Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Breaking Free

When I hear the term "social programming," I immediately think of someone caught in a hamster wheel of social controls, always reaching for some kind of prize. He may get the prize, only to find it fizzle away as he sets his eyes on the next one.
hamster wheel
Such is the rat race.

What's the long-term affect of this?

We end up seeking external approval and external goals in our lives, and we forego living in the present moment because we are fixated on some future outcome. We mistakenly believe that happiness is obtained only by achieving those external goals.

Social programming is the set of instructions we learn (from others) to fit in with society. It comes from family members, teachers, peers, colleagues, and others. We end up doing what most people we know are doing rather than explore the many options that are available to us. Perhaps we are overwhelmed or pressured by those around us to do things "their" way or because "that's the way it's always been done." If this is the case, then our decisions are made by default, meaning they are not "conscious" decisions; we don't always take the time to explore them to determine what is right for us. This is intellectual laziness.

It's not always easy to make decisions that go against the grain. Oftentimes, those close to us may feel threatened or confused by our choices when we diverge from the ones they are making. And we may find ourselves frustrated and defensive when we feel unsupported and misunderstood. It can be downright exhausting having to explain (or reexplain) ourselves (though we do have the right to tell them to respect our choices).

It takes testicular fortitude to break away from social programming. The key is not to eliminate all of your external goals, but to create goals that are meaningful to you, ones in which you enjoy (not dread) the day-to-day process of realizing them.

To break free, choose your own goals, not the goals you were programmed to adopt. Examine your values and principles. Are they yours, or society's? Here's a test: if a goal makes you feel unhappy or distressed, then this goal may not be for you. If, on the other hand, it excites and energizes you, then it's worth pursuing. How aligned do you feel with those goals?

Once you've selected your goals, follow your vision. Move forward by taking the necessary day-to-day steps. This will take persistence, consistency, and courage. Following your vision can leave you feeling alone, but the more you think independently, the higher your self-esteem and confidence will be. Independent thought is by no means a social process; it is a solitary one. If you find yourself feeling alone, it's okay. Embrace it and remind yourself of what's important to you in your journey.

Understand that breaking free doesn't happen overnight. It is a life-long process. If you are feeling enslaved by societal norms, perhaps it's because you are feeling enslaved within. Look honestly at your life. Which habits, beliefs, and expectations are holding you back from excelling in life? How is your past holding your hostage? If you're willing to challenge the mental constructs that enslave you, a natural desire to do something about it will arise within you.

Your life belongs to you and so do your decisions. As you take control of your consciousness and learn to think for yourself, you will grow in your awareness of the programming that surrounds you on a daily basis; and by remaining steadfast to your vision, you will begin to make choices based on what is real and true for your -- and others' -- highest good.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Money As A Spiritual Practice?

Money is a highly charged topic. Whether we are spending it or making it, it is an intimate part of our lives.

Some would think that money and spirituality are mutually exclusive.

Are they?

How you perceive money has a great deal to do with how much you have and are able to create.

Take a moment to examine your thoughts, feelings, and attitudes about money. How do you choose to use it? Do you squirrel it away for a rainy day? Do you overspend, maxing out your credit cards only to grow resentful at a mountain of debt when the bills come in? Do you consider it evil? How would you sum up your relationship with money?

Do any of the following statements apply to you?

I'd rather be poor and happy than rich and miserable.

A penny saved is a penny earned.

I resent others with money.

I'll always be in debt.

I'm no good with money.

Following the spiritual path means taking a vow of poverty.

Believing such statements will not bring you any closer to prosperity. Nor will it heal your relationship with money. And it's this old, limited thinking that keeps people stuck. Perhaps you grew up with these beliefs, but unless you consciously release them, they'll stay with you, bringing you more lack.

True prosperity is a state of mind.

Building a relationship with money (or healing it) is sacred work. To do this requires a change in perspective.

Money is energy. It's not a thing to be despised or resented. It's meant to be put into action; it's meant to flow. I like to think of it as Spirit vibrating at a slower frequency. When we use it in a spiritual way (one that is not associated with greed), then it can be put to work to help many. Honor the exchange. Think about how many people you are supporting as you circulate the energy of money.

Give gratitude for each dollar that comes in and goes out. Thank whoever gave you the money, and thank whoever performed the services or sold you the products you are paying for. Love your bills! Many people treat bills as punishments, but a bill is an acknowledgment of our ability to pay. Thank those companies for trusting you to pay. If you pay with resentment, money has a hard time coming back to you. If you want to open the free flowing channel of abundance, then pay with love. Treat your money as a friend, rather than an enemy.

Accept the idea that you "deserve" to prosper. There is an inexhaustible supply in the Universe. The Universe sees you as deserving; it responds by giving you what you feel you deserve, good or bad, positive or negative. Whatever we concentrate on, increases. If you concentrate on lack and debt, then you will create more lack and debt; the Universe will respond in kind because of your vibrational offering. When you are grateful for what you already have, you will find that it increases.

Money is one of the many gifts of prosperity. It's okay to cultivate a healthy, working relationship with it. Only you can allow it to work for you or against you. As you consciously release old attitudes, you will find your relationship with money (and yourself) growing. When you can appreciate its value and the positive things it can do in your life and in the lives of others, your relationship with money will become a spiritual practice that will benefit all of humanity.