Mastering the Illusion

Master the illusion of the world you see around you through spiritual self-mastery.

There is something that happens when we contemplate the unknown or even partially known future – we question our power to control it. We question the risk to ourselves. And then we try to find ways to get some control over things.

When I first started healing, I intuitively understood that one of the intentions of my path was to make me “fearless” in many ways. I would no longer be scared of my experience – past, present, or future. That’s happened. I’m not scared of nothing anymore. But what I didn’t expect was that life would offer me cliffs with no safety nets, with the very unique expectation that I would simply dive in head first and not really think about it or worry about it too much, that I wouldn’t change direction because of it.

When the unknown future presents the possibility that there may be some cliff jumping involved, that often changes the path people take. They go in a different direction because of the perception of risk that comes into play. I don’t think that most people have a healing journey that includes becoming fearless in this way. But, if they did, it would be life-changing for them. Or maybe they do and they just avoid it the entire time because of the fear of it.

So many people give up on their dreams because of the fear of “what if”, because of the fear of the cliff with no safety net. Often that presents as a choice between money and happiness. I can do what I want and be happy, but I’ll probably be broke. Or I can get a job that I don’t like and give up being happy, but at least I’ll have money in the bank. The world offers this false choice all the time.

Really, the question is only – how fearless are you? How much risk can you tolerate? How much mental and emotional control over yourself do you have in the experience?

Master yourself in the experience without changing the experience.

When you’re faced with that perceived risk or that false choice, aka the cliff jump, to allow the experience to move forward you have to be able to manage yourself in the experience without trying to change the experience or the direction you’re going in. You have to be willing to jump. You can’t avoid the cliff. That’s no easy feat.

Fear is going to tell you a story about all the things that could go wrong. Potentially you also have people around you that are projecting their own fear at you. You have all of that happening while you’re trying to talk yourself into jumping off a cliff without knowing what will happen next.

Do accept the challenge? Can you manage yourself within that experience in such a way that you don’t cave into the fear of others? Can you stay the course?

I’ve personally had a lot of practice at this. Life offered it to me in spades over and over again. I sat in the fear, waited for the experience to pass, and then looked around and questioned what happened. Am I still here? Any broken bones? What actually happened? How far off was the experience from what I was afraid of in my head? Did it work out? Was the story of the mind true? Where would I be if I hadn’t done it the way I did it?

Let’s be real for a second – it’s not always going to work out. You can jump off the cliff and hit the rocks. That means you have to be able to do one thing – trust yourself to handle what happens next. If you trust yourself, then it doesn’t matter what life throws at you, you’ll be okay.

You can manage yourself within the experience because you trust yourself to handle the experience.

You don’t need to change the experience because you trust yourself to handle it and you understand that you don’t have control over it anyway.

All you do is manage your thoughts and feelings – self-mastery is internal power and control not external power and control.

Your point of control is always within yourself. It’s not out there in the world.

These are the fundamental things that allow you to accept the unknown future and keep going anyway. Learn to recognize the fear when it shows up.

How do you do that? Question the story you’re telling yourself? What’s the root cause of the feeling you’re having?

You see, I’ve been feeling a bit like I’m burnt out. But it’s not really burn out. That feeling turned into a bit of frustration. Then as I continued to question that, I realized I was offering myself the false choice between money and happiness. Then as I continued to question that I understood that it was my fear of the partially known and unknown future that was actually getting my way.

If you stay there, you don’t argue with it, you don’t force it, and you just keep trying to understand it, eventually you will find the truth of the story you’re telling yourself.

Crying it out doesn’t work. Wallowing in it doesn’t work. Acceptance allows you to question it so you don’t fight with it. When you don’t fight with it, that gives you the ability to do the work to understand it. Once you understand it then you can offer yourself the ability to work through the fear. That allows you to deal with whatever the insecurity is that you’re feeling. Now you can stay the course.

