Anxiety sucks, but it can be a catalyst for massive spiritual growth. In this interview on “ACIM Hangout” I share my journey through anxiety and the hard core teachings of “A Course in Miracles” that helped me kick anxiety out the door.
ACIM Q&A Day: “Why does the ego feel so hard to overcome?”
The answer to this question can be a tough one to swallow:
Because we want it.
We want the ego because it is our ticket to feeling special and separate, and the body is the chosen home of the ego (T-23.I.3). Although we might intellectually get the Course teaching that we are not our bodies and that our ego is nothing, if we REALLY knew that, we wouldn’t need to be in classroom earth.
Getting in touch with our desire to be separate from Love is a very important part of the process. We have to be able to look at our UNwillingness to let our minds be healed. Acknowledging our resistance is key.
A simple way of bringing our UNwillingness to heal to the surface is to ask yourself the question, “Would I rather have 10 million dollars right now, or be at One with Love?” Whichever you pick, you could instantly have. Which would you pick?
At the moment, I’d probably pick $10 million bucks. And I’m guessing you would too!
This is an IMPORTANT feeling to acknowledge, own, and then to look at with your Inner Teacher. Have the willingness to acknowledge your resistance, and then find the willingness to see it differently. As we give it to our Inner Teacher, our blocks to Love slowly fall away as we are ready to let them go.
So when you feel like your ego is kicking up big time, and it feels like it is stuck in place, take a step back and look at it as another form of UNwillingness to heal. Let that UNwillingness come to the surface, and give it to your Inner Guide. This is a nice way of sidestepping the ego’s conflict and working towards healing through the back door, rather than a head-on ego struggle.
I am fortunate to have a loving, beautiful friend who also is really into “A Course in Miracles.” As long as I’ve known Annie, she has struggled with every job she gets – she feels that there is usually something wrong with it, which often leads her to bounce around from job to job. Jobs end up being loaded with conflict between Annie and her supervisor or coworkers, so Annie quits. Annie has been a Course student for many years, and at the point in time when these emails were written, I felt guided to confront her a little more than usual. The following emails below are shared to you with Annie’s permission as she struggled with her latest job – a restaurant job.
Annie’s writing is a beautiful reflection of coming to the realization that there is no fixing it “out there” – the change instead comes from within. Ultimately, we BOTH experience a gigantic miracle! Our correspondence will be shared over 2 parts. Here is Part 1:
Date: Fri, 25 Feb
Subject: New Job Ick
To: Corinne Zupko
Sorry to bug you. I know you are super busy. New restaurant job….is disgusting. There are roaches in the kitchen and they smoke in the upstairs managers office. I believe that I have to work and the small income that is coming in from this job is helping, but….it’s really not good for me. I do get called for substitute teaching, at least every Monday which is $65, but I receive the check weeks later. I know I need to change my mind about financial things, lack, need, etc. but…I’m not sure how to do that and do the Course. I know it’s “not real” but I can’t tell that to my father or the electric company… “Ah, those bills that need to be paid…bah! Figments of your imagination.”
Not sure HOW to look at it differently. You’ll love the response from my friend (in light of the fact that I just got back from Guatemala) – she said, “Think about all the bugs in Guatemala and how people live with them there. Think about what they have to deal with.” Well, I never saw a bug bigger than a freckle in Guatemala. Sorry, but my concern is not the bugs in Guatemala, my concern is providing a living wage for myself and keeping my sanity, what little of it that I have! Any words to help me?
Tootle loo for now,
On Fri, Feb 25, at 9:40 PM, Corinne Zupko wrote:
I have had a very busy week and upcoming weekend so sorry I haven’t been able to talk on the phone… Regarding work, this might tick you off, but I know at this point that you can take it!
All of these struggles that you have been having with work settings (or substitute money or whatever) are coming from you. They are coming from your own split mind. There is no “out there” as the Course says and trying to fix it “out there” like by trying to find a better work setting, is never going to ultimately work. Fixing it “out there” is a band-aid. I feel like work/money stuff has been a lesson that keeps presenting itself for you, and so I know you are willing to try something different.
You have to work from within. You have “invented the world you see.”
You need to own that to the extreme. That this is all coming from your own mind. All the figures (people) in the situation are coming from you. The cockroaches, the smokers. You need to own that. You “hired” them as witnesses so you’ll keep believing Annie is real. They’re ego devices to keep you identified with Annie, so you won’t look beyond her. Once you are really, truly, willing to take responsibility that you made all of this, then you need to be willing to hand that over to the Holy Spirit.
