Discover Your Authentic Self: Be You, Be Free, Be Happy - Sherrie Dillard (2016)

Chapter 3. THE CALL TO TRANSFORMATION

Life is a mirror that reveals more than just our surface image. We unknowingly create experiences and conditions through which we can better perceive and know our innermost self. It is often through the unexpected and what appears to be random and unforeseen that we discover new aspects of who we are. This chapter encourages you to explore the transformative experiences that have the power to change your life.

29. Letting Go of Control

We go along in our day-to-day lives believing that we have some sense of control. With all of the many decisions and choices that we need to make, being cautious, careful, and exacting seems so necessary. Yet despite our careful planning, the facade that we are in control eventually cracks. Something more powerful and unexpected emerges and invites us into a new reality. This is the tipping point. The old is gone, and as hard as we try, we cannot be who we used to be. It is as the old nursery rhyme says:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Before the fall, your soul has been secretly preparing to turn your life upside down. You may not be expecting or even desiring change, yet it is inevitable. Another you seeks to rise from the depths as the known and false fall away.

We often have to let go of who we believe ourselves to be to allow our most authentic voice and self to surface. Your soul plan and reason for being here on the earth at this time may be in conflict with your personality or ego self’s plans and desires. When you accept the invitation into the true adventure of life, there is a crack in the ego’s empty aspirations and yearnings and they begin to fall away. The glorious, deep, complex, and multidimensional creature that you are rears its proud head and cannot be contained.

I allow my soul to lead me.

30. A Thousand Deaths

There are a thousands deaths you will undergo in your lifetime. You will crumble, break apart, collapse, and fragment. Each death will be different from every other one. Some will surprise you by creeping in and creating slow change. Others will pull the rug out from under you and sweep away all that you have relied on.

Like a snake shedding its skin, you will shed who you believe yourself to be many times over. All the false qualities and traits that the world has told you are you, the illusions that you have believed to be true, and the empty desires and wishes that will never bring you joy and happiness will fall away.

This is transformation. It is the process of being you.

You can go with this process or you can fight against it. Either way, it will happen. When you surrender and allow the illusions to turn to dust, you become more comfortable with change and the unexpected. You align with a greater force within and come to recognize your true power. Otherwise, you rage a constant battle against what is. Change comes unexpectedly, bringing with it a sense of powerlessness and shock.

Your life force energy will not support anything but the core true you. It can be a hard truth to accept, but it can also give you a sense of peace. All you can be is who you are. Life is inevitable growth, evolution, and the shedding of illusion. You are an ever-changing mystery.

I surrender to change.

31. Soul-Directed Events

There are some things you want and desire that your soul will work overtime to create and bring into your life. It will expertly weave together events, people, and situations with a masterful stroke of genius to manifest the job, relationship, or opportunity through which your beauty, love, and personal truth will emerge. Your soul will work tirelessly behind the scenes in the activities and experiences that inspire and motivate you to draw deep within, discover your core strength and love, and activate the individual wonder that you have been created to be.

However, your soul will erect detours for some of your desires in an attempt to stop you in your tracks or guide you in another direction. Your soul will not align with activities and relationships that keep the best of who you are locked away.

Soul-directed events come our way to realign us with our true self and path. These are the detours that shake us up, shatter our illusions, and push us to try new things and know ourselves in a new way.

This is what happened to Emily, a young woman I know who wanted to go to dental school. After completing the prerequisite classes and courses, she poured herself wholeheartedly into studying for the dental admission test and applying to dental schools. Yet, despite her efforts, her scores were mediocre and one application rejection letter after another filled her mailbox. The following year, she took the tests again and reapplied. Unfortunately, the results were the same. Depressed and confused as to what to do and where to go now that her dream of being a dentist had proved to be elusive and unattainable, Emily did nothing. She was getting by with a job in the library at the local college, and her future seemed on hold. However, not getting into dental school was simply a soul-directed detour.

Early one morning while walking down the hall of the college where she worked, she passed a studio art class. When she glanced in the room, something got her attention. It may have been the way the light hit the easels or the vast array of paint colors splattered across the floor. Whatever it was, her heart flushed with warmth and she sat down in the empty class and picked up a paintbrush. This was all it took. Fast-forward a few years and many art classes later, and Emily is now a successful artist, living her passion and grateful that dental school did not work out.

