By Dr. Steve
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Coming Out of
Life affords no higher pleasure than that of
surmounting difficulties, passing from one step of success to another, forming new wishes,
and seeing them gratified.
He that labors in any great or laudable undertaking has his [fitigues] first supported by
hope, and afterwards
rewarded by joy.
Liberating our spirit
requires us to move forward with courage rather than retreat in fear.
spirit, um, your spirit, you need to think of it just like a muscle. You know what I mean,
use it or lose it. If you dont exercise it, your spirit will shrivel up and die on
was giving me his take on Liberating the Spirit.
me, spirit is not something I need to acquire, I merely need to exercise it in order to
keep it strong.
what do you mean by exercising your spirit? I asked Jay.
way I think about it, we all come into this world with a spirit, vibrant, full of energy,
ready to take us to wherever we need to go.
none of us are coming from a place of having to get a spirit. But our world is full of
toxic influences that eat away at our spirit, eat away at...
influences? Just what do you mean by that? I interrupted.
it could be just about anything. The culture we live in that prizes doing above being. It
could be neglectful parenting that distorts our early developmental experiences. Our own
fears which bend and twist us in ways that our lives become separated from our soul,
disconnected from our spirit.
your point is that our work is to keep strong what the world around us can inevitably
We all need to strengthen our presence in our lives through the care and nurturance of our
spirit. The way to do that is to exercise our spirit, not withdraw from it.
makes an important point. How many of us confuse withdrawing with self-protection?
Doesnt it stand to reason that we need to become battle-tested in order for our
spirit to remain strong?
about the beautiful things in this world that are created out of struggle, out of some
pressure being applied. A diamond is created from a lump of coal thats bombarded
with intense pressure for thousands of years. Or the beautiful mountain chains in the
world: how have they come to be? What about steel? Its bent and shaped into wondrous
strength and form.
too is our spirit. Our spirit is forged and strengthened out of our encounters with
adversity, not our avoidance of adversity. You see, adversity forces us to exercise our
spirit by using our internal resources. Thats whats wonderful about exercising
our spirit. The resources for encountering new and challenging situations are within us.
Vision. Determination. Creativity. Courage. Hope. Encouragement.
we watch athletes perform above their usual level, we are in awe of how they reach deep
down within themselves to give a record breaking performance. When we are confronted with
a new challenge, we all have the same ability to respond. And by doing so, we are
exercising our spirit. The more we exercise our spirit, the more confidence and well-being
we will bring to other challenges we face in our lives.
we develop the habit of meeting our challenges head on rather than retreat, it is likely
that we will emerge from those challenges stronger and wiser. That makes sense
doesnt it? Being battle-tested is the means by which we keep our spirit sharp and
present. In fact, the act of constantly applying ourselves to experiences that make us dig
within ourselves plants seeds that enable our spirit to grow and thereby strengthen
use a simple visualization when I am confronted with a challenge. I close my eyes and
create an image in my mind. Its an image of a forest. And when I picture this
forest, I picture a tiny tree hemmed in, forced to grow through the crowded forest toward
the light. To make room for itself in the forest, this tree must marshal all of its
strength, all of its abilities, all of its resources to grow amid the larger trees. As the
tiny tree must use all of its resources in order to survive, so must we use all of our
resources in order for our spirits to be liberated and to thrive.
power of this exercise cannot be underestimated. Can you see how we are all trying to grow
towards the light? And its inevitable that many challenges will lie in our path.
it is from these obstacles that we can grow the resources necessary to
complete our journey, rather than use those challenges as excuses not to complete the
you may be wondering how best to exercise your spirit. Here are but a few ways to get you
Stagnation of the spirit is relieved by action.
deep inside of us lie the shackles that imprison our spirit. We have different names for
these shackles. What name do you use? Procrastination? Hesitation? Caution? Deliberation?
we find ourselves stuck and feeling frustrated, we only need apply the key that will
unlock the shackles that have kept us imprisoned. The key to unlock our personal shackles?
Action! Getting started. A mentor of mine once told me, You cant steal third
base if your foot is still on second base.
cant begin to utilize the power of our spirit if we dont get started. But once
we get started, our spirit takes over, pushing us along, almost unconsciously. Its
easy to see how the mere act of starting breaks the spell that our stagnant inertia casts
upon our lives. Once that spell is broken something very important appears in our life--a
sense of control.
any new stimulation we generate, we feel like we have regained more of our personal power.
Personal power that comes out of taking control back from forces that live outside of us.
