When we are always looking for something or someone to complete us, we soon feel as if we’re living in hell. Happiness and love go hand in hand, and we are taught that not only our happiness but also our love are somewhere “out there.” Some of these thoughts and attitudes may sound familiar:
“I must get all I can from the outside world because I feel empty inside.”
“When I have enough stuff, I’ll be happy.”
“I eat too much because it distracts me from feeling unloved.”
“I must do well at school or work so I’m praised enough to feel good.”
“I must find a lover or mate who makes me feel worthwhile.”
That last one was me! I was looking for love in all the wrong places, especially in the wrong men. I made men my God, and I suffered a lot in the process. Because we choose to be separate from the God within, we all suffer from the syndrome of unworthiness in one way or another. When we don’t feel worthy of even existing, we look for something or someone to give it to us — anything to make us feel special.
Believing In Specialness
In fact, what we call the “ego” is actually a belief in specialness. When we forget that we are one with God — which means a state of inner security, stability, and happiness that far surpasses feeling special — then we won’t be able to feel love within, and we’ll settle for the ego’s substitutes instead. That’s when we need something or someone to make us feel special.
This is summed up well in one of the Pathways of Light courses called “Special Relationship vs. Holy Relationship” (practitioner course 905):
In truth, love in this world of bodies really means, “I want to be special, but I also feel alone, lacking and unworthy, which I can’t stand. Will you be my special partner and promise to keep your body around and help me feel special? This will help submerge my pangs of loneliness, lack, and unworthiness. I will get the specialness, acknowledgment, and attention I want so desperately. In return I will shower you with specialness. I will agree to give you special attention and shower you with my exclusive ‘love.’ Then through our allegiance in being special partners, we will avoid the side-effects of loneliness and guilt that our desire for specialness brings. We will be happy our own way, in our little world of specialness. We will be each other’s idols and replace the Love of God.”
When I read this I thought, “Dios mío, this is what I have been doing all my life!”
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
I will share a personal story about this below, but first let’s discuss the first step of self-love: accepting everything you feel.
Feeling Your Feelings
Feeling your fear, worry, sadness, and other negative feelings with the same openness that you feel confidence or a good mood is the beginning of accepting all of yourself, and is a beautiful act of self-love. Facing hard feelings can be uncomfortable, but instead of rejecting or running away from them, you can transform them by letting them be just as they are.
For example, I’ve been working with a student named Carly for several years, and she once sent me this text:
Hey, Maria. I just wanted to reach out — answer this when/if you have time. I just got a new job yesterday, and put in my two weeks’ notice at my current job. I am feeling so sad and down, even though I know this is a good thing, and I am going to a place that’s closer to my house and pays a higher salary. I am making this so real and feel so sad. I am not sure what to do!
Here was my response:
Hi — Congratulations! What a joy! New beginnings!!! It feels to me like you’re resisting being sad, as if something is wrong with that. It’s a natural thing that happens. Since we are in the body, we get sad, upset about worldly stuff. Our job is always to be aware that we are choosing to be sad and give it over to the Holy Spirit. Remember, you don’t have to do anything with your behavior; the change that counts is always in your mind.
I was sad and scared when I moved to where I am now, my new place. It was more expensive than my old place, where I was in my comfort zone and had memories with my ex-husband. But I let myself go through those feelings and did my spiritual practice.
This is a beautiful transition for you, enjoy it! Even if you’re sad. Be with the sadness, and I know since you live a life of trust it shall pass, as you choose to do so.
I hope this helped!
Here was how Carly replied:
Wow, Maria, thank you. You are right! I can allow myself to be sad and feel my feelings through this job transition. Just knowing this actually made me feel much better. I was definitely making myself wrong and bad for feeling sad, and I wanted to change how I felt.
\It’s so helpful to remember that my feelings aren’t bad, and that even though I’m doing a spiritual practice, that doesn’t mean that my feelings go away. They are still there, but now I can take what I’m feeling to the Holy Spirit. It’s crazy to think that I can trust and enjoy this even though I feel sad! But that’s not actually crazy, that’s really sanity, right? That’s what living A Course in Miracles means. I’m going to let myself feel this and bring it to the Holy Spirit. Thank you for seeing me in high regard and for your love and support.