The soul will use any means possible to wake you to your truth. Sometimes this comes in the form of disruption of your current plans and dreams, but not always. Soul-directed events can also provide opportunities that inspire, motivate, and empower us to feel more alive and joyful. Let yourself be guided. Notice subtle signs and listen to your heart and intuition. Recognize the power that your soul yields in influencing the course of your life.

I trust that my soul is leading me to my highest good.

32. Self-Honesty

Be honest with yourself. Growth and awareness begin with allowing our truth to surface. Pick an area of your life, such as work, school, family, relationships, finances, or health. Assess where you are and your satisfaction with the current state of things. Then take a deep breath and listen within. Ask yourself what you may be denying, suppressing, or ignoring about the situation or your feelings. Give yourself some time to listen and feel what surfaces. Accept whatever you receive and feel without criticizing or becoming judgmental.

You may want to ask yourself the following questions. Breathe, relax, and take your time with each one.

• What is my biggest challenge in this area?

• What is the lesson that I am learning about myself or others?

• Is there a repeating pattern?

• Do I continually get stuck or experience the same feeling or outcomes?

Allow whatever you are suppressing—emotions, thoughts, new revelations or insights—to surface.

In the same area that you just explored, ask yourself what you truly desire to be experiencing. Listen within and allow your true wishes and desires to surface. Feel positive energy begin to flow. Create a mental picture in your mind’s eye of what this looks like. Open your heart and imagine yourself experiencing the highest outcome. This is your truth.

I am honest about where I am and where I want to be.

33. Synchronicities: Dance with the Cosmic Flow

You are being led. There is a presence moving through your heart, mind, and soul that is directing and guiding you. Have you ever experienced a meaningful coincidence, or synchronicity, that opened you to a new understanding of yourself or a situation? Has something unexpected ever shown up in your life and motivated you to change the course you were on or take advantage of a new opportunity? Has unexpected good fortune ever come to you in a surprising way?

As you probably suspect, synchronicities are no accident. The universe has carefully orchestrated the seemingly impossible convergence of things, people, events, and conditions. It does not matter how great or small the coincidence may be. We immediately recognize when we intersect with the cosmic. Although others may not always be able to feel and see it, when we are touched by the transcendent, we know it. The heart smiles, the mind opens, and like an Olympian gymnast, the soul joyously flips and leaps.

Synchronicities provide us with a glimpse into a reality that we have forgotten. They speak to the authentic self that is comfortable and at home in the realm of cosmic truth. Yet despite the powerful effect that a synchronicity can have on us, we all too soon want to dumb it down by rationalizing. We want to creep back into the logical and rational, as if the cosmic doors had not flung open. The thinking mind wants to take charge and explain away the magic and unexplainable. Don’t let it. Live with the mystery and allow it to wash through you like a healing balm. You have been given an invitation to experience life through the cosmic portal. Soak in the deep rays of the universal life force current that is promoting and supporting a part of you that you might not have the courage to know.

The following suggestions can move you deeper into the flow of synchronicities.

Ask for Synchronicities

It’s simple but true that if you ask for synchronicities, you will experience them. Let go of your expectations of how they will come to you and in what area of your life. Just make the intent and allow the universe to manifest it.

Notice Synchronicities

No matter how big, small, or insignificant the synchronicities may be, listen to your heart and soul. You will become aware of when the divine is sending you guidance through synchronicities.

Be Positive

If you knew that your best friends were planning a surprise party for you, imagine how excited and honored you would feel. This is the attitude to adopt with synchronicities. A wonderful, personally crafted surprise is on its way.

Have Gratitude

Say thank you and blow a big kiss to the cosmic flow of all that is. Enjoy and have fun. All of creation is having a blast.

Act On Synchronicities

If you experience a synchronicity that seems to be pointing you in a certain direction, act on what you receive. Cosmic direction is a blessing that wraps you in the folds of a higher wisdom. Trust it and take action. Acting on higher wisdom and direction strengthens your soul energy and guides you into the positive.

I notice synchronicities.

34. Not Getting Your Way

Your authentic self is a powerful and positive force. It is the part of you that can act with love, wisdom, and power. When you feel like you are a victim of circumstances or when you are caught off guard and are surprised by upheaval, you may feel powerless and at the mercy of unseen and random forces. When you yearn for change but do not know how to make it happen or where to start, or when you carefully plan and follow through step by step with a well-thought-out initiative but nothing seems to go as expected, you may feel confused, frustrated, and lost.

