Getting out of the rut you’ve worn into your life

We already have the answers to many of our biggest questions. In fact, most of us know, intuitively, what we must do to be truly free.

“Life is a banquet. And the tragedy is that most people are starving to death.” — Anthony de Mello, Indian author, speaker and motivator

We already have the answers to many of our biggest questions. In fact, most of us know, intuitively, what we must do to be truly free.

That may seem like a broad statement, but I believe it to be true.

A number of years ago, I conducted a self-esteem workshop at a local hotel. One of the participants was a beautiful, young woman I’ll call Jane.

Jane seemed reticent to involve herself in any discussions or activities.

I learned Jane was involved in an abusive relationship and that she worked several unfulfilling part-time jobs. Jane felt stuck in a life that seemed to be going nowhere and she was teetering on the brink of a nervous breakdown. I could tell she wanted to change and knew it was essential, yet the idea of change terrified her. Jane didn’t trust herself to make good choices.

One aspect of the weekend workshop involved using hypnosis to help participants break through long-standing barriers to change. Being a trained hypnotherapist, I recognized Jane’s extraordinary capacity for deep trance. Natural somnambulists, like Jane, are able to experience negative and positive hallucinations. Essentially, while in trance, somnambulists are able to see something that isn’t there or not see something that is.

I was struck by a radical idea: I brought up the topic of guardian angels and asked Jane if she believed guardian angels watch over her.

Jane said she did. With her permission, I placed Jane into a deep trance and suggested when she opened her eyes she would be able to see her guardian angel. Furthermore, her angel would share with her precisely what she needed to do to bring about positive and permanent change in her life. “Wide awake,” I said and snapped my fingers.

Jane’s eyes popped open, then opened wide in wonder. Her jaw dropped as she stared intently at a spot near the wall behind us.

After a few moments, Jane let out a long sigh and a smile formed on her lips. The guardian angel may have been a product of her own mind yet it told her what she needed to do. The balance of the weekend, Jane was fully engaged in every activity. In fact, she volunteered to lead many of the discussion groups and was often first to share new ideas and insights. As with Jane, most of us are far more resourceful than we imagine.

So why is this resourcefulness often left untapped? Anthony de Mello, in the book Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality, says it’s because we’re asleep.

Our early programming, our cultural bias, our interpretation of events and lack of self-awareness has lulled us into a state of unconsciousness.

We see things the way we think they are or, perhaps more accurately, the way we need to see them in order to remain congruent with our beliefs.

In his book, de Mello tells of a group of people on a raft off the coast of Brazil dying of thirst because they believed they were surrounded by salt water.

“They had no idea that the water they were floating on was fresh water,” he wrote. “The river was coming out into the sea with such force that it went out for a couple of miles, so they had fresh water right there where they were. But they had no idea”.

In the same way, we’re surrounded with joy, with happiness, with love. Most people have no idea of this whatsoever.”

To wake up, what do we need?

Stamina, intelligence, perseverance?

All of the above, actually, plus one other vital component: willingness to learn something new.

As de Mello explains, “The chances that you will wake up are in direct proportion to the amount of truth you can take without running away.”

Changing our thinking can be frightening but it’s often vital if we are ever to wake up and start living the life we want and deserve.

The best thing you can do is to begin living consciously.

That requires self-awareness. It requires that you stop reacting to everything and begin responding instead.

It sounds simple enough: be conscious and make choices rather than just doing things automatically — with little if any thought. Simple, yet it’s amazing how few people will do it.

It’s not easy to get out of the rut you’ve worn into your life by the endless repetition of routine.

That said, here are some suggestions to help kick-start the process.

• Keep a journal and begin writing down your daily, weekly and monthly routine. Take time to reflect on everything you do and why you do it.

• Set goals and review them often. Ask the hard questions: What do I want to do with my life? What’s important to me? What am I willing to do to bring about positive change?

• Review your relationships. Do you spend enough time with the people you love? Do you cherish and appreciate them? Are you saying, “I love you?” Are you willing to forgive? “A life lived of choice is a life of conscious action,” writes American best-selling author Neale Donald Walsch.

“A life lived of chance is a life of unconscious creation.”

A couple years after the workshop, I received a phone call from Jane. She had ended her dysfunctional relationship, quit her part-time jobs, moved to larger centre and gone back to school. I asked if she was happy and she said, “Yes.”

Another participant told me she encountered Jane on the street one day and she looked truly happy.

She also told me that she couldn’t resist — she had to ask Jane what the guardian angel had said to her.

Apparently, Jane just smiled and said, “Nothing I didn’t already know.”

Murray Fuhrer is a local self-esteem expert and facilitator. His new book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at www.extremeesteem.ca