Although the healing process can really occur in three simple steps — find your willingness to see differently, give your willingness to your Inner Therapist, and trust that it is done — I find that I often need more ways to separate myself from the ego because it hangs on so tightly. Or, perhaps, because I hang on to it so tightly.
The five steps in this chapter are ways of looking at the ego with our Inner Therapist. We need to look at it in every manner we can, because the ego doesn’t want to be examined. The ego will shy away from the light of Love, because if we see it through the eyes of Love, we’ll see it for what it really is — nothing!
These steps are inspired by the healing process that the Course teaches (A Course in Miracles). You can use them to work through anxiety, a difficult relationship, or any other problem. They will take you through finding your willingness, recognizing your problems, and handing over what’s bothering you to your Inner Therapist.
Let’s begin with one of the most fundamental concepts: willingness.
Step 1: Find Your Willingness
Willingness is the key to happiness. It all starts with just a bit of openness to seeing things differently from how you currently see them. When we are still strongly identified with our ego personalities, we want to make things hard, so we think we have to make enormous efforts in order to change. But cascades of miracles can happen just from a tiny bit of willingness. Your Inner Therapist takes care of the rest. Although we might not at first be ready to receive the gifts that are already ours, they will be there when we are ready for them.
Where is my willingness and how do I find it? The process is simple. Ask yourself, Am I willing to see this differently? If the answer is yes, you’ve found your willingness.
Often, though, if we are open and honest with ourselves, we might acknowledge that we are not willing to let go of a grudge, to see something differently, or to let something go. We are stuck in our way of seeing things and have put up a block to truth and peace. We want it our way, dammit! If we pay attention, we may notice our peace fading away with that obstinate choice.
If I recognize that I really don’t want to see something differently (that is, I’d rather be right than happy [ACIM T-29. VII.1:9]), there is a process that helps me find my willingness, however removed from the present it may be. So I ask myself, Am I willing to be willing to see this differently?
When you can answer this affirmatively, you’ve found the tiny bit of willingness that’s needed. Touch that tiny bit of willingness, then offer it to the Inner Therapist.
When your fear feels intense, ask yourself whether you are willing to see this situation differently. If so, you have found your willingness.
Step 2: Commit to an Attitude of Radical Self-Honesty
The opposite of honesty is denial, and denial is a very strong device for ego self-protection. We use denial for concealment all the time, whether or not we realize it. We deny that we are made only of Love, then look to the world to fill the void we feel inside. We get upset because we feel judged by another person; if we were honest, we’d have to admit that we judged them first, and hey, we’d rather deny that. We have frequent thoughts of fear, but we deny that they are there by quickly distracting ourselves.
Take, for instance, that momentary flash of satisfaction that you may feel when you learn you are better off than someone you regard as a rival. Although this may be hard to admit, if you look closely, chances are you will notice an occasional, tiny ego thought along these lines. Feeling satisfaction at someone else’s struggle is not a socially acceptable feeling, so we quickly deny it. Yet denying it is not going to get rid of it. This judgment or “scrap of fear” needs to be looked at and undone.
If we don’t honestly acknowledge the dark spots in our own minds, they’re not going to be transformed and healed. We need to be completely and impeccably honest with ourselves and with our Inner Therapist if we’re serious about finding peace that lasts. This means being totally honest about the ugly, socially unacceptable thoughts that zip through our minds, even if they last only a split second.
The goal is not to stop having negative thoughts. It’s to have none that we would keep from sharing with our Inner Therapist (ACIM T-15.IV.9:2). You do not need to clean up your thoughts before sharing them. Instead, you are being asked to bring them, down and dirty, to the light of your Inner Therapist to allow it to do its job of exchanging your false perceptions for loving perceptions.
If you are anxious, depressed, or troubled in any way, admit it. If you’re feeling judgmental, own it. Don’t turn away from these feelings. These are red flags signaling that it’s time to work — not cues to avoid them, procrastinate, or distract yourself. The most important indicator of how you are doing is how you feel. If you feel anything but pure joy, the ego is at the wheel, driving your car.
Step 3: Look Directly at What Is Coming Up for You
Once you are committed to an attitude of honesty, you are ready to look directly at what is coming up inside your mind. You can do this by asking yourself two questions:
The emotions may be intense or subtle, the thoughts may be obvious or fleeting. Either way, we have to examine our minds carefully for the beliefs that block peace. To do this, it’s always been helpful for me to make laundry lists of my fears and irritations. Here is a list of my typical fears from my journal:
* I’m afraid I’m going to die.
* I’m afraid of suffering.
* I’m afraid of being sick.
* I’m concerned that situation X is going to turn out a certain way.
* I’m afraid of my loved ones’ suffering.
* I’m afraid of letting someone down.
* I’m afraid of losing a relationship.
* I’m afraid of being afraid.
Take a moment to make a laundry list of your own fears.
But listing our fears is only the first step. We can look at the underlying beliefs that are fueling our fears. Look at each item in your list of fears and ask yourself, “What does this fear show that I believe?” Make a laundry list of those beliefs. Here is a sample of mine:
* I believe that I am limited to a body.
* I really do believe that I am Corinne.
* I believe that I can be hurt and that I can suffer.
* I really do believe in death.
* I believe that I really managed to separate myself from Love.