Sometimes what we want and desire seems to elude us. Instead of pushing and forcing your will and trying to make something happen or blaming yourself or others for what you are experiencing, know that there is within you a silent force that is directing and guiding you into and through all that happens in your life. When things do not go your way, take a step back. Take time to contemplate what is happening. Listen to your core truth and come into alignment with the greater inner force of who you are. Whatever you are trying to make happen, whatever change you want, and whatever you desire may not necessarily be in your highest good. Your authentic self always guides you toward the good within yourself and in life. It is always consistent and you can trust it.

Accept the roadblocks, the disappointments and frustrations, however difficult they may be. Have compassion for and patience with yourself and life. Be grateful and know that you are being prepared for something even better.

I know that there is something greater that I am 
being led to when things do not go my way.

35. The Best Comes When You Are Being You

We expect a lot from ourselves. For instance, we may believe that we should be able to get the job we want, make more money, find our soulmate, and lose weight, all within the time frame and in the way that we desire. We may expect ourselves to say the “right” thing to others, have enough energy to accomplish all that we want to do, or always be in a good mood and cheerful. Yet not all of our expectations are fulfilled in the way that we want them to be.

Life is an adventure. We do not always know where we are going, and at times we are not even sure of the next step. Expectations can be a way of trying to control outcomes. Allow space for the mystery of who you are and the path that you are on to unfold. Accomplishing goals can provide us with a sense of power and worthiness. It can be important to focus our attention in certain areas, be single-minded, and accomplish what we set out to do. However, it is not the goal itself that is the prize. When we allow what we do to define us and we look outside of ourselves for our value, we create a false sense of self. This will bring only temporary satisfaction.

Your expectations and goals cannot replace the satisfaction and gratification that come with an openhearted and open-minded approach to being fully present to whatever you are experiencing right now. Your authentic self does not need to be pushed and prodded and made to chase an elusive goal. It just is. Let yourself be. Instead of being motivated by outer standards and expectations, accept and love yourself exactly for who you are right now.

Flowers need both the sun and the rain to bloom. At the end of the day, tell yourself that you did your best. Even if you did not do everything that you wanted to do, you tried. You hoped and dreamed and trusted in yourself, and that is what is important. It is not simply through your experiences that you learn and evolve. More importantly, it is through your reactions and responses to what you experience that you can better know your true self. Choosing to be compassionate and live without judgment in the present moment allows you to become more fully aware of your inner goodness. Delight in the simple you that can look up at the stars at night and know that you are a part of this wonderful creation—exactly the way that you are. Expect the best. It will come to you when you are being you.

I let go of expectations and allow life to unfold.

36. Surrender

Have you ever been in a difficult situation or confronted an issue, and as hard as you try and as much as you want to effect a positive outcome, you get nowhere? It is not always easy to know when we have done all that we can in any given situation. When we are frustrated, discouraged, or disappointed, we tend to blame ourselves or others when things do not go the way we want them to. An obstacle, relationship, skill, or problem may seem to be stronger than we are. We may want to give up and walk away or we may obsessively keep trying to control the situation and create change.

When you feel that you are banging your head against the wall or you are driving yourself crazy trying to control outcomes and conditions, consider surrendering instead of struggling. Surrendering is not the same as giving up. Surrender brings relief. It is the awareness that you are being redirected by a powerful and benevolent force of good. Surrender is the acceptance that what you desire, the problem that you want to solve, the relationship that you want to make work, or the goal that you have set is not in keeping with your highest good. With surrender, you become empowered to release your worries, stress, and anxiety and flow with the inner assurance that everything will work out.

There are times when you need to try harder, learn a new way, or give it your all. But when you get that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach that what you desire is not meant for you, listen to it.

Surrender aligns you with your authentic self. It is not a battling against circumstances or a judgment of your inadequacies or another’s faults or problems. It allows you to see beyond the veil of your personal will and call forward your deeper truth and soul path. Surrender is a powerful statement to the universe that you accept its terms. Conditions and circumstances that you have been battling against and trying to control then transform. When you allow yourself to be led in what might appear to be the opposite direction, you often get what you want or something better. Surprising changes transpire as you accept others and conditions as they are.

Here are some suggestions to try when you find yourself struggling and trying to control outcomes.

Realize that there is another way. Take a step back and become aware of the struggle that you are engaged in. How does it feel? Are you getting what you want or are you becoming frustrated and discouraged?

Make a decision to detach. It is not always easy to let go. Even when you do, you will likely want to jump back in. Make the intent to try another way. Pry your fingers off of your desires, breathe, and let go.