Me and fear are friends. It likes to remind me that it’s hanging out back there sometimes because it wants to be acknowledged. I’m okay with that. So when it comes out of the shadows to play, I go along with it. I play with the fear. Some people call it playing with fire. For me, it’s just playing cards with an old friend.

Fear will always be part of the experience. We’re not trying to evict it. We’re learning how to work with it. By learning how to work with it, we learn to accept that it will be present, that it will show up in disguise, and that we can manage it when we realize what it is and why it’s there.

The thing we don’t do is try to change the experience. When we question the experience it just offers us the fear back. That’s the reflection of the experience until we can see the fear in the reflection. Remember that fun house mirror? Well, here it is. This is an example of the warped reflection we get when we haven’t done in our own internal questioning before we look out into the world. To see the world clearly, you have to clarify your own perception before you look around, otherwise what you get back will be warped.

The unknown future only presents a problem because of the fear of it. Just recognize your own ability to manage your fear. You don’t have to be scared of what might happen next. You just have to trust yourself.

How do you do that? Take a few leaps and see how you manage them. Allow life to happen and see how you handle it. Do that without running the story that says things need to work out the way I want them to in order for me to trust myself because that story isn’t true. It makes the experience responsible for how you feel about yourself. That’s a great way to feel like crap on a regular basis.

Life isn’t going to always work out the way you want it to. You can’t control that so you have to find a way to trust yourself to handle what happens next without hinging that on a given outcome. That separates you from the experience just enough that you don’t beat yourself up for what’s happening around you. Taking responsibility for your life doesn’t mean having control over everything nor does it mean beating yourself up for what you don’t have control over.

Learning to trust yourself to handle an unknown future isn’t easy. Step one is recognizing the fear of that unknown future and the story it creates. Manage the story then release the fear. That will allow you to see the world more clearly, while learning to stay the course so that you can keep following your heart, knowing you’re taking your brain with you.

Love to all.

Della

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What I’m about to share with you didn’t come easy. It is a result of a commitment to understanding the balance in life. That means understanding how our human perception and ideas affect us, namely how they cause us to create our own pain. I’ve come to an understanding of how relationships work that I want to share with you.

I’ve offered the idea that it is just a matter of making a choice of what to do with the relationship. It’s not about the stories of blame, shame, guilt, and victimization. It’s not about what they did or didn’t do. It’s only about our choice of what to do with the relationship. As long as we’re willing to own that choice while dropping the story, we’re free to release any relationship we no longer want to be in. Let’s be clear. There is nothing wrong with this as a way of managing yourself within the experience. It works.

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Say what?

I’ve been talking self-mastery for quite a while now. Self-mastery taught me to understand myself within the experience. It taught me how to separate myself from the experience just enough that I could function and be okay in my life. Yes, there is a happy medium there. It isn’t all or nothing.

It also offered me a new way of seeing the world. Balance suddenly became important and it was something that self-mastery didn’t really offer me. Balance when used in self-mastery means learning to stand on the broken teeter-totter and not fall off. While that’s a great skill to have, it’s not true balance. True balance would be standing on a teeter-totter that isn’t broken.

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Let’s remove the idea of right and wrong for a bit. Let’s just focus on the two sides of the argument around abortion. Let’s make them both equal and opposite to each other.

I’m not interested in arguing about the rightness or wrongness of abortion. I’m not interested in whether your belief is religious, personal, moral, or simply just an idea your parents offered you as a child that you never questioned. I don’t care how you got to the belief you have. I only care that you have a belief that has put you on one side of the argument or the other. I don’t care which side of that argument you happen to be on.

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Imagine the teeter totter is the degrees of pain and happiness in the world. On one side is the degrees of pain, the center of the teeter totter is the neutral point, and then on the other side is the degrees of good or happy. The teeter totter now resembles the spectrum of experience and emotion we have as human beings.

Now imagine we lived in a world where we were able to remove the degrees of pain we experience. Imagine the teeter totter was now a ramp that ended at the neutral point in the middle. What would happen? The assumption is that the pain would simply go away and nobody would experience that emotion anymore. But is that true?

