Tag Archives: Empowerment

Gratitude-1Gratitude and grateful are words that have been used, misinterpreted and abused by many people, disciplines and philosophies. In speaking of them with others we can never be sure how another will perceive them or apply them to action. In this light I think the best place to begin in order to establish a conventional point of reference for a continuity of our understanding should be with definitions as defined by the academicians. Etymonline.com, who defines the origins and original meanings of words, gives the most basic and original meanings, the cultures they emerged from and the meanings as used by those cultures.

Both words derive from the word grace which was first recorded in 13th century Old French as the word graciier meaning to favor. Favor, also from the 13th century French adds the meanings of to laud, to commend, to flatter or to be partial to, feel mercy for and praise which comes from the Late Latin preciare.

Lastly, grateful also derives from the word grace but its meaning shifted in the 1550s taking on flavor of being disposed to repay favors bestowed. This is where the word blessing came into play involving religion.

I’ve done this so there will be no disagreement in how someone may view gratitude. There are two applications and one assumption that the word is often applied to. Let’s first look at the most mundane and the most tangible. This will set our framework.

IOU-2The first perspective seems to apply to an expected repayment of a shared, given advantage or preference applied by someone else to us. That is, if someone gives us something that might be needed or assists in a way that we either solicited, implied the need for or appeared to need or want in the eyes of the giver, there will be assumed debt on the part of the receiver that they believe must either be repaid or simply acknowledged in the form of thanks, praise, deference or gratitude. Remember, one of the definitions of gratitude is our disposal to repay a favor bestowed.

Scolding-1The second perspective is a little more involved in that it includes being trained by someone into regarding them as someone who is deserving of our attention and deference in all our dealings with them. That is, we should regard them in a way that we accept their indispensability in our lives and always show unconditional gratitude. This is obviously a form of emotional blackmail as our perceived punishment for not doing so or feeling obligated will be either loss of love, inclusion or some form of support from them. This may be the parent that responds to our undesirable behavior with. “After all I’ve done for you go off and…”

The similarity between both these perspectives is that they both include earthly recognizable poles or sides that must be accepted in relating to our obligation and their repayment. They both exist within the time constrained polar opposing physical world. The assumption is that there is to be recognition, attention and or repayment as our gratitude for all the interchanges that can be viewed as their personal sacrifice in the interest of our retaining their favor, or in the case of religion, a deity. The resulting punishment for not acknowledging their efforts or not being grateful is either some form of self-instilled guilt (constructed in childhood training) or an actual loss of favor, approval or assistance from them.

In light of the fact that no one does anything by virtue of only one motivation, a play for gratitude or repayment is often disguised as a “noble” deed on the part of the “giver” which will serve as a sacrifice in the eyes of their peers but must be perceived as an accepted obligation on the part of the receiver. A simple example would be our eating in a restaurant, over tipping, being socially perceived by our peer group as being overly generous while conditioning the future behavior of the waiter or waitress into feeling that they “owe” us deference in our future Tipping-1visits.This dynamic may either be conscious or below the threshold of a perpetrator. Accusation of their doing so may receive a staunch denial due to their lack of awareness and thorough childhood training received directly or through unconscious emulation.

When we apply these perspectives and divisive rapport to the way that we apply our essence to the world we become extremely destructive and cripple our abilities and accountability in being Fencing-1creative and effective in how we move through this mentally polarized world. We begin to see ourselves in an adversarial relationship with our essence through applying the polarizing principles of repayment, owing, obligation and sometimes subjugation by personifying the dynamics of the universe with the mentally polarized perspectives of give and take, have and not have, want and not want.This becomes the most blatant when we construct a deity personified with demands and expectations of us that we believe ourselves to be unequal to if not inadequate in accomplishing. This also becomes applicable but less obvious in metaphysics when we apply the same polarized personification to natural universe giving it the quality of judgment overus that demands that we be grateful to it for circumstances that we put into motion ourselves through our own actions and choices. This same dynamic is resonant with the psychological dynamic that we call our Shadow where we would apply admirable Shadowqualities to an external hero or idol instead of ourselves, keeping them at a distance from our own egoic persona and feeling petrified that if we actualized them within ourselves we would lose our perceived security in our present circumstances and known behaviors while having to actualize those characteristics within ourselves and finding ourselves in unknown and “out of control” egoic territory. We have to understand that the mind is extremely clever in creating its own logic in separating us from parts of ourselves that might sabotage our preferred and perceivably secure image of ourselves. We simply bury the qualities in our unconscious or apply them to a deity or the universe around us.

