help you better grasp the intention of this illustration, we need to take a brief look into the theater of our usual mind. Consider your own thinking for just a moment. Can you see how your mind loves to go over and over events that haven’t even happened yet? This mental process is the “me mind” hard at work. But let’s take a closer look at what this nature of ours is really doing.
Each time the “me mind” envisions some future event it’s actually trying to find a feeling of security for itself. But the only security this lower nature can ever know is imaginary. So it has to dream up one scene after another where somehow you’ll come out a winner. The more victories it conjures up in this way, the more fear it feels that it won’t win the battles it just created. And the more agitated this low level of mind becomes from its own unconscious activity, the more it tries to settle itself with more mental movies. We can see the end of this painful picture without having to draw it ourselves. This psychological profile demonstrates what it means to be both prisoner and prison maker!
The Free Mind is always a witness to your whole mental and emotional experience, so it can’t be made a slave of any hidden desire. In this instance, the higher intelligence of the Free Mind instantly understands that no mere mental picture of security has any real power to make you feel secure.
And this realization empowers you, effortlessly, to just walk out of your own mental movie. Can you see the immense difference between the “me mind” and the Free Mind scenarios? Being able to consciously walk out of the movie- making complex of the “me mind” is the same as the power to free yourself. Why? Because once you walk out of this tiny darkened theater that your lower nature considers the whole world, you know for certain and at last: there is something outside the world of your usual mind. And once you walk into its light, you know that everything can be forever new for you.
When I recently attended a bootcamp class at my gym, I noticed this adorable twenty-something standing next to me. Although I have seen her before, I have never talked to her. Truth is, she generally works out every morning at 6 AM, whereas I stumble in at 7 AM. I have in the past overheard some of her conversations. They generally revolve around what she is eating and her asking advice from others since she is “starving herself and not losing any more weight.” Having been in that situation for a huge portion of my life, I have had tremendous empathy for her. Although part of me wanted to jump right in and save her, I could hear my three daughters (who are also in their twenties) in my head saying, “Mom, don’t be scary!” So beyond complimenting her whenever I could and was appropriate, I kept my scary-self quiet.
But on this day, my mind was on overdrive, stunned by the news that continues to come out of the growing number of reports of sexual assault and harassment as part of the #MeToo movement and of the women (and men) whom were silenced by the shadow of shame and frozen by fear.
There are more than seven billion people living on this planet which means more than seven billion personalities, opinions and ways of seeing the world. With so many diverse and varying ideologies and socio-cultural milieus, someone is bound to act in a way, or say something that upsets another.
The question is: Do we always have to take everything so personally? If not, how do we make what seems personal, impersonal?
Ego: Why We Take Things Personally
From the time we are young, usually before we’re even ten years old, situations or moments in life occur where we feel unsafe or insecure, or someone says something that makes us feel unlovable. When this happens, we begin to develop a second self, or a false self. That false self is often the “ego,” which I like to call the “protective personality” because no one likes to have an ego, but people don’t seem to mind having a “protective personality.”
Any seemingly scary condition in your life, whatever it may be, is not the real problem. It’s your reaction to it that has you shaking. Which is why, if you’ll become truly conscious of a fearful condition instead of afraid of it, you’ll change forever your relationship with fear.
Being conscious of your fear empowers you to interact with it in an entirely new way. This new inner relationship gives you the power to be awake to fear's scary influences, instead of being their unconscious slave. And as each day you discover something new about the shaky nature of your own fearful reactions, they lose their power over you. Why? You see them for what they have always been: unintelligent, mechanical forces.
To be consciously afraid means that you know you are frightened. You feel it, but at the same time you know that these very fears, as real as they may seem, are not you.
Fear is really nothing other than a self-limiting reaction that we’ve always mistaken for a shield of self-protection. It’s time to let it go, which you can do anytime you want. Here’s how: Dare to proceed, even while being afraid.
Rumi invites us to find the barriers we’ve erected against love, and a universal one is blame. These three talks are an invitation to relax those barriers, and to open our hearts to our inner life and to all beings. Part I focuses on chronic self-judgment; Part II on the places of deep self-condemnation, and Part III on where we have locked into anger, blame or hatred of others. Each includes guided reflections that can support us in directly awakening beyond the confining thoughts and feelings of blame.
“Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find
all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.” ~ Rumi
Whenever I have the privilege of leading transformational workshops, I am always in awe of what an honor it is to be invited into people’s lives and have them share so openly about their past as well as the honest and raw feelings they have about themselves and their lives. I expect to feel the same sense of awe and privilege at my upcoming workshop ‘The Body Shadow: From Self-Loathing to Self-Loving’ hosted by Omega in June 2019. Of course, we are also seeing so much of this in today’s culture – people, especially women, coming forward and sharing about the assaults, attacks, abuse, and secrets that they have not wanted, been able, or felt ready to share.
