By Dr. Steve
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Developing 20-20 Vision
vision will become clear only when you can look inside your own heart. Who looks
outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
next step is brutally simple, yet undoubtedly one of the more frightening steps to follow.
For after we awaken to what we want our lives to be, after we awaken to how we have
drifted from what that picture looks like for us, after we have liberated the energy that
lifts us out of our paralysis, we need to set out in a new direction.
a new direction may be what we desire most in our lives, discovering the direction that
will honor the awakening that we have undergone can still be an elusive end to achieve.
For not only do we need to discover a path that is uniquely suited to who we are, we also
need to learn how to pass on the inevitable temptations of following a path that is the
creation of someone other than ourselves. I refer to the next step as Illuminating the
Path. I can best explain it in the following story I once heard.
a story about a man who had set out on a very special journey, a search if you will. This
man was determined to discover the one true path that would bring him to his own spiritual
awakening. You see, he had studied the various spiritual ways of the world, never
really settling on any one path to follow. So he set out to find someone who could
prescribe for him the one true path that would best serve the awakening he so desperately
wanted to experience.
ten years, he went from spiritual leader to spiritual leader trying to get each and
everyone of them to tell him what the one true way was. But time after time, he had the
would follow their way for awhile, become dissatisfied and leave. He roamed the world,
going from spiritual leader to spiritual leader, following their way but never being
satisfied with their practices or what their practices brought him.
ten years of searching, his travels brought him to the foot of the tallest mountain in all
of India. There he was informed that if he climbed the mountain to the very top he would
discover the answer he had been searching for.
searcher, ever the adventurer, set out on foot to climb the mountain. After three weeks of
brutal physical exertion, the man came to the last ledge that he had to climb in order to
complete his daunting ascent.
he boosted himself up over his final hurdle, there before his very eyes his long sought
after answer appeared. For as he reached the top of the mountain, he stood before a pool
of water from which he saw his own reflection shimmering against the bright light of the
noon sun. And all at once the answer came rushing into his consciousness, the answer that
he had been seeking from everyone with whom he had spoken to over the last ten years. The
answer, simple but profound, My true path lives only within myself.
hearing that story for the first time, I realized how I too was looking everywhere but
within myself for the one path that would honor my life. You know that song Looking for
Love in All the Wrong Places? Well, I promised myself that I would stop looking to others
for the answers that lived only within me.
result of that pledge to myself, I have created over the years a set of criteria to follow
that keeps my path illuminated, allowing me to determine where I am, whether I have
strayed, or how true I am being to my path.
When I think of others before myself, my path is
When I maintain a discipline that nourishes my
mind, body, spirit, and soul, my path is illuminated.
When I act spontaneously, my path is illuminated.
When my actions are a reflection of my lifes
purpose, my path is illuminated.
When I rise above my fears to do what I must do
next, my path is illuminated.
When I take responsibility for my emotional and
spiritual well-being, my path is illuminated.
When I am flexible enough to withstand the
never-ending winds of change, my path is illuminated.
When I steel myself by remaining grounded by my
lifes vision, my path is illuminated.
When I allow myself to adapt to the circumstances
of my life rather than forcing the circumstances to conform to my lifes plan, my
path is illuminated.
When I offer forgiveness to myself rather than
condemnation and shame, my path is illuminated.
I have devised my own means by which I light my path, there is nothing simple about
keeping the lights from flickering out. No indeed, in the course of learning how to
illuminate the path of my lifes journey, I have discovered that there are basic
elements that keep the flame alive.
elements that I am referring to? In a word,
trust. Learning to trust ourselves. Trusting ourselves that we know what is best for us.
How many of us have gone through life not trusting ourselves? Not trusting what we think.
Not trusting what we feel. Not trusting the choices we make.
understands how important trusting himself is. For much of his life he focused on others
rather than centering himself from within.
grew up in my family always feeling like I was crazy. When I tried to tell someone what I
was feeling, my feelings were minimized or belittled. Oh, youre too sensitive,
youre always overreacting was the way I was always dismissed. When I tried to
tell someone what I was experiencing, I was told to shut up. When I tried to tell someone
what I thought, my thoughts were questioned.
