Abbreviated excerpts from BLINDED BY FEAR: Insights from the Pathwork® Guide on How to Face our Fears, Chapters 1 and 6:
We all need the sustenance of affection, warmth and acceptance of our uniqueness in order to thrive. But when our need to receive these things goes unfulfilled, our psyche takes a hit. For just as our bodies need pleasure, so do our souls. Without it, our growth will be stunted.
As children, we were all dependent on having our needs met by others. We needed to receive. In addition, children have a need to give. So while we readily recognize the frustration that came from not receiving enough, we tend to overlook the frustration of not sufficiently giving.
As we grow up, it is understood that a child who didn’t receive enough may find it difficult to give of themselves, but usually we stop there. To better heal the damage of not receiving enough—beyond realizing that we are not helpless regarding our past and we can now establish a new balance—we must also recognize that a far worse pain of frustration was created when we couldn’t give what we had.
By overly focusing on the aspect of lack of receiving, a generation of self-pitying people has been created who felt they’d been shortchanged by life because they didn’t receive enough. They became parents who were emotionally crippled, and this led to over-giving in the next generation. Rather than feeling the pain of their frustration and seeking to find a healthy balance, they created a generation of helicopter parents.
Giving and Receiving
The continuum of giving and receiving is a soul movement that must flow. And in order for us to be healthy and to feel fulfilled, we need to be part of this ongoing process. We do that by allowing these forces to function, passing positive forces onto others and receiving what others are letting flow into us.
So the possibility always exists for us to give in a healthy way. Instead, too often we heap more pain onto our heads by withholding what we have to give. This pain is actually far worse than the pain of not having received enough.
Think of it this way. If more of anything builds up, a tension will be created. And this overfullness is not going to feel good. So if we are holding back our real self because we feel fear, we’re going to feel that tension. As such, we are pained as much by our not giving as by whatever it is we complain about not getting.
For a long time, religion has taken the lopsided approach of over-emphasizing giving: It’s more blessed to give than to receive. By constantly stressing the need to give love, give mercy or give understanding, loving seems to be a pious command that is fulfilled by way of sacrifice. People go on to develop the hidden belief that to love is to impoverish oneself. If we don’t suffer in our loving or shortchange ourselves in some fashion, it’s not considered real love.
We are pained as much by our not giving as by whatever it is we complain about not getting.
To this day, many people’s unconscious concept of love includes certain actions that go against their own best interests. In short, love is seen as a pleasureless, sacrificial, depriving act that impoverishes us for the sake of being “good.” No wonder we fear loving.
Religions have historically also denied the pleasurable feelings that love causes in the body, accusing them of being sinful. From this perspective, people must either give into its spontaneous manifestations and become “wicked”, or we cut out the very feelings that make up its force and love as an unpleasant duty. No wonder love is rejected.
We can ask ourselves: Where am I holding onto an old grudge or an old perspective that leaves others out due to a resentment or some kind of censorship? Am I willing to allow a new attitude to surface from the depths of myself, to see things in a new light?…If we can let go enough to give up our destructive attitude, whatever that might be, we will embark on a whole new way of living: We’ll start living from the inside out. This is the healing we’ve been seeking and hoping for. This is the how it comes about. It can’t come any other way.
Our Basic Error
We are under the mistaken impression that if we add to life, we’ll deprive ourselves. This, as one can readily imagine, creates a barrier to wanting to give to life. Conversely, we are of the wrong belief that only by grabbing for what we want—being solely concerned with attaining our own little advantage—can we nourish ourselves. This, we think, is the way to do justice to our desires and pleasure.
Such ingrained ideas motivate us to behave the way we do. And then here comes trouble. And frustration. Because the falseness behind these convictions makes us act, think and feel in ways that are damaging to everyone, including ourselves. Since we’re not aware of how powerful such a wrong conviction can be—heck, we’re often not even aware it’s a wrong conviction—we don’t understand why our efforts aren’t leading us to rewards. We become increasingly confused, setting off painful chain reactions whose nature we can’t comprehend.
Here’s the basic error: It’s never me versus the other. Nothing could be further from the truth. It will be helpful if we can meditate on all the places this error shows up in our lives. Once we see how much this belief is playing out on the level of our ego, our goal is to try to comprehend, from another level of our being, how the opposite is true. For that’s the truthful view.
Here’s the basic error: It’s never me versus the other.