Although I am always very mindful of never assuming I know or can even comprehend what someone else feels, since I never want to diminish someone else’s pain by comparing or making sweeping assumptions or generalizations, I think it is fair to say that most of us have endured situations that felt off, wrong, or were just downright soul-crushing. And, in order to deal with or manage the pain or to just do what we need to do to get by and function, we learned to manage it, push it down, remain silent, numb ourselves, or stay busy and try to forget about it.
Although all of our stories are personal and unique, whether it comes from what we are seeing in the news, the #MeToo movement, how we feel about our bodies, or the stories I hear from the people I have the privilege of working with, I am always so present to the insidiousness of the shame we all carry.
The Goddess Metis has a strong and powerful message inherent in her archetypal nature that encourages us to heal some of our self-sabotaging behaviors this week. But, before I focus in on her, I’m going to break down the storyline of the energetic umbrella over all our heads this week to reveal the invitation that was revealed in the weekly forecast.
This week’s universal energy reading begins with the energy of the goddess Mnemosyne, goddess of memory and mother of the 9 muses (of course Zeus, that ol’ horndog was the dad) in the Greek pantheon. She begins by inviting us to look to the past to discover the roots of our patterns, the things we learned and integrated that either support us or bury us in a mire of self-limiting beliefs and behaviors or supportive and positive ones. What story are you telling yourself and others about your past? Can you see your old story play out in front of you? We are memory based creatures and what we remember consciously or store beneath our waking mind rules our lives in ways many of us find baffling. But she arrives to remind us that, to make a shift, we need to tell new stories.
As we transition to warmer months, you’ve probably started to notice that bodies and skin are showing up everywhere. If you tune into daytime TV talk shows, you’ll start to see bikini fashion shows. On the bestseller list, diet books are on the rise. Gyms are full as people keep their beach bodies in shape. And dietitians are offering discounts to reach your summer body.
It’s no surprise that this time of year can stir up a lot of shadows — the emotions, beliefs, habits, and patterns stored deep inside the psyche that dictate our relationships with our bodies. It’s prevalent in every program and workshop I do. Person after person shares the depths to which they have struggled with body issues and the years they have hated their bodies and thus themselves.
Personally, I’ve struggled with my weight and body image from a young age. The quality of my day used to be determined by the number on the scale. I would only feel worthy of being loved by myself or others if I looked a certain way. I had grown up with the belief that it was not okay to eat so in my book, food was the enemy. I made my body my enemy!
These past few weeks, I like many of you have been shocked, rocked, and somewhat horrified by the college admissions scandal in which parents paid a college consultant to falsify their children’s records, bribe test administrators and college coaches, and cheat on entrance exams so that their children could gain admission to elite universities.
Although I in no way condone what these parents did, I do have empathy for any child who is being told directly or indirectly that who they are is not good enough to take a college exam or to apply to college on their own merits. Although it is easy to judge these parents who are accused of committing a crime, our personal growth does not come by judging others. Our evolution comes by using the situation to take a deeper look inside of ourselves - asking ourselves questions such as “How we are like the people we judge?” and “How can we learn from this situation?”
Being a perfectionist/overachiever, there is no question that, in the name of “wanting what was best for my children,” I helped them, pushed them, and tried to steer them in directions which I believed would lead to their “success.” Whether it was bringing them the homework they forgot at home so they wouldn’t get an incomplete mark, proofreading an essay, or, when they were young, doing their art projects for them.
“Ever since I met her when she was a teenager at the Lama Foundation, Mirabai Starr has been absorbed in the teachings of the great mystic saints, especially the women. Like her namesake, the poet-saint Mirabai, she brings to her work an intense love of God and a passion for the Beloved. My Guru said, ‘Love is the best medicine.’ Mirabai will help open up your heart to love.” – Ram Dass
Mirabai Starr writes creative non-fiction and contemporary translations of sacred literature. She taught Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos for 20 years and now teaches and speaks internationally on contemplative practice and inter-spiritual dialog. A certified bereavement counselor, Mirabai helps mourners harness the transformational power of loss. She has received critical acclaim for her revolutionary new translations of the mystics, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila and Julian of Norwich.
The following is an excerpt from her latest book, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce & Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics (April 2019, SoundsTrue), available for pre-order here.
“We are a land of many colors,
and we are singing,
singing, for our lives.”