There is nothing more energizing than regaining control of our lives by tapping into the
essence of who we are rather than feeling victimized by other people and circumstances.
that in your mind for a moment. A life free of all the negative energy that weighs us
down. The inertia of paralysis turned around by the power of spirit.
you see how the act of liberating our spirit will compel us to act, to move forward?
Picture a jack hammer, breaking up a slab of concrete. Picture how your spirit is as
powerful as any jackhammer. Just imagine the concrete that has enslaved your spirit being
would the next step be once you felt a little more free? What would you do? Where would
you go? Who would you be with? Stepping out of the shadows is an active process. Think of
what you want your life to be in terms of action. Dont fall into the trap of merely
thinking your way through life.
is given birth through our ability to conceive what we want. We have to be able to
visualize our outcome. Next we have to visualize the steps necessary to give life to our
vision. Quite simply vision plus action equals movement and growth.
you feel stuck, whenever you feel like youre stagnating, rely on the simple formula
I just described. Create a small vision. Make a plan of action. And then go for it. Take
it in small steps, but dont let fear turn you back.
action. Its a remedy that is as old as time itself. You know the old saw, The
longest march starts with a first step.
Invite experiences of
growth into our life.
point of liberating our spirit is that all aspects of our existence, our body, mind,
spirit, and soul need to be exercised. No matter our age, no matter our accomplishments,
we must continue to invite experiences of growth into our life. It is through these new
experiences that we keep our spirit strong.
only takes place when we are challenged. If we want our muscles to grow, what must we do?
We must provide resistance. If we want our mind to sharpen we need to feed it new
experiences that challenge it to expand.
same holds true for our spirit. Our spirit needs the stimulation of new challenges in
order to prevent atrophy from setting in.
for a moment. What are the things that youve been promising yourself youd do,
that you keep putting off? Take a class? Send out your resume? Ask somebody out on a date?
Start a project around the house? Start going back to the health club? Learn how to play a
you see how doing at least one of those things on your list is a means of exercising your
spirit? Can you see how being able to exercise your spirit in this one new way will move
you one step closer? Thats what its all about. Doing things in your life that
bring you closer to expressing all of who you are.
see what I am suggesting here? Stretch. Reach. Go beyond. Create. Out with the old and in
with the new. Its value is clear: rejuvenation.
what are those things that you let get in your way? What are the obstacles that inhibit
your willingness to let new experiences into your life? Why do you choose to give so much
power to obstacles rather than your desire to [re]connect?
is the time to make small changes. Dont take on anything bigger than you can handle.
But I promise you, those small changes are like money in your savings account, they
compound interest quarterly. Go for a walk. Maybe youll make friends with somebody.
That new experience may be the impetus that leads to a new place to live, a new hobby to
get involved with, a new organization to join. Lets be clear, if you keep on doing
what youve always been doing, youre only going to get more of the same.
your spirit. New experiences are the means by which you feed and nurture your spirit.
Strengthening our spirit creates resiliency for ourselves and the obstacles we encounter
along the way. New experiences are the means by which we grow towards the light that lies
on the horizon.
Dedicate our lifes journey to joy!
to our lifes journey is not a practice of drudgery. Although the work is hard, we
all need to make it a labor of love. The aim of our hard work is one thing and one thing
only. To lighten our load, to make significant connections with the people in our lives,
to share our pain and sorrow with those who can be there for us, and ultimately to
transform our life into a celebration.
simple need for making joy in our life? It renews us. Joy purifies us, ultimately leaving
us with a profound sense of well-being.
our spirits is the action step that unleashes the whole range of the human experience
within ourselves. We have chosen to open ourselves to what it means to be human. We have
opened ourselves to express the wonder of what it is to be on Earth. Ultimately it is
within our own power to create a life that is full of joy and wonder or experienced as one
of drudgery and pain.
formula is quite simple. Liberating the spirit requires action. Passive introspection just
aint gonna get it. We must rise above the mere act of intellectually trying to free
ourselves. Dont settle for mere introspection. Understanding without applying new
understandings to our lives renders those new insights impotent.
we need to focus on a specific type of action. The action should be one that invites
growth into our life. New things that challenge us to stretch ourselves. New things that
challenge us to develop new ways of thinking, acting, and feeling. New things that
challenge us to integrate new aspects of ourselves with the old is the means by which we
shed old skin as we grow new skin to live in.
the path of transformation can be a lot of hard work. A joyful attitude that invites
play into your life is the only antidote I know to the inevitable discouragement and
heartbreak that goes with the hard work of [re]connecting to
going to stop at this point. The reason is very simple. I want you to build into your own
life steps that will liberate your spirit. What I have discussed is a good start only.
Please, for your sake, give them a try, but more importantly, create your own program
based upon what we have started here.
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.