Become comfortable with uncertainty and change. Once you let go, you will likely experience stress and anxiety. This is normal. These are the feelings that motivated you to try to control outcomes. Lean into the feelings and allow them to surface. As difficult as this process may be, as you allow yourself to feel your feelings, they too will let go and dissipate.

Notice when opportunities come your way. Take some time away from focusing on your issues and problems. Do something fun and relaxing. Become aware of when you feel led and guided to pursue something new. Feel the flow of new energy. Open your heart, mind, and spirit and pay attention to signs, dreams, and synchronicities.

Follow through on new ideas and opportunities as they present themselves, even if you are not entirely sure of what you want. Stay positive and keep listening within and allowing yourself to be led. Trust what comes your way and take action when you feel as if you are being led.

There is a pervasive and all-knowing power of wisdom and love at work in your life. Steer into this current. Let go of trying to control the outer events in your life and trust what comes your way. When the unexpected happens, support and reassure yourself that this too shall pass. Surrender to what is. Conditions will right themselves, bringing clarity and renewed vision.

I surrender to what is.

37. Freedom from Addiction

You cannot hear, feel, express, or be aware of your authentic self if you are actively involved in an addiction of any kind. An addiction to alcohol, shopping, eating, television, gaming, sex, drugs, or any other activity or thought that you feel a compulsive and overwhelming need to use or participate in dulls your ability to connect with the true you. Addictions such as overdependency on others or over-caretaking others can also keep you from feeling and listening to the true you.

Addiction keeps us from the raw truth of who we are. Life can be messy, difficult, and painful, and it’s not always kind to and supportive of our vulnerabilities and sensitivities. Substances and activities that provide an altered state and escape hatch from our present state of being keep us preoccupied with a false sense of self. No one wants to feel powerless and unable to cope with their challenges and difficulties. Whatever the addiction may be, it is an attempt to break free from a reality that we may no longer want to be a part of and to avoid our feelings and fears. At its core, addiction is a soul-numbing void. It is fueled by the belief that you are a finite human at the mercy of what the world throws your way. When it all becomes too much to bear, addiction invites you to cower in the corner, wrapped within the cocoon of an illusory safety.

The paradox of addictions is that they do not provide any real solace or escape. They are a false road away from suffering that only circles back deeper into the depths of pain and the feelings that you want to avoid. The way out of an active addiction is rarely easy. To simply admit that you have a problem takes a level of courage that few of us know we possess. Yet the paradox of addiction is that when you freely admit that you are powerless over an addictive substance or activity, a greater power emerges to lead you to your deeper truth.

Your true self can never be dulled, manipulated, or destroyed by an addiction. You can lose your conscious connection with your authentic self and it can appear to be invisible and distant, but your truth is always with you. To transform and break the hold that addiction has on your heart, soul, and body, you cannot play small. While you may only know yourself through your fears, anxieties, problems, and past traumas, there is more to you. If you become easily overwhelmed and possess an addictive nature or have a genetic family history of addictions, this is not all of who you are.

You have to claim the total you. Begin by listening within to the voice that is telling you that you have a problem. Speak from this truth. There is power in words. Tell yourself, a friend, a counselor, or a family member. Your authentic self is the door through which your spirit emerges and is guiding you. Free and vibrant, your spirit calls to you to be honest with yourself. When you cease shielding yourself from what you feel, fear, and are experiencing, a sublime spiritual reality that does not hurt and cause pain begins to reveal itself. It unravels confusion and is a balm for and an oasis from the challenging and stressful world. To become familiar with this part of you, let go of the false barriers of addiction that offer no relief. Your authentic self offers a way out. Allow its voice to emerge. Delve into your anger, pain, suffering, and fears. Underneath this, your authentic self is present and waiting to lead the way to true freedom.

I am free of addictions.

38. You Are Not Your Problems

Many of us were raised to believe that having problems is a sign of weakness or inadequacy. We were encouraged to show others how successful, happy, and together we are. Instead of learning the tools to work through the inevitable issues and challenges that life brings our way, many learned that feeling confused or at a loss of what to do is a sign of incompetence or failure.

When you push your problems into the dark and do not talk or discuss them, feelings of isolation surface, causing you even more inner suffering. Shame is the belief that there is something inherently flawed about you. Hiding your problems and not sharing what you are experiencing with those you trust and care about encourages feelings of shame.

You may believe that others will think less of you or judge you as being deficient in some way if you expose your less-than-perfect self and life. Remember, those who judge what you are going through as a deficiency believe this to be true for themselves. They are unable to separate what they experience from who they really are. Don’t buy into this kind of thinking. It is dangerous and will never inspire the best in you to emerge.