In last fall’s elections, the U.S. Congress saw a refreshing new influx of those who have been left out of the legislative process far too long—specifically, women and people of color. African-American, Native-American, Latina, and Muslim women were elected from various states across the country. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York is one of them. Since her surprise unseating of the incumbent there, she has been relentlessly criticized by nervous politicians from both parties for her outspoken and uncensored comments about the President and all those in power. Many of those criticisms show just how much public opinion panders to “acceptable” behavior for political candidates, and women in particular.
For as long as I can remember I have been the ultimate overachiever. Starting in elementary school, it was like a badge of honor for me to study longer and harder than any of my classmates. Although my workaholic tendencies produced a lot of achievements and success, they also came with a cost. I can’t tell you the number of invitations I turned down, the time hanging out with friends I missed out on, and the added pressure I imposed on myself.
Have you ever wondered about what your driving force is?
Have you ever wondered about what keeps you from manifesting and actually experiencing that which you say you want?
Have you ever wondered about what keeps you from letting go, even when you know something or someone no longer serves your highest vision for your life?
What’s Really Controlling Your Life?
Day after day I work with people who, when facing some issue, question, change, or decision, feel overcome by uncertainty and are paralyzed by the possibility of “making a mistake.” Despite having an inkling of how they want to handle the situation at hand, they don’t trust it. Instead of going with their gut and following their inner impulse, they look for confirmation from others and spend time and/or money:
Basically, they are looking for permission to follow their truth!
Now, it is normal to feel scared or insecure when faced with living our truth. We worry about how our truth will not only affect ourselves but others as well. Not wanting to be seen as selfish, mean, unreliable, or narcissistic, we question whether we have the right to pursue our passion, heed the messages of our heart, or break out of the box of what has been. As a result, we:
When I start to get angry, I see my predicament and how I’m getting caught in expectations and righteousness. Learning to give up anger has been a continuous process.
When Maharaj-ji told me to love everyone and tell the truth, he also said, “Give up anger, and I’ll help you with it.” Maharaj-ji offered me a bargain: “You must polish the mirror free of anger to see God. If you give up a little anger each day, I will help you.” This seemed to be a deal that was more than fair. I readily accepted. And he’s been true to his end of the bargain. I found that his love helped to free me from my righteousness. Ultimately I would rather be free and in love than be right.
If you feel a sense of social responsibility, first of all keep working on yourself. Being peaceful yourself is the first step if you want to live in a peaceful universe.
Evolution has rigged all of us with a negativity bias—a survival-driven habit to scan for what’s wrong and to fixate on it. In contemporary society, a pervasive target is our own sense of unworthiness. We habitually fixate on how we’re falling short—in our relationships, our work, our appearance, our mood and behaviors. And while self-aversion is our primary reflex, we also fixate on the faults of others, how other people are letting us down, how they are wrong or bad and should be different. Whether we are focusing inwardly or outwardly, we are creating an enemy, and imprisoning ourselves in the sense of a separate, threatened self.
While the negativity bias is a key part of our survival apparatus, when it dominates our daily life, we lose access to the more recently evolved parts of our brain that contribute to feelings of connection, empathy and wellbeing. What helps us to de-condition the negativity bias? How do we shift from limbic reactivity to “attend and befriend? Here are three ways that help us awaken our full potential for natural presence and caring.
Who are you prosecuting?
Drop the case.
Lately I've been thinking about a kind of "case" that's been running in my mind about someone in my extended family. The case is a combination of feeling hurt and mistreated, critique of the other person, irritation with others who haven't supported me, views about what should happen that hasn't, and implicit taking-things-personally.
In other words, the usual mess.
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” — Buddha
Forgiveness is the key that opens the door to inner peace and the ability to fully connect with the love that we are.
Without forgiveness, inner peace remains a lofty, distant ideal.
Is there someone you need to forgive? A relative… an old friend… possibly even yourself?
When we say forgiveness, we mean real forgiveness. We’re not talking about lip service as the ego mind sits in judgement and promises forgiveness that never really comes.
Real forgiveness happens when we trust the True Self to make the decisions that uplift, empower and enlighten our lives.
On a daily basis I encounter people who are frozen in fear.
Two common fears can block us from our full potential – fear of failure (FOF), and fear of missing out (FOMO). This talk explores how to meet these fears with mindful presence, and discover within them the essence energies of loving awareness and full aliveness (a favorite from the archives).
Note – This talk is dedicated to Tim Ferriss, who turned me on to the phrase FOMO. Tim exemplifies the creative aliveness of FOMO energy when it’s living through someone who’s dedicated to being awake, caring and real. Check out his interview with Tara at: https://youtu.be/pXNEM4wjSmE and his podcast at fourhourworkweek.com/podcast/.