A collection of essays discussing the various aspects of self-mastery, focus, and healing.

Understanding The Human Condition

I’m a writer but I don’t read a ton. Books have to pull me. They have to be useful. Weirdly, I don’t need to escape my reality so I don’t look to things like fiction books to get away from my life. I’m not a big movie watcher either.

But sometimes there is something that will pull me. Somebody mentioned The Human Condition by Thomas Keating in a comment on Facebook. It was totally random. Nothing more than a reference to something he had read. Immediately it pulled me. I had to go see what this book was about.

So I went to find it online and found it in an online library and started reading it. The book is very short, less that 60 pages, but boy is it powerful. Keating talks about the spiritual journey and healing through the eyes of God. While I’m no longer Roman Catholic, I do still believe in a God, even though I tend to keep what I talk about pretty secular. God, like so many things these days, is polarizing and triggering for some and so I tend to skip that part and focus on just doing the inner work for the self. Let’s just focus on feeling better in this lifetime on this planet and not worry about what God thinks about what we’re doing or why we’re doing it or even what role God might have in what we’re doing.

I quickly read the book cover to cover and was immediately inspired by the underlying messages in the book. I because really excited very quickly because I realized that Keating had offered me freedom from the thing I had been struggling with for so long. What was I struggling with? External motivators and circumstances.

I set out to start a business. When I first started this I did it with all the “business things” that you’re supposed to have. I had the formal website, the freebie to sign up for the mailing where I sold things, the business Facebook page, and I even attempted to create a hard line between what I talked about for free and what I charged for. I did all kinds of crap I didn’t want to do because I thought that’s what was business was.

But here’s the thing – my business was my own spiritual healing journey. My motivators were the expectations of what should happen in a business. I expected to make money. I expected things to sell. I expected to have an audience. I expected to achieve some level of external success. I had clear goals and definitions of what I wanted to achieve and how I wanted to get there. I knew who my target audience was. I was here to build a business, not a hobby, not a fun extra curricular activity. I wasn’t here to enjoy myself. I had work to do and I was here to do that work. The fact that I happened to enjoy the topic I was talking about was secondary. It was a bonus. It didn’t really matter.

Trying to build my healing journey as a business was frustrating. I wanted to untangle myself from my business. The CEO of McDonald’s doesn’t come online and start talking about his life. I wanted me and mine to be separate. I wanted my business to be completely external to me and remain that way much like the CEO of McDonald’s maintains a separate life. But I wasn’t supposed to do that. That wasn’t the point of my journey and I didn’t like that.

My external motivation was actually the thing that kept me going. It was the reason why I kept doing what I was being asked to do intuitively. So when I got the intuitive guidance to start writing about my life and my journey I accepted it because I figured that was the only way to get to the external goals. Each and every time I got offered a new way of showing up in my work, I would accept that way of being as a means to an end. The choice was more conscious but the motivator was still an unconscious external goal based on pain.

I became more and more aware of what was happening and why it was happening. I became more accepting of the idea that I couldn’t separate me from my work. I became more accepting of the idea that my business didn’t need to look like everybody else’s business and that I could drop things I didn’t enjoy doing. I started to become more aware of what I actually wanted to be doing versus what I thought I was supposed to be doing. I became more aware of the “should’s” that I held onto in my work and I started to drop those things.

I was still arguing with it because the external motivators were not manifesting. The more I continued to create my work in my own way, the more I continued to argue with my reality. My reasons for doing everything never materialized. I never made the money. I never gained the audience. I never became successful. My “business” failed yet again. I had not achieved external success and that meant there was something wrong with me and my business. It needed to change until I found something that was successful.

If you’ve followed me for a long time you’ll know that I kept changing my business because I wanted it to be successful. I was still externally motivated to create a successful business based on societal ideas of what having a successful business meant. Until I gave up.

I got a place where I had to accept that the external motivators weren’t going to materialize anytime soon. It left me with a choice – get a job or keep going. I had, in the back of my mind, already decided that if I didn’t start making some money before the end of the year, that I was going to get a job in January. But I didn’t want to get a job. I wanted to continue doing what I was doing. The argument I had was simply that me not making money wasn’t an option. I wasn’t allowed to do what I wanted to do. I have bills piled up in the background that I can’t pay. The pile of problems still exists and all of those problems are financial ones. I had to find a way to make money and if that meant getting a job, then that was the sacrifice that I was going to have to make. But I wasn’t happy.

I decided to just keep going with what I was doing, keep writing and keep sharing until the end of the year. When the clock struck midnight, and my carriage turned back into a pumpkin, I would go get that job. But something happened.

The pain bubbled up. The truth was that I didn’t really care that I wasn’t making money. There was part of me that just wanted to do what I was doing. There was part of me that wasn’t motivated by those external things. One of the things I taught myself to do early on was ignore the pile of problems in the corner. I can’t fix them. I don’t have control over them. They just get to be there and I’m not going to let them ruin my life or dictate to me what I can and cannot do. Because I learned how to co-exist with my problems, it meant I had a choice. I could just accept that the problems weren’t going to jump up and bite me and that it was okay to continue doing what I was doing.

