Minding the Gap: What Stops Us From Being Happy?

Part 1 (of 3)

For many, there’s a gap between what we say we want in life—fulfillment, satisfaction, success, happiness, peace—and what we’re actually getting out of life—confusion, frustration, tension, exhaustion. Why is there this gap? And really, why bother trying to close the gap if, in the end, it seems like darkness will keep winning anyways?

It may be helpful to realize that, no, ultimately darkness will not destroy us all. Although temporarily it can do a nice job of spoiling our picnic. The reason that darkness can’t win in the long run is simply this: the greater our darkness, or negativity, the lower our awareness.

We can close the gap.

Consider the fact that if consciousness were allowed to expand—if people were able to wake up—and self-purification were not a necessary, simultaneous part of that process, then evil could indeed destroy the divine. So there’s a built-in mechanism to assure that never happens: Negativity automatically dulls awareness.

In other words, opting to remain in the dark about our own negativity closes off our ability to perceive what’s going on in and around us. As a result, blindness, deafness, dumbness and numbness set in. And these don’t just happen in our bodies. They’re happening inside us. In fact, as is always the case, our outer experience is just a reflection of what’s going on within.

So when we are steeped in negativity:

  • We can’t hear our wiser Higher Self voice—also known as guidance—speaking to us.
  • It’s a struggle to speak our own truth.
  • We’re disconnected from our own feelings, so our own immature behavior is confusing to us.
  • We can’t see how we are contributing to our struggles.
  • We can’t see what others are doing with their negativity to deceive us or harm us.

In such a limited state, we are not only quite ignorant, we are also quite powerless. For we are cut off from the center of our being where divine light always shines and all of life is in connection. The only way to come out of our darkened state is through our consistent effort to get to know ourselves.

Know Thyself

Developmentally speaking, humans are in the state of consciousness where there is at least some self-awareness. This means we realize we can affect others with our decisions and behaviors. It also means we’re at the point of taking self-responsibility. After all, humans don’t operate according to instincts but rather according to our own choices.

For example, we can use our free will to express ourselves. And we tend to do so in whatever way aligns with our current level of development. Clearly, for humans, these levels are all over the map. For we’re all made of both goodness and darkness, and it’s just a question of which part is in the lead. Most of us are somewhere in the middle. But we’re all souls that are not yet fully purified.

As we clear away our negativity, more power will be available to us.

When we’re lower in spiritual development, the untapped potency of our consciousness will be protected by our lack of awareness. For if we were aware of how much power we have to create while we are still swimming in negativity, we would cause more harm than we already do.

Instead, our own negativity mires us in disharmony. Our unpleasant life experiences then become our medicine. For if we face into them and unwind them, we’ll start healing. And that’s what starts closing the gap.

Then, as we clear away our negativity—by clearing away our faults—more and more power will be available to us. For the more inner housecleaning we do, the more we live in truth. And living in truth is synonymous with living in peace and harmony. And these of course lead to having happy, fulfilling and satisfying lives.

The question is: How do we clear away our negativity and close this gap?

The Four Big God-Blockers

There are four big God-blockers we need to find and clean up. The first three are pride, self-will and fear. The fourth is shame. Here’s how they fit together.

Between our physical body and our divine spark, or Higher Self, there is a layer in our psyche. And in this layer the ego exists, with all its vanity, pride, fear and ambition. It is in this layer that our longing for love transposes into a longing to receive love. This ego layer believes there’s nothing better than receiving love without taking any risk that we’ll get hurt. So for the ego, remaining aloof and detached is a highly desirable state.

If we had no shortcomings, we would have no fear.

This is the origin of pride, which essentially says “I am better” and “I am separate.” With these sentiments tucked under our belt, we don’t believe we can ever be loved, accepted, seen and respected the way we want. (Actually, we’re right about this, because love can’t come to those who hold themselves back and won’t give.) This leads to the untrue belief that we are not lovable. And this causes us to feel unhealthy shame that there is something wrong with us: We’re not good enough, we’re not lovable, we don’t matter.

