Nothing in this existence is independent … no ‘thing’ and no person! Everything is connected and in relationship.
Test it out! Take your finger and just put it on whatever’s in front of you – follow the line of that object – one line connects to the other and connects to another, and connects to another, and connects to another; there’s always something beyond it.
If we had an imaginary thread to pull upon, the scene would open like some expansive mobile where we could see the infinite depth and dimension of all objects; we would understand that they exist be-cause of each other – that this relationship is Universal Law – cause and effect – and that what we believe is true is directly connected to the experience that we are having.
You are not alone in this experience.
There’s no human being that doesn’t feel separate; it’s integral to the development of psychological and cognitive schema that come together as tools to access consciousness – knowing our true nature. In the odyssey of knowing ourselves, we encounter the aspects of ourselves of which we were unaware, or the parts that we shunned or denied; they appear as monsters, sirens, and other dark forces. And, like Odysseus, in the end, we find that the journey was through our own psyche – that everyone on the way served to improve a deeper understanding of this journey – and that we have been home all along.
The belief of being separate arises from ego’s epic pilgrimage in order to be Self corrected – so we can understand these simple yet complex relationships and make choices at a higher power.
At first, we choose ourselves when the physical body is threatened, and we choose the whole world when we have the freedom of this safety. When we learn to do this with ease – considering the whole – we discover that what we thought we were – separate – is not entirely accurate – that we have not arrived at this point on our own volition and that we are not alone; and so, now the choices are more and also less; we discover infinite possibilities waiting in consideration of the whole which includes us, and, get this … it’s less work!
Understanding that we are not separate lets us know that there exist resources of which we are unaware. And in this humility we recognize that we were limited from these resources – from this truth – by the belief that we were exercising our own free will (that we were ‘right’ which is confirmed when someone else is ‘wrong’) – that we arrived here in this moment on our own – or that something was happening to us outside our ability or power. Consider the shift of these two perspectives:
‘This is happening,’ vs. ‘Why is this happening to me? ‘It’s a conspiracy,’ as opposed to, ‘What do I recognize? and, “How can I be certain?” in contrast to, “How is all this information useful in preparing for uncertainty?’
This is an important recognition: freedom is the ability to choose how to respond to life and it is asking us to be authentic, regardless of how uncomfortable the truth feels.
Are you free?
Pause and reflect, ‘Am I exercising my free will right now with what I believe and how I’m reacting to life or to what I’m paying attention? Or is this ‘free will’ at the effect of some pre-condition? … some attachment to some belief or maybe some fear – or maybe some hope, or some misunderstanding?’
When we’re attached to anything – even if it’s an idea that is ‘right’ or ‘good’, it’s not exclusively beneficial, because preference causes attachment and attachment limits us from the Source of free will. And, with over 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day (of which almost 90% are re-occurring), any preference reduces the opportunity for growing new experiences.
What are the skills for which this recognition is asking?
Fundamentally, all experience is asking for a unified vision. That means not being attached to one particular outcome. When we lean in too far into the goal, we lose touch with the source of intention and we feel frustration and disappointment. When we lean in too deeply into the source of intention, then we lose touch with the meaning of its purpose and we feel lost and ungrounded. Either way, we feel divided and when we feel divided, we’re cut off from the Source of our power to use this experience in ways that transform the future. So what Self Leadership is asking for is for the ego to turn toward Self and process this experience through the frequency of Compassion, Connection, Caring, Courage, Creativity, Clarity, Curiosity, and Confidence (IFS).
How do we do that?
- Remember we are not separate. The word recognition means to know again – to remember and to re’form.’ This requires us to be present for our emotions, and to challenge their meaning, ‘Oh wait … I recognize this feeling… huh?! Wow! This feeling – jealousy, anger, regret, anxiety – has been around for a while. Where do I know it from? What is familiar? Is what I believe it’s telling me true? How is it connected?’
When I am present, compassionate and even curious about what these emotions have for me, I reconnect with the infinite Source/Central hub that automatically ushers me toward Self Leadership.
- Relate with all aspects of our experience. This is the very definition of self-leader’ship’ – in the character or condition of being a leader. If everything is interconnected, then everything is ‘in relationship – in condition of’ the manner and intention with which we approach.
I am not so different from the people that appear to divide me, and it is the idea that I am which denies me the very resource of effecting the change that I desire.
