Not one of you ever has to encounter a difficulty he is not strong enough to surmount. Do not doubt the resources of strength that exist in your soul. Reach for these inner resources. This will give you strength rather than the dependency of receiving it from outside.
Any kind of blessings and divine help of any kind are possible only through you, through your own strength that already exists in you, that lies dormant within yourself. It can never be added on to you. It is a force that flows from within -- never from the outside. Depend on this inner strength that you have the power to liberate.
So often man says that life is difficult and painful, that life is an ordeal, confusing and puzzling, that there is no meaning to it. His attitude and belief are as though he and life were two separate factors. They are not! Whatever life is for you, that you are yourself.
Whatever your life appears to you is an exact facsimile of how you experience yourself. Your personal life, as it manifests for you, is a conglomeration of all your attitudes and traits. It is the greatest error possible, and one of the most fundamental ones, to believe that you are one thing and the life you are put into is another. This is not so.
As long as you separate what your life is for you and what you are, you are not only in illusion, but, because of it, you are in fear and in disharmony. Such confidence as you have in yourself, in your capacities and potentials, the very same confidence will you have in life. The joy that exists in your heart, your ability to experience joy, that will be your life. Life, of course, also contains struggle. But as in everything else, there is healthy and constructive as well as an unhealthy and destructive struggle. Let us try to understand a little more about this. Various philosophies and religions ask that you "give up struggling"; this is a truth. But it is often misunderstood and applied as though it meant giving up, giving in, resigning, the nonassertion of rights, that you become passive and apathetic and thus no longer try to fulfill yourself and your goals. It leads to indifference and sloth, to stagnation and even masochism. It leads to the cruelty of not caring to better conditions that can be bettered -- in yourself and in the world around you. Healthy struggle never exhausts your energies. It is never futile in principle although it does not always reap success in a direct manner. Healthy struggle is a component of relaxed activity and the ability to accept defeat; of well-defined aims with healthy underlying motivations; of being concerned with the issue itself rather than with using the issue to cover up hidden psychological deviations. In healthy struggle, you never fight against yourself.
Healthy struggle will make you forever stronger. In heyourself,althy struggle, you do not swim against the stream; hence it will not consume you and leave you depleted. It does not require effort or struggle to allow to the surface what is in you. In fact, man uses and wastes so much energy in preventing this, and then he wonders why he is so tired and, after having reached a certain age, why he no longer possesses sufficient energy to cope with the necessary struggle in life. If this energy current were reversed, life would become very different. With all his might, man struggles and fights against awareness of what is in him. He constantly stems the flow of his emotions. This is the unhealthy struggle. If only he would give it up, he could easily struggle where it is useful, meaningful, and productive. Whenever energy is used in its proper channel, it replenishes and regenerates itself automatically. But when it is used in a channel not destined for it, it certainly does not.
In healthy struggle, there is no anxiety, no fear, no uncertainty, no doubt. Whenever you struggle for an apparently healthy aim, but register any of these negative emotions, you can determine by this fact that unhealthy struggle must exist in some way. In some hidden way, you must struggle against yourself -- perhaps against a doubt or against selfishness or some attitude that hides a lack of integrity -- for otherwise these negative, depleting emotions could not be felt. This is the time when you must stop struggling against yourself and allow the stream of your hidden emotions to reach the surface.
All human attitudes, trends, and feelings can indeed be compared to streams. The stream that comes from inside out, and from outside in. It is a cycle in which inside and outside interact and influence one another. But the controlling factor always lies in the self -- inside -- and never outside the self.
When man does not like, or even fears, certain feelings and attitudes in himself, he blocks awareness of them. This amounts to barricading the stream that should flow freely.
So, my friends, try actually to visualize each feeling, each emotion, each inner attitude and response as a stream. If you barricade a stream, what happens? It is possible to dam up a river or stream. The water will flow up to the dam and will then be stopped so that its flow does not continue beyond the dam.
But the more the water accumulates behind the dam, the stronger the energy of the accumulating water will become until it bursts the dam, overflows, and destroys not only the dam itself but all the natural and healthy vegetation and structures alongside. To destroy the dam or barricade in such a violent way is not necessary. The dam never needs to be erected. But since it was, it has to go. You can make your own efforts in gradually and systematically removing it. This is the conscious process of self-confrontation.
