Living in a 100-Story House

Here is a cautionary sign to watch for as we tell our stories: building a case. This is a sure sign Lower Self is at play.
Here is a cautionary sign to watch for as we tell our stories: building a case. This is a sure sign Lower Self is at play.

Stories, stories, stories. Man, do we have some stories. And chances are, we like to bend the ear of anyone who will listen to our tales of woe. Our goal is to bring everyone and their brother over to our side—to our way of seeing things. The point is not that we shouldn’t have our stories. Nor is the point that we should stop telling our stories. We sometimes need to vent or we’ll just explode, right?

What would be more helpful though is for us to start paying attention to the pitch of our stories. To the way we’re making someone or some situation out to be the bad guy while we whitewash our own part. It’s called the Blame Game and what we’re really jacking with here is reality. We only see how we’ve been wronged. And we don’t realize that in some way, via our unconscious attitudes and beliefs, we set the whole thing up.

Let’s briefly recap how and why this is so. For starters, before we were born, our soul had acquired some unsightly dirt spots that needed special attention. So we considered the areas-in-need-of-cleaning. And we reviewed this at great length, in conversation with older and wiser Guides. Together, we created a punch list of sorts, delineating what we should try to knock off our house repair list during our upcoming lifetime. (See more in PEARLS: A Mind-Opening Collection of 17 Fresh Spiritual Teachings, the chapter called Preparing for Reincarnation: Every Life Counts.)

We carefully selected our parents for their exquisite ability to bring our distortions up to the surface in this lifetime. This is not done as a punitive measure. Rather, it’s a means for us to become abundantly aware of our soul dents, compelling us to work on resolving them in this lifetime. For none of us are nearly as inspired by the prospect of happiness as we are by our fervent desire to avoid unpleasantness.

As the Guide teaches, all our imperfections—including our faulty thinking, illusions, distortions, destructiveness and otherwise all-around negative tendencies—are merely twists on something that was originally positive and divine. And we are the ones who have done this twisting, prior to this current incarnation. So in accordance with the Law of Cause and Effect, also called karma when it spans over many lifetimes, we now need to do the cleanup work resulting from our own misguided ways.

In short, we’re here to rediscover our original face—our true beauty. And we can’t, or won’t, do that if we don’t clearly see the aspects of ourselves that have lost their shine. We can collectively sum up all of these less-than-positive qualities under an umbrella called the Lower Self. We’re here, then, to transform our Lower Selves and return our souls to their more God-like condition. This is our Higher Self. It’s the aspect of ourselves that has never been tarnished or lost its direct line to God.

There is one primary difference between the Lower Self and Higher Self. And it is this: the Lower Self serves separation and the Higher Self serves connection. Make a note of this. For every time we lose our way, we can re-orient ourselves by asking whether our choices in life are leading us in the direction of separation or connection.

Of course, in reality, few things are so black and white. Often, through a series of unfortunate choices, we find ourselves face-to-face with All Bad Options. The way out is to start making choices that connect us more deeply with our own selves, as best we know how in that moment. For that is where we will find our alignment with our Higher Self. And getting square with our own inner divine self is what will get us square with God’s will. If we get that right, the rest of our lives will begin to fall into step.

We can characterize the Lower Self by its signature moves which include being destructive and cruel. It is highly charged, since it takes Higher Self energy and distorts it. And it has no intention of changing. So another character trait of the Lower Self is laziness. In its childishness, the Lower Self wants what it wants when it wants it, and it is not willing to pay the price for having a better life experience. Ergo, the Lower Self is not going to transform itself.

This piece is critical for us to understand: the work of transforming the Lower Self is always an act of the Higher Self. We will do ourselves a great favor by continually tending to and strengthening our Higher Self container—our efforts with meditation pay off right here—so that we are able to better hold onto ourselves when the Lower Self kicks up a fuss. And that, friends, most assuredly will happen as we wend our way along any conscious path of healing.

In truth, this is no different than when we blunder our way through life just hoping for the best. Lower Self attempts to undermine our best efforts at every step. Only now, armed with the tools of these teachings and the help of someone who has gone this way ahead of us, we have a heads up. Caution, watch for Lower Self at play. This can go a long way in making turbulent times a tad easier to navigate.

For example, here is one of those cautionary signs we need to watch for: building a case. When we hear ourselves telling the stories of what’s happening in our lives, we need to start noticing any tendency to build a case against someone else. This is a sure sign Lower Self is at play. And the more we go along with this, the more we are colluding with the devious intentions of our Lower Self to keep us in separation.

In Jill’s Experience

I’d been doing this healing work for almost twenty years, following the path laid out by the Guide, when I had the good fortune of connecting with Scott, a fellow traveler on the same path. Over the course of our lengthy email exchange, which is how our relationship started off, I found myself still bringing up stale stories about “how they done me wrong because I’m a woman.” And a part of me is thinking, “Really, we’re still on this?” (See more in Word for Word: An Intimate Exchange Between a Couple of Kindred Souls.)

This, it seems, has been the story of my whole life. It started when I was born to a woefully young couple who already had a two-year-old and a four-year-old boy by the time I arrived. I heard “the boys and Jill” throughout my growing-up years. So they were a pair and I was odd-man-out, so to speak, all because I was a girl. In fairness, no one got a lot of needs met in my family. But I felt a particular form of exclusion that stemmed from my mother never fully embracing her own place in this world as a woman.