At that point I just put it away and continued on doing what I had been doing. There was no reason to change anything. Facebook had started giving me a bit of visibility and slowly I was figuring out how to make social media work for me a little bit. Maybe I could have that audience I thought I wanted. Maybe there were hints of change in my reality. Nothing major, just little bits of things poking their heads out from the dirt.

Then I read a book that made it all make sense! The Human Connection made it make sense. My external motivators were unconscious motivators. I was motivated by external ideas of what success looks like. I was motivated by family that kept telling me to go get a job or earn some money. I was motivated by old childhood pain that told me I had to please all these people and do what they wanted. I was motivated to try to avoid the pain that piles of unpaid bills could potentially offer me. Those things are all based on pain. While I was very consciously aware of what the pain was, I was still hooked on it and I couldn’t figure out how to let it go. I didn’t think it was safe to let go of those unconscious motivators. I thought my reality would implode if I did. I didn’t trust that I could just do what I wanted and that life would work itself out. I didn’t trust that I could be supported in doing what I wanted because for years I never felt supported even when I was doing the things other people wanted me to do. I didn’t think I was allowed to live my life my own way. I interpreted the lack of external success as a block, as the Universe echoing the idea that I wasn’t allowed to do this work this way. My interpretation wasn’t true.

The Universe wants to bring you what you want. The Universe wants you to be happy in your life. The Universe wants you to create the things that make you happy. The point of this life is not to suffer or be without. The point of this life is to find happiness within yourself. The Human Condition is the thing where we focus on everything but ourselves or if we do focus on ourselves it’s only to make sure we’re protecting ourselves.

Thomas Keating says in the book that we judge things based on one question, “Is this harmful to me?” When the mind tells the story of harm, we agree with it, and we protect ourselves from whatever it is. What if you’re protecting yourself from your own dream like I was?

I looked at what the Universe was offering me, which was the ability to just relax, write, grow, heal, learn, and teach and questioned how that would hurt me. The answer to that question was all the old pain that I’d carried from childhood. The answer was insecurity and powerlessness. The answer was conforming to other people’s expectations. The answer was external to myself and had nothing to do with me or what I wanted for my own life.

Thomas Keating through his book, showed me that truth. My dream won’t hurt me. If I do get hurt it’s because I hurt me, not because of anything that goes on around me. The story I tell myself in my head matters far more than anything going on outside of me. If I let that story in my head stop me, then I get to stay stuck in the unhappiness, which I did for a long time.

You see, even if I had gotten the external things I wanted I still wouldn’t have been happy. I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy them because I still would have been tied up in the pain. Having money would not have offered me independence because I would have had to conform to other people’s expectations of what to do with the money. Having an audience while being very insecure would have led me to hide from that audience. I would have wanted to conform to their expectations too. I would have had expectations about how my income should double every year or some such thing because that’s part of being in business, and I would have been upset if it hadn’t happened. I would have wanted to give up and quit if it didn’t work out the way I thought it should. Even if you get the dream, if you don’t heal the pain first, you’ll still be unhappy. The dream doesn’t fix the problems – healing fixes the problems.

My dream was built on external problems and my intended solutions to those problems. My dream wasn’t meant to solve the problems outside of me though, it was to solve the problems within me. I’ve said many times that I didn’t start out on my healing journey to do this. I didn’t start out wanting to talk about spiritual self-mastery or how to heal powerlessness. I didn’t start out with ideas of being a full-time writer and author. I didn’t start out with ideas of writing one book a year for the rest of my life. I didn’t start out with any of these goals. I started out to build a business and make money – that was it.

What I ended up with was a way of being in the world that allows me to heal the powerlessness and insecurity that I’ve lived from most of my life. I ended up with a spiritual practice that is basically to question everything that goes through my head. I ended up being a writer and author sharing my journey with as many people as I can find, while offering everyone who wants it a different way forward via spiritual self-mastery.

I learned spiritual self-mastery intuitively. I didn’t read it in a book. I learned it by living it and being shown intuitively what was happening. I created a way of life for myself and anybody else that wants to take it on, that isn’t quite so painful. Thomas Keating writes about the idea that healing doesn’t have to be a big emotional drama. Emotions are meant to come and go. It’s the hanging onto them and the identifying with them that causes the problem. If we just simply watched the emotions pass, they would do so rather uneventfully. Our attachment to them comes from a misunderstanding of why they are there in the first place. Most of the time, the painful emotions we feel come from past pain and experience that has been hung onto. They are not a reaction to anything that is happening in the present.

Thanks to Thomas Keating, I can now free myself from the old pain. I can free myself to do just do my thing my way and not worry about it. I have the power to release the old pain because I’m not attached to it. I don’t have to examine it or identify it in anyway. It’s part of the past. It’s part of my childhood. I’m no longer a child and I don’t need to hold onto the pain from that time in my life. I’m free to live in a new way and I can trust that there is no harm in doing that. And so I will.

My hope is that you will free yourself to go after your own dreams and stop protecting yourself from them. You cause yourself far more pain than your reality ever could. I wish so deeply that you could see that and that’s why I share. If I share my journey maybe it’ll help you understand yours. We’re all in this life together. Let’s make the best of it.

Love to all.