Part 1: The Backstory, Paving the Way to Grasp the Secret
Did you ever dream of becoming an author? Well, guess what? You are! You are the author of your life. It’s exciting to realize how much power you have. But there’s a price for that power. The price is called RESPONSIBILITY. Here’s what I mean. If I’m unhappy with my present situation, I have no one to blame but myself. After all, I’m the one who got me here. How can I be surprised by the way the story is developing when I am the one who wrote the script? It’s not enough to be an author. I also have to read what I write. So, if I don’t like the way the story is heading, I can change the script and arrive at a new ending.
Of course, the script I’m referring to is the collection of thoughts we have. That’s how we write our script. First we have thoughts. Then they lead to action. Finally, our life is created by the series of actions we take. Obviously, then, our thoughts have immense significance. Because of their importance, I should always be reading the script (remain aware of my thoughts). When I do so, I can change them when necessary and stay in control of my life. But if I just sit back and allow my thoughts to take me where they will, I turn over the control of my life to the whims of fate.
My mind, then, is not a container to fill with thoughts, but a fire to forge and shape them. After hammering my negative thoughts on the anvil of awareness, I have to shape them into positive thoughts. How else can I create my destiny? Perhaps it was with these ideas in mind that Dorothea Thompson Brande wrote, “Man’s mind is not a container to be filled but rather a fire to be kindled.”
In addition to author, another metaphor for how we create our lives is that of sculptor. For example, French Biologist Alexis Carrel wrote, “Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.” Yes, it takes effort to chip away the marble, but isn’t the unveiling of a magnificent work of art worth it? Cathy Better points out our awesome responsibility: “Life is raw material. We are artisans. We can sculpt our existence into something beautiful, or debase it into ugliness. It’s in our hands.”
So, how do we begin creating our masterpiece? We start out by tuning into what’s troubling us, holding us back, or preventing us from being happy. What painful emotions are disturbing you? What negative thoughts are plaguing you? Don’t run away from them, suppress them, wallow in them, hide from them, placate them, or give in to them. Instead, face, welcome, embrace, and use them to create a better you.
What is the best way to create a new me? It is by chipping away at the marble one piece at a time. It is small action steps and constant hammering that will transform me. Let’s look at an example. Suppose I’m shy and unhappy about it. Merely repeating “I am very confident” or “I am growing confident” cannot help very much when the statements are not true. Nothing succeeds like success. What I really need to make progress is to experience success. Affirmations are fine to begin with as they point the way. They are roadmaps; they are pictures of where I want to go, which is good. But what I really need is positive experience, which I can obtain only by taking action.
So, what do I do? The first steps to take are reflection and questioning. After experiencing the pain of shyness, I use it to reflect by saying to myself, “I’m not confident, but want to become so.” Next, I unleash enormous power by asking myself questions. For instance, “What can I do to become more confident?” The question shifts my focus from a problem (shyness) to possible solutions. After asking the question, action steps that I can take immediately come to mind. For example, I can join a support group, talk to friends and ask for their advice, go to the library or a bookstore for a book on how to overcome shyness, do a search on the Internet, take a public speaking course or join Toastmasters International, or take an assertiveness course. Next, I ask myself which one of these solutions will I begin and when will I start. In other words, I make a plan and start chipping away at the marble.
As you can see, being the author or sculptor of our lives is all about taking responsibility. The opposite of assuming responsibility is assigning blame. Be careful; sometimes we are so clever at assigning blame that we are unaware of doing so. “Oh, I could do that too, if I had the money, were younger, were healthier, had the time, had the education, or had the support of others.” Did you ever have thoughts like that? Those thoughts are unproductive. They don’t take us anywhere. They just hold us back. The cure to such fruitless thinking is to shine a spotlight on those irrational thoughts by asking probing questions. For instance, “Isn’t it true that many people, when compared to me, achieved success when they were poorer, older, sicker, busier, less educated, and with less support from others?” When I ask such a question, it becomes clear the fault doesn’t lie with fate, but with my own reluctance to master it.