From where we are now, given our current experience, the removal of pain seems like a really good thing. It would offer a lot of relief to a lot of people in the moment. What happens over time though, as that reference point starts to fade into the background?

Slowly as people stopped having the same reference points for pain that we have now, the neutral point or center point of the teeter totter would start to slide toward the middle of what is left of the teeter totter. Pain would still be felt. The only thing that would change is the type of experiences that offer the pain. Eventually, the neutral point would once again find the middle of the teeter totter and the same degrees of pain would be felt. The only thing that will have changed are the experiences that cause the pain.

From our perspective now, that still seems like a good thing. A less extreme experience still seems better, even if the emotion remains the same. Can you see that as a trick of perception?

The only reason we can see it that way is because we have a different reference point. Without that reference point, we would still feel the same pain and the same stuckness. We would still tell the same stories of blame, shame, guilt, and victimization. The need for help with the pain would still exist.

The trick of perception is that it is an improvement because the extremes are seemingly less extreme. Maybe if we move the center point toward the good enough times, the pain eventually goes away. But that’s not true. People will always feel pain. It’s a natural human emotion. The only difference is that now instead of the extremes of the experience being abuse, violence, and war, suddenly a bad at work will cause the same extreme degree of pain that war does now. That sounds nuts doesn’t it? But that’s only because you have a reference point for something you perceive to be far worse than a bad day at work.

You see, it’s perception not experience, that determines how you feel. Regardless of whether we are able to change the types of experiences that people have or not, the emotions will continue to be felt. If they don’t have a different reference point, than the extremes of emotion will be used to react to the experiences they have available to them, regardless of what those experiences are.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Have you ever heard that saying? What does it mean?

The feeling of pain is what allows us to perceive things as “broken”, needing attention, or needing to be changed. Without the perception of pain, nothing would ever be perceived as “broken” and nobody would ever change anything. It would offer a high degree of complacency.

We have a mentality in society that says if it’s not bothering you, don’t mess with it. Don’t stir the pot. Don’t create problems. Just leave it there until it causes pain. That mentality is the exact reason why we need pain. It shows us what needs fixing. It shows us what needs to change. It shows us where the problems are.

I wouldn’t be here without pain. You wouldn’t be reading this without pain. We wouldn’t be talking about this stuff without pain. You wouldn’t have left your last job without pain or moved without pain or left your last relationship with pain or bought that new toaster without pain. You perceived the toaster as broken and so you replaced it. If you never perceived it as broken, even if stopped working, you’d never replace it. Pain is what offers you the ability to see the non-working toaster as something that needs to be replaced. Pain shifts you perception. If there is no pain, then there is no need to replace it even if it is broken.

That’s the power of perception. It tricks us into thinking that things would be different if certain experiences didn’t exist. It’s only because we have a reference point that makes it look like an improvement. But without that reference point, there would be no perception of improvement so it wouldn’t matter.

Our need for things to be different than they are comes from our ability to compare experiences with each other. That’s why I strongly encourage people to avoid doing that to themselves. Stop looking for those connections. Stop offering yourself the comparison because it doesn’t help you.

If things could be different they would be. That’s a concept Matt Kahn offers regularly. The idea is that we learn because of the experience being the way it is. Remember that quote, “if ain’t broke don’t fix it”? Well, that’s the mentality that we have. That’s why we need those experiences because we won’t change anything without them. If we would change things when they were good, then we wouldn’t need so much bad.

We don’t like to go to the doctor when we’re healthy. Doctors keep trying to encourage preventative care. People don’t like that and they don’t do it. We’re not going to go see the doctor until it hurts. We need the pain to do something differently. For some of us, we need to have our guts hanging out of us before we’ll go to the doctor.

Here comes my favorite question!

How much pain do you need to be in before you do something differently?

Do you need to have your guts hanging out of you? Does it just need to be a bit sore? Or are you willing to be proactive and see the doctor before the pain happens at all?

