smiling young woman dressed in red with her arms up in victory
Image by Anastasia Borisova

“I remember being a happy kid when I was really young,” my client told me as she looked down at the floor. “And then, I remember feel­ing very different, very less than, in second grade. I remember all of a sudden being so terrified of speaking up and being laughed at that I was constantly anxious around other kids. As early as seven, I taught myself to stay quiet and never rock the boat. And this is still who I am now at forty-five—I’m known for being the ‘amiable leader.’ I guess I didn’t think I was good enough then, and I can see that I’m still choosing to believe that on some level now. The problem is, I have no idea how to choose otherwise.”

This is my client’s inner opposition in action. Before we decon­struct her statement to see what’s going on, let’s acknowledge that there was a period in time before the less-than state settled into her psyche. Whether the unworthiness took up residence in preschool or kinder­garten or at another pivotal moment, the truth is that there was a point in time before she decided she wasn’t good enough. That time was before she developed inner opposition and put on the headset of false beliefs to stay safe. It was the time in which she embodied a faultless, worthy, and deserving state of being.

  1. I remember feeling . . . less than as early as second grade.”

    To feel less than implies there is a being underneath the overlaid feeling state of inadequacy. So there must be a being upon which to exercise a chosen feeling state.

  2. I can see that I’m still choosing to believe that I’m not good enough on some level now.”

    Still choosing to believe implies that she knows she’s in the driver’s seat and that she has the option in perceiving a value-laden judgment about herself—or not.

    innerself subscribe graphic

  1. “I have no idea how to choose otherwise.”

    Choice is every­thing here, implying the existence of something else, other than that which is being perceived. This statement suggests that she understands that a different choice would lead to freedom.

The Being Underneath: Whole and Complete

The being underneath our value-laden perception is the whole and complete canvas that each of us is at our core. Most of us instinctively feel the truth that there is more to who we are. We often feel there is something deeper—an essence that isn’t fully embodied. We sense that there is a way of life that’s easier than what is being lived, but the path to that truth, freedom, and vitality feels elusive. (These inklings are probably why you’re reading this!)

The only reason that path feels elusive is because your inner opposition headset is still on. Each of us has the ability to take it off, but it’s impossible to exercise this ability unless we know about our whole and complete being underneath the superimposed reality. To break free, we must wake up to the fact that our suffering or struggle results from false perceptions—false per­ceptions resulting from the decision we made about ourselves to make sense of perceived rejection.

The moment you made that decision is what I consider to be the moment you turned away from truth. Turning away from truth can elicit different meanings for people. It might sound like a form of denial or resignation about reality. It could also appear to be an intentional act to numb, control, or sedate ourselves from unpleasant emotions or our complex inner world.

In the living-on-purpose context, turning away from truth captures the natural consequence of believing the worst about ourselves. As I’ve worked through this process with countless clients, I can’t help but refer to that moment in our life when we adopted inner opposition—the moment we formed a negative and untrue perception about who we are and disidentified from being utterly complete—as the moment we turned away from truth.

Returning to the Truth

Don’t despair. You’re meant to wake up and return to the truth, which feels like home. This is a part of our shared human experience: to lose ourselves in the process of navigating life and have the exhilarating opportunity to rediscover and reclaim the truth of who we really are. Inherent in the hero’s journey that each of us embarked upon at birth, we are meant to come home again—to find our way back to the shore of our whole and true self.

Inner opposition is the necessary experi­ence that introduces you to who you aren’t so you can claim who you really are. (Because you can’t know who you really are if you don’t know who you aren’t!) Your thriving is pred­icated on duality. We require contrast to grow. Without the experience of inner opposition, you wouldn’t have a reason to take your life by the horns and choose to live on purpose.

Would our life experience be truly meaningful if we floated along without the opportunity to learn and grow from mistakes and setbacks? No, that wouldn’t be purposeful or productive at all. For example, one of my clients was a manager for a research lab at a uni­versity. As an extremely ambitious and motivated young woman, she was passionate about her career and wanted to be known as a leader who stood for operational excellence and efficiency.

After return­ing from maternity leave, she was blindsided by a report from HR detailing a collection of negative feedback about her from many of her colleagues and cross-functional partners. Not only was she put on a performance improvement plan, but her scope of responsibility was also reduced, and she was stripped of her managerial responsibilities. She felt betrayed, confused, and angry. How long have they been feeling this way? she wondered. And why did they wait until now to ambush me? After all, don’t they realize how dedicated I am to the labs ’ success?

Then, in what for her was a radical act to find meaning and purpose, she decided that instead of finding blame and harboring resentment, she would use this painful experience as a reason to do some honest, inward examination. Together, we dove in deep to reveal her inner opposition and how it had been unintentionally driving unhelpful behaviors. With a big shift in perception, she discovered how her intentions and impact were incongruent and worked hard to align them so as to be the caring, courageous, and wise leader she intended to be.

This growth gave her the clarity and confidence to make a big leap away from academia, and she is now on the fast track to executive management in one of the big­gest companies in biotech. She admits that if it weren’t for that painful wakeup call, and what felt like a devastating professional setback at the time, she wouldn’t have had the reason to discover her blind spots and embody the awakened, compassionate soul that lived beneath her unacknowledged fear. She wouldn’t be thriving in the way she is now.

