Sometimes the things that can’t be seen are those with the greatest power. Just like the wind is far more than the occasional rustle of a leaf; our thoughts, dreams, and fears are far more than the occasional image passing through our skulls. Though cleverly cloaked in invisibility, they are made up of raw energy – and this energy is the starting point of everything that we create in our lives. It’s the birthplace of the relationships we engage in, the adventures we take, and the lessons we learn; and it’s the resting place of those that we don’t.
The things that hide in our heads and that are tucked within our hearts are powerful; and acknowledging this isn’t always easy, because it means facing the truth that most of our suffering comes not from external energy but from using our internal energy haphazardly. After all, to be human is to be imperfect and even the happiest and most successful among us have had moments when we could have wielded that power more responsibly.
It’s natural to do a little reflecting after arriving at this truth – to take a good look at the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that we entertain the most and to assess what influence they’ve had on our experiences. Kept at a healthy level, this kind of contemplation can help us grow and become more conscious of what we’re creating. We must take care, however, not to water those seeds of criticism with too much attention, for if we do they will quickly grow into poisonous thorns of guilt and shame.
When we allow ourselves to get lost in the thickets of guilt for the damaging thoughts we’ve entertained or the negative emotions we’ve gotten swept up in, we only end up giving that energy an even greater charge – and the stronger it gets the more likely it is to show itself in our external world. One of the most common ways that it does this is by subtly influencing the way that we think about other people. Because guilt and shame are heavy and they make us feel low, we often end up projecting that criticism that we gave ourselves onto others. This brings them down to our level, at least in our minds, giving our ego the sensation of rising higher.
By using the same truth that made us feel ashamed in the first place – that we are each responsible for what we create – we are able to rationalize turning away from those who are suffering, who are lacking, and who have made mistakes. We tell ourselves that it’s not our job, not our place, or not our problem; and this is how the fog of apathy manages to descend upon the once open heart. It disguises itself as detachment and creeps in under the shadow of our own guilt. This steep fall from the light of awareness into the shadows of shame then perpetuates our inner shame and their outer struggle by holding us back from our natural inclination to help those in need.
Our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions are like seeds – the more that we plant a particular seed, the greater the chance that something will take root. Also like a seed, our thoughts, fears, dreams, and emotions will yield the same results regardless of which way they are facing. It doesn’t matter whether we are secretly thinking and feeling something about ourselves or about someone else. All that matters is the quality of those seeds – positive and uplifting or degrading and destructive, wildflowers or thorns.
Many great teachers have told us that the secret to true and lasting happiness, peace, and love is to treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves. What’s important to remember is that this rule doesn’t just apply to the things that can be seen but also to those that cannot, to the way that we think and feel about others, the dreams that we hold for them or the fears that we project upon them – and because what we feel, fear, and love about others is often a reflection of what we see in ourselves, the best place to start is with how we look to ourselves when we gaze into the mirrors of our heart and mind.
One thing that cannot be seen is often more influential than a thousand things that can. Just like one gust of wind can carry more power than a thousand leaves caught in its fury, one thought can incite more change than a thousand steps taken while it’s unfolding. Once we allow this truth to seep down into our souls, we realize that one of the most important things we can do on our path of development is to have compassion on ourselves, to be forgiving of our faults, and to practice self-love. This doesn’t negate our responsibility and it doesn’t hinder our growth. On the contrary, it is perhaps the noblest way of accepting that responsibility and the fastest path to growth because the energy that we can’t see within us in this moment is more powerful than a thousand things we can see that we’ve done in moments past.
So go ahead and take a good look at what kind of life you’ve been growing and don’t be afraid to face the truth about the quality of the seeds you have buried inside; but do so with eyes softened by compassion and a heart opened for love, because only by changing how you think and feel now will you be able to rewrite the story unfolding from what you thought and felt back then.
©2016 Cristen Rodgers
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