You are not alone. Everyone has problems and difficulties that often feel overwhelming. Challenges come to us to empower us to learn more about ourselves, others, and life. They prompt us to grow and move beyond a shallow perspective of who we are and what we are capable of. New aspects of the authentic self come forward. We are often not aware of our own inner strength, courage, and creative thinking until we need them. More often than not, when we confront our issues head on, we discover that there is nothing to fear. New ideas, solutions, and possibilities come to the forefront.

When you share your stress and confusion with those you trust, you allow and inspire them to be more honest and forthright about their own issues. This promotes open and honest communication and increases intimacy and warm feelings of true heartfelt connection.

I am not my problems.

39. Transform Through Joy

Although transformation often comes to us through upheaval and unexpected change, its purpose is to open us to the experience of true and authentic joy. We humans don’t always like change, even when it brings new opportunities and possibilities into our lives. Yet despite our best attempts, we cannot keep change at bay. We are here to create, grow, and evolve.

We can, however, choose how change comes into our lives. When we become aware of opportunities and possibilities that promote growth, we can transform in positive and gentle ways. Taking action on new ideas and possibilities keeps us in the flow of positive life force energy. It is when we do not listen to the subtle promptings of our authentic self and dismiss the small sparks of joy that speak to our heart that we get into trouble. When we don’t keep pace with our soul’s journey, a cosmic brick often comes along to push us out of our complacency. Unexpected loss and a falling away of what is familiar moves us forward.

Trust joy when you feel it. It is a signal from your authentic self that you are on the right path. Joy springs from the heart and soul. It is the feeling of rightness and knowing that emanates from deep within. Despite what is happening in your outer life, joy informs you that there is inherent meaning and purpose in what you are experiencing. Joy elevates you to a higher current of positivity.

Unexpected good comes my way.

40. When Things Fall Apart

Things fall apart. No matter how hard we try, not everything goes the way we hoped and planned. Even when we know that disaster is looming, we cannot always prevent it. People disappoint us and do things that we do not like. We may be comfortable and feel safe and secure in the day-to-day ups and downs that come our way and still a surprising and unexpected event can occur and turn everything upside down. Sometimes it is not a personal problem or issue of our own that causes us distress. A friend, partner, son, daughter, parent, coworker, neighbor, or your community confronts a misfortune or challenge, yet we find ourselves as stressed and worried as if this problem were our own. Not being able to control or effectively change a situation for another can generate feelings of powerlessness.

Try not to blame yourself or others or become bitter when things fall apart. This is a part of life that we will never escape. No matter what you do, how safe you play it and how intelligent and competent you are, you will at one time or another experience unexpected change. Problems get solved, but only temporarily. Other or similar ones will crop up.

When misfortune knocks on our door and rattles us to the core, there may be little left of the life that we have known. Loss of a job, a devastating health condition, divorce, financial bankruptcy, or the death of a loved one not only changes our circumstances but can also change the way we perceive ourselves. If we recoil in fear, we feel defenseless and at the mercy of a cruel fate. However, if we make space in our lives to accommodate the inevitable, we can gain a sense of mastery and strength from our challenges.

When change comes your way, you can close down in fear or you can feel the depths of your emotions and allow them to soften you. A feeling of safety and serenity does not come about by avoiding and controlling the flow of life. Instead, you can discover calmness in the midst of the storm by accepting what is happening and embracing your feelings.

Be in present time. When you find yourself stressing over and troubled by problems and challenges, breathe and acknowledge the good that is present and be open to perceiving what is happening with a new awareness and perspective. Don’t let your concerns for the future and pain from the past cause you to imagine the worst. Take it one step at a time, being ever mindful that challenges call forward hidden but potent aspects of your authentic self. Even though problems may initially seem overwhelming, you can discover a strength and compassion that you did not know you had. Distressing turns of events are often a calling card from your authentic self letting you know that you are capable of so much more than you may think.

I acknowledge that in this moment all is well.

41. The Invisible Presence

Before we perceive the light within ourselves and experience the dynamic love and joy that is our birthright, we often go through a period of confusion and darkness. Challenges often motivate us to journey into the deeper recesses of who we are. When we feel empty or thirst for something more, we go beyond the known. Sometimes we search in the outer world for things like a new job, or hobby, a better relationship, or new diversions and entertainment. Sometimes these changes work. They move us forward into new aspects of who we are and satisfy our needs. However, sometimes it is not outer remedies that we most need. Instead, it is something less definable and more obscure and mysterious that is calling to us.

