Two years ago, I unexpectedly received a book in the mail as a thank you gift for bringing a guest (my fiancé at the time) to my first weekend of coaching training. The book was The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer. As I read, I was quickly drawn in, intrigued by his philosophy on life. Around the same time, other books synchronistically appeared in my life that shared the same philosophy, including Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver and The Game of Life and How to Play It by Florence Scovel Shinn.
The idea of surrendering to life was fascinating to me. If there’s one thing that I have learned throughout my life, it's that life couldn’t be controlled. It was the frustration and disappointment of being "out of control" that leads to so much suffering. These books offered a different perspective of how to manage life circumstances and what it boils down to is that "surrender" really means letting go of the judgment of what is.
I am currently experiencing one of the most confusing and challenging situations I have ever gone through. This particular challenge is financial, threatening my ability to provide for even my most basic needs. This is bringing me face to face with my greatest fears and unearthing the darkest places within me - the core wound feelings of unworthiness.
If you have visited my website or read any of my previous blogs, you will know that I use Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey as a metaphor of life's stages. This particular stage that I am going through is what the Hero’s Journey refers to as The Ordeal, also known as the Dark Night of the Soul. Christopher Vogler, in Myths and Movies, writes,
“The Hero engages in the Ordeal, the central life-or-death crisis, during which he faces his greatest fear, confronts this most difficult challenge, and experiences ‘death.’ His journey teeters on the brink of failure…Only through ‘death’ can the Hero be reborn, experiencing a resurrection that grants greater powers or insight to see the Journey to the end.”
This is the central life-or-death crisis point that our favorite movies are made of. Will the hero die a most painful death or will she survive? It is this unfortunate and precarious precipice where I currently find myself.
Last night before bed, I started to re-read The Surrender Experiment, hoping for some inspiration.
Singer had been trying, through intense meditation, to quiet the chatter inside his head, and was frustrated at only fleeting moments of silence achieved through meditation. Instead, he decided to take a closer look at the chatter. What he discovered was that the chatter was usually about likes and dislikes. This inner voice had opinions and judgments about everything – the weather, traffic, people, etc. He concluded that these judgments were creating resistance to what was. He decided that instead of getting emotionally sucked in by these judgments, he would instead seize this as an opportunity to let go and surrender to what life was presenting. He refers to this as “peaceful resignation.”
After sleeping 13 hours, I woke up with an epiphany, triggered by Singer. The challenge I am facing right now is unlike any challenge I have faced thus far; however, it is nothing more than one more challenge in my life. It is my inner fear-based voice of judgment that is labeling the challenge as “bad.” This judgment comes from past programming by society, telling me that experiencing a financial challenge such of this is the ultimate failure.
In our society, finances rule. If you don’t have a good credit score, you’re not worthy of doing anything from hooking up your utilities, to renting an apartment or securing a mortgage. We constantly compare ourselves to others who have the big house or luxury car. Society programs us to believe that if we have those things, we are somehow worthier than those that don’t. It is exactly this programming that keeps us stuck in marriages and jobs that we don’t like. Because if we take that leap, and it doesn’t work out, we not only have the situation to deal with, but the judgment from our family, friends, and society, in the form of banks and landlords.
How true is it really that because we experience a financial setback we're not worthy?
In the past month, I somehow convinced myself, despite all of my training, that it is real. What triggered my doubt and judgment and shame was the condemnation by someone very close to me; someone I have always loved and trusted and thought supported me. My mind told me that this was a huge “betrayal,” but that was just my mind judging the situation. What she was doing was stating her opinion and perspective based on her past programming and experiences. Nothing more, nothing less. And yet, her words triggered my innermost fears and insecurities and sent me into a downward spiral.
Triggers, such as these, are nothing more than an opportunity to explore deeper beliefs about ourselves. So, upon further examination, I realized that if I take away all of the judgment, what I’m left with is this – a challenge to overcome - nothing more, nothing less. Let me tell you, this simple shift in perspective was a HUGE release and relief!
Here’s the bottom line. I took a Leap of Faith because my heart and soul told me to do so. Just because things haven’t been as smooth sailing as I dreamed they would be does not mean that it was a mistake. I believe in myself and my passion to help people live happier lives. In order to do so, I have to go through my own shit first. I have to experience these challenges so I can make it through to the other side and help others through it.
No one decides how I feel about myself except me.
So, here’s my challenge to myself and to you – in any situation in your life that is causing you angst, look closely at what you are feeling. Find the judgment that is at the root of the feeling. Then let it go and shower yourself with compassion, again and again and again and again and again.
Love and Light,