P1 In its positive, natural version, the links of this chain are the following: life’s basic abundance and generosity; its overwhelming “givingness”; humanity’s similar and hence compatible attitude; self-possession; the ability to deal realistically and constructively with frustration; being true to the issue, the self, the moment. The links in the negative chain reaction are: life’s limitation and enmity against humanity; humanity’s defensive pettiness of spirit; self-alienation; the false, destructive reaction to frustration; living for the sake of approval and impressing others or—often simultaneously—for the sake of rebelling against others to prove independence of spirit.
The very essence of life is its truly limitless fertility and givingness. It sprouts forth forever new and more varied experiences of bliss, self-expression, fascination. It is everything, literally everything, that the mind can conceive of, including, of course, limited, negative manifestations. One might almost say that the misguided focusing on this limited expectation of life is a trick of the human mind. Then, finding again the truth of being is a simple click of the mind.
P2 Only when life’s manifestation and your consciousness appear inseparable does the rift mend and life begin to become what it potentially is. Your compatibility with life lies in trusting it and building on this trust; in knowing that it is unlimited and that it brings forth exactly according to your expectation, attitude, and concept. The firmer this conviction becomes as you repeatedly experience this truth, the more trustful, relaxed, positive, creative, and generous you become.
There will be none of the petty defenses, pseudoprotections, and pretenses that one who distrusts life inevitably adopts. When you look closer at those defenses, you will see that underneath them lies doubt in life’s essential benignness. The next step in the chain reaction is self-possession versus self-alienation. Only when you fully own yourself can you give yourself safely and thus find self-renewal in the giving of the self. Each step of giving seems to involve the risk of losing. Only when you own yourself can you take such a risk. If you do not own yourself you have nothing to give. You are poor. For the richness of life is within you.
When you ignore this fact and build your values and your foundation outside yourself, you become more and more impoverished and hence can give nothing away. Your attitude toward giving of your feelings, as opposed to receiving good feelings from others, is the criterion by which we can determine whether the chain reaction is positive or negative in any aspect of your life. Most human beings wish to receive all the love possible, but are really not willing to give any, although they try to convince themselves that they would love if only they were loved first.
What are the elements that determine self-possession? The first is the ability to deal with frustration, with life apparently saying “No” to you. It is one thing to know theoretically that every No you experience in life, no matter from where it comes to you and how undeserved it appears to be, is ultimately your own doing; it is quite another to experience this truth. It means overcoming the often strong temptation to indulge in self-pity, resentment, complaining, and accusing. Bearing frustration implies the willingness to accept our premise, even though you cannot see it yet and may have to search until the true cause reveals itself to you.
Right acceptance is the awareness and willingness to see that every frustration is self-produced and voluntarily pushed out of sight. In effect, the person expresses this attitude into life: “There is no need to suffer for the rest of my life. I am willing, with all my heart and with the best investment of myself, to find the cause and change it. Therefore, I know that life will yield the fulfillment that I desire and deserve all the more since I act as an adult who does not claim any special dispensations for his ignorance and destructiveness.”
P4 When the small, momentary frustration or difficulty or disappointment is dramatized into a tragedy and induces a person to have a negative outlook on life, then a destructive “acceptance” is operating. The second prerequisite for self-possession is being true to yourself. It means living for the truth of the issue that momentarily is problematic; it means being true to your own feelings, opinions, and innermost expressions rather than those of others; it means being true to the truth of the moment, which may be so disguised by complicated twists in the minds of everyone involved that, again, it requires wanting to see a reality beyond the apparent one.
This inner reality reveals itself when the self is willing to sacrifice its self-will, pride, and fear—its defenses—for the sake of what is most positive under the circumstances. Submitting and appeasing lead to nothing but sharp resentments and further feelings of injustice. You must dispense with the prideful desire to prove yourself better than others and to impress the world. However you also must dispense with the equally damaging tendency to prove your independence by blind and meaningless rebellion. I recapitulate: When the self is concerned only with its appearance in the eyes of others, regardless of the circumstances, it lacks self-possession.
On the other hand, when the self is concerned only with proving that it does not care about others’ views and thus blindly rebels, there is again no self-possession. The complications cease when you commit yourself over and over again to the ultimate truth in every issue of your life. It is not easy in that the ego abhors giving up its pretenses and games. It likes to play to an audience, even when none exists.
If you learn to handle frustration and remain true to the ultimate reality of your self and the situation, you will be a creatively functioning being. You will allow yourself to fully feel and pulsate, for that is the truth of being. You will accept your own temporary state not with despair but with hope, because the hope will be justified by the positiveness and realism with which you approach yourself. Life will reflect your own soul in an unending series of new self-expressions, new forms of pleasure, and depths of unifying relationships, new challenges mastered, new fascinations, and deeper well-being and peace. .
P6 The longer you dwell in the defenses of accusing and self-victimizing, the more real the limited and false life becomes and the tighter the prison doors close. Although you have erected those doors yourself, they are nevertheless prison doors and must be opened by the self. The apparent reality, which is false, draws the self that created it deeper and deeper, so that it seems almost impossible to escape.
It would be a mistake to view either the positive or the negative chain reaction as the only truth of your condition; you will find that you have both. Most human beings are somewhere in the middle. They have some positive and some negative chain reactions working within them. Their path of growth lies in discovering the latter and transforming them into the former. You have to consider that there is another reality beyond the one you experience.
P7 After a while, you will perceive that this attitude (temptation to believe in the negative) is actually quite strong and obvious. For instance, it seems secure to expect the worst so that one cannot be disappointed. This is particularly important because of your inability to cope with frustration. There is also an element of spite in this negative expectation of life, as if you wanted to accuse life of being mean. These are, perhaps, the most important aspects of the fascination and attraction of a negative outlook. You must break the habit of negative expectation over and over.
You will probably experience something like the following: A limited, hopeless-seeming situation appears to offer few alternatives—usually one good one and one or several undesirable ones. If what you consider as the desirable situation does not come to pass, you succumb to the temptation to play the doom game with life, thus fortifying a negative chain reaction. But once you have challenged your negative outlook and begin to envisage new possibilities, a completely different solution may appear.
Your new vista will give you deep feelings of bliss, security, reality, and meaningfulness. Do not be misled by limited expectations of possible alternatives. Do not close doors with preconceived notions, but let life present its own manifold possibilities, which you cannot even notice when you are geared to perceive only a very few. When you can take No for an answer, you will have flexibility. You will see how very often the No turns into a Yes, once it is thoroughly understood.
—The Pathwork® Guide