“You said to your mind, 'I want everyone to like me. I don't want anyone to speak badly of me. I want everything I say and do to be acceptable and pleasing to everyone. I don't want anyone to hurt me. I don't want anything to happen that I don't like. And I want everything to happen that I do like.' Then you said, 'Now, mind, figure out how to make everyone of these things a reality, even if you have to think about it day and night.' And of course your mind said, 'I'm on the job. I will work on it constantly.'”
Michael A. Singer (The Untethered Soul)
In Spirituality Group yesterday we discussed this particular passage from The Untethered Soul. We talked about how much anguish we humans go through when someone hurts us, or we don't feel accepted or included. From early childhood to old age, we have unrealistic expectations of life, of ourselves and of one another. When someone says or does something painful to us, we see that as wrong, as somehow an aberration of the way things ought to be. When life doesn't go the way we planned, we label it “bad.” The group talked about what an impossible task we assign ourselves to always have it “good.”
The question arose, “Why do we torture ourselves over things we can't control?” What other people think and say about us is largely out of our hands, and really, none of our business. Why does life arrange itself so that, regardless of our upbringing and our successes, we suffer from lack of confidence and self-acceptance. Is it pure pathology? Neurotic self absorption? I guess we could dump it into one of those categories, but there may be another, less psychiatric reason. Maybe it's one of the ways our soul keeps us on task.
Helen Keller viewed it this way: “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” We can torture ourselves by trying to control our lives, and other people's thoughts and actions, or we can accept life on its own terms. It rolls up and down, hills and valleys. Some of it feels good and some feels bad. Sometimes we are sanded down to the bare wood, and sometimes polished and shining. Always, that's life, and soul knows the way through it.
In the Spirit,