I learned to ignore my experiences, I learned to invalidate what I was thinking and
feeling. Most damaging of all, I learned how to look to others to affirm what I was
experiencing about myself and the people in my life.
result was that I never pursued what I wanted, because I could easily talk myself out of
it. Afterall, why subject myself to the inevitable second guessing, the inescapable
belittlement. That only served to make the noise in my head, you know the self-doubts,
even the self-loathing, get louder and louder.
know, I had to do a lot of spring cleaning in my life. I couldnt really begin to
trust myself until I found people in my life who encouraged me. People who understood what
it meant to support me. People who understood that I could learn best by doing for myself
rather than being told what to do. People who knew how to let me pick up the pieces when I
fell rather than wag their finger at me and say I told you so.
kindness and respect acted as a mirror, teaching me how to trust myself as they invested
their trust and faith in me.
second element of keeping the flame alive is fortitude. The internal strength we all
possess to withstand the discouragement of setbacks and wrong turns. The strength that we
all possess to calm ourselves in times of crisis. Being able to withstand the tides of
doubt washing over us, tugging at us, tripping us up, making us dive for cover with each
new step we take. The doubt foisted upon ourselves by others who would rather pull us down
because of their own fear, their fear of losing us if we heal, grow, and transform. The
doubt that lives within ourselves, the self-doubt so easily activated whenever we feel
like we are venturing out on our own.
I am feeling unnerved, whenever doubt creeps into my life, whenever fear overtakes me,
causing me to second guess myself, I have a very simple exercise I do. I turn the world
off for fifteen minutes. I simply sit in a chair, close my eyes, and focus on my
breathing. Thats all there is to it. But you would be amazed at how restorative that
simple little exercise can be.
final element I rely upon to keep the flame burning bright? In a word, patience. If we
follow a path that flows from within ourselves, then we will experience our lives as a
series of trials. Quite simply, life is full of pain and suffering. We will be tested by
the trials that appear along the way. The choice will always be there for us, to persevere
or turn around.
we learn from our journey is that there is nothing in life that does not extract some
cost. More importantly, there is nothing in life that can be achieved without going
through a series of small trials.
knows the value of patience. He has learned the hard way about the game of life, the fact
that you dont hit a home run with one swing of the bat. Herb was in drug rehab five
times before that truism sunk in for him.
me, it was always easier to give up, give in. I would always choose self-indulgence over
patience. I knew the steps I was suppose to take whenever I wanted to use. Call my
sponsor. Get to a meeting. Call somebody from my contact list. I could have taken a quiet
time or read the Big Book.
didnt get it, you know, I didnt get that being sober meant more than just not
drinking. It meant doing every little step along the way that went into not drinking.
didnt understand one very important fact. Sobriety was a state of being, a way of
life, not an act of abstinence. I had to learn that not drinking was the outcome of
continual striving, patiently doing all of the little things. Once I figured that out, I
was able to stop indulging every little whim I had.
about ending things up for this section, doing our familiar exercise. What about this step
Illuminating the Path? For me, the path is turning inward for our answers. Cultivating a
level of awareness that will enable us to transcend the limits that we experience by
following our own conscious thoughts or the directives of others. Discovering the essence
of our path--patience, perseverance, and our own inner strength.
how about for you? Where does this idea of a path take you? What does it mean to you to
Illuminate the Path? More importantly what is the means by which you want to light that
path? Take your time with this one.
critical for you to devise for yourself a path that is meaningful for you and you only. We
are trying to find the vessel by which you can express the energy that is beginning to
stir deep within you. Let yourself be as creative as you dare to be. For it is this very
creativity that will help you shape your lifes journey into the way that does you
the most honor.
This is where the fun starts, yet at the same time there is an enormous burden in taking
total responsibility for our well-being. What we can expect is that both fear and
exhilaration will wash over ourselves quite often. Thats the wonder of what lies
ahead for us all. New experiences, new territories to be explored, new adventures to live
out, and most of all, life lived in the lightness of the here-and-now rather than the
darkness of all the tomorrows that have never come to fruition.
The biggest thrill of
all? We get to start navigating this journey!
chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your
children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs
free. Learn how
to in Dr. Frischs, Psy.D. Recovery book series.