Even though we all know the harm it does to lash out at others, to launch an angry attack or act with cruel intent, we still tend to do these things anyway. The following insights help make clear why this happens to us and how we are made, in effect, to act against ourselves and those we love without really knowing why.
Whenever we are threatened in some way, our tendency is to go into an “auto-respond” mode of behavior; certain habitual reactions rise up and effectively “take over” our thoughts and feelings. So, in a manner of speaking, it isn’t really our true Self that meets these unwanted events. If we take a step back and quietly observe ourselves through impartial eyes, here’s what we’ll see is actually happening within us: We are being told how we feel, what to do, even who we should be by what we’re being given to remember in these moments. Let’s look at an example to help clarify this important discovery:
Whenever we act cruelly toward another, it’s because something cruel “takes over and handles” the moment for us by doing what it remembers to do. In a manner of speaking, a state of cruelty imposes its rules on us, and makes of us what it will in the next moment. Much to our regret, we don’t remember that any better solution exists until we have to deal with the grief that follows from having forfeited our freedom.
What’s the solution to this kind of forgetfulness? First, without judging ourselves, we must acknowledge the truth of our present (psychological) situation; facts never lie. We are reacting to life’s challenges from unconscious parts of ourselves that literally hand us a script and then direct us to play out a painful role. We are not meant to live like this — as real-time prisoners of our own pasts, captives of conditioning that serves nothing but its own continuity. Within us, awaiting our awakening to it, lives a level of Self that cannot forget what is right, bright, and true, any more than the sun can forget to shine each day.
Living within us dwells an order of being that knows, without thinking about it, what is authentically good for us and others. The problem isn’t that this higher level of being — with its natural, calm command — is actually missing just when we need it most. The real problem is that we forget it! We forget that it’s our right to remember what we want to remember, instead of what we are being given to remember!
As simple as it sounds, we regain real command whenever we can remember this truth: there is a part of us that can’t be made to serve anything not of its own choosing. Stirring ourselves out of the spiritual slumber into which we have fallen is the same as awakening from whatever dark dream may have been dominating our mind the moment before.
When we’re in command of ourselves, we don’t say cruel things to others. Dark days lose their power to bring us down because we now know the difference between passing clouds and the skies through which they sail. That is true self-command.
(Excerpted from “The Courage to Be Free” by Guy Finley, Red Wheel/Weiser)
About the Author: OneJourney founder Guy Finley is the bestselling author of more than 45 books and audio albums on self-realization, including “The Secret of Letting Go,” “The Essential Laws of Fearless Living,” and his newest book “Relationship Magic: Waking Up Together.” He is the founder and director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit Center for Spiritual Discovery located in southern Oregon. Guy is a faculty member at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York and at 1440 Multiversity. Tune in every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening for Guy’s free online classes, visit www.GuyFinley.org/freeclass