By Mary Cook, M.A., R.A.S.
Our thoughts, feelings, images and actions determine the quality of our life more than external circumstances. The effort and time we spend trying to change our outward life, would be better spent on monitoring and transforming our inner world. The most effective means to improve our future, is to pay attention to the present moment with appreciation and positive energy.
If we have unhealed chronic stress, trauma, addictions, compulsions, or psychiatric illnesses, our thoughts are primarily focussed on survival rather than growth. The purpose of survival thinking is to seek reward and pleasure, and avoid pain. The feelings that accompany this focus are anger, fear, lust, hunger and thirst. Thus survival energy is limited, repetitive, and keeps us functioning at low and negative energy levels. If we wish to improve our lives, we must not mistake our minds for our identity, nor our minds’ ideas for our lives.
We possess a higher consciousness that perceives our potential, our soul’s purpose and divine guidance. While our mind views us as damaged and deprived, higher consciousness sees us as whole and holy. Conscious awareness and active demonstration of this divinity within us, is blocked by defense mechanisms, character defects, fears and false beliefs. These things form a false self, which is the source of much misery, because it stimulates and reinforces the futile search for happiness outside of ourselves.
Finding the treasure within us means that we must shatter the illusions of the false self, surrendering its negative manifestations, understanding that they never fulfilled our hopes. What helps us in this task, is identifying the positive energy hidden behind the negative energies. Old pain can then be exchanged for new unfolding moments of safety, support, resources and acceptance.
The positive energy behind jealousy is a desire for healthy attention. The positive energy behind prostitution is a desire to feel intrinsic worth for the physical body. The positive energy behind rage is a desire to feel understood and be healed of past harm. The positive energy behind fear is a desire for comfort and reassurance. The positive energy behind overeating is a desire for emotional nourishment and protection from pain. The positive energy behind self-centeredness is a desire to truly know oneself. The positive energy behind judgment is the desire to recognize and amend personal shortcomings. The positive energy behind being incarcerated is a desire to develop healthy internal discipline and structure.
As adults, we are capable of fulfilling these positive aspirations. We can find healthy people to assist us in this endeavor. We must intervene in our habit behaviors and honestly acknowledge what we truly want. This involves practicing healthy, personal caretaking and learning from others who model the character traits we admire. We also practice giving what we want, to others who are in need of the same things. We come to realize that although it may not have been possible to give and receive this positive energy previously, it is absolutely within our reach when we commit to personal growth.
The purpose of discussing our problems is to heal, release negative energy, and gain a greater understanding of ourselves and life circumstances. When we share our problems in the format of gossiping, morbid preoccupation, glorification, or other defensiveness, the original harmful effects are reinforced. Our solution is to disrupt old negative patterns and address and demonstrate the positive energy behind them. Visualizing the diminishment of negative behaviors and the expansion of positive behaviors is an effective rehearsal process for actual accomplishment.
If we examine survival thinking, we see how it is based in fear and deprivation. The treasure of positive energy behind seeking reward and pleasure is to gratefully acknowledge the ways in which it is already present. The positive energy behind avoiding pain is to recognize the ways in which we can learn and grow from facing pain. The survival focussed feelings of anger, fear, lust, hunger and thirst hide the positive energies of healthy release of tensions, empathy, feelings of loving union and healthy self nourishment.
When we are muscling our way through a mundane life, we have forgotten the magnificence of the moment. When we collapse from stress that we see as bigger than us, we’ve forgotten who holds us in holy embrace. We can lose ourselves in thought, and we can reclaim ourselves in spirit. As our thoughts, feelings, images and actions become increasingly positive, we become increasingly wise, courageous, resilient, peaceful, humble, inspiring and loving. This is the treasure hunt of life.