For the past 15 years I have looked almost daily at my neighbor’s messy garage. Since he has never owned a garage door, I have watched an unkempt collection of tools and junk accumulate to epic proportions. Nice enough guy that he is, he hasn’t cleaned his garage in 30 years, and he qualifies for the Guinness. (If not the record book, the beer.)
Recently his property came up for sale, and I decided to buy it. My first task was to clean up the garage. I set aside a Saturday to try to make a dent in the debris, and got a few friends to help me. We dug into the piles with zeal, made several runs to the town dump, swept every inch we could get to, and neatly organized salvageable tools and supplies on shelves. To my surprise, the task went quickly, and after about three hours of serious cleaning, the place looked quite respectable. It was, to say the least, transformed.
As I stood back and gazed upon the sparkling new space, I was amazed that an area that took 30 years to mess up, took only three hours to clean up.
Even An Old Dog Can Learn New Tricks
Translating that process into personal growth, I figure that improving our lives might be just as simple, if we let it. We can upgrade all kinds of old patterns and situations in a much shorter time than it took to create them.
Before we can do that, however, we have to let go of the notion that healing takes a long time, is hard, and requires pain. Sigmund Freud taught that our childhood programming molds us for life, and is difficult, if not impossible, for us to rise above. Yet a later psychologist noted, “Creative minds have been known to overcome even the worst programming.” That psychologist was Anna Freud -- daughter of Sigmund.
A student asked the spiritual teacher Abraham if it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks. Abraham’s answer was swift and incisive: “You have no idea what an old dog you are.” Our true self, Abraham explains, runs deeper than any programming we have learned. As spiritual beings, our nature as wisdom and love provides us the strength to transcend the limits we have adopted.
Do You Desire the Healing Process or the Result?
Many people have shown up at my seminars carrying painful previous experiences with teachers and groups that sought to purge them of submerged evil. They went to a seminar or church where they were convinced they were not as happy as they had thought, and they needed to root out invisible demons robbing them of joy without them even knowing it. Banishing such necromancers would require a great deal of time, work, dedication to the group’s ideals, and money.
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
So the students applied themselves diligently until they began to feel free. Then they were told that the work was just beginning; if they really wanted to advance, they would need to take the next level of the course, which required even more time, work, dedication to the group’s ideals, and money. And so on.
While some such groups embrace truthful principles, they become more enamored with the healing process than the healing result. If such purging really got you free, it would be a worthwhile practice. The problem is, it never ends. If you believe that your vehicle to liberation is to hunt down your limits and keep vomiting them until they are expunged, you set yourself up for a lifetime of psychic heaving. Is that really what you came here for? How long do you stretch yourself on the rack before you realize the game was never meant to be hard?
Just Get Over It and Leave the Past Behind
You will not get rid of your pain by glamorizing it. You will grow beyond your limits only by holding them up to the light until you recognize they were never real. You will never get rid of your evil because you were never evil. The entire evil hunt is based on a faulty premise, so even when you win, you lose. So just get over it now and be divine.
If you have an issue, it can be helpful to go to a friend or professional who can offer you a tissue. Indeed there are times when we all need a compassionate ear to listen to us, or a shoulder to weep on. Yet some ears have become so entrenched in listening and some shoulders so identified with bolstering, that they get hooked on the role in order to feel important or get paid. So instead of issues looking for a tissues, tissues are looking for issues. Any teacher that needs you to be broken so they can fix you, has drifted from the true purpose of healing. Real healing defines the patient as already empowered, and seeks not to dismantle and rebuild, but to remind and renew.
Leaving the past behind may be easier and quicker than you know. If a rock has been submerged in a stream for 30 years, it takes only a few minutes or hours to dry out, not 30 years. If you turn on a light in a dark room, it does not matter whether the room was dark for ten minutes or ten years; it is just as light now.
You are light now, and part of you always has been. For some, it takes guts to move through the long dark healing process. For others, it takes more courage to move through the short light healing process. To claim your identity as a whole being is to refute much of what the world has told us. But maybe only a radical shift in perspective will yield radically different results.
This article was written by the author of:
Enough Already: The Power of Radical Contentment
by Alan Cohen.
In a world where fear, crisis, and insufficiency dominate the media and many personal lives, the notion of claiming contentment may seem fantastic or even heretical. In his warm, down-to-earth style, Alan Cohen offers fresh, unique, and uplifting angles on coming to peace with what is before you and turning mundane situations into opportunities to gain wisdom, power, and happiness that does not depend on other people or conditions.
About The Author
Alan Cohen is the bestselling author of A Course in Miracles Made Easy and of the newly-released Spirit Means Business. Join Alan and musician Karen Drucker in Hawaii, December 1-6, for an extraordinary retreat, “A Course in Miracles: the Easy Path.” For more information about this program, Alan’s Holistic Life Coach Training beginning January 1, his books and videos, free daily inspirational quotes, online courses, and weekly radio show, visit www.alancohen.com