Every one of us has our own unique relationship with life, which is determined by the sum total of all our life’s experiences. This shapes our belief system and even more importantly, our feelings about authority, good and evil, what is safe and unsafe, wise and unwise, etc.
Certainly, in addition to positive experiences, we have all had some difficult or hurtful experiences. Those experiences leave impressions and biases within our hearts and minds. Such impressions determine how we view and interact with the continuing stream of life events we experience.
As easy as that may be to understand, it is remarkable how this process permeates our lives, even at subtle levels. Many times, it may not be so easy to move past and evolve those biases, be they psychological, emotional, or intellectual distortions. The key here is to be aware of our feelings and what they connect to. Regardless of what we may understand about an experience, it is how we feel about it that really matters. This determines whether or not we are capable of accepting and living with it. As we let these deep feelings unravel, there comes more clarity in our interactions.
If we continue to function from our biases without the exploration required for self-awareness, those distortions can create discord in our relationships with other people. It can cause us to function in a manner that is not in harmony with life. As a result, we can compromise ourselves, situations we find ourselves in, and alienate the people involved. Lack of harmony creates disharmony and disharmony creates problems.
When our perceptions are clear, we are able to function from a place of deeper wisdom and insight. In so doing, we are more capable of healing problems and conflicts. When we act instinctively from our issues, we can inflame situations. We can lose sight of other people and not see them for who they are. When this happens, we can push them to conform to our erroneous perceptions of them. Needless to say, imposing our issues onto others can create greater tension in our relationships and in our lives as a whole.
It is extremely important for us to work on our issues. To do so is to explore our inner landscape and till the soil of our inner world. As we do this, we begin to move past our current beliefs and emotional convictions. It is truly an incredible process.
One’s growth can be likened to the unfolding of a bud to make a blossom. Yet, some therapeutic techniques attempt to, shall we say, peel back the petals one at a time to make the blossom. That is, of course, unnatural. Personal development is about understanding how the issue came to be in the first place and how that has played out in our lives. Simultaneously, it is about uncovering our foundational health, our true nature, and discovering what is needed so that our issues can self-correct. It is a very freeing and natural process.
On the other hand, we or our therapist may have preconceived, idealized notions of what we’re supposed to be like when we’re ‘self-improved.’ This pushes things in an unnatural direction. This does not work for several reasons. First, life is not that simple. Second, our preconceived notions are not based upon our true nature, but upon our issues or our therapist’s issues. Third, there is such a wide range of what our true nature might be like, that it lies beyond the grasp of preconceived notions. This is great news because we don’t have to let our own or anyone else’s preconceived notions hold us back! When we choose a therapist, we can select a person who can help us explore and unfold our issues, rather than impose what they feel our issues are or how we should be.
Admittedly, to explore our issues and deep feelings requires dedication and discernment. However, it is something that we all genuinely need to do since it will forever change our lives. In order to move beyond and heal our issues, we need to keep our true nature, that place of foundational health, in mind. As we explore our inner workings using the myriad of approaches available, staying loyal to that deepest level, our true nature, is imperative. It is the foundation of mental and emotional health, our well-being, our happiness in life.
Michael Mamas is the founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the betterment of humanity through the integration of ancient spiritual wisdom with modern rational thought. Michael Mamas helps individuals and organizations develop a deeper understanding and more comprehensive outlook by providing a ‘bridge’ between the abstract and concrete, the Eastern and Western, and the ancient and modern. Follow Dr. Mamas on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.