You can use all your feelings as a tool to awaken. Whatever life brings you is just enough to bring you home to yourself.
Awaking from My Slow Death
I have experienced this dynamic personally. For a long time in my life, if I did not have a boyfriend, I was not happy. I needed to be with another body, and I needed constant comforting and recognition, which I called “love.” If I did not have this, I was a hot mess. A man was more important than my job and even my family. I was constantly searching for the perfect man to marry and have children with, and I hardly noticed that this search made me miserable.
Looking back, I can see that I was attacking my true self: the love of God within me. That love is eternal and can never die, but if you’re always turning away from it, you feel as if you’re dying inside.
This predicament finally began to change in 2014, when I met “the Buddha guy.” He was so handsome: tall, dark hair, beautiful tanned skin, great body. Not only was he eye candy, he was spiritual — a practicing Buddhist who chanted every day! Oh, and he had his own thriving business. We had a couple of dates that went well, and I was beginning to really like him. Then he brought up a slight issue: There were some other young women “taking up real estate” in his mind, as he put it. My immediate reaction was: So why was he dating me?! I wanted to choke him, but I didn’t, though I did slam a few kitchen cabinets while we discussed this issue. Finally, I did something new for me. I said, “I am done, get out.”
Shocked, he replied, “You want me to leave?” I repeated that yes, I did. This stance was muy importante because, in the past, I would have tried to fix things no matter what, even if it meant settling for a situation that was unhealthy. After ending our relationship, I felt sad for the next few days, and I yearned to text or call, thinking it would calm my pain, but I resisted the urge. This taught me that I am not just my feelings, and I don’t have to be controlled by them. I have the choice to “rest in God” instead, an internal state that guarantees happiness.
This state is what I call a true love affair with everyone and everything. In this condition, you recognize that giving and receiving are one. You extend love rather than trying to get it. That means that, when you are close to someone, you can be raw, authentic, and honest. You reveal your “baggage” instead of hiding it, as the ego wants to do. You are willing to heal with another, instead of using hurt feelings to enforce separation. Most important, you realize that every relationship has only one true purpose: to awaken to God. Together, you both ask, “How may this relationship serve? What is it for?”
Becoming Ready to Be Happy
You might be wondering what happened. What changed that allowed me to recognize I was the love of my life? The truth is, before this happened, I really did not have any idea how my mind worked. I was studying the Course and other perspectives, but I was not experiencing what I was reading because my unconscious belief in separation prevented me from adopting a new outlook.
What made the difference is that I finally became ready to be happy. I had to decide to choose happiness, and only I could do so; books and courses could not decide for me. We are each the decision maker in our own lives, and when we tap into that power, we are ready to rumble in miracles!
I became ready by learning to recognize when I was holding on to a grievance or looking for happiness “out there.” These are both ways of telling ourselves that the God within ourselves is not real, and so we seek to be “saved” by finding some kind of solution elsewhere. With practice, I began to notice these thoughts and feelings and give them over to the Holy Spirit.
I constantly practiced giving things over, even if I felt this process was not working. I would “choose again” — and again. The more I did, the more I could see a whole world inside me, so incredibly lovely and not dependent on external things. I got unhooked from the world outside, which mattered less and less.
I used this mantra: I am the love of my life because I am God’s. Using this practice, I slowly cultivated genuine self-love, which means experiencing my true self within God. Once I felt this, having a boyfriend wasn’t as important.
You can choose as well. You choose to be the love of your life when you are ready to be. That choice can take place right now. All you need to declare is “I am willing!” You make the choice for truth, the right mind, holy love, or God — whatever you want to call it. Then you start to live that choice.
©2017 by Maria Felipe. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA.
www.newworldlibrary.com or 800-972-6657 ext. 52.
About the Author
Rev. Maria Felipe, a Cuban American born in Miami, found success as a model and actress before following a spiritual path that led her to study A Course in Miracles. She became an ordained minister at Pathways of Light and now leads monthly services in both Spanish and English at Unity Church in Burbank, California. Visit her website at MariaFelipe.org