I’ve talked with amazing people who told me stories about the life advice they’d received and followed – stories like:
- Staying in your chaotic relationship is better than being alone.
- Soul mate or not, people won’t accept you if you stay in your relationship with a woman who isn’t the same race.
- Do not leave your great paying job even if it is soul-sucking.
I understood. I’ve received and followed a lot of advice that sounded just like this!
Reading this now, it probably seems obvious that we were on the receiving end of some pretty questionable advice. But when we’re “at one” with our problems we can be pretty vulnerable to following advice that’s dicey to our thriving. Sometimes it is as simply insidious as: “You’ll miss out if you don’t do that thing.” or “Buy it, it’ll make you feel better.” or “Do and give a little more and they’ll treat you with kindness and appreciation.”
So, who is this “Dear Abby of Dis-empowerment,” the dispenser of this brand of advice?
For a long time I didn’t give any thought to the source of the advice, I just heard it and followed. But I found myself needing to recover from chronic illnesses and fatigue from all that doing and giving. I was surrounded by more unfulfilling stuff than I care to think about and still felt dis-empowered to fully bring about the life I wanted. When enough finally became enough, I went on a quest to make sense of all that I’d been experiencing – a quest that eventually led me to the simple but surprising source of the advice – my intellect (my unique expression of conditioned human intelligence).
I knew that my intellect could do all kinds of things to help me stay alive and function in the world; but until this quest of mine, I didn’t realize that:
- It’s very aware of all my soul’s experiences – all that I’ve learned, observed and felt.
- It’s been deciding what it likes and doesn’t, what seems safe and doesn’t and has formed detailed (and VOCAL) opinions about all of it.
- Many of its opinions were formed before it could fully comprehend my experiences, but it’s still using them to advise me
- It’s been telling me how life really is and how I need to behave if I’m ever going to have a shot at being successful.
- It’s assigned me a human identity (ego) and often advises me in accordance with staying tied to that identity.
This was eye opening! In fact, understanding the nature of my intellect has possibly been the most important discovery of my life. I’d been giving it my rapt attention – turning my life over to it, really – thinking of it as the part of me that knows what’s what.
Sometimes my intellect’s opinions are fabulous. Those are the ones that I respond to with deeply–felt good feelings about myself and the world. They empower me. That’s what truth feels like. But looking back, I can see that much of its life advice has been of the not-quite-so-fabulous, dis-empowering variety, instructing my soul (and body) to jump through hoops that landed me where I didn’t want to be. This left me longing for, but not truly connecting with, many of the things I most wanted in life – freedom from nervous habits, a deep sense of peace and well-being, utter confidence and ease in my ability to create a life that is profoundly fulfilling.
But as the gorgeous, wise and powerful nature of my spirit would have it, I eventually responded to its quiet prompting to take me far beyond the wisdom of my intellect by questioning the illness-producing, joy-robbing, misguided hoop jumping. Once I opened the door to deeply question what I’d been experiencing, everything in my life began to shift for the better.
As I write this, I want to burst into tears of gratitude for the abundance that’s been streaming into my life ever since this relationship began. I’m regularly in awe of the kind, supportive people in my life, the magnificence of my home and it’s view, the peace that’s flowing through me, the gorgeous places I’ve traveled, how often ease is a part of all I do, the strength of my body that allows me to move so uninhibitedly, the well-being in my soulful work and the recognition of the differences between the messages of intellect and spirit. Now when I feel anxious and distant from my spirit, I’m much better at going where my spirit guides me to get the support I need.
While I have immense gratitude for all the amazing things my intellect helps me with, I’ve found it’s important not to expect this part of me to be the one that best deals in the realms of my truth, peace, creativity or awesome advice on how to navigate my life’s purpose(s).
If you’ve become weary of wandering the desert of questionable advice and would like to get to know the wellspring of your spirit (the part that can be expected to deliver truth) more intimately, here’s a simple process to begin a meaningful relationship:
- Close your eyes.
- Take a couple of easy breaths.
- Put a hand and your attention on your heart and belly.
- Rest into the quiet of this gorgeous space, breath into it.
- Begin a conversation (out loud) with this space. It might go something like this: “Hi spirit, it’s me. It’s come to my attention that I’ve been following my intellect over you. I’d like to get to know you better, pay more attention to you, talk to you and listen to what you have to say. I’m going to come to this space often and share what’s troubling me and ask your advice. And, I’m going to listen into the quiet of this space for your response. Thank you!”
- Stay for a minute, resting in the quiet of this space before continuing your day, knowing that you can drop into this space any time you’d like.
This practice is extremely effective but may seem silly to our intellect/ego and be easily dismissed. But our soul yearns for this gentle, thoughtful connection with our very own truth – our own good life. Forgetting for a moment our desire for answers, it’s worth celebrating that resting into the quiet of this space acts as a portal for a much better-feeling life to rush in – in the moment and in the days ahead.
But yes, we like answers and there’s nothing wrong with that. We can relax into this space, tell our spirit what’s going on, ask our question and listen. When we want to know more, we can ask a follow-up question and listen again. With practice, you’ll become very familiar with the voice of your spirit. Until then, it may help to know a few things:
- It’s void of pro/con lists and rationalization.
- It’s always empowering.
- It feels good in the body, it’s grounding.
- It’s always kind.
- It can seem scary. Not because our truth is actually scary, but because the story our intellect/ego tells us about our truth feels scary.
What can you do with the scary stuff? Notice it, feel it, breath into it and allow it to be. When you’re ready, return to the practice of asking and listening. If you don’t believe you’re hearing from your truth, continue to practice.
When we make ourselves available to our spirit in this way, we open that portal through which our spirit will answer. However, it often answers when we least expect it and in ways we don’t expect. Eventually our intellect will begin to work in sync with our spirit. Then one day, unexpectedly, you’ll be struck with the sweetest realization – you’re in a much better (and kinder) relationship with your own self, your own life.