Is it possible to live in a spiritual way, in the modern world? Well, it depends upon what being ‘spiritual’ actually means to us…it is clear that different people interpret spirituality in different ways.
There are those who feel that being spiritual is completely connected to a belief in life after death, and/or psychic stuff.
There are those who feel that being spiritual means that they have to be endlessly calm and patient, never raising their voice or visibly reacting to the stresses and strains of life.
There are those who believe that not desiring more than they need, and settling for just enough to get by, is spiritual.
There are those who approach spirituality in a passive – aggressive way, using it as a platform from which they can put others down for failing to have reached their own lofty heights.
So, as you can see, there is no one – size – fits – all, where spirituality is concerned!
My personal belief is that the spirit should be free…as in free – spirited! If being spiritual is hard work, if it leads us to feel spiritually superior to others, if it causes us to feel repressed…then something is wrong because the spirit is designed to grow, to expand, to fly…not to be boxed off, trapped or stage – managed!
If we are performing spirituality, feigning it, in line with how we think it should be, it won’t feel right, somehow. It won’t be natural, or spontaneous, which is what the spirit is all about.
If we find ourselves being smug, because we have figured out how to be spiritual, whilst others haven’t, we aren’t coming from a free state of mind.
If we are consistently monitoring ourselves, editing our responses and behaviour, so as to remain spiritual, we are blocking our own natural flow.
And if we are doing any of the above, it is only because other people have told us that this is how being spiritual IS, or our own understanding is a bit skewed!
I want you to know that it IS possible to be a real, honest to goodness human being, warts and all, and still BE genuinely spiritual! In fact, that is the only way you CAN be truly spiritual, because then you will be being true to yourself! Good news, eh?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that by being true to ourselves we should indulge every urge we have, regardless. Some urges should definitely be reined in! An urge to hurt others, to control, manipulate, humiliate or get revenge comes from the ego, not the spirit. The spirit is more interested in healthy challenge, in positive use of the imagination, in productive achievement, in creativity…in life – force and forward movement. The spirit loves the stories of life, and is fascinated by even the small details. The spirit is about pushing the boundaries, whilst the ego is about setting them, and protecting them with every ounce of its being!
Of course, that all sounds a bit idealistic, and the truth is that the ego and the spirit need one another. The ego’s job is to keep us safe, to keep us on track. It does need to recognise where reasonable boundaries are required, and set them, so that the spirit is free to get on with doing its thing. The problem is, the ego has a tendency to get a bit too big for its boots, even pretending to BE the spirit, in some cases! It can become larger than the spirit, which appears to work well for some people…in the short term. Those who succeed by cutting major corners, by ripping others off, by stealing, threatening, lying…murdering even…might seem to be being unfairly rewarded for dubious behaviour, but they aren’t taking the soul into account.
Each human being is a soul, and we are alive to create, to grow, to develop…courtesy of the relationship between the ego and the spirit. The ego’s job is to watch the spirit’s back, as it embraces life, regardless of individual challenge. The soul absorbs everything the ego and the spirit create together, everything they experience, and the way in which they process it all. When the ego has the upper hand, the spirit cannot grow healthily, and in the end, the soul suffers. There is no exception…no – one flies beneath the radar. The soul cannot escape what the ego and the spirit create together, throughout a lifetime…it HAS to absorb it, and take it with it.
You have an amazing spirit that wants to develop its interests, passions and talents!
You have a spirit that wants to take each experience, each challenge, and discover the hidden gem within!
You have a wonderful uniqueness that wants to be expressed, in its own particular way!
You have a spirit that is not afraid to express itself, to speak its mind, to be firm but fair…to honour reasonable boundaries, without apology!
You have a spirit that doesn’t want to be dominated by a fearful, over – protective ego, or to be shut down by other people’s unreasonable, manipulative egos!
You have a spirit that is willing to learn, throughout a lifetime, how to develop a productive balance between itself and its compatriot, the ego!
You have a spirit that wants to make life good for others, and wonderful for yourself!
You have a spirit that wants to learn how to receive, and not just give, to accept compliments, embrace abundance and celebrate every little success!
You have a spirit that is keen to soothe the ego, when hurt and disappointment come to call, without allowing the ego to use the setback in a self – destructive way…turning the pain into its life story!
You have a spirit, therefore you ARE spiritual…and the best way to embrace that is to give yourself chance after chance to be the best, free – est version of yourself possible, regardless of what those around you think, say or do. Respect your ego, consult with it, but recognise when it is pushing its luck, and give it a polite but firm reminder!#spirit
Should we bow to criticism? Should we just suck it up and take it on the chin? And if we don’t, should we accept the response “Your problem is that you can’t stand to hear the truth”?
Well, in my opinion, it depends upon two things:
The motivation behind the criticism.
The way in which the criticism is delivered.
None of us are going to get through life without criticising others, or being criticised by others. And we have all reacted defensively, or been on the receiving end of someone else’s defensive behaviour. Excessively hypersensitive, over – reactive people are difficult to deal with, and we know, deep down inside, when we ourselves are being that way. We might not admit it, but we know it.
