Sunday, November 4, 2012

I Need To Stop Beating Myself Up

I get really frustrated with myself quite often. My ego keeps telling me I shoulda/coulda/woulda all sorts of things if I were really spiritual. As a result, I find myself getting – not just upset with me – very upset with others. My serenity goes in the toilet. Spiritual? Ha!
As I began really understanding the messages of a Course in Miracles (ACIM) and its similarity to much of the spiritual truth I found in AA, I began getting anxious and frustrated over my lack of progress in all things spiritual. This has not been a new phenomenon for me. Whether I was playing tennis or learning to play golf, or enjoying springboard diving, I would work so seriously to improve my skills that it ceased being fun. It had become work. Frustrating. Exasperating. Counter-productive.
The same process occurred with my journey into sobriety. Very early on in AA I found myself reading through the Twelve Steps and wondering, “How difficult can this be? I mean, when you read the early accounts of the pioneers of the Fellowship, they were going through the Steps in a month or less: Accepting that their lives were out of control; doing a moral inventory and sharing that with someone; making amends where they could; and moving on to doing Twelfth-Step work – sharing their lives with still-active alcoholics.”  Within several months I believed I had “gotten it.” I was ready to tweak Bill W’s version of the Program. In fact I was ready to be the reincarnation of Bill W. Then I found out that there were many of us in my groups ready to assume that same role. How could that be? How could so many of us be convinced we were correctly improving the Program yet vigorously disagreeing with each other?
Finally I understood how idiotic I was being. After eating many, many slices of humble pie I relaxed and found myself enjoying simply being one of the herd – growing, morphing, changing, becoming transformed from the inside out.
As we say in the Fellowship, we strive for spiritual progress not spiritual perfection. Applying that to my growth in ACIM, I am really trying to follow that message while on my spiritual path. If it all seems so simple why is it so difficult?
For me there seem to be four incremental steps of my growth in ACIM:
  1.     .       First I need to comprehend what the Course is explaining. This world is a dream and I am the dreamer. What I see as reality is simply my perception of things, which is no more valid than anyone else’s perception of things. I am constantly on the defensive (or on the attack) when people challenge my perception. I am not what I think. I am not a body. I cannot – through an act of my will power – perceive things as a loving Son of God. My role is to be a savior of the world by being a partner with Jesus the Christ – offering Forgiveness and the Atonement to all. However, that is up to the Holy Spirit, not me. All I can do is acknowledge that the world I see is my perception, forgive myself and my perceptions, and then ask the Holy Spirit for another way to perceive the situation. This process – Forgiveness/Atonement – is what I’m to be all about.
  2.      .     I think I intellectually understand step one. Now, I have found myself to be very attuned to when others are defending and justifying their perceptions. I try to notice this in a very non-judgmental way, often playing all sorts of mind games to convince myself that I am not judging people, only noticing and observing. But I’m judging and I know it. Back to Step 1.
  3.     .      Thirdly, I am moving to understand that what is really important is not how astute I have become in spotting the ego-centric perceptions of others, but recognizing the “reality“ I attribute to my perceptions (this is the if-you-spot-it-you-got-it syndrome I learned in AA.) – especially those I’ve masked in an aura of ACIM-approved perceptions. Of course, there are no ACIM-approved perceptions – that’s just the slickness of my rapid-fire, steel-trap ego mind. Back to Step 1.
  4.      .     Fourthly, I am to begin living in the Now experiencing the reality of the Son-of-Godness in everyone I meet. These encounters, called Holy Encounters in ACIM, have been very brief but very intense. They are orchestrated by the Holy Spirit, not conjured up by me.

I know my transformation is a true progression: 1, 2, 3, then 4. However, I spend most of my time moving from 1 to 2 and back again. Every once in a while, I touch base with 3 – but it is usually very brief, then I am back to 1 again. I certainly do not live in the state of 4. And, trust me, I never let myself forget that. I get really frustrated with myself a lot. My ego keeps telling me I shoulda/coulda/woulda all sorts of things if I were really spiritual. As a result, I find myself getting – not just upset with me – very upset with others. My serenity goes in the toilet and I’m back to step 1.
Progress not perfection.
Although this message is really for me, thanks for listening, and – as always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#1 November, 2012
Copyright, 2012

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