Over the years, a majority of political, religious, government, and education leaders have insisted that forces of good and evil are forever battling for supremacy over the world. They encouraged us to adopt a large inventory of things moral and immoral, strong and weak, positive and negative, winners and losers, etc. Our life experiences propelled us to add to this list. Those things that caused pain are bad, and those that gave us pleasure are good. As we learned to judge and compare ourselves to others, we added names to the list’s winner and loser category, often using these people as a standard to gage our level of success in the game of life.
This is a mistaken view, but it explains why we suffer so much when we fail. Whenever our efforts to achieve a goal or to get something desired collapse, we judge ourselves harshly. We use names like loser, useless, worthless and dumb to describe ourselves. We express disappointment in our effort and look for things to blame for our failure. When this sense of worthlessness lasts for days, weeks and months, it turns to hopelessness which eventually can settle into depression. This is particularly true when our disappointment centers on an important aspect of our lives, like career or relationships.
As you begin to open your heart to the presence of a Higher Power, this good vs evil illusion can act as an impediment to the connection you hope to make with this Power. You must learn to let it go.
When I became a man (or woman), I put the ways of childhood behind
This fictional battle between good and evil reminds me of the old cartoon image of two cherubs standing on a man’s shoulders trying to advise him. The angel of good stands on his right shoulder whispering into his ear while the bad one sits on the left shoulder murmuring advice in the other.
Some might think this childish depiction does not represent the kinds of choices we face as adults, but I think it comes close. President Abraham Lincoln may have added credibility to this angel theory when he called on this image at the end of his first inauguration speech in 1861 with the phrase, “the better angels of our nature”.
Lincoln’s endorsement of angels as part of our nature lead me to the following question; are there good and bad angels who advise us?
The answer is no. I wish it was so, however, for our existence would be much easier if all we had to do was pick between good or evil alternatives. Life is more complicated than that, for there is very little that is black and white. Most things are grey. What makes matters even more difficult is that we don’t truly choose our thoughts, most of the time we root our reactions on beliefs we have been injecting into our unconscious mind over our lifetime.
The role of the unconscious mind
Think back on how you learned to ride a bicycle. The first several tries were painful exercises in trial and error. You fell, cried, and tried again. The second time you lasted a little longer before you fell again. But with each try, you learned to balance yourself a little better. Soon you understood the relationship between speed and staying upright. Before long, you were riding your bike like you were born with it between your legs. In no time, riding became so automatic you didn’t even have to think about how to do it anymore.
Unbeknownst to you was the fact that you were programming every little trick you learned about bike riding into your unconscious mind. After much repetition, your unconscious mind took the function over from your conscious mind. This process is so permanent that you can stop riding a bike for decades and pick it up years later, right where you left off. You don’t have to relearn how to balance and pedal all over again, your unconscious mind takes over immediately with the knowledge he/she stored, and then, you are off and running.
The birth of your ego
Psychiatric science defines the ego as that part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious mind, manages reality testing and our sense of personal identity. This is important to understand because, just as the ego helped us learn to ride a bike, it also programmed our emotional reactions into our unconscious mind. You have been developing your ego from the time you were born.
Today, your ego uses real time information to decide what he/she believes to be your best course of action. This means he/she is using information gathered from your earliest experiences and traumas. Unfortunately, your ego reacts today from a self-image he/she formed from your childhood experiences.
The problem with this process is that you have also been unconsciously applying these reactions and beliefs to real life adult situations today. For example, if your childhood experiences led you to perceive yourself as unworthy or not good enough for others to love you, then you project that onto the world today. If you learned to avoid painful truths by distracting yourself with other external things or actions to feel safe, you are avoiding reality in the same way today. An addiction is a good example of an avoidant strategy. An addiction is not just related to a substance, like alcohol and drugs. Activities like work, golf, food, television work, or gossip can also be addictive.
To progress to a better life, you must untangle from these core beliefs the ones that are no longer serving you. Then you can discard them. If you are currently agonizing about the state of your life, chances are good the pain and suffering you are experiencing are telling you it is time to put away your childish ways.
Begin to untangle
We need help from the Higher Power that lives in each of us to free us from our ego’s domain and help us begin living from our authentic selves. Unfortunately, it is difficult to know what your inner guide is telling you because you have spent all your conscious moments relying on your ego for advice.
Here is a place to start. Base your actions on thoughts founded on love, understanding, kindness, courage, acceptance, inclusion, respect, reason, empathy and open-mindedness. Start today doing for others as you would want them to do for you. Yes, this is the Golden Rule, time you started putting it into action.
You will not see results right away from doing this, but know peace and comfort are on the way.
If you give in to thoughts of hatred, revenge, violence, greed, vice, avoidance, sadism, discrimination, superiority and dominance, you will create your reality accordingly. You will not be happy with the results. But this is where freewill comes in, you get to decide.
We are all part of an all loving, joyful and creative Universal Consciousness. It is ever present waiting to help us grow, but it passes no moral judgement on what we choose. It will simply give us back what we project. Change your thoughts and you will attract a different reality for yourself. But you cannot do it until you become aware of the basic beliefs that are undermining you. Most of us cannot do this by ourselves and need the help of a therapist or life coach to identify them. Detaching from useless beliefs is how you transform your life for the better.