When I was in college, I experienced this kind of inner calling. To pay tuition and my living expenses, I worked two jobs. One was at the college cleaning offices and the other was at a restaurant washing dishes. I was keeping everything together, but just barely. If I was not studying, I was either attending classes or working.

In my job as a dishwasher, I was usually the last one to leave the restaurant at night. One night on my way home from work, while climbing a steep hill my car sputtered a few times and died. I tried over and over to start it, but it was useless. It was not going to start, so I got out and began to walk home. This was in the days before cell phones, when you were just out of luck. The mountain roads were dark, with no traffic and no homes or businesses alongside them. It began to rain and I had many miles to go. I had an exam and a paper due the next day and I knew it would take me most of the night to walk home.

Exhausted, I stopped for a moment in the dark and quiet rain to rest. In this moment I felt a piercing and penetrating aloneness. I knew that without my car, I could not work. In the struggling economy of this small town, it had taken me months to find this job. Without it, I would not be able to pay my rent and tuition. I felt that I had no one and nothing to fall back on. As hard as I tried, I could not think of a way through this.

As I continued to walk in the dark, I began to cry. I ached with exhaustion and loneliness. To my surprise, in the midst of my despair I suddenly felt an unexpected presence of warmth both beside and within me. It was so powerful that I stopped walking and looked all around. As a shiver of warmth went thorough me, I experienced a transcendent moment of awareness. I was pulled into a depth within me that was more real than the cold, dark night and empty road. It was a moment when the undefinable and undeniable truth left no room for any other thoughts or feelings. I knew that I was connected to a source of love and kindness that was both within me and watching over me. There was no problem or issue that was more powerful or real than this awareness.

I continued to walk under the spell of this presence, only now I realized that I was not alone. Everything was going to work out. I did not know how. I just knew that it would. Sometimes when it seems the darkest and it appears that there is no help in sight, we are broken open. Desperation, hopelessness, and distress can clear the way for deeper truth to surface. Our will, thoughts, and solutions can only get us so far. Beyond these things, a door opens and reveals a vast network of love and intelligence that is more powerful than we have thought ourselves to be.

I am grateful for the presence of love 
and wisdom that comes to my aid.

42. The Power of Mistakes

You may make mistakes, but you are not a mistake. Other people make mistakes too. They are not their mistakes, either. At times, our best efforts do not produce the desired results. We give something our best and we fail. We do not get what we want or we get what we want and it is not what we thought it would be. We all make decisions that do not work out the way we thought they would.

Sometimes we are taken by surprise. We trust people who let us down. We lose money on something that we thought was a sure thing. The job that we believed would bring us happiness and financial abundance disappoints and brings neither. The relationship that seemed to be heaven-sent ends in lies and infidelity.

I have made plenty of mistakes and bad decisions. At times I have even had a sense that the person I was trusting, the outcome I was hoping for, or the money I was spending was not going to give me what I needed. Yet more often than I would like to admit, I went forward anyway. I trusted someone who betrayed me. I spent money carelessly. I hoped and desired for an outcome that never came to pass.

Sometimes our mistakes feel devastating. We withdraw emotionally and close off our hearts. We may stop trusting others and live in dread and fear, doing our best to avoid possible failure or disappointment. We may beat ourselves up, allow our self-esteem to plummet, and generally feel bad about ourselves or believe that we are deficient in some way. We may even stop trusting ourselves altogether.

Loss, disappointment, grief, and failure are all a part of life. They are some of the ways through which you can learn more about who you are. Instead of not trusting yourself or closing yourself off from others, use your mistakes as a way to better know yourself and others and accept life as it is.

For instance, those who disappoint us can teach us about self-
reliance and inspire us to appreciate our integrity and value. Mistakes can ignite our creativity. Loss of a job can motivate us to discover latent abilities and talents that lead to new career and moneymaking opportunities. When things do not go our way, we often find new doors opening and new aspects of ourselves coming to life. Our mistakes do not define us. How we go forward after we make one is what is important.

I am not my mistakes.

43. Awakening

The depth and breadth of your authentic self is vast and limitless. To know the whole of who you are is no small matter. We can know our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs and become more conscious of our choices and actions. Yet behind all of this, our core self pulsates with raw power and life force energy. When our everyday ego-based self is lifted into the awareness of a greater love and oneness with all of life, we perceive ourselves through the center of wholeness. We can know this aspect of self only through direct experience. While logic, reasoning, and knowledge can provide intellectual understanding, our consciousness must awaken to its true authentic self.