Waiting until nature takes its course -- against your will, as it were – means that the barricade is swept away by the force of the waters. When life handles you roughly, when the accumulated destructive attitudes whose origins lie behind the barricade finally break loose, man experiences crises and breakdowns of different kinds and degrees.
By not damming up the river, the dirt and residue in it would freely float to the surface and be thus eliminated. Is this not a fact in nature? The same applies
to your soul currents. By fearing the debris of your past hurts and their subsequent destructive tendencies, you merely accumulate them behind the barricade where they are bound to swamp you one day when you cannot control what happens.
That is why, when you begin to remove your blocks, you first
experience predominantly negative emotions such as you had never consciously felt before. The temptation is then to put the lid on again. But beware of this temptation. The warm, positive, generous, loving, unselfish feelings must follow suit eventually. When you struggle against your inner insecurity by denying its existence, it mounts up behind the dam, like swelling waters. As long as the dam holds, you will feel a vague discomfort that you cannot place. You will feel inhibited without understanding why. You will sense that some of your best potentials are unutilized.
But on the whole, you will not have a grasp of the situation, nor will you feel the full force of the existing insecurity that becomes stronger just because it mounts up behind the barricade. Then, one day, the measure will be full, which will take the shape of certain outer events that will swamp you with all the despair of the helplessness and insecurity that you had never dared to face. So you see, by struggling against your inner insecurity, you really increase it. By
denying its existence, it gets bigger and stronger than it otherwise would. The same holds true of any other emotion or attitude. Fear, doubt, hostility, whatever it may be, the principle is the same. It must be the same. The natural laws apply to all creation similarly for their sources and origins, whether they be material rivers or the rivers and streams of feeling.
Is it not much wiser and more beneficial to go about removing the barricade?
It is our aim in this work to avoid the futile struggle; to remove the barricade before it removes itself; to allow the flow to bring out what is inherent in it; to see and to face those feelings that you would rather evade: the doubts, the aggression, the jealousy, the possessiveness, the self-centeredness, and self-importance -- in short, all that in you which is the child, the hurt child.
Why does man resist becoming aware of these emotions? When we speak of resistance, let us be very clear about what it really means.
It does not merely indicate that you do not want this work.
You would not mind this work if it would not require your removing the barricade of the stream.
There is not just one stream in you. Since man consists of many attitudes and feelings, there are many streams. And a few of them, fortunately, are not barricaded. Those that are free create a healthy and constructive attitude towards yourself and towards your life. There are other streams where the barricade is not too strong. There, the resistance is not too difficult to overcome. But there are a number of "streams" which you have very deliberately cut off because you thought these to be a protection for you. When this work is started, the conscious self does not realize that this "forbidden area" has to be touched because the conscious self totally ignores the existence of these taboos. Only when the work approaches these areas, without your even knowing it consciously, will the resistance come forth.
The areas you do not wish to look at are not necessarily ugly or wicked in an extreme sense.
In the final analysis, arrested growth is always life-defeating and self-centered. But the emphasis may not be on selfishness, but rather on false self-preservation. Put differently, it is a defense against exposure, hurt, and vulnerability.
Learn to discover the signs of such resistance to removal of the barricade. The signs may be manifold, but once you focus your attention on their existence you will not miss them. You will learn to take the seemingly legitimate excuses with a grain of salt.
The reason for resistance is not only because your ideal of yourself does not correspond to the reality you find beyond the barricade; nor is it sufficient to say that the barricade serves as a supposed defense against the hurts of life.
One aspect of the hidden reason for the barricade is that the psyche hopes against hope that the person can remain a child. To do so seems to have the advantage of being given what one needs to be happy and secure, of avoiding the effort of obtaining it oneself.
This seems very tempting. The child is indeed entitled to just receive without making the effort to stand on his own feet. The recollection of this time combines with the afflicted areas of past hurts and the subsequent defenses against them.
Man does not wish to give up the belief that happiness, fulfillment, security can come from others. He clings to this hope because this is what he would like. This is one of the main reasons for resisting removal of the barrier. By removing it, he will know that he clings to unjustified hope and that he does not wish to acknowledge this fact. He does not wish to go through all the effort of having to be responsible for his life. He does not want to shoulder the brunt of his failing in this respect up to now. To depend on others for one's needs may take many forms, may apply to many very different aspects of outer and inner life attitudes. In what respect this applies to you, you have to find out.