in-utero-babyTo understand this dynamic a little better, please consider that before we were born we were in a state where there was no need for food, warmth, shelter or nurturance. They were all intrinsic to the state of not being incarnate. This is our essence: all inclusive, whole, complete and without any need or requirement. To the simplistic mind we might call this Heaven, Nirvana, Paradise. Then a curious thing happens. We emerge into an environment where everything becomes divided. We experience the traumatic separation of birth. I say traumatic because it divides our world into previously unknown polarities; warm versus cold, loud versus quiet, sated versus hungry, bright versus dark, nurtured versus lonely. We translate this division into pain and pleasure. To distinguish between these two states, the mind is born in tandem with our physical birth giving us the capacity to register this division in the forms of thought and language in order to describe and manage ourselves in the new environment. Our mentally polarized mind rapidly develops overshadowing the remembrance of our previous unity and essence rapidly burying it in an avalanche of divisive and separative mental assessments. We now have the foundation for our polarized rapport with our world. Now, in the same way that if we only have a hammer we see everything as a nail, our mind sees the world in terms of division and separation as that is the dynamic that the mind was formed in and only has the capacity to operate within. So, let’s now move back to our concept of gratitude.

So, when we say we are grateful to someone, we can easily understand the dynamic because we understand and accept our separation from the person that we are grateful to. But when we say we feel gratitude or are grateful to a deity or the universe for our circumstances, what are we actually doing by saying so? We are creating a separation and dividing ourselves off from our own ability and accountability in creating our own circumstances. We are creating a metaphysical Shadow where there was none before. We are, literally and perceptually, separating ourselves from our own essence.

yoda-1As many of the enlightened souls of the world have attempted, mostly in vain, to teach us that we are never separated from our essence, the mind of the common man is virtually incompetent in making the connection to his essence without seeing it through the separation inherent in an adversarial format. So we have become so ingrained and mentally accustomed to being of the world that we can no longer see that our essence is actually in the world but not of it. Showing gratitude to a deity or the universe is actually enforcing our separation from them.

As adults and relating to our childhood, it’s easy for us to see and understand the need for the authority, the guidance and how our acceptance of our parents as an external director is Training wheelsnecessary for the assurance of our safety and tutelage into becoming accountable adults. We can even see the continuation and sometimes even the necessity of transferring that stewardship to an external deity or discipline…temporarily. But there comes a time in our lives where we must accept the responsibility for our own creations and choices by acknowledging the essence within us that is constantly steering us toward our own pre-birth unity, through feeling and intuition, that still exists within us and was buried after our birth under a mountain of mental constructs.

Being gratuitous to our earthly brothers and sisters is understandable and even acceptable in the context of our physically polarized and worldly lives. But when we conceive of the universe and our essence, gratitude and gratefulness are not the rapports that activate our essence but Brotherhood-1rather divides and fractures the unity to which we all have access. To rest into our essence, simply be aware and in the moment. There’s nothing and no one to be thankful for or grateful to. Life simply is. Our essence is eternal. It’s always “there.” So are we. We are all creators. It’s time that we acknowledge that and accept the responsibility for our creations, not pass them off to making a universe or deity responsible for them. We must acknowledge our own power. Don’t defer. We are all gods in the making.

self-help booksAn unbelievable amount of time, effort and energy has gone under the bridge in the name of self-improvement. It has become almost synonymous with other headings such as self-help, personal growth, personal empowerment and a host of other labels alluding toward the accomplishment of increasing our influence and effectiveness upon our world. But the questions arises, “What are we improving” and “Whom are we improving for?” Ourselves? Others? An ideal? What is the objective? What is this thing we call self-improvement and why do we pursue it?

We all strive, at the least most of us, to be “better” people. But what does that mean? And in whose eyes will we be “better?” For each of us who invest in the process our reasons will vary tremendously but our bottom line goal will be the same; to feel wanted, needed and loved by Love & Approvalthe world. The feeling that we are not is a primary urge resting in the core of our self-perception. Whether we admit this to ourselves or not is the most important factor in determining how we will approach the process. Since personal growth and personal empowerment are most often seen as self-improvement, our process will fall under one of two labels; either self-improvement or self-help.

