One of my graduate students last year contacted me, really discouraged. Her mother was prone to depression. She had tried to help her mother by explaining Innate Health to her and talking about how the Principles explain our thinking. Her Mother got furious with her and told her to leave her alone!
“I thought that understanding the Principles was going to help her,” my student said. She knows I love her, and I’ve always been there for her. But she turned on me when I tried to explain her thinking to her. I am so disappointed.”
Who among us hasn’t had a similar experience? We had a huge insight for ourselves and saw how simple life seems when we realize we are using the energy of Mind to create Thought and become Conscious of our own creation as our temporary reality. Create depressing thoughts and, no surprise, you are conscious of being depressed. We can’t wait to share that new knowledge with others.
The thing is, the definition and explanation is not what helped us to see life differently. It was the moment of insight, when we saw, from within, for ourselves, what was going on. What helps us to help others is knowing that such an insight is close at hand for them, and knowing better than to talk to them about the content of the thinking that’s bringing them down, or to take that thinking seriously. Getting all pompous on them and telling them how they are using their thinking against themselves, or how the content of their thinking doesn’t matter, will annoy them and do nothing to help because a low mood is an insecure mood, and when people are feeling insecure, they’re not good at listening or considering new information. They just want to feel better.
When we see how thinking works, we can feel compassion and love for someone who is suffering without experiencing any need to share the suffering, commiserate with the suffering, or even assume the suffering is real or will last. We see beyond the suffering to the fact that the person is creating it, innocently, in an insecure state of mind, without realizing how they are thinking. We know that if we address the feeling state, if we can draw the person out of insecurity into a more secure and calm feeling state, then we can talk to them about life differently.
Years ago, as I was first starting to see the Principles at work behind life, I heard Elsie Spittle talk to a group. She was relating a story about someone who had come to her in a very upset state and asked for help. Elsie related how she invited the woman in and bustled off to the kitchen to fix a lovely tea. She never inquired what was bothering the person, but simply served the tea and chatted with her about daily events. I remember thinking, “What kind of help is that? Why wasn’t she sitting her down and explaining things to her? The woman was upset and Elsie just ignored that!”
I had a lot of respect for Elsie, though, so I set those judgmental thoughts aside and kept listening. Elsie said the woman started to relax as they enjoyed the tea, and, as the woman became less tense, it occurred to Elsie to share with her how easily she can spiral down when she gets certain thoughts on her mind. Elsie told a story about that, and at the end, the woman said, “Why, that’s exactly what I do! I get hold of certain thoughts and just can’t drop them, and get all worked up about it.” And there it was: the moment of insight. Then Elsie could talk to the person as an equal, not a “counselor,” but just another human being using thinking to create reality, and they could share together how things work and laugh with each other about how easy it is to get lost in thought.
The humility and gentleness of this really touched me. What a beautiful way to be able to relate to people! To be able to see that we are all the same, and there’s no reason to be afraid of anyone else’s thoughts or to take responsibility to fix anyone seemed like such a graceful way to work with others. That was when I realized that the principles have nothing to do with the whole world of one-up, one-down, with the idea that people in the helping professions are special or hold some secret that they can give away. People who serve from the perspective of the Principles simply talk to the same health in others that they see in themselves and all people.
So what did I advise my student, who was so discouraged because her first attempt to help her mother with this new learning turned out so badly? That’s kind of a trick question because I don’t believe in giving advice. I have learned it is wiser to help guide people towards their own wisdom, advice from within.
So I asked my student, “When you talked with your Mom, were you just hanging out with her?”
“No, not really. I had just finished reading The Missing Link, and I had the idea that it helped me so much, I needed to tell my Mom about this.”
“Did you give her the book?”
“No. I just went to see her and blurted out how I was learning something in graduate school that would cure her of her depression.”
“Had you taken a few minutes to ask her how she was feeling, and if it was a good time for you to share some new things you’d been learning?”
“No. I was excited. I was sure I could help her, so I just rushed in and started … OH. Wait. I was pushing an intellectual idea on a depressed person, wasn’t I? I wasn’t giving any consideration to her state of mind. And I needed to be right; I wasn’t calm.”
“So are you still discouraged?”
“Oh, no. It was me! It was my thinking that got in the way. I need to calm down and listen before I start talking. I need to take it easy. I guess I need to see this more clearly for myself.”