Something that will help me master life is to change my negative probability thinking into positive possibility thinking. Why say, “I will probably fail” when I can say, “I will possibly succeed”? Don’t they have the same meaning? The outcome of both statements is uncertain. But the focus is different. One focuses on failure and the other on success. If it’s success that I want, shouldn’t it be the object of my attention?
The Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz nicely sums up the point of this article, “Some people say they haven’t yet found themselves. But the self is not something one finds; it is something one creates.” Finally, I will end with another good point, which was taken from the Internet.
You are not a bag of genes. You are not a bundle of conditioned reflexes. You are not a two-legged animal with an overgrown intellect. You are not your car, your job, your clothes, income, house, watch, or savings account. You are not a large blob of hormones. You are not a slave of brain chemicals. You are not a cluster of instincts. You are not a bucket of flaws. You are not a puppet of television, music, video games, pop culture, or peer pressure. You are not a self in desperate need of esteem. You are not the end-product of events that happened when you were two. You are not measured by the size of your salary, expense account, or stock options. Unless you let yourself be.
Part 2: Life’s Greatest Secret
Human beings are incredible creatures. After all, we’ve landed a space craft on the moon and a probe on an asteroid. Yet, throughout life we need guidance. Children depend on their parents, teachers, friends, books, TV, and computers to acquire knowledge. And as we grow into adulthood we search for knowhow. HOW can I become successful? HOW can I lead a happy life? HOW can I find meaning and purpose? HOW can I get along with others? HOW can I have peace of mind? HOW can I experience a fulfilling life?
These nagging questions have spawned a self-help industry and the burgeoning field of life coaches. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could all afford to hire Brendon Bouchard (one of the world’s finest coaches) as our personal guide? With his guidance, how could we not succeed?
I’m afraid most of us could not afford to hire Brendon. Something else we cannot afford is to overlook life’s greatest secret. And what is that? Simply this: If we want to lead an exciting, rewarding, and happy life, we don’t have to buy self-help books, attend expensive seminars, purchase audio courses, or spend countless hours doing research. No, all we have to do is follow the guidance of our very own personal life coach, the mentor that is always at our side and eager to help.
This coach or mentor is referred to by different names including Higher Self, True Self, Divine Self, Unconditioned Self, Unlimited Self, Soul, Conscience. Throughout the day we make a myriad of choices. Should I get up early in the morning or late in the morning? Should I forgive my neighbor or hold a grudge? Should I spend more money than I earn or regularly save a portion of my earnings for emergencies and retirement? For each decision we have to make, Our Higher Self is by our side, suggesting what action to take.
The problem is we often don’t hear, don’t listen, or turn a deaf ear to the wisdom of our Higher Self. If we paid Brendon Bouchard $25,000 to attend his three or four day workshop, you can be sure we would listen carefully, for we are conditioned to value what is expensive. But the counsel of our Higher Self is free. No wonder we undervalue it and take it for granted. But to neglect its advice is folly and to heed it is the beginning of wisdom.
But the main reason for our failure to listen to our Higher Self is the competing voices in our head. One urging us to do what is best for us, the other, what is ‘safest’ for us. The second voice is that of our subconscious. Our subconscious does a magnificent job when it comes to storing our memories and regulating our body (respiration, heart rate, body temperature, etc.). And its wish to protect us from harm and pain is commendable; unfortunately, however, it is grossly incompetent when it comes to offering guidance. You see, it is mentally equivalent to a child of 2~6 years of age.
Let’s look at an example. Alex is a senior high school student. His teacher has given the class an assignment that everyone must do and an optional assignment that willing students can do for extra credit. Should he just do the compulsory assignment or do both? Alex hears two voices in his head. The first says, “Our teacher is offering us the opportunity to do more than is expected, a trait that will help one to succeed in life. I welcome the challenge and will do my best on both assignments.” The second voice says, “One assignment is bad enough, but two assignments would be overwhelming. I don’t feel like studying that hard. I’d rather have spare time to hang out with my friends.”
