How to Hunt for Hidden Inner Obstacles
We moved the summer I turned seven, going from the tiny town of Barron, Wisconsin to the small city of Rice Lake. I had just finished second grade and didn’t yet know I would attend third grade in a whole new world. After living close to no one my age, we would now be surrounded by over a dozen neighborhood kids. Instead of playing with my brothers in the field behind our house, there would now be kick ball games most summer nights. Whereas in Barron, we rode the school bus, we would now just walk the two blocks to school, since Jefferson Elementary, Hilltop Middle School and Rice Lake High School were all just around the corner.
A lot of changes were unfolding that summer, and many were for the good. But here’s the thing that hit me the hardest: I was the last to know about the move. When I did find out—whether hours, days or weeks after my two brothers were told, I don’t know—I was crushed. This sense of not being included, of feeling left out, would echo throughout much of my life.
Age Seven Sets the Stage for Misunderstandings
It turns out, being seven is an important age in the life of a child. Because although we don’t yet understand how the world works, we are old enough to start projecting into the future. As a result, we begin to draw wrong conclusions about life: “So this is how life is,” we think. “And this is how it’s always going to be.”
In my case, I secretly concluded, “I’m not enough, and I’ll never be enough,” along with “I never make the cut.” After all, I always felt like everyone else had gotten the directions, but I was left in the dark. Armed with such unspoken statements, we now feel a bit more prepared to face life. “Now,” we think, “I see how this world works.”
Armed with unspoken statements, we feel a bit more prepared to face life.
It will take most people an entire lifetime to realize that such conclusions formed early in life are based on misunderstandings. Indeed, many will go to their graves believing their hidden wrong conclusions were right.
In fact, by the time we become adults, we’re no longer aware we even formed such conclusions based on our childhood experiences. Nonetheless, they have by now become so woven into the fabric of our being that our attitudes and behaviors reflect these beliefs. As a result, the world responds in a way that makes our wrong conclusions seem true.
Why Not Let Sleeping Dogs Lie?
Since we can no longer see our mistaken beliefs, it’s easy to assume they must be harmless, right? No, they’re not. Because they form hidden obstacles in our system—tight knots made up of wrong conclusions and the painful feelings associated with them—that today are the root cause of all our daily disharmonies. For they are at the root of our faults.
And what’s wrong with having a few faults, you ask? After all, everybody has them!
The trouble with this line of thinking is that it keeps us living in disharmony. Because this cluster of unrealized wrong conclusions and avoided painful feelings acts like a magnet. It actually draws similar life experiences to us that a) seem to validate the wrong conclusion, and b) cause us to stuff or numb the uncomfortable feelings that get triggered.
Our faults keep us living in disharmony.
To avoid feeling our less-than-pleasant feelings, we’ll use any number of distractions including eating, drinking, taking drugs, watching too much TV, gambling, playing video games, shopping, reading, daydreaming and the like. After all, disharmony doesn’t feel good. But in truth, all our false solutions only end up creating more disharmony.
Further, they never resolve the original source of the problem where it lies: inside us. Perhaps it’s time to consider another approach. Because while we can usually see where disharmony exists in our lives, we may not realize how we’re stoking it on levels we can’t see.
How We Connect with Spiritual Spheres
According to the Pathwork Guide, the universe is filled with invisible spiritual spheres. They exist on the planets in our solar system, and also in different stellar systems. On Earth alone, we harbor all kinds of overlapping spiritual spheres, spanning from the lowest levels to the highest.
This means that as a human being, we can be in a room on Earth, and at the same time be connected to a particular distant spiritual sphere. Meanwhile, another person in the same room might be connected to a different spiritual sphere that’s at an entirely different level.
As our moods shift, we emit certain currents from our soul.
The spiritual sphere we’re in contact with will be the one that corresponds with our overall spiritual development. And since none of us are completely harmonious in our development—if that were the case, we wouldn’t have to live here—the spiritual spheres we connect with will vary.
Because as our moods shift, we emit certain currents from our soul. These come from both our conscious mind and the parts of ourselves we’re unaware of. And depending on their makeup, they can link us with quite different spheres.
We’re Always Making Connections
We know from other Pathwork teachings that every human being is comprised of both a Higher Self, which is our original divine spark, and a Lower Self, namely our faults and destructiveness, rebelliousness and resistance. On top of that, most of us attempt to cover up our Lower Self with masks and defenses.
