Throughout my life I’ve been told that the answers are within. Even in mainstream media people are saying to go within to find answers, to to solve problems, and to achieve enlightenment.
So what does it mean to go within?
When I first started on this journey I tried to go within by meditating, writing in journals, praying, and even answering questions from workbooks; but it didn’t matter what I tried, I always ended up in the same place – confused and without any more answers than I had in the first place. Sure, many logical answers came to me, but they were difficult to implement on an emotional basis. They were intellectual and difficult to embody. What I found inside was a ceaseless stream of me – thoughts about what was occurring in my life, ideas about how I wished things would change, and random daydreams that seemed determined to distract me.
Going inside seemed pointless. Once there, what was I supposed to do? How was it supposed to help me achieve my goals?
After years of seeking, I believe I have finally found my answer.
For me, to go within means to be courageous enough to see myself for who I truly am. This requires a great deal of bravery, vulnerability, acceptance, and willingness to believe.
It is my current belief that we are all loving, magnificent beings who subconsciously desire to live in harmony with each other. However, our misconceptions about ourselves, others, and our world keep us imprisoned in illusions of competition, separation, illness, lack, and suffering.
How do we overcome these illusions?
By going within and questioning our belief systems and our motivations. We must overcome our illusions and accept full responsibility for our lives. There are no victims, and until we can accept this statement as true, we cannot claim the power to change our lives.
Likewise, until we are willing to let go of who we think we are, we will be imprisoned by our own limitations.
So, what does it look like to go inside and bring forth real change? What does it look like to conquer an illusion?
I will give you an example:
There was once someone in my life who I perceived as plotting against me. (For ease of understanding, I will refer to this person as a girl.)
If I made a list of all the nasty things I perceived she did to me, I dare to say that most people would gasp and be offended on my behalf. But that was before I knew there were no victims; I too believed she was to blame for my suffering.
Thankfully, I learned otherwise. I learned that my own false belief systems were the reasons for my suffering. I learned that it was my decision, and only my decision, to participate in the negativity. It was my choice to accept the perceptions that kept me imprisoned in being a victim.
Once I grasped this understanding, no matter how new and uncomfortable it was to me, I now had a tool I could use. I could quiet my mind and ask myself a very important question: What are the false belief systems I have accepted that have made me feel like a victim?
At first, all I could think about was all the horrible things she did to me. I couldn’t understand how I could be responsible for how she treated me. Then I began to build a list of the things I believed about her. Below are a few of the beliefs I blindly accepted about her:
1) This girl hates me. She is a horrible person.
2) I don’t deserve how she treats me.
3) There’s nothing I can do about how she treats me. It’s not my fault.
As you can see, every single one of these statements comes from a victim mentality.
Accepting these beliefs as my truth made it impossible for me to ever achieve balance or happiness. I was putting my power in someone else’s hands.
So as much is I disliked, or even despised the girl, I had to admit that unless I was willing to change myself and to see my participation in the relationship, then things would never be resolved.
Therefore, I asked myself, “Why do I need this girl in my life?”
The reason I asked this was because, if I truly believed that I was responsible for everything that happened in my life, then how this girl was treating me was merely a reflection of what was inside of me. If she weren’t in my life, then I would have attracted someone else to act as my mirror. Thinking of it this way made it less personal. Once I could observe the situation from a somewhat detached point of view, I could see much more clearly.
It was right then and there I made an important decision–instead of choosing to be a victim, I chose to take full responsibility for myself and my life. I decided to take full responsibility for my relationship with this girl.
I asked myself, “How did I create this?”
To answer my question, I went back and analyzed my victimizing beliefs.
Here is how I did it:
1) She hates me. She is horrible.
I asked myself, “Is this absolutely true?”
I tried to think of several circumstances that could negate this belief and I found some.
- I found that in certain circumstances, the girl was quite loving, even if it wasnt towards me.
- I also realized that she didn’t always act hateful towards me. There were a handful of times she actually said hello to me when I entered the room.
- Then another idea entered my mind. Maybe, just maybe, she did not hate me at all, but had been unable to handle and process her own illusions and suffering in a loving way.
- Maybe something about me acted as a mirrot to her, and reminded her of her own suffering, just as she was doing for me.
If I could think of even one thing that negated the statement then it must mean that I could no longer hold that statement is absolutely true.
Once I realized this, another way for me to look at that statement presented itself. I tried to imagine that she loved me so much that she was willing to be my teacher. Was it possible that, on a subconscious level, she was willing to add to her own suffering by participating in my lessons? Did she also have lessons to learn from this? I suddenly became grateful to have this girl in my life to show me the mistakes I had made in my perceptions and judgments. I became excited to have opportunities to change and to let go of misperceptions, resentment, and blame.
Now let’s take a look at the second statement…
2) I don’t deserve how she treats me.
If I accept that I am responsible for everything that happens in my life, then this statement must be false. Accepting responsiblity for my reality no longer allows me to blame anyone or anything outside of myself.
Let’s move forward to the last statement…
3) There’s nothing I can do about how she treats me
Was that statement absolutely true?
If our reality consists of our perceptions, then it would stand to reason that if I changed my perceptions about her, then she would have the opportunity to change her perceptions of herself and me as well. If I extended understanding and love toward her and allowed myself to be vulnerable instead of reactive in my dealings with her, then might the way she treated me change? Likewise, if I changed myself, might I stop attracting those kinds of lessons and teachers? Would she feel compelled to leave my life? Or . . . might our relationship heal?
In becoming more vulnerable, I became more powerful.
I stopped being reactive. I stopped basing my present understandings on past emotions. Each time she verbally “attacked” me, I reminded myself that I am love. I firmly and respectfully stated that I was no longer willing to participate in situations or relationships that perpetuated suffering and I meant it. I stopped engaging in the negativity. I stopped reacting. Instead, I asked myself, “What is the most loving thing I can do in this moment?”
Many times, the answer was to become even more loving to myself, which sometimes meant that I needed to leave the situation, or to kindly and genlty ask her to leave. Other times, it was to tell her that I knew she was suffering and to acknowledge her pain. And yet other times, when she was not with me, I would imagine her as happy, loving, and carefree. I imagined what it might feel like to be good friends with her.
As the relationship progressed, it became easier and easier for me to clearly see that her reactions had nothing at all to do with me. I stopped taking her comments personally, until I was finally able to see and feel the loving being she truly was—which, in turn, was really a reflection me and of how much I had changed.
At the same time, I grew in my ability to set boundaries and to stop participating in negative situations. I claimed, with authority, how my life would be.
Thankfully, our relationship was fully healed, and we are now good friends. Because of this situation, I am more understanding and compassionate, not only for others, but also for myself, which makes all the difference.
Be courageous. Go within and let go of all that is not absolutely true. Be willing to be “wrong.” Be willing to accept your mistakes and move past them. Be loving, kind, and gentle with yourself so that you may learn true compassion and forgiveness.
You are the artist of your life, make it a masterpiece!