Awakening is deep and lasting transformation. It is more than changing our understanding of ourselves and others or setting new goals and beginning new activities. True awakening comes to us through grace. We have reached a collective tipping point. New energy is streaming into the planet and many are accepting and receiving it. We are moving from a state of spiritual sleep to that of being fully awakened. During awakening, we move out of the false belief and experience of being separate from all of life. The sense that we have to go it alone and use our personal will and power to carve out an existence that will keep us safe and protected begins to fade away. Feelings of fear, anxiousness, and stress transform into the awareness of an ever-present guiding force of love. We become more aware that what we do to others we do to ourselves.

The experience of awakening is different for everyone. It can feel like an all-encompassing, warm embrace from the universe, a sense of being aligned with a higher force of power and wisdom, or a simple, quiet inner knowing and feeling of peace. Awakening is the awareness that you are eternal spirit connected to all of life.

Awakening occurs as you become more aware of your truth and authentically live it. Take quiet time every day to listen within, feel your feelings, and open your heart. Acknowledge your basic and inherent goodness and know that there is nothing that can tarnish or diminish your authentic self. Be kind to others and to yourself. Let go of anger and do not buy into your fears. Forgive yourself and forgive all others.

I invoke an awakening through small acts of love and kindness.

44. The Signs of Awakening

Awakening is a profound shift in awareness and a renewed perception of self and of life. There is a deep alchemy in awakening. Not only does it heighten your spiritual senses and empower you to feel the inherent oneness, joy, and goodness within yourself and others, but it can also trigger confusing and physiological changes. For instance, in the awakening process you may experience an increased sensitivity to noise, light, violence, and negativity. Many experience an increase in dreams and a heightened intuitive awareness with spontaneous new insights. You may experience increased levels of higher-vibrational energy that produces dizziness and inner trembling, and you may feel exhausted but unable to sleep. Some people lose their appetite or begin to have food cravings, and many develop sensitivities to certain foods or medications and are unable to drink alcohol. You may also have an increase in mystical experiences, an inspired awareness of your purpose, and a desire to completely walk away from your current life to be of service to others.

Some are awakened suddenly and in a direct way. This was true for thirty-nine-year-old Debra, who worked for many years in pharmaceutical development. Her life was on track and predictable in most ways. She had two daughters and her husband worked for the city. Except for the debilitating headaches that she suffered, her life seemed ideal. After going to a few doctors, trying different prescription medicines, and changing her diet with no results, she made an appointment with an energy healer recommended by a friend.

During the session, the healer told Debra that she had energy blocks all through her aura. She did not know what that meant, but she felt a warm, tingling sensation move through her body when the healer removed them. During this relaxing process, Debra saw bright flashes of light in her mind’s eye. This light was strangely familiar and she knew in her heart that her resistance to it was causing her headaches. Debra didn’t understand all that was happening, but she felt ready to allow this light to move through her. As she did so, her heart opened and love and warmth moved through her body. Taking a deep breath, she relaxed and let go of her resistance. Immediately flooded with energy from head to toe, she felt as if she was lying on the table, but above it. While waves of blissful energy moved through her, she knew that she was being transformed. Who she was becoming and what she was leaving behind did not matter.

For some, the awakening is slower and not as obvious. This was true for Eric, who for several years felt like he was out of sync with his higher purpose. His job as a recruiter for a tech company allowed him to help others, but this was not enough. He felt a love and passion in his heart that he wanted to share and give to others. Motivated through an increasing desire to be of service and to help others to heal, he took night classes for several years to become a social worker. After graduation, he began to work in a treatment center for disadvantaged adolescents. Despite the emotional and mental toll of working with angry and challenged teenagers, Eric experienced an inner transformation. The love and compassion that moved through him to others seemed to come from a force much greater and more powerful than himself. Supported by an invisible presence of wisdom and love, he felt his connection within the oneness of all of life.

Awakening lifts our awareness and perception of who we are. Through this enlightened lens, we can come to know our true and authentic self.

I pay attention to the signs of an awakening.

45. Accidents

Sometimes transformation comes to us in unexpected, challenging, and even painful ways. Accidents often catapult us into change faster than we may be ready for. They often leave us feeling like we are the victim of cruel fate or of the recklessness or carelessness of another or ourselves. Yet accidents are not as random and without meaning and purpose as they may appear to be. When we ignore the gut feeling or inner voice that tells us that it is time for a change, or when we move in a direction counter to our life plan, an accident may come to wake us up. Your spirit uses any available means to motivate you to come into alignment with what you have come into this life to learn, experience, and participate in.