Keep taking this responsibility and really touching it. And then keep handing it over to the Holy Spirit.
Everything difficult that keeps coming forth for you simply where you are UNWILLING to heal. Read my blog entry on this: http://www.fromanxietytolove.com/i-gave-it-to-the-holy-spirit-now-what/
Work on handing your UNwillingness to heal over the to the Holy Spirit.
I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t leave your job. But the real work has to happen within. You can’t fix it or make it better “out there.”
That’s what I got for ya!
On Feb 26, at 2:19 PM, Annie wrote:
This is why I love you so much. YOU are HONEST with me, thank you. The truth is…I know I have created it. And…I must say….the “place” that I am in…is the total manifestation of what I think I am. Oh my god, I’m a dirty, smoking, cockroach….LOL…must have a sense of humor. I am operating from base level, bottom feeder, and on some level…feel as if i deserve all this. It’s familiar, dare I say “comfortable.” I WANT and am WILLING to see things differently, but have no idea how. All I know is “this” feels icky. My insides feel dirty, mucky, icky, and maybe buggy. If the work place is the mirror to my mind…the “place” needs a power wash, Mr. Clean, and some sunlight.
I know on some level a MAJOR shift MUST happen, but how? I turn it over….still feels bad to be there….Lesson….maybe “Annie” needs to stop choosing and reacting and let the Holy Spirit work within her. On some level I feel as if I don’t deserve good things, or money, or sufficiency. But….as I know to be true, I have everything I need inside of me, but it looks as if somebody turned the lights off and forgot to take care of the insides….ahhhhhhhhhh, neglect….my own neglect of MY TRUE SELF…..mmmmm, i think i got it.
But I don’t know how to “shift” this “thing” inside. But I can say for sure, truly, with total honesty there is a part of me that is so gross, icky, creepy, mean, unloved, uncared for, poor, and struggling. It’s my ego talking and I want the Holy Spirit to CLEAN it and make that false perception of myself something better. Inside job. Shift my mind, may the miracle happen in a Holy Instant…NOW!
I am willing to see things differently, above all else I wish to see things with love. I am a child of God, wholly loved, pure, perfect in thought, and a figment of my own illusion. Let me co-create something better with a HIGHER ORDER.
With all my love and dirty smoking cockroach thinking, (god this is funny on some level), thank you for being my COURSE IN MIRACLES FRIEND.
Going to “get this.” Please say a prayer for me that I can see things differently. All minds are one….so can I borrow yours?
Working on thinking I am a perfect light being but in the meantime think my name is Annie
Continued on page 2
Question: “I don’t understand how forgiveness in the Course is different than blaming the victim. I know that abusive people can, and have, misused the Course and other spiritual teachings to act from ego and hurt others. However, I still see in the Course amongst its teachers that the person who was hurt must then forgive by “accepting that what you thought happened, didn’t” and realizing that one “chose to hurt oneself through the abuser” and other concepts.”
This is a great question and one that deserves careful attention. This is a HARD CORE Course post!!
Truly understanding the answer to this question hinges on recognizing “level confusion,” as the Course calls it.
If we try to understand the Course’s teaching of forgiveness through the ego, the true meaning of forgiveness will be distorted. In other words, forgiveness will seem to mean that I have to forgive my victimizer by accepting that I brought this upon myself and then “accepting that what I thought happened, didn’t.” This is not the forgiveness that the Course describes.
True forgiveness, according to “A Course in Miracles”, is learned. I learn how to truly forgive when I am willing to hand my judgments/beliefs/expectations to the Holy Spirit to be reinterpreted. This then leads to experiences which prove to me that this world is not what I thought it was. True forgiveness does not blame the victim nor victimizer, because in truth, we are pure mind. If there ARE NO bodies, there are no victims and there are no victimizers.
However, the Course is practical. If a car is speeding in my direction, I’m certainly going to get out of the way. This is where we must explore the idea of 2 different levels – the “FORM level” and the “FORMLESS level.”
On this seeming level of earth or “Form Level”, there ARE victims and there ARE victimizers. This is a world of duality. There is always a trade-off. It is the way of the world. There is victim/victimizer, good/bad, leader/follower, etc. It isn’t real, but we’ve made it real for ourselves.