By the end of the semester, the relationship between that student and her mother had changed. Instead of seeing her mother as a depressed woman who needed help, she saw her mother as an ordinary woman who sometimes got caught up in a lot of bad memories and negative thoughts about them. She lost focus on her mother’s depression and started looking to share her own present-moment enthusiasm for life, and what was possible, with her mother. Instead of sitting around the house talking about what was wrong with her mother, she started taking her mother on picnics, or to the movies, or out to visit friends. Her thinking about her mother changed, and she was able to see her mother as a healthy person who was given to depressing thinking from time to time, rather than a depressed woman who was sick and needed her help and constant attention.
In the words, again, of Sydney Banks,
“All human psyches are rooted in universal truth and no person’s psyche is better than any other’s. Only to the degree of the individual’s psychological and spiritual understanding does it appear to vary.” The Missing Link, p. 7
One of the most amazing and beautiful things about living in a good feeling is that it becomes literally impossible to keep it to yourself. When we feel good in life, everyone gets to know about it, because good feelings are contagious. No-one can resist a beautiful smile, or a calm demeanour – it just spreads like sunshine across an open field on a spring day.
The form is the world we see around us, and in this beautiful world we see other people; we see their smile, we hear their laughter, we see the obvious glow of happiness that comes from within, but it is the formless that we feel within us, that is to say the spiritual part of us that is untranslatable by word. We can feel it within us but it defies all our attempts of definition. But this bright feeling is like a mirror image from the universe, it shows us our own inner beauty and when we feel good in those magical moments of our lives, it becomes a timely reminder that at our core we are psychologically healthy too, just like every other human being alive.
We are all born with a peaceful and loving heart and this axis of our experience is always radiating outwards towards the world and others even if we are unaware of its existence. Goodness is the true human nature. It is only when we start to think too much and begin to create unhelpful mindsets or unconscious patterns of thought that are not serving us that we find ourselves moving temporarily away from our base experience of love.
Thus, when we see this simple fact of life, that it is the power behind our thinking that creates our feeling state, not our circumstances or the events of our lives so far; this power guides us through life helpfully and positively. When our thinking slows down, we are more likely to become aware of this fact. Conversely, if we get busy in our heads and start to over think things and the events of our lives, we are more likely to move away from those more natural feelings of happiness and contentment and to get caught up in feelings that we no longer enjoy.
It is fascinating to note that feeling pain, whether it be physical pain or emotional suffering, comes from being in the form i.e. from having a body, living in the world and from our personal perception of the world. Yet feeling good, feeling happy, joyous and all positive emotions come from the formless spiritual part of our nature. When we relax, which means to say we are doing less personal thinking, we feel better about everything; we are more in touch with our essence and ultimately that part of us that is spiritual and universal. In other words we start to see how the flow of our lives is dictated by the orientation of our thoughts – that (in essence) we have a healthy core of love and this centre is a mirror image of the universe. The form is where we are right now, but the formless is our true nature and our original home and that is why it always feels so good when we return there. If we want to have the best life ever, all we need to do is to relax and every time we do, we will come home to the life we have always been wishing for.
Creon: “An enemy is still an enemy. Dead or alive.”Antigone: “No, I was born with love enough to share: no hate for anyone.”
From Antigone by Sophocles
If someone is acting in a bullying manner, we can be sure of one thing alone; that this tells us very little about ourselves but a lot about the psychological state of the person caught in the bullying mindset.
If you are on the receiving end of any kind of abuse some action is required and common sense informs us that it is a far from ideal situation to be in. Bullying of any kind is clearly wrong, but it is not really the root of the problem. Clearly if someone is suffering from the results of abuse it is important to seek help or for the individual to remove themselves from the situation, even if it be temporarily.
However, taking a closer look at bullying from the inside we get a clearer understanding of what is going on. There is one simple fact that we could keep in mind; no one who is feeling secure, happy and good about themselves is ever likely to bully another person, and this makes perfect sense to most people. What we can conclude from this is that bullying comes from feeling insecure, unhappy and a certain sense of personal dissatisfaction with oneself or one’s situation.
Perhaps the question we could ask is: what is the cause of someone falling into this state of unhappiness and bullying mentality in the first place? And more importantly, to ask how some people are not affected by the low mood level and general demeanour of a person in the habit of bullying others?
Firstly, all psychological states arise in dependence upon the power of thought, in other words, to get into any mind-set or emotional state, we must first have thinking to create that state of mind. Individuals that are suffering from unhappiness can sometimes get caught up in a bullying mind-set. Additionally, it is important to recognise that all of us have the capacity to fall into states of unhappiness and we can also innocently create a victim mentality for ourselves (albeit most of the time either state is only a temporary one). As a consequence of this we habitually either feel justified in our assault upon another or we feel as if we are being picked on by the world.
