I imagine the “we” in this essay (used after the first paragraph) to be spiritual guides or similar sources of wisdom. The piece looks at an ongoing problem for me, one that I’ve addressed in other posts on this blog. I suspect that many people confront related doubts and troublesome thoughts—and also struggle, as I do, in the effort to overcome them.
The American psychic and philosopher Edgar Cayce spoke of spiritual ideals, or the central values by which we live our lives. He advised examining the ideals we are following to see if they are leading to problems for ourselves and others. Hindering values can then be replaced by spiritual ideals that will attract the best of our nature and potential. Here is my two-part question leading to the guidance below: What are the mistaken ideals by which I am leading my life, and what is the positive spiritual ideal that will guide me in making my life more meaningful, creative, and serene?
Your reigning ideals are to be accepted, to be acceptable, and to reach perfection in the areas you tackle so you will be “good enough.” And since perfection is impossible and you so often either don’t know what is expected or don’t know what you could possibly offer, paralysis—rather than productivity and contributions—results.
You are so afraid, so smothered by fear and frustration, that even those rivulets of creativity and giving that sometimes flowed in the past appear to have dried up permanently. You sit in your moment of time, your now, and feel that you, yourself, have evaporated, sucked out of your body by the years, experiences, and your overwhelming sense of inadequacy.
With friends, as well, you fear—you believe—you have little or nothing to offer beyond occasional opportunities to help. These opportunities are, at least for a while, deeply welcome because they allow you to have a place, to be acceptable, to have a reason for your presence in the other person’s life. You feel empty—inept, gauche, boring, devoid of that within that could make you able to serve in a more sustained way, to amuse, to be worth being around. You live with the constant fear that you are being found out—that friends who initially saw value in you as a companion are discovering the truth: that you are hollow and without merit. You fear, too, that you are not fundamentally a good person, are not sufficiently caring and giving, are flawed at heart as a human and so as a friend.
Of course you also have nothing to write, no flowing source. You know—or anyway, you hope—that writing as you are now is one way to remove the fear and simply write, but yet you continue to be afraid that even this approach to expression exceeds your ability to sustain. The essence of you has fled to the farthest edges of your psyche, has hidden in inaccessible layers of your subconscious, has curled up into such a tight ball of worry that the bud is blighted and about to fall off the stem.
You have lost touch with who you are because you have been away from yourself for long spans of time and because you have allowed fear and desperation to grow and grow and grow like some horrible creature in a science-fiction movie that threatens to destroy life. This creature has almost sucked the oxygen and hope out of your spirit and sense of self. You feel connected to others and to God, but you believe you are a weak link in the chain.
Even though you dislike being used beyond the far reaches of need, you truly do like to give, and not simply for a pat on the back. So you are a decent person, in spite of your confusion. You are still alive, and so hope continues to exist that your spirit in this life can yet revive and blossom. What can you do to recover? What is the ideal by which you can find creative, serenity-filled, giving, and satisfying days—while realizing that life gives ongoing challenges and while meeting these challenges with courage, gratitude, and growth. Our answer is that you must, you absolutely must now, change your ideal from being acceptable through being perfect to serving others through being yourself.
The only way to overcome your intense psychic and spiritual pain is to release every single should from your life, for shoulds are—or feel as if they are—imposed from the outside. Instead, substitute choices, decisions that you calmly make, one after the other, as each day unfolds, decisions reached based on your Inner Light and the genuine needs of the moment. Become an integral person whose life grows and flows naturally among the rest of creation.
Within your spiritual ideal is experiencing the unity of humanity and all the Universe, seeking to understand how life looks to others, expressing what your heart and soul are telling you, helping and encouraging as you can, loving and being kind, remembering all you truly love rather than all you have for so long thought you had to be, and trusting that your spirit and inherent ways are decent and acceptable.