Sunday, August 12, 2012

When My Serenity Flies Away, I Know I’ve Taken the Focus off Me.

I always try to remember the miracle encapsulated in that anonymous saying: “When you change the way you see things, the things you see change.”
In last week’s message (Msg-1-Aug-2012: “Take Care of God’s Will for You for Today and Let God Do His Job of Taking Care of Everyone Else”) an underlying theme was that I welcome virtually anything that will take the focus off of me. Unconsciously, I just seem to gravitate to any and all internal thoughts that will distract me from looking where I really need to be looking – at me.
There are two significant reasons I need to keep the focus on me and my thoughts:
1.     Whatever is causing me an upset is really only my perception of the person, event or situation at hand. Equally, whatever is causing extreme happiness is my perception of the situation at hand. I used to get so frustrated in AA when old-timers would state, “This, too shall pass.” I could fully embrace that saying when I was relaying bad or unsettling news. I found it infuriating when they would say that to me when the news was exhilarating or wonderful to me.
2.     A Course in Miracles (ACIM) teaches: We are never upset for the reason we think. This is one of the initial 50 lessons in the Workbook for Students. It is Lesson Number Five. The first five lessons are: 1. Nothing I see means anything. 2. I have given what I see all the meaning it has for me. 3. I do not understand anything I see. 4. These thoughts do not mean anything. 5. I am never upset for the reason I think.
In short, according to Watson and Perry in a Workbook Companion, Volume 1 (Circle Publishing, 2005, pp. 160-161): “In these first five lessons I am asked to let go of: 1. What I see; 2. My judgments; 3. My understanding; 4. My thoughts; 5. My thought system.
“What we ‘see’ in the normal sense is nothing; we need to realize it is meaningless and let it go, so that vision may take its place. We are not actually seeing things; rather, we are seeing our judgments on them. If we want vision, we have to realize our judgments are invalid, and cease letting them govern our sight…. Our ‘understanding’ of things is based not on reality, but on our own projections…. Like what we see, our conscious thoughts are without any real meaning; we need to let them go, along with judgment-based perceptions…. These thoughts, which are apart from God, require constant justification, and our upset is no more than an attempt to justify our anger [or frustration, or righteousness, or other feelings associated with our ‘memories or thoughts’] with the world and our attacks upon it.”
So, by focusing on me, I am focusing on 1) What is my perception? and 2) What is really going on in my mind /emotions? By focusing on me, I am not focusing on what the jerk said or did or how the idiot looked. I am not focusing on how I would feel better inside if only that jackass wouldn’t keep bringing up these uncomfortable memories.
When I do this reasonably well, I find myself concluding, “They’re doing exactly what I’m doing. They’re reacting to their perceptions just as I am. They’re justifying their anger and frustrations just as I am. They’re looking for confirmation, vindication, validation, security, peace, freedom, joy, and acceptance just as I am.”
When I do this reasonably well my perception of the people, events or situations has changed. Will it change my perceived world? That’s up to the Holy Spirit, not me. I know I cannot change people. I can only look at them with love and acceptance and understanding, which is exactly how I want people to look at me.
This does not mean I have to approve of their words, actions or behavior, just as it doesn’t mean I have to fight for the approval of my words, actions or behavior.  I simply need to accept that, underneath it all, there is not much difference between us.
If I can get to that spot, I can maintain my peace and serenity in the face of aggression, anger and fear. That’s exactly where I want to be.
It’s certainly not easy, but it’s also not very complicated – unless I make it so – by taking the focus off of me. When that occurs, the result is invariably the loss of my serenity and peace. That’s the real meaning of the penetrating question: “Do I want to be happy or right?”
So, I always try to remember the miracle encapsulated in that anonymous saying: “When you change the way you see things, the things you see change.” But I also remember how and when the things may change is up to the Holy Spirit, not me.
Thanks for listening, and – as always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual path.
#2 August, 2012
Copyright, 2012

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