This is what happened to my client Karen, an engineer at a consulting company. Having worked on an international engineering project for over a year, she was scheduled to go to Asia with her team to present their ideas. However, while riding her bike the weekend before the trip, she collided with another bike and broke her ankle. Although Karen was disappointed by the turn of events, she accepted her fate, took a few days off, and looked for another project to devote herself to. With more leisure time available to her than usual, Karen became aware of the emptiness of her life. With her busy and demanding work schedule, she had lost touch with friends and had not been on a date in almost two years. Her apartment did not feel like a home, as she spent little time there. It became increasingly apparent to Karen that her life was out of balance. She did not know what would make her happy, and without a work project, she felt lost. For the next several months, she devoted herself to finding out more about her wants and needs. It was surprisingly difficult, but slowly she began to tune in to her authentic self. In time, Karen was grateful for the accident, as it forced her to wake up to her deeper desires for companionship, fun, and a healthier life.

Accidents are a call for deep and transformative change. If you are in an accident, try not to expend time and energy blaming yourself and others. Take care of yourself and have compassion for your situation. Accidents can be frightening, confusing, disorienting, and painful, both emotionally and physically. Take time to heal and rest. Discharge any anger, resentment, fear, or residual shock in healthy ways.

When you are feeling stronger and ready to explore the meaning behind the accident, listen within. Ask yourself what you are meant to be learning. Do you allow others to help and care for you? Have you been resisting change in any aspect of your life? Do you need to eliminate a behavior, accept a need or desire, develop patience or compassion, or focus on yourself?

Accidents may strengthen you and activate new levels of awareness about yourself and life. They can provide you with a renewed perspective and insight. Although you may want to jump back into familiar routines, take your time. Allow new ways of being to emerge. Be kind to yourself and honor the transformative process as it unfolds. Allow it to move you into new, positive forms and ways of being.

I pay attention to the lessons behind any accidents that I am 
involved in, even those that appear to be insignificant.

46. Death: Opening to New Life

Death is the master transformer and the bearer of deeper truth. It reminds us of the impermanence of life and the brief time we have here on earth. When we pass over into the spirit realm, the illusions of the physical world fall away. We discover that we are still very much alive and we no longer experience fear and suffering.

You can never truly predict how you will react and what you will feel when a loved one dies. Every death is unique and activates new responses and reactions. Some feel flooded with feelings of grief and sadness. Others become depressed and need alone and quiet time. Some find solace in immersing themselves in work or other projects. After the initial shock of death begins to recede, you may begin to question your own life. You may wonder if you are living your purpose or if there are past mistakes that need to be remedied. You may become aware that some of your relationships need more attention or that there are people you need to forgive. Whatever you experience after the passing of a loved one is right for you. It is an individual transformative process. There is no correct length of time or way to grieve. If you feel yourself resisting or shutting down and not allowing yourself to feel or move through the process, consider talking to a supportive friend or a counselor or go to a support group.

You may feel like you are a different person after the death of a loved one. When someone you love and care for passes over, new energy streams into your life. Despite the grief and loss that you are experiencing, you may have moments of clear awareness about the meaning and purpose of your life. You may know where you need to make changes and what is truly important to you. Some people begin anew after the death of a loved one. They may start a new career, end or begin a relationship, move to a new location, or go back to school.

One of the most profound transformations that can occur after death is the realization that your loved one who has passed over is still alive in the spirit realm. You may sense their presence or receive a sign from them. A loved one may come to you in a dream where you are able to touch, feel, and talk to them. You may find coins or feathers and feel a deep knowing that your loved one is sending them to you. You may sense a loved one’s presence in the butterflies or birds that come to your window. A glimpse or flash of light may let you know that a loved one is in your home or yard. You may feel the sensation of a familiar hand on your shoulder, or the smell of a loved one’s perfume may drift by you. Your loved one may send messages through songs on the radio or through feelings of love or ideas that suddenly pop up in your head. However a loved one may make their presence known, trust that they are with you, reaching out over time and space to let you know that they are alive, well, and at peace.

The sadness that you feel after a death will in time transform into unconditional love and compassion and feelings of connectedness with your loved one. The transcendent authentic self that survives death is eternal.

My authentic self survives physical death.