This wrong thinking leads us to use our self-will to demand love and respect. We’ll force others both overtly, using aggression, and covertly, using submission. But love can’t come this way. So none of our strategies ever work. This causes us to withhold ourselves even more.

Then fear says “I’ll never get it!” “It” is essentially love, but this often spreads out to include all the things we have swapped out for love, hoping they will be bring us the fulfillment we now crave. In our growing fear that we’ll never get our needs met, tension and anxiety build.

In truth, if we had no shortcomings, we would have no fear. And it’s fear that makes us so miserable. This same fear blinds us to how joyful life can be. But using the tools that the Pathwork Guide is giving us, we have the ability to break the chains of fear.

Introducing Guilt and Shame

Part of us, deep in our belly, has known all along that none of this is in truth. And from that gap between our current reality and our deep inner truth, guilt arises. This is a false guilt, for if it were authentic guilt for something we had done wrong, the answer would be genuine remorse. Instead, we’re left with gnawing guilt that eats at us relentlessly from the inside.

Similarly, if our shame were the right kind, the answer would be repentance. This the kind of healthy shame motivates us to do our self-healing work. The wrong kind of shame leads further into darkness and does not help us at all in untangling these twisted threads.

So then how do we find these threads and untangle them?

Have Faith in Truth

The Pathwork Guide teaches that it is actually better to tell a lie to someone else than to keep blindly lying to ourselves. For when we tell a lie to someone else, at least we know we are lying. But when we blindly create disharmony in our lives without seeing our part, we are lying but don’t even know it.

Our blind spots are the places where we lack awareness.

So we must discover where and how we are not in truth. Starting out, we may need to transition from “I don’t want to know,” to an attitude that says, “I want to know.” Then the next step is to follow through. For we need to start eliminating our blind spots. These are the places where we lack awareness.

Remember, behind every disharmony lies untruth. If we want to live in harmony, we must become willing to search for the untruth that lies within. This is what it means to wake up. Our ego must wake up and start to look at what we are currently choosing. We must become aware of the hidden links nestled inside us—which we are currently unaware of—that are destructive.

For it is only by finding and transforming these inner, hidden links that we can change our current undesirable situations.

Resolving Our Conflicts with Others

As we go along, working on our faults of pride, self-will and fear, we will reach a period in which we will know ourselves fairly well, but we still aren’t fully aware of others. So then we can get lost in what they create. For if we are still blind to what they are doing—we can’t see the exact nature of their negativity—we can get confused and become disturbed.

The first phase of the waking-up process is self-exploration.

If we focus on clearing ourselves further, searching for more and more honesty, we will come to a clear awareness of others and what they are up to. This will bring us peace. It will also show us the way out of our tangled up conflicts with them.

Along the way, we’ll start to see aspects—positive ones—about ourselves we hadn’t noticed before. Often, the only thing that can bring forward such previously ignored aspects is a crisis with others.

The first phase, then, of the waking-up process is self-exploration. The second phase will be to expand our knowledge of others. Typically, the first and second phases will overlap. The third phase leads us beyond the human state, into universal awareness. That is the organic path we follow when we are on this spiritual journey.

Next time, we will dive more deeply into the importance of finding and unwinding hidden untruth.

–Jill Loree

Learn more (read chapters online with membership):

Read the Entire 3-Part Series

One | MINDING THE GAP: What Stops Us From Being Happy?
Two | GETTING TO KNOW OURSELF: Where is Untruth Hiding?
Three | HEALING BY OPENING UP: Why Do We Tell Stories?

Read Original Pathwork Lectures

Read more profound teachings in the Real.Clear. series:
Holy MolyFinding GoldBible Me ThisThe PullPearlsGemsBones
Learn more about how to wake up in After the Ego
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