The first voice is Alex’s Higher Self, the voice of eternal wisdom, a voice that is striving to bring out the best in Alex. The second voice is his subconscious, the voice of a frightened six-year-old that is scared of hard work and failure, so it would rather do nothing more than what is absolutely necessary. Which voice should Alex follow, his Higher Self that is guiding him on the path to greatness or his subconscious that seeks the easy and safe road? Which voice should you listen to, your Higher Self or your subconscious?
Life’s greatest secret, then, is that whether we are aware of it or not, we are on a path to greatness—if we follow the advice of our personal guide. To take advantage of life’s greatest secret, follow these steps.
1. Learn to recognize your decision points. We make innumerable decisions each day, but most of the time they are made reactively, impulsively, thoughtlessly, and automatically. Be aware of your decisions.
2. Recognize which voice you are listening to. Is it the inspirational voice of your Higher Self or the voice of a frightened child (your subconscious) that is afraid of hard work and responsibility?
3. With each decision you make, actively seek out your Higher Self. The more you call upon it, the stronger your bond with it will grow.
4. When following the advice of your Higher Self, expect resistance from your subconscious. But don’t fight or struggle with the resistance because what we resist persists. Rather, welcome any resistance, discomfort, or fear that you feel because it is a sign that you are on the path of growth. (You must be willing to accept the ‘pain’ of giving birth to a new you.) Also, remember, although its resistance may be counterproductive, your subconscious has a good intention at heart. It’s trying to protect you. So, thank your subconscious for trying to help and explain to it that you will be following another path for the good of both of you, and ask it to please support you. Also explain that although you respect and support it, from now on, unless specified otherwise, you will be making all the decisions on how to run your life.
5. Keep a journal to record your actions, triumphs, and learning experiences. This action will help further strengthen the bond between you and your Higher Self.
Caveats and Tips
1. Don’t be frightened by any suggestions of your Higher Self that would force you to take a
g-i-a-n-t step out of your comfort zone. It will never suggest something you cannot do. You may not be aware of all your capabilities, but your Higher Self is. So trust it.
2. Your Higher Self is the gateway to a magnificent life. It offers its guidance without asking for anything in return. But to blossom as it wants you to, you need to completely accept self-responsibility and surrender to its guidance.
3. Although little will be asked of you, you will be expected to persist and work hard. Both of which will prove to be a very small price to pay for the rewards life will bring you.
4. To delve into this subject more deeply and get much more out of it, check out the resources at the end of this article and visit your neighborhood library or bookstore.
5. Your subconscious is an expert in rationalizing. Don’t be tricked. For example, if you find yourself thinking, “I would love to do what my Higher Self is suggesting, but I cannot because of a mental, physical, or emotional handicap,” that is just an excuse. Remember that you Higher Self will never suggest something you are incapable of doing.
6. If, despite what I wrote in #5 above, you still feel that you are incapable of carrying out your Higher Self’s suggestion, please understand that It doesn’t take ability; it takes willingness. The willingness creates the ability. Keep in mind that in order to get what you don’t have, you must be willing to do what you haven’t done.
7. The path to greatness is simple. All we have to do is follow the guidance of our Higher Self. Although the path is simple, it is, nevertheless, difficult because it requires considerable effort. However, regardless how much effort may be required, we have more than enough inner strength to follow through. So, don’t get discouraged or feel overwhelmed.
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer
SQ 21: The Twenty-One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence by Cindy Wigglesworth
Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self by Richard Rohr
3 Seconds to Being Your Higher Self by Arielle Hecht
Brendon Burchard: How NOT to Set Goals (Why S.M.A.R.T. goals are lame)
Brendon Burchard: Motivation — Myth of Limiting Beliefs
Wallace Wattles: The Science of Being Great
Listen for free on YouTube