It may be that we have grown up around consistently critical people, and so have unconsciously learned to take even the smallest comment as a personal attack.
It may be that we find ourselves in a job that naturally attracts critical reaction, which over time leads us, if we aren’t careful, to become hypersensitive.
It may be that we are part of a social group who habitually judge and compete with one another.
It may be that we have painfully low self – worth, and wear our emotional nerves on the outside of our body.
The fact is, criticism and defensiveness go hand in hand. It takes a wise, honest soul to be able to deliver criticism in a constructive way that does not automatically elicit a defensive response. It is a skill very few of us possess, although it can be learned (am still working on it)! And a wise, honest person will never present a clearly aggressive, mean – intentioned comment as constructive criticism, and then use it against the recipient when they respond defensively. That’s a double whammy!
Motivation is THE thing to look at, when facing criticism, or considering delivering it. Passive – aggressive criticism is always going to lead to conflict, because the deliverer is always being dishonest. The intention behind passive – aggressive criticism is to wound, to crush, to put the recipient down, whilst presenting it as well – meant ‘advice’. And this is proved when the recipient, understanding that they are being undermined, responds defensively, or openly challenges the deliverer,…and the critic swiftly verbally lashes back, cutting through the pretence of positive motivation! Which is where statements like “You just can’t take the truth can you? I’m not the only one who says this stuff about you” is thrown in, like a hand grenade.
Criticism is entirely necessary in this life. We can’t all go around pretending we never do anything wrong, or that we always get everything right. And it provides us with a great opportunity to become more mentally, emotionally and spiritually mature…IF we are consciously aware of the power it holds, and commit to learning to use it wisely. It takes conscious awareness and effort, and a willingness to learn to respond, rather than react.
I would rather have an up – front approach, than one that is passive – aggressive. However, that doesn’t mean I will just take it on the chin…delivery is all – important! People who send critical emails that don’t begin with Hi Leanne, or end with the recipients name, just the message itself, are being pretty upfront about their intentions…”I am putting you in your place!” It is when these come from people I believe I have been genuinely respectful to and open with, especially those with whom I have had ongoing business, that it wounds the most (bull’s eye!), and I never take it lying down! I don’t dress my response up as something else, as my intention IS to challenge…why pretend otherwise? I HAVE had to work on my delivery, over 23 years as an intuitive consultant. I DO recognise when my approach hasn’t been up to my own standards. It hurts to acknowledge, but if we can’t talk honestly with ourselves, we’re in trouble. I know what my ACTUAL intention and motivation is, behind everything I say and do. I could possibly lie to the world, but I can’t lie to me…it’s an inside job and I know too much! But I have also set my own boundaries out there, which have developed over years of self analysis, blood, sweat and tears…and those boundaries make it simple, and keep me right. There’s a degree of leeway, but generally, those who stomp all over those boundaries don’t get back inside. It isn’t defensiveness, it is common sense. We can’t be something to everyone. We can’t develop a personality that suits every other human being on the planet. There has to be a cut – off point, for all of us, otherwise misery ensues. We end up at the bottom of the pile, be it made up of family, friends or customers, which is a lose – lose situation.
Recently, I was shopping in a supermarket I use several times a week. It isn’t the cheapest, or the best, but it is convenient. There are consistent, ongoing problems with this supermarket that everyone grumbles about, and on this particular day I was in a grump, and so I allowed a bag of hash browns (or lack of), and the assistant’s unwillingness to go in the back of the store and get some for me (because they were at the bottom of a pile), to cause me to rant to the new manager. I was speaking so quickly I felt as if I was firing bullets at him, but couldn’t seem to stop myself. I wasn’t rude, and I did acknowledge the helpful, friendly staff members, but still, I was cross. The fact that the store often had special offers on (a pound off this, or two for the price of one) that were not honoured at the till, was my main bugbear. I had to always check my receipt, and many times had to return to the till because I had been overcharged. And what about all those people who DON’T check their receipts, I demanded? He listened, calmly and politely, and then agreed with everything I had said. He explained that he had been given the job in order to try and turn the store around, and that it would take about six months to bring everything up to where it should be. He also went into the back and rooted out a bag of hash browns for me. I left with a huge smile on my face, wishing him the absolute best, but more than that I was impressed by his approach. My criticisms were valid, and not spiteful, but he could have met them with defensiveness. I left the store feeling as if I had been in the presence of someone wise, someone who could and would get the job done. There is something comforting and uplifting about that.
Those who criticise at the drop of a hat, those who consistently blame others, those who stick the boot in and then stick it in again when the recipient challenges them, are always going to be nightmares to deal with…and behind their behaviour lies defensiveness and self – protection. They are automatically making the world wrong so that they can believe they are right. It isn’t honesty (as they will often claim), it is deflection. You can’t argue with them, you will only get sucked in, chewed up and spat out. Nip it in the bud, and get out of their space, tout suite.
