Two Different Ways to Grow

Two Different Ways to Grow December 13, 2015

I’m my own worst critic.

Are you?

The negative voices that fill our heads may come from any number of sources but we are the ones who let them keep ringing out, who keep giving them validity and keep believing them.

I see and celebrate my successes, sometimes. I acknowledge my worth occasionally. But I never miss a failure. I never overlook a mistake. I see my weaknesses, my missteps, in all their naked truth. Usually, the only time I give any weight to my identity is when I’m reviewing the things I’ve done wrong. Negativity is heavier than positivity, awful but true.

The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ

Levi H. Dowling

There are two selfs; the higher and the lower self.
The higher self is human spirit clothed with soul, made in the form of God.
The lower self, the carnal self, the body of desires, is a reflection of the higher self, distorted by the murky ethers of the flesh.
The lower self is an illusion, and will pass away; the higher self is God in man, and will not pass away.

When we get tired of our negative identities (the ones we give ourselves), we thrum up the courage and motivation to change something. Usually ourselves: our habits, our behaviors. We’re going to do better. What we mean is we’re going to fail less, or in more acceptable ways.

For example, if I want to lose weight, I’ll focus on my poor eating choices and my lacking exercise habit. Maybe I’ll go on on a diet. Or maybe I’ll just start paying attention, ordering salad and fish instead of a burger. I’ll start working out three or four times a week.

I’ll lose some weight.

But what does my mind do? Celebrate? Rejoice? Enjoy the moment? Maybe. More often than not, though, all I will see is how much weight I still want to lose. Maybe three pounds are gone, but what about the thirty still hanging out on my thighs and waist? Maybe my calves are slimmer, but look at those upper arms!

My victory is short-lived, and I kill my brand-new identity as someone who is eating healthy and exercising regularly. I go back to the old, negative identity: someone who needs to lose weight. Someone who needs to eat better. Someone who needs to work out more. Someone who is still not good enough.

The Alchemy of Happiness

A Ghazzali

KNOWLEDGE of self is the key to the knowledge of God, according to the saying: “He who knows himself knows God,”[1] and, as it is Written in the Koran, “We will show them Our signs in the world and in themselves, that the truth may be manifest to them.” Now nothing is nearer to thee than thyself, and if thou knowest not thyself how canst thou know anything else?

There are two ways to grow: the first way is to notice how we fail, and try to fix it, to change it. We can accomplish a lot this way, actually, but it’s painful and demoralizing. Our motivation is poor: we’re running away from something negative rather than running toward something positive and good. No matter how much we change, we always see the negative past behind us, the failures stacking up, and the changes are never quite enough. We can never truly move our identity from the negative by focusing on the negative. We can never see ourselves as victors when we are retreating.

The second way to grow is better. It’s to notice how we are right, how we are winning, and to open up to more of it. It’s to notice how we are already good and beautiful, and to acknowledge that goodness and beauty, and to make room for it, live it, embrace it.

Creative Mind and Success

Ernest Shurtleff Holmes

…We can effectively affirm only that which we know, and we know only that which we are. It is herein that we see the necessity of providing within a greater concept of life; a bigger idea of ourselves and a more expanded concept of the Universe in which we live, move and have our being. This is a matter of inner growth together with the enlarging of all lines of thought and activity.

Most of us have a really, really difficult time with this second way. We have these deep, old, rumbling voices telling us that there’s nothing inherently good or beautiful or right about who we are. The most courageous thing we can ever do is to tell those voices to get the hell out of our heads.

When we grow in the second way, the better way, we grow from positive motivation. We see good, and we bring in more good. We see beauty, and we create more beauty. We see worth, and we acknowledge it, and we begin to live according to the best of what we already have and are rather than focusing on what we lack. Progress creates progress. When we act from positivity, we remove the fear and stress. We throw away the guilt, the shame, the painful effort and self-inflicted punishment. Growth becomes easy, as simple as taking one little step after another.

Raja Yoga: The First Lesson

Yogi Ramacharaka

The Yogi Masters teach that there are two degrees of this awakening consciousness of the Real Self. The first, which they call “the Consciousness of the ‘I’,” is the full consciousness of real existence that comes to the Candidate, and which causes him to know that he is a real entity having a life not depending upon the body—life that will go on in spite of the destruction of the body—real life, in fact. The second degree, which they call “the Consciousness of the ‘I AM’,” is the consciousness of one’s identity with the Universal Life, and his relationship to, and “in-touchness” with all life, expressed and unexpressed. These two degrees of consciousness come in time to all who seek “The Path.” To some it comes suddenly; to others it dawns gradually…

Photo Credit: Pezibear, CC license.

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