Belief vs RealityWe are what we believe. Our belief system is based on our past experience, which is constantly being relived in the present with an anticipation of the future being like the past. Our present perceptions are so colored by the past thing that we are unable to see the immediate happenings in our lives without distortions and limitations. With a sincere willingness we can re-examine who we think we are in order to achieve a new and a deeper sense of our real identity.
Do I want to experience peace or do I want to experience conflict?
If I want peace, I will be concerned only about giving.
If I want conflict, I will be concerned with trying to get something or evaluating why I am not getting it.
So, for EVERY communication I will ask, “Is this communication loving to the other person and to myself?”
We are Limitless
To experience this sense of total freedom, it is important for us to detach ourselves from past and future preoccupations and choose to live in an immediate sense of NOW. To be free also means not to be confined to a reality that seems limited by our physical senses. This, in turn, allows us to see and to participate in the love we already share with everyone.
Love can be looked upon as the total absence of fear. While all of us want love, many seem unable to experience it with any consistency. Our guilty fears from the past block our ability to give and receive love in the present. Fear and love can never be experienced at the same time. It is always our choice as to which of these emotions we choose. By choosing love more consistently than fear, we can change the nature and quality of not only our relationships, but our entire lives.
Attack and Defense
When we perceive another as “attacking” us, we usually feel defensive and find a way, directly or indirectly, to “attack” back. Attacking always stems from fear. No one attacks unless he or she first feels threatened and believes that through attack, one’s own strength is demonstrated at the expense of another’s vulnerability. As with all defenses that are designed to keep guilt and fear from our awareness, attack usually preserves the problem.
Most of us cling to the belief that “attacking” can really get us something we want. We seem to forget that “attacking” and “defending” do not bring inner peace. In order to experience peace instead of conflict, it is necessary to shift our perception. Instead of seeing others as attacking us, we can choose to see them as fearful. We are always expressing either love or fear. Fear is really a call for help and therefore, a request for love. It is apparent then, that to experience peace we must recognize that we do have a choice in determining what we perceive.
Many of our attempts to correct others, even when we believe we are offering constructive criticism, are really attempts to attack them by demonstrating their “wrongness” and our “rightness”. Thus, it may be helpful to examine our motivations.
Are we teaching love or are we demonstrating attack?
If others don’t change in accordance with our expectations, we are likely to regard them as guilty and thus reinforce our own belief in guilt. Peace of mind comes from not wanting to change others but instead, merely accepting them as they are. True acceptance is always without demands and expectations.
The principle underlying “Peace of Mind” is that it can only be reached when we practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past and is therefore the means for correcting our misperceptions about someone or something.
Our misperceptions can only be undone in the present. We accomplish this through releasing what we think other people did to us or what we think we did to them. Through this process of selective forgetting, we are free to embrace a present unencumbered by our past history or misperceptions.
Through forgiveness we stop the endless recycling of guilt and look upon ourselves and others with love. Forgiveness permits us to let go of all thoughts that seem to separate us from each other. Without belief in separation, we can accept our own healing and extend healing love to all those around us. Healing, then, becomes the thought of Unity.
When inner peace is recognized as our single goal, forgiveness becomes our single function. Once we accept both our function and our goal, we discover that turning to our inner, intuitive voice for direction can become an excellent guide. As we release others from the prison of our distorted perceptions, we ourselves are released and join with them in the unity of love.
Getting and Giving
It is important to remember that we all have everything we need within the present because love is the essence of our being. If we think we need to get something from others, we will love them when we get what we want and dislike or hate them when we don’t. We frequently have love/hate relationships in which we find ourselves trading conditional love. The “getting” motivation leads to conflict and expressions of hostility towards ourselves and others.
On the other hand, the “giving” motivation leads to a sense of inner peace and joy that is unrelated to time. Giving means extending our love with no conditions and no expectations. Peace of mind occurs when we focus our attention on giving and have no desire to get anything from, or to change, another person.
Retraining the Mind
To aid in retraining your mind, ask yourself the following questions within any circumstance, whether private or interpersonal:
Do I choose to experience peace or conflict?
Do I choose to experience love or fear?
Do I choose to be a love-finder or a fear-finder?
Do I choose to be a love-giver or a love-seeker?
Is this communication (verbal or non-verbal) loving to the other person and is it loving to myself?
Many of our thoughts, statements and actions are not loving. If we want peace of mind, it is essential that our communications with others promote a sense of joining. To have inner peace, it is necessary to be consistent in what we think, in what we say, and in what we do.
Words to ERASE
Retraining the mind includes recognizing the impact of the words we use. The words below are commonly used in self-limiting messages we give to ourselves and others. The keep the guilty past and fearful future active in our minds. As a result, our feelings of conflict are reinforced. The more conscious we are when we use these words negatively and how doing so interferes with our inner peace, the easier it is to eliminate them from our thoughts and communications.
You may even find it helpful to visualize an imaginary blackboard in your mind and every time you use one of these words, visualize it on the blackboard and ERASE it.
In doing any exercise it is important to be gentle with yourself and not feel guilty when you forget. Each time you find yourself using any of the following words in a self-limiting way, merely regard that as a mistake, an error to be corrected, and move on.
Words that limit our thinking and growth include:
Impossible can’t try limitation if only but difficult ought to should doubt
Also include any words that place you or others in a category, measure or compare you or others, or judge or condemn you or others.
Attitude is EVERYTHING
Our attitudes determine whether we feel fulfilled or empty, wealthy or poor, happy or sad, accepted or rejected. It is the rudder of our ship and determines the course of our lives. It is more important than how much education we have; how clever we are; the level of our particular skills; our past accomplishments and future prospects, or how much money we have in the bank. Throughout our lives, it influences our friendships and all other relationships. Quite simply, it is the seminal factor in a life well lived versus one that is a constant struggle. Current research suggests that positive attitudes about aging are a greater factor than wealth, gender, or even our cholesterol levels in adding years to our lives.
At the heart of Attitudinal Healing is the belief in the extraordinary ability of ordinary people to help each other, and the idea that we have the power to choose our attitude in any moment, regardless of circumstances. It is the realization that it is neither circumstances nor people in the past that are causing us to be upset in the present. Rather, it is our own thoughts, attitudes, and judgments about those things that cause us distress. It is about healing our own minds and hearts, and having harmony and integrity in all we think, say, and do. These are the ingredients for peace of mind.
The approach and philosophy is based on universal principles. You do not need a particular faith or belief system in order to utilize it, and people from all walks of life, cultures, religions and beliefs can benefit. It’s the process of letting go of fear and negative, hurtful thoughts from the past, allowing us to correct our misperceptions and remove inner obstacles to peace. Once we recognize the debilitating effect that holding onto guilt, blame, and self-condemnation has on our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health, we stop punishing ourselves and others.
AH offers us another way to look at the world and at life and death. We learn to make peace of mind our only goal and forgiveness our primary function. It regards our primary identity as spiritual and affirms that each individual possesses a quality of being or an inner nature that is essentially loving and that this loving nature is shared by all human beings. It defines health as inner peace and healing as a process of letting go of fear. It emphasizes equality in every aspect of our lives, and affirms we are equal as students and teachers to each other. It also does NOT tell other people what to do, but offers them choices. It simply sets the intention of living a life of unconditional love, reminding us that we are worthy of love, and that happiness is our responsibility and our natural state of being.