However, invariably a bully is someone who is suffering, and this suffering is innocently coming from personal thought and as a response to this self created suffering they bully others. Sometimes this is an attempt to give back to others what life seems to be dealing them, or has done so in the past! If we could see that suffering itself is a natural part of personal, in-the-moment thinking gone astray, it would make it easier to recognise how we can all innocently create our own suffering via the power of thought. This in turn would give rise to us recognising that lower moods are a natural part of being human; everyone has them and that they always pass. This helps us to have more empathy with the bully as we begin to see their psychological innocence that they just like us are doing the best they can with their current thinking. As we see this more clearly in us, we begin to see it in others too, and it helps us to feel more relaxed about being low ourselves.
I am not suggesting that we condone bullying in any way, simply that we see that the cause of bullying is an innocently created psychological state the bully has produced and how it is their thinking that informs and guides their antisocial behaviours.
Thus it is not that we forgive the antisocial behaviour of the bully, but that we see the suffering person behind the behaviour and recognise how we all fall into low moods from time to time. When we begin to see the world through these new eyes we start to give ourselves an easier time when we are not feeling so good; we start realising that we are not victims of our circumstances anymore, but temporary sufferers of our own low level personal thinking. Awareness of this fact is the key, it may not help recover our good feelings at that time, but at least we know it is both natural and fleeting, and it will soon pass. Additionally, and importantly we see the bully is just like us, they innocently create their own suffering too, but this time we have a clearer picture as to why it is they are being internally but innocently driven to bully others.
I would like to make one final point about those people out there in the world who seem unaffected and impervious in the face of bullying. To most they may seem like an exception to the rule or some kind of anomaly that is special in some way and beyond reach of most people. However, these are the folk that in the moment of abuse still feel secure, self confident and happy enough in their world to not be upset by the, would-be bully. Interestingly we can all experience this from time to time; when we feel good about ourselves we are much less likely to take the world and what it has to say about us seriously or personally. This is a very freeing state to be in and one that most people would love to experience, and we all can, quiet simply.
How is this state possible we may ask? The answer is simple, and we all have it within us; we just need to relax and allow ourselves to realise that we make or break our day dependent upon how we see the world in that moment via the power our thought. Sometimes we may get caught up in mindsets from our past, but this is not really a problem either if we see that all our psychological states of being arise in dependence upon the content of our thinking. So if we can stop and relax just for a moment, are awareness can rise up, like the hidden sun from behind the clouds and this can be enough to unlock all the good feeling anyone is likely to want to experience in this life, and if we are not feeling those good feeling that is okay too, because this too will pass.
*Note for children, parents and teachers: when a child sees this clearly for themselves they realise that it is not an issue of ‘grassing’ or ‘dobbing’ someone in, but more a case of reporting the bully out of kindness and compassion, seeing that the bully is also in need of help. This is very freeing for a child and helps them move away from the more subtle forms of bullying i.e. peer pressure to keep quiet (and it is not just children that are subject to this).
What are beliefs? What is Potential? How do they relate to one another ...
It is funny how the more we see beliefs as limiting, in the way, or something to deal with, the more important they appear. And the more real. But are they? (See the radio show on Thought Ruts).
In my experience, beliefs are not solid things. They are just thoughts. A thought never hurt anyone all by itself. A thought never hurt you either. Even the feeling of a thought never can hurt you. Even if you have been believing or thinking something for a long time and no matter how many other people agree ("The earth is flat!") look and see, is it really anything more than a passing idea?
We are quick to consider our thoughts and beliefs as "truth." But it does not make them so.
A horse may not ever in the whole of it's life jump a fence, but it certainly has the potential, or the ability to jump.
Potential is not what you think you can do, it is what you use to do what you decide to do.
I can't pack a parachute properly. My potential to do so lies in the innate intelligence I have to learn anything.
In fact, anyone believing certain things to be true about themselves will conceive of their potential and their possibilities in a particular way. If their thoughts are limiting, that sense of limitation and the feeling of constraint is a real experience in the moment, but not a permanent truth. And, more importantly, it doesn't change what potential is.
You cannot tarnish potential just because you see yourself as limited. But you can experience yourself as limited.
Your potential is a power. It is an unseen force that is expressed very differently in each of us in beautiful, unique ways.
What happens to your ideas about your own potential when you think of potential as a power?
What happens to your ideas about change when you think of beliefs as solid?
On this note, it's interesting to remember that even matter is not solid. Modern quantum physics says an atom does not have a nucleus made of "particles" in the way it was once thought.
Energy in the nucleus, electrons, can express in forms of waves or particles. It depends. (See Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle). So even matter, although it's hard to grasp this, is not that solid. And since electrons can express in different forms, that means the core of an atom is actually potential.
Just like the core of you.