However, some criticism is necessary, and we need to learn how to deliver it, and how to accept it. Otherwise we won’t grow. Our ego doesn’t like it one bit, and so we have to talk to it, explaining that although it hurts, this particular nugget is actually good for us. And again, we have to remind our ego that the two things that matter the most are INTENTION and MOTIVATION, filtered through self – awareness, and measured up against personal honesty! If we remember that, we can always hold our head high!
I recently realised I was sick to the back teeth of online bulls**t, and all of the motivational, entrepreneurial and digital marketing ‘experts’. I had reached overload, and could not stomach one more word from any of them.
I am not denying that the world of self – help has been of massive help to me. I have worked hard over the years to enlighten and educate myself, and find it difficult to comprehend how so many human beings manage to get through life without ever picking up a self – help book, or listening to a motivational recording. On the other hand, I am aware that self – help can become addictive, and have witnessed many, many individuals becoming junkies…..one seminar, podcast, book, video and audio recording after another and another….without actually doing very much at all with their newly acquired awareness and knowledge. The seeking BECOMES the goal, rather than a means to the goal.
And I have definitely made use of tons and tons of free info, learning how to do technical stuff I could not afford to pay someone else to do for me. I am genuinely grateful for that.
However, all of this can lead to great dissatisfaction, not to mention insanity. On one hand you are told that you need to be strong and powerful, to never give up, to fight for your dreams and your beliefs….to shape, form and create your own future. On the other, you are told that you need to be at peace, to not want or need anything, to only desire it, and let it go. To believe that everything you desire is already yours, and to calmly and happily get on with your life, without giving any of it another thought…and if you do so, it will all become manifest.
On one hand you are told that thought – intention alone is not enough…you have to MAKE things happen. On the other you are told that too much action is interference, and is coming from a place of strain and lack of faith.
And everyone is now a life coach, a marketing expert, an online millionaire in the making. Unless you have the right kind of ‘landing page’, and an emailing list that contains a zillion names, and unless you are putting out webinars, and selling online courses for a couple of thousand dollars/pounds, to a thousand customers, you are nowhere. Unless you know all about social media advertising, and if you aren’t working 20 hours per day on your ‘dream’, you can never be successful. Unless you join the right social networking groups, run by the ‘solopreneurs’ who rub shoulders with the marketing/motivational elite, you aren’t even on the bottom rung.
What is it all really about? Sales, baby. Money. And there is nothing wrong with that. I have worked for years on my own dysfunctional, unrewarding relationship with money and opportunity, a quest in which I have definitely been assisted by massively – paid gurus. I am in business, and I do my best to promote and sell my services to the world. I have big plans that require chunks of cash, and I have the same dreams that other people have….to help my children financially, and to give more to charity. And I want to continue to work on becoming the best possible version of myself. I am just sick to death of being bull – pooped to within an inch of my life! No wonder people don’t enter into this stuff….I almost wish, at times, I had never started (only almost…I wouldn’t really want to lose all of my hard – earned realisations!). The more brown stuff they pile on you, the more they want your cash. The more they schmooze you, the more you know that they need YOU more than you need THEM. The more they harass you, the less they actually care about whether or not their service/product is of any real use to you. The more they tell you about what you need to know, do, be and achieve, and that THEY have the one and only solution (for a hefty fee), the more you know that a million others are queuing up to supply you with exactly the same solution (for an equally hefty fee).
The truth is, the world is a buyer’s market, NOT a seller’s market. The power lies in the hands of the person with a spare few quid, never mind a million.
I don’t mind being sold to, and I do believe in advertising. How else would I know what is out there? People say “If I want a service, I will go out and look for it myself”. This is partly true, but not wholly. Most people don’t have the time, will or energy to really do the research. Motivational/educational self – help IS incredibly important, for anyone who doesn’t just want to survive life, and who wants to develop ongoing self – awareness, and to understand how to live up to their own potential. Online business IS the way to go, in this modern age, but so many are operating from a now completely saturated market. Would – be online zillionaires, who have paid thousands to learn how to sell to other would – be online zillionaires, are so desperate to be heard above the rest, they are drowning in the bulls**t swamp…and many will never emerge again.
Don’t join them. Learn from them. If you are one of the many I have come across who has lost yourself in the wonderful but illusive world of self – help and enlightenment, and yet still feel as if you are struggling, and still seeking, maybe it is time to recognise that you probably know enough right now, and let yourself off the hook. Dip back in every now and then, or stick with one or two people who generally inspire you, without causing you to feel dependent.
And if you are one of the many, many hopeful, but fearful and disheartened ‘trainee’ entrepreneurs I have come across, aspiring to be like your mega – successful heroes or heroines, and secretly feeling as if you are failing horribly, and that you will never know enough, or be enough, or earn enough….get a bull – dozer in, clear the mountain of bulls**t you are struggling to scale, go back to basics, and be yourself. You CAN be successful in YOUR way, and at YOUR speed, and without 90% of the crap you have been told you absolutely NEED to buy! Keep it simple, honest and true, and be consistent….and you will come up smelling of roses, not the other stuff!