P1 Evil and destruction can work in you through the basic misconception that self-centeredness will protect you from hurt or bring you a reward. You may be aware of your fears without realizing that they come from being overconcerned with your own person and your fear of being hurt. “In my ignorance I believe—perhaps unconsciously so far—that selfishness will bring me reward, will protect me from hurt. In what way have I been selfish? In what way has my conclusion been wrong from this viewpoint? What is the right conclusion?”
In every image you will find inferiority feelings, guilt feelings, hostility, hate, aggression, ignorance, resentment, childish selfishness, fear, and a few other obstructive forces. But if you want to rid yourself of self-centeredness because you sincerely consider the other person, because you wish to bring happiness and love into your surroundings regardless of your own possible hurts, then the motive is pure and you will eventually succeed.
P3 If your search shows you again a trend you already know, it means that you have not used this knowledge properly. You have not yet applied it to all levels of your being. You have not assimilated it completely. You have not made connections between this knowledge and other trends. You have not realized the full significance, meaning, and consequences of this trend. Therefore, you need to continue working with the recognition. Coming up from your own unconscious this particular trend tells you, “You will find me as often as is necessary. If you can find me again, it means you have not used this knowledge to the full extent.” Every image is interwoven with guilt. It is important to understand that there are two kinds of guilt—unjustified guilt and justified guilt.
P4 What are absurd guilts? They are most of all the guilts you feel because you are not perfect. It cannot be recommended enough that you try to replace hatred, resentment, aggression with love and unselfishness. But before you can do that, you must first acknowledge and accept your present state of development—your present inability to feel different than you do—instead of wanting to immediately become more than you are now. Guilt about the sexual drive is unjustified, absurd guilt.
It may be true that your sexual energy does not flow in the right channel because it does not merge with love. That it does not is precisely because you have felt guilty about it and suppressed awareness of it as much as you could. Hence your sexual drive could not mature with the rest of your personality and integrate with warm, loving, giving, unselfish feelings. Instead, it has remained childish in its self-directedness and egotism. Your unconscious sexual fault, therefore, lies in the misdirection and separateness of your sexual drive rather than in its existence as such. The remedy is not to eliminate the sexual drive but to cease to be afraid of love.
When you hurt other people in your ignorant belief that selfishness is your protection—whether you hurt them actively or passively, by commission or omission—then your guilt is justified. Being imperfect should not in itself make you feel guilty. But the guilt for hurts you inflict on others—no matter how unintentional—out of your imperfection, blindness, and ignorance is justified guilt that you should meet squarely and courageously.
P5 What would be healthy and constructive? It would be to say to yourself, “I could not help it in the past. I was ignorant and blind and selfish. I was too much of a coward to dare to love and forget my own little ego. I admit that I have hurt other people by this attitude and I am now willing to learn exactly how I hurt them. It makes no difference whether I inflicted the hurt by deed, word, thought, or emotional reaction; by what I have done or left undone. I truly want to change. With the help of God I will succeed. In order to do so, I must clearly see the direct or indirect hurts my attitude has inflicted upon others.”
There are three possible wrong reactions as you recognize the hurts you have inflicted on others: hopelessness about yourself—the negative, destructive guilt feelings that make you despair of yourself; self-justification—the blaming of others for real or imagined wrongs that “forced” you to react that way; or denial—the fearful refusal to look at imperfection which may not fit into the picture you have of yourself.
P6 But wherever fear of being hurt, fear of disappointment, or fear of life’s risks exists, emotional maturity does not exist. Emotional maturity means being unafraid to pay the price of living. And the price of living includes an occasional hurt or disappointment. In emotional maturity you will no longer fear your positive feelings, either, because you will accept an occasional hurt. You will risk expressing your positive feelings rather than withholding them from others, because enveloping the other with warmth, comfort, and tenderness is more important than what might happen to you later. Emotional maturity means being able to make a full decision and to accept that you cannot have your cake and eat it too.
P8 Rightly understood, positive thinking means knowing that everything must turn to good, finally, because the divine power is the absolute truth and cannot be conquered by destructive forces. But that does not mean that you can simply do away with the effects of your own past and present errors. The most constructive attitude is a positive acceptance of yourself and life’s risks. It includes the humility of accepting yourself as you are now.
Positive thinking tends to be in a hurry believing one can whisk away deep-rooted personality problems—problems that require patience and perseverance to dissolve—by resorting to a mere formula. Acceptance shows the humility and patience to take any unpleasant result as a healthy medicine. However, it does not mean being pessimistic or looking forward to negative happenings if they are unnecessary. In its sick sense, acceptance fosters masochistic tendencies, hopelessness, and the self-deception of indulging in resignation that is not only unnecessary but sickly. It fosters wrong guilt feelings and seeks to punish the self for them.
P9 Question: In other words, one’s expectation of failure or success in an undertaking has no bearing whatsoever? Answer: One’s attitude always has a bearing, but you cannot say that an optimistic attitude brings a good result and a pessimistic outlook a bad one. Underneath both the positive and negative attitudes something else may be hidden. The important point is not so much what you consciously think. It is much more important to learn to become aware of what you unconsciously feel.
A mere thinking formula can never be truly effective in getting what you consciously want. Only through understanding yourself will you finally find the right attitude toward a forthcoming venture. Until you gain the right understanding, the recommended attitude is neutrality: let go of your self-will without being either optimistic or pessimistic. Just wish to learn from anything that happens to you. Let whatever happens be an indication of where you are and what problems to tackle.
You can consider any happening as a reflex of your unconscious reactions. Focusing your attention on recognizing the inner roots of outer events will give you the key to your life. You will just naturally be; you will take life as it comes. And you will have success and failure. Life should bring both, and you will be equipped to meet both. Both will make you strong. Become strong in it and meet life as you should. For in this way you will become loving men and women.
—The Pathwork® Guide