The Mindshifters group met last night as usual on Tuesday evening, from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm in Cary, IL. It was a smaller group than normal, but as usual, the perfect people were there, to accomplish exactly what needed to be accomplished for those in attendance. I won’t go into the topic, and the specific work that was accomplished because, despite the incredible power and intensity of the work that was done last night, the most impressive thing for me about the group is the process, not the content.
I have had several conversations with people over the past week about the group, why I continue to go each week, what exactly gets accomplished, and what makes it worth my time, talent, and energy. The answer is complex in some ways, and powerfully simply in others. The simple part of the answer is that I have observed that we are all the same. If we take all of the differences we find between ourselves and every other person on the planet, and compared those difference to the ways in which we are the same, the differences would be like a grain of sand, and the similarities would be like the Milky Way Galaxy. In short, I have observed time and again, that the most important difference between me and any other person, is the degree to which each of us sees that we are all the same.
So, if we are all the same, that means we all have to face, and resolve the same basic issues. It also means that we all have fears, and that for each of us our greatest enemy is our self. It also means that the thing each of us fears the most is facing the truth about ourselves. I have observed that this is true, no matter where one is on the path of personal growth and enlightenment. This means that for Gandhi, it would have been more fearful for him to face a hidden truth about himself, than to face down the guns of the military in his country. It means that no matter how much work I do on myself, it will always be easier for me to help someone else with their problems, and facing their deep dark secrets than it will be for me to face my own.
Since it is so scary to face our own personal issues and put an end to the secrets we keep, it is often necessary to have help and support in that process. The value of a support group for doing personal growth work is difficult to over estimate. There are countless people who have listened to a great teacher, or read a wonderful book on the topic of spirituality or psychology and personal growth and truth, who have been moved to “do their own work”, and then never followed through because the support for this terrorizing prospect simply was not there. Often people begin the work only to drift away from it for various, valid, concrete, realistic, really important reasons. Most of those reasons boil down to, “the fear of facing the truth about myself”. It has often been said that “It is our secrets that keep us sick.” One of the reasons this is so true is that for every ounce of energy I put into keeping a secret, from anyone, (no matter how trivial the secret might seem), I unwittingly put an equal amount of energy into the conclusion that I am not worthy or lovable. I also feed the conclusions that if the other person knew my secret, they would be angry at me, or worse, they would want nothing to do with me.
So, in one of life’s great paradoxes, I create, and work to keep a secret because I fear that if people find out about the secret they won’t like me, love me, or want anything to do with me. I create and keep the secret, and feed my own conclusion that I am not likable, lovable, or worthy. The longer I keep the secret the more energy I put into hiding it, and the more energy I put into the negative conclusion about myself. The longer I feed this negative conclusion about myself, the worse I feel about myself on the inside, and the harder it is to let people get close to me. I come to believe that if they get too close they will see the secret, or discover just how unlikable, unlovable, and unworthy I am. The longer this pattern continues the more real it seems, because I have spent so much time feeding the belief, often without even knowing it.
Imagine if you learned something in school in the eighth grade and the science teacher taught it just as it was written in the textbook, and you believed it because there was no reason to doubt it. Then in your sophomore year of high school your science teacher taught you something that directly contradicts what you learned in eighth grade. This might come as a shock and you might even question the teacher and do some independent research to confirm what the new science teacher was trying to get you to believe, but eventually you would probably come to realize that the eighth grade teacher, and the old textbook were wrong.
Now imagine that you grew up in a family where you lived by the ocean, and everyone believed that world was flat. All of your relatives for five generations lived there and believed this, and all the people in your town believed this. They could see that the ocean extends just so far and then ends. They have known for centuries that anyone who sails too far from shore does not return. Because the world is flat, everyone knows that if you sail your boat too close to the horizon, you will fall off the face of the earth and die a horrible death. Everyone knows this is true, and they have always known it is true.
Then one day when you are in your late twenties, working on the dock and serving as the crew on ship, someone asks you to be a crew member on a ship that was going to sail around the world and prove that it was round. Just try to imagine the resistance and fear that would be generated in trying to change your belief.
Well in truth, the negative beliefs that each of us hold about ourselves, are every bit as difficult to change, and fear inducing to face, as the fear of the sailor in our previous example. How many sailors would have been brave enough to sail off alone, to disprove the belief that the world is flat? It is easy to see how it would take an entire crew, or support team, to maintain the courage and fortitude to push through the fear and challenge the long held belief.
Most of us need a support team, or community, in order to stay the course, face our fears, “do our own work, and end the secrets that keep us sick.
I give my time to this group because I get as much out of it as anyone who attends it. I give my time to this group because I have been lucky in my life to have wonderful parents, exceptional friends, and good mentors. I continue to have phenomenal friends and support groups, on this journey of “doing my work”.
I wish for everyone, the friends and support groups they need to face their deepest fears, and to see their personal lies, and false beliefs for what they are. I wish for everyone that they could have the love and support I have been lucky to find so far in this life, which makes it so much easier to be brave in facing the fear of looking honestly at myself.
We come from Love, we are made of Love, we are Love. Everything else is false.