The Lower Self of one person may be lower than another’s.
In the areas where we have restored our Higher Self to its fully functioning capacity, our inner light shines through. When this is the case, we must have already done the necessary work of shedding the Lower-Self layers that surround us. Then our Higher Self will reach out and automatically connect with the most radiant spiritual spheres. This can—and must—happen while we’re living here on Earth.
But wherever our Lower Self is stronger, it doesn’t let the Higher Self shine through. When this is the case, we connect with the forces of darkness that correspond to our own attitudes and our own level of development. For to be sure, the Lower Self of one person may be lower than another’s.
Our Faults Create Connection Points
We may think that since our faults aren’t as bad as someone else’s, they don’t matter so much. But we are still responsible for even the minor ones. And the higher our level of development, the greater is our duty and responsibility to keep cleaning up our side of the street.
Too often we make allowances for ourselves, saying, “I’m not the only one doing this,” or “Surely others are doing worse.” Or we say, “the devil made me do it,” as though it’s just a coincidence that dark forces were influencing us. No, we’re the ones who open that door by ignoring our own hidden inner obstacles.
Spiritual Specialists Influence Us the Most
Each spiritual sphere is richly populated by spirits that are a match for that sphere. Earth, for example, is a sphere that’s a match for beings who are some parts light and some parts dark. Due to our varying levels of development, wherever there are people, we are surrounded by beings who are linked to different spiritual spheres. And in these various spheres there are all kinds of specialists. This applies to well-ordered, light-filled spheres as equally as it applies to the chaotic dark spheres.
Each of us then attracts the specialist that is a match for the particular qualities we possess, whether they are good qualities or bad. For inevitably, like attracts like. Birds of a feather, as they say, flock together.
As we grow up, we are surrounded by guardian spirits who belong to the divine order of light. And if we are inclined to strive higher and try to align with divine truth, they can come close to us. If not, they must stand back and keep an eye on us from a distance. They can then only step in to protect us based on the past merits we have accumulated.
At the same time, we are also surrounded by a number of other spirits that are not part of the divine order. Some of these may belong to the world of darkness. If we are not a particularly sinful soul, then very evil spirits will not come near us. After all, they wouldn’t be able to succeed in their specialty with such a person, so why bother?
Minor Faults Still Have Major Impact
That said, even the specialists of everyday human faults—those so-called minor faults—belong to the dark spheres. So if we are, let’s say, selfish, we will have a selfishness specialist attached to us. Or if we’re inclined to make furious outbursts, we’ll have a specialist nearby just waiting for us to let it take over and effectively live through us.
Even the specialists of everyday human faults belong to the dark spheres.
When such a specialist succeeds, it feels a great deal of satisfaction. For not only did it fulfill its task, it got to indulge its own particular weakness. If we do not have a particular fault, such as envy, then we won’t have an envy specialist attached to us. Meanwhile, a person standing next to us—who may even be further along than us in their overall development—may have an envy specialist close by because they still have this fault.
Keep in mind, it is our own faults that are pulling particular specialists close to us in the first place. All the specialists do is wait around for us to act out our faults. Then they come to life through us. This is how we collude with them and contribute to the darkness.
Being Aware of Our Faults is the First Step
So how can we get rid of these dark spirits? By working to overcome our faults.
We must learn to face ourselves in utter honesty.
The first step is to recognize what our faults are. For too often we are unaware of them simply because we don’t want to have the burden of knowing such unflattering information. Few folks indeed want to know what their own faults are. Most will admit that they probably have some faults, but only do so in a superficial way. Becoming fully aware of our particular faults, however, is an entirely different matter.
If we wish to protect ourselves from dark spiritual specialists, we must learn to face ourselves in utter honesty. After all, if we are nursing a certain fault, possibly even turning it into a pet we praise and joke about, we are also carrying the corresponding spirit specialist with us. And that spirit is just waiting to inspire us to give in to our fault.
Granted, it often doesn’t take much effort on their part, as aligning with our faults is the easiest and most comfortable way to go. The Lower Self, remember, follows the path of least resistance.