As a child is helpless, so is an invalid. They both depend on others. The resisting psyche is therefore not only the child that has not grown yet, but also a deliberate invalid. On the one hand, man is afraid of his helplessness and does not give himself the chance not to be helpless nor to test and see whether or not this be true. On the other hand, he is afraid of the very opposite -- that he is indeed not helpless, that he has many more resources than he likes to admit because that demands certain obligations and responsibilities towards himself. He rather assumes false responsibilities that are not his own because that seems so much easier, so much more laudable than assuming the responsibilities that are really his.
To summarize, the prohibition against allowing the flow into your conscious mind is due to
(a) fear of imperfection, (b) fear of having to shed means that supposedly protect one from hurts, (c) insistence on remaining a child because then others are responsible for his needs, his happiness, his safety. Again I have to admonish you that determining these aspects is not easy. Many emotions must have reached surface awareness already.
You fear the fact that you need not be helpless if you do not wish to be. These are resistances that cut you off from your life stream even if this life stream brings in its wake, to begin with, some debris. Recognize the signs of resistance, my friends! Observe yourself. See how you are always tempted to shove an unpleasant feeling away in the hope that it will thus "go away." Observe how you try to find easy explanations that do not really satisfy you. Observe how you make excuses for not looking at these disturbances, how everything else seems more important. Beware of the easy rationalizations, for they are the most dangerous ones. Rationalizations that are untrue and preposterous -- and they exist even with the sanest people -- are much easier to cope with because it requires less effort for truthfulness to penetrate the guise.
Each one of you, who is so ardently concerned with spiritual development, with inner growth, may pose the following questions: "What is most important for me and my life in order to reach the maximum self-honesty possible? Which of my activities help me most in this? Do I deceive myself when I wish to believe that any other activity but self-recognition can bring the spiritual development I wish? Is growth and development possible without it? Are my efforts in this respect sufficient, or could more be done? If more could be done than I am doing, why do I permit this? What is my attitude towards myself in this admission? If I want to persist in my resistance, is it not better that, at least, I know that I lack the courage to look at myself, rather than pretend the opposite? Do I have the courage for this admission? Once these questions will really and truthfully be answered, you will also experience the difference between healthy and unhealthy struggle.
If there is doubt in you, and you do not wish to doubt, and you struggle against the doubt by denying its existence, you do not remove it. But this denying is exactly what your resistance, your barricade, does. It is a make-believe of not doubting; it is not a reality. Doubt is one of many emotions. There are clusters of negative emotions combined in certain attitudes you resist recognizing. Stop the resistance, let them float freely to the surface, and you have nothing to fear from them. Unhealthy struggle is resistance.
Both are futile because your fight is directed into making yourself believe what does not correspond to reality.
So do not struggle against that which is in yourself, regardless of what it is. For in the struggle of denial, you consume your energies. You perpetuate self-deception, and you do not achieve the result you wish. Learn to accept the fact that you are only human and are not despicable because you harbor the same human weaknesses as all your fellow human beings. Thus you will be kinder towards yourself, and this in turn will enable you to face all that is in you. Harsh unkindness with oneself is not a virtue, my friends, as may so easily be believed. It is quite the opposite because it is proud, arrogant, and it breeds self-deception, untruthfulness.
I also want to remind you once again, whenever you feel inner discomfort, it is not sufficient to look for the deeper meaning as such, but also to see when you felt in a similar way when you were a child. Then synchronize these two feelings. But, again, it is necessary to have made some progress on this path before this is meaningful and liberating. Otherwise it will merely be an empty, although perhaps interesting, speculation. Do not ever forget that it is the childhood hurts that you have not yet come to mature terms with that cause you to barricade the stream; to resist; to be untruthful towards yourself; to be in destructive patterns and inner fear and insecurity.
It is these that cause you to struggle in the wrong direction, which puts you into disharmony with the life flow, with the time flow. Only as you understand this, can you put yourself in the stream, to flow with the tide of time, space, and movement, to be in harmony with the universal forces. He who has never found and consciously acknowledged a resistance in himself, who believes that he does not have resistance, still has much to learn. He is way behind those who can freely admit, and thus cope with, their resistance.
Excerpts from STRUGGLE -- HEALTHY AND UNHEALTHY by Eva Broch Pierrakos