Finally, here’s the last chapter of my book, The Eight Aspects of God: A Pathway to Bliss—SOUL-UTIONS, and where I talk about Enrolling the Soul.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these chapters and that you walk away with a few tidbits to bring value to your life or someone else’s. It’s been almost six years since I published this book and I realize now more than ever that, although my intention was to help and teach others, I wrote it to help myself more than anything. One of my spiritual teachers once said, “We teach what we need to learn.” I understand this to be true.
Chapter 11: Soul-utions
When we do our part to live life according to the eight aspects of God—peace, wisdom, power, love, calmness, light, sound, and bliss—the response from the Universe (God) is reciprocal. That is to say, the level of effort we put into changing our lives for the better is matched in like. If we put out a little effort, the message to the Universe is that we want a little in return. If, on the other hand, we put our hearts into everything we do, meaning a full effort, we are showered with blessings that support our mission, our change.
Oftentimes we let change itself get in the way of our progress toward a more blissful life. This happens because we work harder to change others than to examine ourselves, our own areas in need of positive change. In Michael Jackson’s song, “Man in The Mirror,” the lyrics say, “If you want to make the world a better place, you better take a look at yourself and make a change . . .” So long as we focus on what’s wrong with others, we will never be able to truly see our own need to change. Underneath, in your heart, you might know there’s work to do (actually, you know there is!), but to take on that work feels overwhelming. Understandably so.
If you begin by taking little baby steps, the effort will take hold and build momentum. All you have to do is one small thing. Examine your life and notice what aspects are missing and choose one action to address that lack. If you lack a peaceful environment, for example, start clearing out your space—physically and mentally. Take an inventory of who no longer serves you or who feels toxic in your surroundings. Instead of trying to change them, accept them for who they are and turn your focus on your own potential, your own growth.
Expectations and Acceptance
The more you expect others to change, and wait for them to change, the further removed you become from actually ever seeing a change in them because your mind gets so clouded by pent-up emotions and, yes, even more expectations. Frustration sets in, followed by other feelings like resentment, anger, sadness, and despair. You feel victimized by your circumstances. Trying to change others is one area that blocks our potential, but another common area that gets in our way is the unwillingness to accept others for who they are. We hold expectations of others and then can’t accept it when they let us down. We work to change them or hold a grievance toward them for being whatever way they are (stupid, insensitive, rude, unkind, or even toxic).
In order to accept someone, we have to let go of expectations and stop judging them. That’s not to say we shouldn’t expect a coworker to treat us with respect or a child to adhere to our house rules, but when we expect a person’s personality or character to be different than it is, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment and frustration. If a person has a sharp tongue and seems to be always itching for a fight, you have to adjust the way you communicate with them. Their behavior, in and of itself, is a form of communication. As long as you can see that, you (being on the high road of self-improvement and positive change) can adopt a different language, so to speak, when you interact with them, and stop hoping or expecting that they’ll be different next time you see them.
It’s Not About You
The number one thing that keeps you from making a change (or even knowing what change is necessary) is getting trapped in the victim role. Being the victim happens when you take things personally. Taking something personally is thinking that what other people do, don’t do, say, or don’t say is about you. It’s not. A person is going to behave the way they do regardless of who’s in their line of fire. It’s not about you. Take, for example, the person who, when you give them an inch, takes a mile. They have a pattern of taking advantage of your goodwill. Instead of complaining about it—a victim reaction—tighten your boundaries. It is your responsibility not only to set new boundaries, but to hold them, to prevent being taken advantage of again. It’s just a matter of getting to know the people around you and adopting your own behavior and actions to improve the situation. The person who takes and takes and takes is a taker, not a giver. Accept it. Set boundaries. Hold the line.
In many ways, the people who challenge you the most are the best teachers. It’s good for us to develop multiple skills around how to communicate. Instead of trying to change someone, look at the relationship as an opportunity for personal growth and learning. Setting boundaries is important, but it only goes so far sometimes. It’s especially tough with family members and close friends—people you can only separate from so much, who you either can’t or wouldn’t really want to divorce from your life altogether. For these people, the ones you truly love and care about, nurturing the relationship can feel one-sided, like you’re doing all the nurturing (and you very likely are). In this case, setting boundaries requires a gentle approach and a little more work on your part. And it needs to stem from a loving place.
“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.”
~ Pema Chodron
Coming to a relationship from a loving place is easier when you understand that “it” (their behavior) is not about you. If someone’s behavior irritates you, work on being more patient, observant, interested, or curious about them. Just give them the gift of being there. Nothing more, nothing less. It sounds simple, and it is, but simple is very often far from easy. Just like anything else you want to learn, it just requires a little effort—and, usually, a lot more understanding!
Enrolling The Soul
To recap, the things that get in our way and prevent us from living more closely to the eight aspects of God are not being able or willing to accept “what is” and working hard to change things outside ourselves. Instead, we must work to change what’s inside us and let go of falling victim to the actions of others. As we do, we get closer to our true authentic nature, our soul self. When we get in touch with our true nature, we see that everyone is really in the same boat: simply trying to find their way through all the muck—the same as you and me. Understanding this helps ease up the strain to force change, and allows you to accept others as they are. In this more natural, intuitive state of mind, your mind is at peace. When you’re at peace, solutions—soul-utions—flow in because you are being guided by an inner knowing. Your soul’s knowing; God’s knowing. Instead of reacting to an upsetting behavior, you respond from a centered state with a calm presence. Your surroundings can’t help but change. You become the change.
You are at the root of all change. If you want more joy in your life, be joyous. If you want more respect, go out of your way to treat others respectfully. If you want more love and affection, be more loving and show others affection. Practice the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, who so eloquently taught us to “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Simply think of “the world” as your inner self—your sphere of influence. Be whatever it is you wish to see in that world; your world. Everything else will just fall into place.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
~ Reinhold Niebuhr