Confront this mistaken concept of the ego with the deeper knowing that only by desiring to give to life—to add something to creation—can we experience pleasure. There is no pleasure we can think of that needs to be denied us. This will set the gears of our psyche going in a positive direction. We’ll start moving in a constructive direction such that even the highest pleasure can and will manifest for us. We will activate our own selves, but not as a selfish move. We’ll replace the incorrect “me versus the other” attitude, which leads to isolation, with “me and the other.”
When our psyche becomes geared toward “me and the other,” the apparent conflict between giving and receiving will disappear. We will no longer refuse to give to life. Deep sorrow and suffering, then, will also cease. Guilt and frustration will be no more. The terrible see-saw in which we suffer from isolation, reach out, succeed and then push people away, will end. Our struggle will be over.
As long as our psyche is geared to go in a negative direction, we’ll fear intimate contact. Union, then, will seem frightening. For who’s it going to be: Me or the other? Who will win? And if it feels frightening to pursue our destructive aims—which it will—everything becomes dangerous. It’s dangerous to explore ourselves, it’s dangerous to make contact with someone, and it’s especially dangerous to give ourselves up to the bliss of union.
That we must desperately avoid because it threatens to cost us our control. And without our control, our destructive tendencies could take over and threaten annihilation. So giving up control looks a lot like death. We’ll be giving up our safety if we give up our self-will. This is what really goes on as long as we hang on to our destructive aims by offering them a safe haven in our psyche.
When we switch from believing in a “me versus other” world to “me and the other,” we won’t fear loss of control.
This is why it seems to the immature psyche that the only smart thing to do is to build barriers around the self. Only this will keep the self intact. The built-in tragedy here is that as long as we allow our destructive goals to go unchecked, isolation will be what gives us a sense of identity. It will seem like the best option for preserving our individuality.
But in fact, the only way that loss of control leads to death or loss of self-power is in this negative context. Ultimately, the endgame of this conflict is mental disturbance.
When we switch from believing in a “me versus other” world to “me and the other,” and correspondingly desire to give who we are and what we have to life, we won’t fear loss of control. Because letting go of ego control will actually lead to having more control, and in a healthier, fuller sense. A constructive psyche can be trusted to be spontaneous and free. It can give itself up to inner powers that get along very nicely with life. So we can flow with life and enjoy the unity of all that is.
The Common Denominator
If we look closely, we’ll see that every problem can be brought down to a simple common denominator: we fear giving of ourselves, and instead are feeding a destructive attitude. This is why we have the problem. The trouble is, our withholding and our belief in “me versus the other” set off negative chain reactions, and they really are damaging to us. This makes it look like our wrong conclusion that “it’s me versus the other” was right. This snowballs until our problems have turned into avalanches.
For many of us, we have the peculiar experience of creating positive self-perpetuating chain reactions in one part of life—where everything proceeds fairly easily—while in our problem areas, people and life respond in a totally opposite way. What we don’t realize is that in these two areas, we have completely different responses to life.
Good can’t exist on its own. It has to communicate.
It’s our own outlook that’s responsible for our “good luck” or “bad luck.” We’re the ones behind the curtain determining fulfillment or frustration. That’s why it’s so incredibly important that we take the time to figure out what we actually think and feel. Self-confrontation is our way through to the other side. Giving up our resistance is our key.
Good can’t exist on its own. That’s just the nature of anything good. It has to communicate. It has to include others. Yet we fear offering our best, and this holding back creates tension and anxiety in us. From here, it appears safer to remain unproductive and barren. We feel uncomfortable receiving, but that’s only because we fear giving of ourselves.
In this immature state, we have this childish, selfish aim to receive as much as we can and give as little as possible. This of course can never happen, not only because it’s an unfair deal for everyone else, but because it doesn’t correspond to truth and to spiritual law. And these laws can’t be broken; they contain their own order.
It’s a simple mathematical equation really: We will no longer feel cheated by life when we no longer cheat life by withholding from it. We can use this formula to our advantage. We should use it as much as we can. We should want to use it! It holds healing power for transforming a dull life into a dynamic one. It will lead us out of aloneness and into abundance in every respect. Test the truth of these words, friends, and life will reveal its limitless possibilities.
1 The Mother of All Fears: Fear of Self
2 Fully Facing our Fear of Loving
3 Finding Freedom and Peace by Overcoming Fear of the Unknown
4 Finding True Abundance by Going Through Our Fear
5 Giving up our Fear-Filled Struggle to Guard our Secrets
6 The Painful Predicament of Both Desiring and Fearing Closeness
7 How Fear of Releasing the Little Ego Spoils Happiness
8 Three Things that Underpin Self-Fulfillment
9 Our Fundamental Fear of Bliss
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