Inner Opposition: The Fertilizer for Our Blossoming

In the same way that setbacks tee us up for growth, inner opposi­tion is the manure that provides the fertilizer for our blossoming. So don’t think of turning away from truth as a bad thing. And don’t think that taking on false, limiting beliefs was a mistake that you could have avoided.

As a child, with your young brain’s limited ability to make sense of the complexity of life and relationships, coupled with your innocent perception, there was no way you could have. All parts of you were innocently trying to keep you safe.

And for all you parents out there: you can’t prevent your kids from interpreting the “what and how” of their own life experience, so don’t be hard on yourself for the development of their own inner opposition.

I want to repeat this tender truth: each of us is doing the very best we can at every moment. If we could have done better, we would have! And if we would have known better, we would have done better.

All of it is enough and always on purpose. So I invite you to drop any resistance you may have to how things have played out for you and consider inner opposition as a part of your soul’s unfoldment and evolution.

Accepting this reality comes naturally when you embrace and choose to know that there is no way things—or you—should be. Accepting this reality allows you to powerfully claim your true essence of being—a whole and complete individual beneath the inner opposition.

Given that we’re here in this conversation together, your job is to decide that how it has all come to be has been beautifully on pur­pose, and you’re here now to get in touch with the already-complete you who is alive and well despite the false perception you’ve been surviving. The most direct path back to the truth is to recognize what isn’t true so you can claim what is.

Integrating That You Are Already Complete

Looking back on our lives up until now is great for our own personal research and development and self-understanding—as opposed to being self-critical or conjuring painful feelings. When I look back at my own life, I see three distinct phases:

Phase 1: This was a short period in life, before about three years old, before I decided I was a burden and ultimately not good enough. This was the innocent phase in which I felt unconditional love for myself. Not because I practiced it actively, but because I didn’t (and developmentally couldn’t) perceive myself as broken, faulty, or inad­equate. This is the phase when I was unconsciously living my truth as a whole and complete being, and therefore life was delightful and sweet.

Phase 2: After my first profound experience of perceived rejection around three years old, I made a decision about myself that I was a burden and not good enough. This is when I turned away from truth and adopted inner opposition to keep me safe from future situations where I might be rejected again. For the next twenty-five years, I would live my life as viewed through my own inner opposition glasses to attempt to stay safe.

Phase 3: After I took myself through the process to identify my false limiting beliefs and do something about it was when Phase 3 began. When I decided that I was already complete and consequently committed to freeing myself from an inner opposition Virtual Reality headset, I claimed the life I was born to live. I stepped into a life of freedom, joy, and possibility.

I’m inviting you to prepare yourself for Phase 3 right here, right now. It doesn’t take much more than:

  1. Realizing you took on inner opposition at some point to stay safe and accepted, and

  2. Deciding that underneath those inner opposition lenses, you always were—and always will be—whole and complete.

Underneath the Fears and False Beliefs

So with that, my question to you is: Who is the you underneath the fears and false beliefs you’ve acquired to survive perceived rejec­tion? The you who is rooted in pure loving consciousness? What is the essence of you, that makes you you, beautifully unique from me and everyone else around you, yet stemming from the same loving con­sciousness from which we all arise? Who is the whole and complete individual within you who has been there from the moment you were born and will remain until the day you die? Who is the whole and com­plete individual who is there for you to claim?

There is no story, act, or feigned personality to find; it’s an essence of being that feels meaningful, purposeful, and you. And remember, because there is no way things, or you, should be—there is no “right” answer to find here! Think of it this way: if you’re inspired to a thought or idea of what the true essence of you is, then inspiration is pointing you to the truth already. Why else would you want it? The right answer is the answer you want it to be, the answer that feels good at the thought of it being you.

For me, I’ve decided that my whole and complete essence has these four energies at the center: empowerment, wisdom, joy, and clarity. These are qualities of my whole and complete self that I have decided are unconditionally who I am because it feels right and true. What essence qualities will you choose to claim because it feels right? Feel this one out, don’t figure it out.

If there are no specific qualities or words coming to you now to map to what feels right, that’s A-OK. All you need to do is to be open to the existence of the state of being that is of unconditional enough-ness — the state of being that was the you — before you turned away from truth. There is no right or wrong way to do this. It just takes a curiosity and willingness to touch into the part of you before you made the decision that changed your life.

Acknowledging Your Wholeness

If you can’t remember what it felt like before your world was rife with inner opposition, that’s totally fine too. Then simply acknowledge a wholeness that was you when you came into being, a wholeness you unknowingly lived before you could acknowledge it, a wholeness that is there underneath practiced false perception. For now, feel it if you can, or simply acknowledge that it’s still there.

If you’re having a hard time accepting the truth underneath your inner opposition headset and want to defend your perceived lack, then I lovingly ask you, would you rather prove your point of view or find peace? Would you rather argue for your limitations or claim a life of joy, freedom, and possibility?

Take the leap: choose peace and possibility.

Copyright 2022. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission.

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