As Within, So Without

“If enough of us do the inner work, we will make it.” – Carl Jung

When Jung wrote this, he was referring to what he called the shadow– those aspects of our consciousness and behaviors that we do not or will not recognize in ourselves. Instead we project them outward so that we can recognize them, but we seldom do.

This is the gateway to awakening, for we must recognize, heal and integrate the shadow parts of ourselves to emerge from the cocoon of illusion. No one can force this change upon you. You must actively seek it yourself.

This is a conundrum for activists, and our blind spots are often our undoing. It is easy to become self-righteous, desperate to convince others of what we think they need to know and do. It is far more difficult to examine ourselves, much less understand how the universe actually works– the role our perceptions play in creating our reality.

The truth is we are impotent to influence change until we embody that change. Ghandi said something about this, about becoming the change we want to see.

As an “activist of expanded consciousness,” I am guided by the belief that the need is dire for those who are already partially conscious to become more conscious.  It is far more achievable in any case than trying to awaken those who are asleep in their illusions…which is quite difficult.

This means doing the “inner work” Jung was talking about. We are unconscious to the extent that we refuse to own what we project. It is easier to try to change others, but mostly futile.

If you try to help a bird hatch by cracking its egg before it is ready to emerge, you are not being helpful.  Not only will it not work, the bird will probably die.

The power of self-transformation

I know some activists who brag about how they are “saving the world”  or about how many times they have been arrested, as though that demonstrates the effectiveness of their activism.  What it demonstrates is desperation born of impotence.

Are you one of those who preach to everyone about what they need to do, when your own life is a mess?  How can one “save the world” if they cannot save themselves?

The most powerful and enduring activism is healing your past and expanding your awareness; for by doing so, the world around you also transforms…dramatically. Doing so not only uplifts you, but everyone around you as well.

To the extent that your personal story is written from the wounds you carry– which often involves a lack of self-love–your capacity to serve others and give love is likewise impaired because your perception is clouded by your own issues.

Too many of us are focused on trying to get other people to change…and as a result ignore what WE need to change. If you want to heal the world, you must first heal what needs healing in yourself. You cannot fill anyone’s cup from an empty pitcher.

We often fail to realize that our power lies in changing ourselves. In truth, it is the only power we have.

Over and over, with my clients and students, I have seen what happens when they come to realize they can stop trying to change others and focus on uplifting themselves.

When they do, things change around them as well. They are often amazed by how much their family changes when they give up trying to change them and work on themselves. That’s where the magic is.

This is also true for our effect on the wider world.

That does not mean that we don’t need to take action…we absolutely do! But the first thing we have to do is change ourselves, our perceptions, our attitudes, our limited beliefs, the stories we tell ourselves, the judgements we project.

As Jung insisted, the most important work we each have to do is to integrate our own shadow. If we do not, we can only project our shadow on others. On a collective level, this is one of the big issues facing our nation. We have difficulty facing our shadow, and it is quite imposing.

If you deny your shadow, you will be largely impotent to change anything, no matter how much you crusade or how many times you get arrested.

If we do not engage in the “inner work” of personal upliftment, we cannot really help anyone else. We cannot change the fabric of our reality until we change our perception. If you want to save the world, you must begin with yourself!

To bring more light to the darkness, we must first bring light to the darkness within. No amount of crusading will substitute for the work you must do on yourself. It is your daily practices that will transform you…and the world.

Here are some suggestions, if you are interested…

Die to the past. Release it. Get over it. Forgive. This is the hardest part.  Understand that forgiveness is not about condoning, it is about you letting go of being a victim and getting on with your life.

Learn to focus your attention. It is one of the keys to personal power.  Where you place your attention determines where your energy goes… and thus your reality.

Cultivate flexibility of perception. Things are seldom exactly as they appear.

Learn to manage your emotions. Emotion is the rocket fuel for your thoughts. If your parents did not know how to manage their emotions, chances are high that neither will you.  Find someone who does to help you with this if you need to.

As much as possible, focus your attention on higher emotional frequencies: gratitude, kindness, appreciation, compassion, joy, forgiveness. This will do more to awaken  and empower you than almost anything else.  This does not mean spreading fairy dust on issues.  It means upgrading your own energy vibration and refusing to wallow in the mud.

Own your projections. When you find yourself judging others, take a really good look in the mirror. The gift of a greater awareness of the true nature of “reality” awaits you in your own reflection.

Focus on your heart and repeat this mantra: I am love. Love is all that I am. Do it often.

If you do nothing else, these practices will lead you step-by-step to becoming more conscious! The effect will be far bigger than yourself.

If you want to awaken all of humanity, then first awaken all of yourself.  If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly the greatest gift you have to give is your own self-transformation”    – Lao Tzu