On the level of truth, or “Formless level”, we are dreaming a dream of a world. In the “Formless level”, we are mind, and purely mind, and are safe at home in our Source (i.e. God, Love, Oneness). But the fragmented part of our mind that put itself to sleep because it wanted to experience itself as separate (this is the ego, and this is what the Course refers to as having a “split mind”) was seemingly made concrete by its very decision to NOT be as God created us. We are the dreamer of this dream. The instant we decided to dream, the ego wrote its “script” of separation, outlining the experiences that we would have in this dream in order to make it feel very real. These experiences are the ego’s best ditch efforts to keep us believing that we are bodies.
This part of our mind has CHOSEN to put itself to sleep and to dream this dream of separation. Therefore, as the Course teaches:
The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. (FIP edition: T-27.VIII 10)
This is a teaching from the “Formless level.” It is a mistake, however, to be in the “FORM level” (the earthly level), and use the truth of this “FORMLESS level” teaching, to tell someone (or to tell yourself) that they have chosen for abuse, neglect, negative experiences, etc. This is what the Course refers to as level confusion.
This type of level confusion is not loving, and if it is said in the name of the Course, it is misusing the teaching of the Course. We can misapply the Course to ourselves, and to one another.
Let’s look at an example. I recently was the “victim” of someone leaving a huge dent in my car when it was parked on the street. I wasn’t even present to witness the accident. On this “Form Level” – I certainly seemed innocent. I didn’t want this to happen, and I was left with a $900 bill, which made me UNHAPPY.
Looking at the “FORMLESS level”, the level of truth, we could say that the ego wrote this into its “script” of my dream of separation. This incident provides solid evidence that I MUST be a body, because I can be hurt, angry, and short on cash.
To tell me that I (in the earthly “Form Level”) called this situation forth, is level confusion and all it does is give the ego a big boost. An unconscious part of my split mind called it forth (in the “Formless level”), in order to keep me believing in the dream (keep in mind that the ego is NOT our friend! But it is also nothing to be afraid of, because it IS nothing without our belief in it).
Everything that happens to us is coming from our split mind, which called chaos upon itself when it chose to separate from its Source. This part of our mind feels guilty for seemingly separating, fearing that God/Oneness/Love will be angry at us. “Bad things” that happen have nothing to do with positive or negative thinking, or the “wrath of God”. Bad things happen because we have unconsciously split our mind away from Love. Because we all are part of this one split mind, we are all doing this mistake together, each playing interchangeable roles as victim or victimizer.
We’re not stuck in the ego’s script though.
As we practice the Course and experience miracles (shifts in perception), we come to learn that there is a choice of dreams while we still remain asleep. Following the guidance of the Holy Spirit leads us to happy dreams of awakening. We teach our split mind that it is not happy being asleep, and so we start to call forth experiences that teach us that we are not these bodies. We come to recognize who the dreamer is, and that this world is not our home.
The miracle does not awaken you, but merely shows you who the dreamer is. It teaches you there is a choice of dreams while you are still asleep, depending on the purpose of your dreaming. Do you wish for dreams of healing, or for dreams of death? A dream is like a memory in that it pictures what you wanted shown to you. (FIP T-28.II-4)
The “Formless Level” teaching is that we choose painful dreams because they are how we maintain separation from our Source. The recognition that we are each the dreamer of this dream, MUST come from an EXPERIENCE that comes from within. We can’t intellectually tell ourselves that what we thought happened, didn’t, because we’ve already made it real. We have to turn to our Inner Guide, and ask for the EXPERIENCE of being shown what the truth is. Only then do we touch upon the truth that the world is an illusion, and that we are perfectly unharmed.
We don’t know that we’re dreaming. The Course’s Forgiveness shows us that we are.
So when you see someone in a painful circumstance, it is NOT an opportunity to think, “oh they chose for this.” Instead, this is an opportunity to own that you are seeing this with your body’s eyes, so it must be somehow coming from your split mind, or you wouldn’t be seeing it in the first place. When I see something painful, this prayer from the Course helps me immensely:
Take this from me and look upon it, judging it for me.
Let me not see it as a sign of sin and death, nor use it for destruction.
Teach me how not to make of it an obstacle to peace, but let You use it for me, to facilitate its coming. (FIP edition: T-19.IV.C.i-11)
If you still feel confused, or if there still seems to be undertones of blaming the victim, recognize there may be some unwillingness to let the Holy Spirit give you a miracle. Our ego wants us to think the Course is blaming the victim, because that strengthens the ego. Touch upon your willingness to see differently and give that willingness to the Holy Spirit. Ask the Holy Spirit for the experience of understanding. The Course tells us that God placed the answer to the separation problem in our minds the moment we dreamt it, only we just haven’t accepted it. The Holy Spirit would have us accept and know this:
We are NOT guilty.