We Must Find the Root
Any time we are in disharmony, such as when we feel a storm brewing with someone, we can have the presence of mind to remember to pray. When we do this, we are reaching out for God, who is already within us—after all, our Higher Self is a divine ray of God’s light—and asking for spiritual guidance. This, of course, only works when we have the presence of mind to remember to do it.
In reality, we don’t always have such presence of mind. Sometimes we’re tired and we once again become prey for dark influences. The only true and lasting protection, then, is to tear out the bad growth at their roots. That’s what we’re doing when we search to find the root of our faults.
Our Attitudes Chart Our Course
Let’s imagine for a moment that all of humanity—every single person on Earth—decides to follow the path of least resistance. We all opt to give in to our Lower Self, nursing our faults instead of fighting them. What would happen, from a spiritual point of view?
All our overlapping spheres would change in appearance, because we would make the disharmonious spheres bigger and stronger. These would then dwarf the harmonious spheres of love and light, of truth and happiness, pushing them into the background. In short, humanity would constantly feed the world of darkness, and in turn, it would have an ever-increasing influence over us.
Disharmony can and must eventually be dissolved.
Now let’s imagine that all of humanity—each and every person—starts to walk a path of self-purification. Although such a path would be different for every individual, if we were to each try our best, we would cast off and dissolve the spheres of hatred and prejudice, war and greed, evil and envy, darkness and disharmony.
The good news is that divine creations of light cannot be dissolved. They can only be pushed into the background. But as long as negative attitudes remain in control here, God’s spirit world of light can’t affect the material world. They can’t help us. Disharmony, on the other hand, with all its unpleasant facets, can eventually be destroyed and must ultimately be dissolved.
The Harm of Daydreaming
Many people have a tendency to daydream. And most of us don’t think there is anything wrong with this. It seems to be a harmless pastime that doesn’t hurt anyone. And yet when we daydream, we are deeply harming ourselves.
When children daydream, it is fine. But as we mature, we will naturally stop doing this. If, however, we continue to daydream as adults, this indicates we really haven’t matured. We harbor fragments that are still stuck in childhood. For if we have really matured, we will live in reality and not in fantasy.
When we are daydreaming, we are escaping reality. If life seems very difficult, we may try to escape from it by conjuring up ideas of how we would like it to be. Unfortunately, we can’t solve our real-life problems when we are not willing to look at them and find their roots.
Daydreaming builds worthless structures in spiritual spheres.
There aren’t any thoughts that have no form or substance in spiritual spheres. Daydreams, too, create forms, but these thought forms stand in the way of any real fulfillment we might want to bring about. So while it seems tempting to escape in such a harmless way, we must not let ourselves be tempted like this. Because doing so is a waste of our time.
Instead, all the time we invest in such a pastime could be better used to see what is blocking us from truly fulfilling ourselves and our mission in life.
As such, we can liken daydreaming to taking drugs. If we take a drug one time, it will probably not harm our body or our spirit. But once we start, there is a danger we won’t be able to stop. In truth, there are many people addicted to daydreaming, and they are using up their available energy to build worthless structures. They essentially withdraw from the reality of life and give up the reality they could create—one that’s satisfying and rewarding—if they didn’t indulge in daydreaming.
Why the Urge to Develop Spiritually?
We have a desire to search in a spiritual direction because in every person there is a Higher Self, or divine spark, urging us to go in exactly this direction. The lower our spiritual development, the more our Higher Self is covered over by layers of Lower Self. These layers of darkness cover up this urge until eventually it seems nonexistent. But when we reach a certain level of development, the wish of the Higher Self will push through again.
Toxic anger covers old painful feelings.
Some of our inner Lower Self voices will try to keep us away from it. And that is the fight each of us have to take on within ourselves. For the voice of the Higher Self is soft, while the voice of the Lower Self shouts, spewing anger and vengeance. Unlike healthy anger, which motivates us to cast off dark influences, old anger just spreads poison. Such toxic anger covers old painful feelings that linger from our childhood.
When our young self was hurt, we took steps to defend ourselves. This is understandable. We did this by formulating conclusions intended to keep us safe, and stopping the flow of feelings. Then we adopted a strategy for getting the love we wanted, using either aggression, submission or withdrawal. But navigating life using such false solutions causes part of ourselves to become stuck at that young age. So today, we are still harboring these wrong conclusions and resisting the unpleasant feelings attached with them, unnecessarily defending ourselves against ghosts from our childhood.
