This article was written by Caroline Nettle.
"Be the change that you wish to see in the world". Ghandi.
There is much talk in the spiritual communities about how the world that I see outside of myself is a reflection of the world that is inside me. Part of the journey to peace, love, and happiness, is understanding that I am not always able to recognise my part in the creation of my life.
Our perceptions of the world are in fact what dictate what we see unfold in front of us. So, it follows that if my perception is that the world is a frightening place to be, I will live in fear. I will see events that keep occurring that will justify my fear, because I unconsciously look at the world through filters that seek out what I believe. I need to learn to not be scared. If I am an angry person, I will attract to myself a world where other people, places and things make me angry and will be angry at me. I need to learn to find out why I am angry and process my anger, and as I do so, I will see that the world outside of me becomes less angry. If I am full of love, and believe that the world is a safe and happy place to be, then the environment around me will be full of loving people and events.
We are controlled by a part of our brain that we are not aware of- the unconscious mind. From the ages of 0-4, a young mind is like a sponge and it absorbs everything around it, and the unconscious mind stores the information for future reference. As we continue to go through life, we add meaning to the events, and this is also stored for future reference.
An example of this would be playing in a paddling pool. For one child, a paddling pool is a real treat, fun, and something to run and splash around in. For another child, the paddling pool can be really frightening because the child slipped and hurt itself once, and so now associates paddling pools with pain.
The paddling pool does not change, but our perception of the paddling pool is different, depending on our experiences. The unconscious brain is like a stuck record and is always trying to keep us safe. With the association of pain with a paddling pool, it thinks that all paddling pools cause pain, and so sends the message to the child to stay away. Is this in fact true? Is playing in a paddling pool always dangerous? No. However, the child will probably go through life missing out on fun in other pools, because of the association between pain and paddling pools.
What would have been helpful for the child would have been for a really understanding adult to validate the child's fear. Then explain to the child that although it did happen to them once, paddling pools can be fun. And finally teach the child to play in the pool safely, and thus the association is dispelled. Also, offering an explanation that we do fall over and hurt ourselves from time to time, and that this is just being part of being human, and that it is ok. Of course, this is the ideal, but so often we are not conscious of where our belief systems come from and so are unable to stop them forming.
Our societies are riddled with issues around trust, fear, anger, grief, victim mentality, blame, depression, anxiety, and addictions.The path to recovery from these issues and others is to go within and find out what is actually true as opposed to what we have deduced from the environment that we grew up in. Once you have established what really happened, it is advisable to find a way to safely process your issues.
When we do begin the path to a spiritual way of living, one very important aspect of the growth is to really begin to look at what you actually believe, either consciously or unconsciously. Does what you believe benefit your life, bringing you peace and joy, or does it make you miserable and keep you small?
Most of our belief systems come from other people. These include parental figures, family, friends, school teachers, pupils, religion.....we really do absorb a large proportion of other peoples' opinions in our life time, and they do not always suit who we are or what we want to achieve.
What do you believe and is it true for you? Take a look at the aspirations and expectations of your mother and father figures- are they very similar to your own? What are their opinions about money, religion, success, relationships? Do you have the same opinions, even though you think that you want different things in life?
Begin to unravel what your values are. What you are passionate about? What makes your heart sing? What do you aspire to be? What is your authentic truth? This will be different for everyone. There really only is one you on the planet and you have been given gifts and talents to help you to be the best you that you can be. You can discover that other people may not necessarily value what you hold dear to the same degree as you do. You begin to learn that you do not need other peoples' approval because you are living in integrity with your own truth.
Spiritual growth is a journey into self-discovery and self- acceptance. Each person's journey takes as long as it takes. There are many different approaches to spiritual growth, and all of them are valid. This journey is an individual one that takes time and courage. We learn to love and respect ourselves and to teach others how to respect us too. We learn to listen to our intuition and to seek out people who share our commitment to improving ourselves.
In a society that has become addicted to the quick fix, this journey is the exact opposite. There are no short cuts to spiritual growth. The rewards are peace, love, and joy. To reach these goals, we need to search inside and to make friends with each and every part of us, especially the parts that we dislike. Secular society seems to have lost its appeal and the overwhelming evidence is that worldwide, we are seeking to redress the balance, to live in integrity.
What is your vision of the world? Would you like it to be filled with peace, love, and joy? The choice is yours, as is the journey.