- Regulate with emotion. Having the emotional clarity to see through limited beliefs, biases, perceptions and habits that keep you from being Present allows you to utilize the skill of recognition – to accept what it is trying to bring you – and to let go of the old story so that you can also access new resources to reformulate a new story.
I am not the object of these emotions and if I listen with clarity, I receive the information needed to recognize destiny.
- Respond from Source/Self with the 8’C’s of Self Leadership. This is where free will is actuated, in our response. You can’t respond if you can’t see clearly or if you are unaware of your relationship with your emotions. So, this is a critical developmental power: If you can respond to life, then you can choose what you want to follow.
I transform experience when I choose to respond from Self – a higher power.
Why is this important?
Because we’re making these judgments and choices a gazillion times a day (remember 60,000- 80,000 thoughts a day), each time we do so without awareness, we deepen the habits and beliefs that do not serve us.
Consider this common occurrence: Someone cuts me off on the Parkway and at first I’m startled (because, most of the time, I’m inside a thought), but then I get angry and honk my horn like, “Hey, a**hole! …who do you think you are?!” (Sorry, I’m from New Jersey)But then, they give me the finger and then I speed up and give them the finger right back!
… remember the line? Follow it with your mind.
What’s really going on? Am I in relationship with other possibilities for the behavior of the other driver or have I limited the possibility to one judgment? Am I in check of my emotions? Am I really responding? Or am I just reacting? What was I doing or thinking right before I was cut off?
Without attention and awareness, I become a ping pong ball of anger.
Does a ping pong ball have any free will?
No! The one holding the paddle has all the power!
So self-leadership skills are really about us waking up and seeing who is really holding the paddle (what belief? what attitude? what state of mind? what habit? what intention? ) and growing up (are you responding with vengeance or compassion? fear or curiosity? Are you ‘right’ or is your intention ‘righteous’?).
Let’s open this wider: By blaming external forces for my experience – a.k.a. the a**hole – I’m also cutting myself off from owning my power. If I want to tap into the power of the Universe, I have to own everything – how I feel and how I reacted, even if it’s ugly. But if I deny how I feel, or spew that ugliness into the world, by the sheer law of the universe (this is science!), it will be returned to me. It will be reflected in the world around me – the world will vomit on me and all that I desire will be denied.
All I will see is anger. All I will know is anger. All my power will be invested in anger.
That’s how it works. I have activated the Law of Attraction, and, now, well, you know, everyone around me becomes an a**hole. And, from this awareness, we can see and understand what’s happening around the world and how we may be unknowingly contributing to the frequency of ‘discontent’ and the message of ‘not enough’.
The real skill is recognition.
Recognizing the patterns that are suppressing us on a personal and collective level, reveal that division and inequity are symptoms of something deeper:
If we are inherently connected, then it is evident that the idea that we are separate is the root cause of our suffering and of our inability to rise. If anyone has ever studied the ideology and force of imperialism, you’d recognize the pattern of what is happening in all its absolute forms. Imperialism evolves just like COVID, a virus developing and morphing into a new disguise each time. It wears a new cloak, reinventing itself, just like those who are in the business of going bankrupt and starting new corporations, leaving the rest of the world to absorb the loss. This viral behavior takes over our home – body, mind, and spirit: the external Oikos of colonization (property), politics (structure), and the internal religion (family).
And that’s what we’re really talking about. We’re talking about behavior that’s affected by the nucleus – by the intention of that behavior. If the intention of that behavior is to be a survivor then, well, you know, life will be over soon enough.
However, if the intention is to share the vessel of our eternal survivorship, we will (think thoughts) remember that we’re all interconnected and we will understand that by excluding others we’re cutting ourselves off from the very root of our humanity. That’s when we will recognize that, yes, indeed, we’re not just talking about hope. It’s inevitable — the Law of Cause and Effect, Attraction and Love will conspire to reveal our freedom.
And this is what we can trust!
** There is much debate on how many thoughts the average human has. Some reports say 6,000 – 10,000, others over 12,000, and still others like the NSF (National Science Foundation) that report 60,000-80,000. Though the numbers vary significantly, it’s important to note that thousands of thoughts are rising, and that over 90% are repetitive and more than half (if not more) are negative. That’s a lot of power favoring the Dark Side.
If free wIll is the ability to choose the thoughts you want to think, then what belief is calling for free will?