Exposing the Inner Tyrant
As children grow up, these split-off fragments of ourselves often turn into an inner tyrant. Such Lower Self voices now shout warnings at us from within, forcing us to stay crouched in a defensive stance. We tilt at life this way and then feel attacked by the barbs that come back at us, drawn to us by our own defensive behaviors. To uncover this inner tyrant, we must turn and face ourselves.
Our work is to let go of our distractions and listen to what’s really happening within. We must unearth our hidden beliefs and begin to question ourselves: What is the truth of the matter? This is a question we can ask into the center of our soul, and then listen for the quiet, still voice of our Higher Self.
To uncover our inner tyrant, we must turn and face ourselves.
But before this can happen, we must turn our will in the direction of deep healing. We must clearly formulate this decision within ourselves to move toward the light. When we do this, our intention will be recognized and divine guidance can come close to us. Among other things, it will help guide us to the proper people who can help us work on our spiritual path. We’ll be guided to the people and place that are the best match for us.
Hearing the Higher Self Leads to Happiness
If we don’t listen to our own Higher Self, and instead let other considerations stand in our way, we will become unhappy. We’ll feel frustrated and have no peace of mind. If, on the other hand, we have decided to follow this more difficult path—and stay on it no matter what—we must choose to follow the voice of our Higher Self. Then happiness will be ours.
It’s always our own divine spark that is urging us on. And we won’t find peace until we’ve found what we came here to discover.
The True Origin of our Struggles
Before getting bent out of shape with blame, believing that “what happened when I was young” is the cause of all our woes, consider this: If an experience in childhood left a deep impression, it didn’t originate in this lifetime. Rather, the experience hit our pre-existing soul dent. In other words, any traumatizing experience we go through in childhood has been brought to us by our own unresolved traumas from previous lifetimes.
Because…remember that part about these clusters of pain and wrong thinking acting like a magnet? They are what’s responsible for the troubling events that affect us, the things that stung us so deeply when we were young and that keep repeating in our life. We brought them in with us when we were born.
One test of this theory is to consider how various children in the exact same family exit childhood with very different wounds and perspectives. If you’re a parent of more than one child, just consider how different your own children were when they were young.
It gets harder every time.
The point is this: If we don’t surface and resolve our hidden obstacles in this lifetime, we’ll have to try again in the next. And it gets harder every time. So if childhood was difficult, here’s the chance to stop the cycle. Now’s the time to sort out what happened. We can unravel our inner knots and heal our deepest wounds.
Seven Signs We Need to Search Within
Here’s a list of seven self-sabotaging behaviors* that point out where we’re not living in alignment with our deeper self, or Higher Self. These are the ways we behave when we hold untruthful ideas in our system along with unprocessed old pain. And each of them will attract more disharmony to us.
Seven Self-Sabotaging Behaviors
- Won’t ask for help
- Can’t accept praise
- Isolate when hurt
- Always say “yes” to everything
- Put our own needs on hold
- Procrastinate on important tasks
- Try to be perfect
Sound familiar? If so, it’s time to turn around and search for their roots, inside ourselves. For these behaviors are blinking lights telling us we’re not fully living in truth. And when we’re not able to be fully authentic, we’re also not fully living in the present. Because part of us has gotten stuck in childhood hurts from the past.
It’s time to heal ourselves by uncovering the true cause of our disharmonies. For our inner obstacles won’t remove themselves. And this world needs more light.
Learn more in Bones: A Building-Block Collection of 19 Fundamental Spiritual Teachings:
Chapter 7 Love, Power and Serenity in Divinity or in Distortion
Chapter 8 How and Why we Recreate Childhood Hurts
Chapter 9 Images and the Deep, Deep Damage They Do
Chapter 10 Unpacking the Pain of our Old Destructive Patterns
Chapter 12 Finding Out the Truth about Ourselves, Including Our Faults
Chapter 13 The Ubiquitous Faults of Self-Will, Pride and Fear
Chapter 17 Overcoming our Negative Intention by Identifying with our Spiritual Self
Adapted in part from Pathwork Guide Lecture #15 “Influence Between the Spiritual World and the Material World.”
* From a meme on Facebook