In self-help there is a belief within us that we are somehow lacking whatever it takes to put us into a position in life that we feel will make us happy. Whether it is developing skills for work and career or characteristics that we believe are responsible for attracting the most desirable relationships, it is still viewed as a void that needs to be filled. What is ironic is that according to the law of attraction it is our belief in what it is that we are lacking that focuses our energy and attention toward manifesting more of the same perceived lack. In other words, what we believe about ourselves will continue to manifest until we change our belief or like begets like. This even resonates with the bible that says what a man thinketh, so he is. So then, does self-help make things worse? It does only if we start by believing that something is lacking. If that’s what we’re then faced with in self-help, what can we do?

A less “self-fulfilling prophecy” would be self-improvement. It starts from a position of believing that who and what we are is enough. Nothing is lacking. It’s just that now we want more of what we can be, do or have. The focus switches from a feeling of lack to a feeling of wanting more to feel happier. You may now say, “Doesn’t wanting to be happier come from a lack in itself?” I’d say yes, but the want is much more general in its focus. Focusing directly on the lack of a skill or characteristic is specific and augments our energy in a way that focuses and accelerates the perceived lack specifically emphasizing its manifestation. Focusing on being happy is more general and diffuses the energy leaving our field of concentration and endeavor more open to its satisfaction from more than one specific focus, namely, the skill or characteristic. It leaves pot-gold-2our fulfillment open to the “universal manager” which certainly brings us what we want, but most often, from avenues that we least expect. The dynamic then bypasses our mind lock and specificity which are then minimized or moved “out of the way” of more preferable yet unexpected benefits manifesting from avenues which we hadn’t considered. So, based on the Law of Attraction, focusing more on what we want rather than what we lack is the better way to go.

So, self-improvement is more preferable over self-help. Yet, with our perceived lack in a much more defused and expanded focus, it is still aimed at increasing something which we feel is an elusive and indescribable lack. But, what is it that will make us happier? Even with self-improvement, we’re right back to wanting to feel wanted, needed and loved. Granted a lack but a lot less focused and a lot less likely to create our own resistance through specific “pointing” of our energy and attention.

garden-of-eden-22In becoming self-improved we believe that if we do more, have more and are more what we want will materialize. But, where did we get this belief from? In whose eyes do we believe that this is true? Others. The people we know, love and admire. The people who we believe are happy. The people we believe that are outside our reach, outside of our world and, essentially, disconnected from us. We want to belong. We want to be accepted. We want to be reunited with what we believe is our source, that place where there was no separation before we were born into this polarized separated world. This is the place in the bible referred to as the Garden of Eden. This is the ancient memory of our all being one: a union of feeling in the empathic ocean. But I digress.

So, what are the hazards? There is only one. It is believing that being wanted, needed and loved by someone or something outside of ourselves will make us happy. We’re still playing the “tapes” that originally taught us to believe that all that is important and that all that will answer our need to be wanted, accepted and loved comes from our parents. While this may have been so when we were helpless infants we’ve since then buried the recognition of this attention and urge from this non-verbal time deep into the unconscious as our thinking mind became the overlay determining how we discriminate what we seek. Then we continued the outward attention by simply transferring the expectation to others who remind us of family members. The fact that we were trained to look outside of ourselves during a non-verbal time accounts for most of the difficulty we have in believing that we create our own circumstances through how and where we focus our energy.

donkey-&-carrot-2When we focus on others to fulfill what we believe will make us happy we also subject ourselves to their unpredictable changing of like, loves and dislikes who, even in the best of times, have difficulty keeping their preferences focused and consistent. As they change their preferences we end up feeling like we’re chasing our tail. Many time we don’t even realize that they’ve done so. Happiness provided by them then becomes totally elusive and frustrating.

So, what is the answer? For most people it is an extremely difficult one to put into action. We must first learn to become accountable for and accept the decisions that put us in positions that we feel are undesirable and, second, we have to come to realize and accept that our happiness rests in using our energy in a way that makes us feel good NOT panders to the whims Alone time-1and approvals of those whom we believe hold the key to our contentment and security. Since we live in such a materially oriented world, this is an extremely difficult pill for many to swallow.

So, what’s the primary hazard of self-improvement? Believing that what we need comes from outside our own heart. What can we do? We can all start by creating and relishing more quiet and alone time and learning to enjoy our own company without outside stimulation. Can you do it?