But be that as it may, I am also well aware now that I had this piece to work about being a female. For never in my life have I considered my female persuasion to be a good thing. Oh briefly, just out of college, I found myself confused by the apparent upside of having benefitted from affirmative action. But, I countered, I don’t see how being girl did squat for me on a chemistry test. I earned my good grades exactly same way the boys did: I worked for them.

In my adult life, I ended up charting a trail of unsatisfying career choices, until one day, in pain and despair, I had a blinding glimpse of the obvious: the problem must be me. And that’s about the time I found the Pathwork. The Guide’s teachings began illuminating my many areas in need of work, and I began doing this transformative work in earnest.

Like an old can of paint with the lid sealed shut, you can’t pry the thing off with just one attempt. You have to go around the top, slowly working your way through layers of old dried paint. Eventually, the thing will come loose, but not after the first little prying. That’s how this issue of grappling with being a woman has been for me.

Because it showed up in my work, and it showed up in my marriage, and it showed up in my spiritual community. Of course. The problem lives in me and so it’s going to show up everywhere I do. It’s even in my unshakable bad habit of picking on myself by picking at my cuticles. What I had never connected was that one of my other lifelong pains—the experience of being raised in a family in which I wasn’t spoken to much—was integrally connected with my belief that there was something fundamentally wrong with me: namely, that I was a woman.

I had brought this misconception in with me and then, as we do, manifested a life in which it seemed it was true; it seemed I wasn’t spoken to for the simple reason that I was a girl. Had I been a male, I could have fallen in with “the boys” and lived happily ever after. Ok, that’s not true either, but so it seemed.

So after years and years of work, I connect with this guy Scott, and we have a situation happen in which I feel he’s not talking to me. Up go my defenses, down come my walls, off runs my wounded inner child, and I am left feeling helpless and hopeless. Why does this always happen to me?

Here was the setup. Scott and I had gone on a ski-vacation together out West. Unbeknownst to us, the snow was insanely deep and still falling, and the day we arrived, another five feet of fresh snow fell. Here’s proof you can have too much of a good thing, as powder up to our knees was like skiing through a flour factory. Both of us were struggling but doing the best we could.

The following day, an avalanche closed the road to the ski hill. We delayed our start and then finally headed out to brave the elements. With Scott driving in these tough conditions, I was unaware of the funk descending over him. Fear was bubbling up and he was in his own inner reaction, but I just felt I was being tuned out. He felt very far away.

Unbeknownst to my conscious mind, this “not-talking-to-me treatment” fell into an old slot in my unconscious; Oh, here it is. I expected this. Because in this hidden part of my being a conclusion had long ago been made that the reason people don’t talk to me is I’m a girl; this is the basic, unchangeable flaw that is wrong with me. Without my conscious awareness, this wrong conclusion caused me to see Scott’s reaction through my distorted lens, and caused me not to check out what was happening. I bought the story that “Oh, this is always what happens to me.” I didn’t know to challenge my own inner misbelief.

In Scott’s Experience

I love to ski. All winter long in the east, I ski every week. But this was my first time to the resorts of western US. I had high hopes for the trip, and wanted to experience the big mountain skiing I’d heard about. Spirits were high in Sacramento when we picked up a 4×4 Jeep, but the weather deteriorated into heavy snow driving up Donner Pass.

When the windshield washer fluid froze, I had to focus all my attention seeing through the smeared front window. I’ve become a seasoned winter driver living near Buffalo, but Lake Tahoe that evening was another world. Snow was piled 20 feet high everywhere we turned and coming down hard. It’s hard to turn off the stress of navigating that.

Following an arduous drive to the resort the next morning, we found only a few trails open. Squaw Valley was struggling to open the mountain after five feet of snow overnight, and it was still coming down. We’re here, we thought, so we headed up the lifts to make the best of it. Without the right skis, technique and experience, though, it’s just a very tough time in such deep snow.

This was a huge disappointment. We found ourselves in a white-out blizzard high on the mountain, made a scary descent, and called it a day. It snowed all night, so the avalanche across the road to the resort wasn’t a good start to the next day. We struggled through a second day of impossible conditions.

I tend to turn inward in difficult conditions, particularly outdoors in nature. Some people yell, or curse, or act out, but I tend to become quiet. Some of it is listening inwardly, but some of it is the inner child in me hunkering down until the storm passes. I’m still discovering how much of each is happening, of which is which. No doubt, I was really affected by the conditions. By the third evening, I indeed had some funk on me, and I didn’t really know why.

What I didn’t have was Jill’s story about not being spoken to as a child. There was nothing in my consciousness about Jill’s ability to keep up, or handle the conditions, or the fact she was a woman. She “checked out,” but I didn’t think it was about me. To my way of seeing things, it isn’t like I wasn’t talking at all, I was just quieter than usual for a time. In truth, I wasn’t able to stay present, and things went downhill from there. Not a steep downhill, but a subtle, gentle glide.

A lot of learning was just around the corner…

Doing the Work : Healing Our Body, Mind & Spirit by Getting to Know the Self

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