If you’re doing anything but being proactive, then you’re one of the many that avoids dealing with things until there is a perception of pain. It has absolutely nothing to do with what the experience is. It has everything to do with how you perceive it and your perception has to include pain before you’re willing to do anything about it.

That’s why we need pain because that’s the only way we avoid complacency. That’s the only way things change. That’s the only way evolution happens.

Humans don’t move without pain which also means evolution can’t happen without pain. Whether we like it or not, we’re a lazy bunch and we refuse to evolve unless there is enough pain present to make it worth while.

Are there situations where people just get comfortable with the pain and stay there anyway? Yes. That happens too. Why does that happen? That’s all about the stories people tell about the pain they experience. It’s a feeling of being trapped in the experience, whether the trap is real or perceived. Sometimes we stay in the pain to try to avoid more pain, so that even if it is broken I’m not going to fix it because I’m scared of what happens next.

It all comes back to my question from earlier. How much pain do you need to be in before you do something different? This, whether it’s good or bad, right or wrong, is how we evolve. Pain is the thing that keeps us going or should I say, the avoidance of this is often what keeps us going because that’s what creates the impetus to change anything at all.

Pain is a necessary part of our experience.

It’s not about the experience. It’s all about our perception of it.

If we simply stop trying to change the experience and instead manage our perceptions of things, life gets easier. We stop needing to control the experience or change it in some way and instead simply accept what needs to happen next as a result of our ability to see the experience for what it is – part of the evolutionary process.

Keep going. Keep growing. Keep moving forward.

Love to all.

Della

Discuss...

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I spent the first 6 or 7 years of my healing journey willing myself forward. I pushed. I struggled. I dragged myself through the mud. I fought for it. I argued with it. Those first few years of my journey were based on straight up willpower.

Somewhere in the last 2 or 3 years there has been a gradual shift from arguing with and fighting for it to ease, surrender, calm, clarity, and focus. I still have goals. I’m still determined to reach them, I just do it without the willpower and without the push.

If I could give you anything it would be that same sense of calm focus and clarity that I’ve found for myself. It wasn’t something I came by easily, I actually had to struggle to get it. But now that I’ve found it, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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When somebody says “I’m sorry”, what do you want that to mean?

Do you think an apology should mean permanent behavior change?

Does that mean that you don’t want the apology until they heal and change their behavior?

How would you feel if they never apologized because they weren’t able to heal and change their behavior? What kind of crazy story would you tell then? You’d probably start telling the story of how they don’t take responsibility for their own behavior because they didn’t apologize. But then when they apologize for their behavior but aren’t able to change it, that’s not good enough. Do you see the loop you’ve created for yourself?

Creating an expectation that apologies mean permanent behavior change creates a problem for us. Lot of people do this but all it really does is keep us stuck in the pain.

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“That person should have done that for me. They knew I wasn’t (Fill in the blank with your problem.).”

Ever said that?

You weren’t feeling well and your partner didn’t automatically empty the dishwasher for you.

You think it’s obvious. You expect them to know and do automatically and they don’t.

Whose problem is it? Who is at fault? What’s the issue here? Is your partner just being insensitive?

Let’s talk about it.

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Here’s a simple truth in our human lives:

We manage our experience. We don’t control it.

What does that mean?

You manage money, you manage your job, you manage your bills, you manage the food you eat, you manage where you live, you manage the details of your day-to-day experience but…

You don’t control it.

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Sometimes in spiritual circles we hear things like “reality is an illusion”. What does that mean? The table is real. I’m touching it. The couch is real. I’m sitting on it. If it were an illusion I wouldn’t be able to do that. Here’s what I’ve come to understand about the illusion of reality.

It’s all in your head!

No, you’re not crazy. Reality is based on perception. What do you perceive is happening? Whatever that perception is makes that your reality.

If you think somebody stole the chocolate bar because you didn’t see them pay for it, then your reality is that people steal chocolate bars. That will be your reality until you realize the person actually paid for the chocolate bar and then your reality will shift again.

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