* I believe more in the world than in God.
* I believe that everything outside of me has to be okay for me to be okay.
* I believe that my body can hurt me.
* I believe that I may be alone.
* I still believe there are some things that can’t be forgiven.
Get really honest with yourself about the icky beliefs that you hold. Don’t shy away from anything. Turn toward the pain and discomfort when you feel ready to, and imagine your Inner Therapist right beside you. You can say to yourself, “I am willing to look at this with my Inner Therapist.” It will be comforting to remember that you are not looking at it alone.
Step 4: Acknowledge That the Fear Is Coming from Your Split Mind
What we see “out there” in the world is a reflection, a projection, of what is in our mind.
On a superficial level, this means that if I see Susie as immature, judgmental, and catty, then we can say I must have those qualities within myself. What I don’t like in another person is what I don’t like in myself, and I’m capable of behaving in exactly the same ways.
The Course, however, goes deeper than this: “I am responsible for what I see. I choose the feelings I experience, and I decide upon the goal I would achieve. And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked” (ACIM T-21. II.2:3–5).
Every fear and anxiety that we think of as happening to us originates in the sleeping part of our Child Mind, which believes in an ego. Since part of our Child Mind is asleep, and part of it is awake and home in Love, we can say that it is split. Some of the things that we originate and then project from this place are not so nice. Remember, this sleeping part of the mind holds a lot of guilt and fear.
I’m certainly not implying “New Age guilt,” the idea that everything bad that happens is the result of negative thinking, negative attitude, bad karma, or a burden from a past life. The problem actually goes deeper than that. Bad experiences represent the ego’s best efforts to keep you believing in the world it has created.
Remember, the goal of the ego is to keep guilt in place. The ego wants to stay separate from our Source, and it can only do so by maintaining our belief in the separation. The ego uses every painful circumstance we find ourselves in to reinforce its message that what we see is real and that we are bodies. Stub your toe, and it hurts. Freak out with a panic attack, and the body goes on full alert! If we follow the ego, we become willing participants in its endless and painful roller-coaster ride.
Everything that seemingly happens to you can be an opportunity to wake up, as each situation is repurposed by your Inner Therapist to provide you with a miracle instead of a grievance.
Even if we are feeling anxious and believe that we’re helplessly stuck in ego, there is still a quiet, unchanged part of our mind that remains purely at peace. It is possible to be aware of this quiet, still part of our mind even in the midst of turmoil.
As we choose to listen to our Inner Therapist instead of ego and experience miracles on the conscious level, the sleeping Child Mind is reminded that there is nothing to fear, and it can reawaken to its truth.
So instead of placing blame on people, situations, or God for causing us anxiety, we can experiment with acknowledging that all fear is coming from the split mind. As we see and learn to heal this split, anxiety falls away. We have the power to see witnesses to fear or witnesses to love. The choice is ours because nothing is outside ourselves.
Step 5: Give It to Your Inner Therapist and Ask for a Miracle Instead
After looking directly at the perceptions coming up within you and acknowledging that they are coming from your split mind, you can give everything to your Inner Therapist so that it can be transformed.
Be willing to let go of the way you see things so that your Inner Therapist can do its job: exchanging false perceptions for true perceptions. This shift in perception is a miracle.
You can also think about this step as “thought swapping” with your Inner Therapist. You lay out a negative thought, and your Inner Therapist swaps it for a miracle. It’s like playing poker and laying your unwanted cards out on the table so the dealer can give you better ones. As you learn that giving your perceptions to your Inner Therapist in exchange for miracles makes you happy, this thought swapping becomes effortless. And it’s not magic. Those miraculous thoughts of Love are already in your mind, waiting to be expressed through you.
Although the miracle is already there, however, you might not be ready to receive it. If nothing seems to happen when you give your perceptions to your Inner Therapist, your task is simply to trust that you’ll get the miracle when you’re ready.
Reminder: we’re asked not to do the Inner Therapist’s job. When something comes up, it is not our task to figure out how to fix ourselves or change our negative thinking. Instead, we can leave correction to our Inner Therapist through our willingness. Our Inner Therapist will choose Love for us.
Copyright ©2018 by Corinne Zupko.
Reprinted with permission from New World Library
From Anxiety to Love: A Radical New Approach for Letting Go of Fear and Finding Lasting Peace
by Corinne Zupko.
Author Corinne Zupko undertook her study of psychology out of necessity when debilitating anxiety threatened to derail her life. Seeking ways to do more than temporarily alleviate her symptoms, Corinne began to study A Course in Miracles (ACIM), mindfulness meditation, and the latest therapeutic approaches for treating anxiety. In From Anxiety to Love, she shares what she learned and gently guides you through the process, helping you undo anxiety-based thinking and fostering mindful shifts in your thoughts and actions. Whether struggling with everyday stress or near-crippling discomfort, you will find that Corinne’s approach offers a new way of healing from — rather than just coping with — fear and anxiety.
Corinne Zupko, EdS, LPC, has coached, counseled, and educated thousands of individuals at national conferences, in the classroom, in workshops, and in the therapy chair. She teaches weekly meditation classes for corporate clients and cohosts the largest virtual conference of ACIM in the world through the organization Miracle Share International, which she cofounded. Visit Corinne's website at https://fromanxietytolove.com/