We are innocent and we will come to accept ourselves in truth because that IS Love’s will for us. The outcome is guaranteed.
Have a question about ACIM? Ask me HERE!
These were the words my stepdad said to me as I lay flat out on the couch, incapacitated by anxiety, unable to eat for days, with dark anxiety-induced circles under my teary eyes.
“The light in you is too bright to fail.”
These words gave me hope and a sense of relief as if I had just been given crystal clear healing water after slowly shriveling up and drying out in the desert. I knew, deep down, that we’re on this journey heading back to Love and to Peace. I knew, deep down, that I would make it, even though the present picture was pretty ugly. I knew that there were layers of undoing and unlearning, and layers of understanding and growth in being a student of “A Course in Miracles.” I was ready to take my study and practice deeper. I would do whatever it would take.
Before this time, I could not comprehend that my work with the Course could deepen. I worked the principles every day, and I had already done the lessons many times over. I was taking it as far as I could take it for where I was at. Since this time, I’ve witnessed how gentle the process of the Atonement (or “Undoing” of fear) really is. Layers of fear fall away as we are simply ready to let them go.
We think we want to let go of the fear now, but we actually do not because fear serves a useful purpose. It serves the purpose of keeping us identified with our bodies and believing that we are a small, separate self. Until we are ready to take responsibility for making and wanting fear, the fear will remain. It will be like a leaky pipe. We might plug up one hole of fear, but it will shift to some place else, unless we’re willing to look at the source of fear – our active desire to judge and to stay separated from our Source (call it Love, God, Oneness, Being, etc.), and the unconscious guilt we carry around because of this. We must look at our active desire to stay separated WITH our Inner Guide (aka the Holy Spirit).
When I realize that I’m not at peace and am touching upon one of the layers of fear, I stop and recognize that my unconscious split mind is calling this forth, in order to keep myself identified as a body. I say, “I am willing to look at this WITH the Holy Spirit” and then I hand it over to the Holy Spirit.
To do any of this, to advance in the Course at all, “The insignificance of the body has to become an acceptable idea.” If we’re not willing to see the body differently, a major block will remain in our path. Is it not a relief to learn that we’re much more than this pile of clay? Whew!
I say these words to you now, no matter what it is that you are going through, “The light in you is too bright to fail.”
We’re all heading home to Love together. There is nothing to fear.
The course emphasizes that we only need a tiny bit of willingness for that miracle – that shift in perception – to occur. And this is true! We’re asked to do so little.
So we hand our situation over to the Holy Spirit, again and again. But we still feel stuck with it. What is going on? Why does it feel like this is all such a struggle?
Because there is part of us (are you ready for this?) that WANTS the struggle, the difficulty, the conflict.
We’ve built blocks to love because we wanted to experience ourselves as separate and autonomous – father unto our self. By keeping the blocks in place, we get to keep the ego going. “The ego grows strong in strife.” We’re okay with letting a little love in, but not too much. The call to love is so strong, however, the only way to deny it is to be unwilling to heal.
Unwilling? Yep. Freud called it the “death instinct,” and we also know it by terms like “self-destructive behavior,” “resistance,” or “self-sabotage.”
You DO need just a tiny bit of willingness. But you also have to acknowledge where you are NOT willing to heal. God won’t transform something for us if we don’t bring it to Him. This requires honesty, openness, and willingness to look at the unwillingness WITH the Holy Spirit.
Turning something over to the Holy Spirit is only the first step. We need to acknowledge where we DON’T want to heal and give that to the Holy Spirit too.
There is a selection in the URText (the original writing of ACIM) that speaks to this next step, what we need to do AFTER turning something over to the Holy Spirit:
…and your willingness need not be complete, because His is perfect. It is His task to atone for your UNwillingness by His perfect faith. And it is HIS faith you share with him there. Out of YOUR recognition of your Unwillingness for your release, His PERFECT Willingness is GIVEN you. Call upon Him, for Heaven is at his call. And LET Him call on Heaven FOR you. – UR p.452 (emphasis added)
If you feel anything other than a deep sense of peace or have any type of struggle within the day, acknowledge it as an unwillingness to heal, and hand it over to Him. Say, “This is where I’m unwilling to heal. Here you go Holy Spirit!” Keep at it. The universe is “trembling with readiness” to give us all of the gifts that are already there, waiting to be acknowledged.