I am writing to remind you of things you already know. You are often making a case for or against yourself (and others) in your own mind based on your everyday experiences. This is an exhausting and useless task because you are not defined by what someone else said or did, the events that happened to you, or your past behavior. You are not even defined by your skillful choices or achievements. The tendency to define yourself in relation to other people’s behavior (and your own) perpetuates your suffering and represents a fundamental misunderstanding of your own nature.
As you navigate your way through life, you construct an identity using what you perceive as your successes and failures. Then you defend your merits to yourself and others in an attempt to justify your worth (or you simply give up and check out).
For example, you might tell yourself (and others), “I am a nice person. I don’t deserve to be treated that way,” or, “I am a good spouse. I should be treated with respect,” or “I would never treat my kids that way. My kids are so much better behaved than their kids.” Conversely, you may think, “I am just a screw up. What’s the point?” or, “I got a divorce and now my kids are messed up forever,” or “[THIS] happened to me and now I’m not good for anyone,” or ”My spouse complains all the time. I guess I can’t do anything right.”
You could “treat” your thought symptoms by determining to think positively or to practice humility, but those remedies do not address the cause. The cause of your suffering is not that you don’t think positively or are too prideful. The problem is that you identify yourself IN RELATION to other things—such as what someone said or did, what happened to you, and your own past behavior. Negative thinking and prideful behavior are byproducts/symptoms of this mistaken identity.
Imagine yourself as the sun. Through the interaction of your warmth with the things on Earth, flowers and weeds grow, land gets parched, vitamin D gets produced, and ice melts. You are not the effects of your interactions, however. For example, you are not the flowers, weeds, drought, chemicals, or water. You are simply the sun shining on it all.
Now imagine yourself as a point of awareness. Through your interaction with the environment, you produce thoughts, words, and actions, such as your opinions about yourself and others, the anger, shame, fear, joy, and pleasure you feel, the compliments you give and the accusations you make, and all of your past behavior that you label as successes or failures. Just like the sun is not the flowers and weeds that grow as a result of its warmth, you are not the thoughts, words, and actions that result from your awareness being placed on certain things.
Why is this understanding important? The answer is because if you didn’t mistake yourself for the products of your interaction with the environment, (the collection of thoughts, words, and past behavior that you have called your “self”), you would automatically stop judging, comparing, and defending yourself (and others). You would realize that THERE IS NOTHING TO DEFEND because awareness/consciousness needs no defense.
You have the opportunity to practice the skill of knowing yourself to be the inner observer (awareness, itself) and detaching from your own story about yourself (and others). It is only through practice that you will know the freedom that comes from taking the seat of the inner witness and letting thoughts and emotions flow through you without resistance.
Notice what comes up in your mind, perhaps a strong protest about its difficulty, when considering this practice. If you knew the true freedom that exists on the other side of this mountain of an identity you’ve built, you would get busy climbing it. There is no passage around or through your mountain. Rather, it is only by your practice that you can climb to the top and see past it—gain a new perspective.
Remember, this moment is an opportunity to connect to Love and so to live into the fullness of who you are.
As always, do what best awakens you to Love,
Your Inner Wisdom