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By Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.

It takes huge faith to let go of the
deep existential yearning for stability
and to let go into the insecurity of life.

-Stanley Phillips

There is a new emptiness to be filled;
a new journey to be followed.

-Stanley Phillips

The practice of honest, compassionate confrontation of Ego is the path to liberating your spiritual center, Essence. As a result of this courageous practice, you’ll connect to a higher consciousness dwelling within. In connecting with your higher consciousness, your inner being will fully reveal to you the joy and wisdom of the Universe. As the joy and wisdom of the universe reveals itself to you, you’ll discover a blueprint for a path of personal liberation created through the simple act of self-responsibility.

As you connect to your deep spiritual self, you’ll experience the grandness of your Being. You’ll activate your potential for joy, love, and prosperity. Loneliness, detachment, and separateness will give way to inclusion, connection, and interdependence. Your all consuming feelings of despair, resentment, and fear will transform into faith, compassion, and courage. The chaos of self-sabotage will change into harmony created by making honoring choices from the core of Essence.

Your life will expand as you make choices from a place of self-confidence rather than self-righteousness. Your enhanced awareness of both yourself and others will create an infinitely greater power to connect with the people in your life--a connection based on the expansive energies of love and compassion rather than the constrictive energies of fear and resentment.

Because this path’s sole purpose is uncovering and freeing your deep, inner spiritual core by transcending your attachment to Ego, you should not enter this path without rigorously evaluating the demands that this path will make on you.

Here are but a few things for you to consider. Are you ready to give up the illusions you hold about yourself, your place in this Universe, and the people in your life? Are you willing to release the people in your life from the expectations you have about who they should be and what they should do for you--expectations which are the by-product of those self-delusions you so righteously cling to? Are you willing to shed your beliefs about your feelings--what you should or should not feel, what you can or can not experience? Can you commit to fully accepting all of who you are now as a necessary precondition to accepting all those parts that you do not as yet know and/or claim.

If I were you I would be thinking “hey, that’s a mighty steep price to pay, giving up my sense of entitlement and security. What’s going to be in it for me?” Does the following appeal to you? Wholeness, created by integrating the [re]claimed parts of who you are, expanded consciousness, and connecting most fully with your inner most spiritual center, Essence.

Why go through it all--the pain and discomfort? Why get on the roller coaster ride of high hopes dashed by the deep descent into the darkness of who you are? Why delve deeper and deeper? Why go beyond the barriers that you’ve spent a life time erecting--barriers intended to separate you from the truth of your existence? Why remove the insulation between you and the depth of your despair, the magnitude of your pain, the intensity of your anger, the smallness with which you react to much of what life shoves your way?

Here’s the fundamental problem. So much of who you are has been pushed out of the sight of your limited awareness, leaving you splintered and fragmented. Yet, all that the human experience is about is our journey toward wholeness--a wholeness forged from the aspects of yourself that you are aware of with the aspects of yourself that you have disowned, existing only within the shadows of your awareness. Hence, one of the great push and pulls of our existence--remaining wounded, fragmented, despairing beings or surrendering to one of our most profound existential urges, to be whole. And to surrender to that urge, means that you’ll open yourself up to a journey of joy and sorrow, fear and courage, darkness and discovery, sadness and spiritual bliss.

The choice of wholeness is made even more difficult because you undoubtedly have good reasons for being less than whole. Perhaps you were trained to be so based on other people’s disapproving reactions towards parts of who you were. Or you may have judged certain parts of yourself to be less than or too embarrassing to reveal to the world. Perhaps, there are different parts of who you are that are too painful or otherwise uncomfortable for you to experience and live from.

Whatever the reason, no matter the mechanism, these disowned parts, like jealousy, lust, greed, anger, selfishness, neediness, courageousness, assertiveness, and nurturance take on a life of their own when disowned and hidden in the shadows of your awareness. And they don’t live very quietly on the sidelines. Nope, they’re forever kicking up a storm, seeking to be expressed, wanting to be seen in the light of day, not caring in the least how much havoc is created as they seek expression and acknowledgment.

You see, that’s the rub. No matter how much these disowned parts desire to be [re]claimed and expressed, you expend an enormous amount of energy pushing these parts away from your awareness. This ongoing battle waged between the disowned parts seeking expression and your understandable desire to continue to silence these parts contributes to much of the despair and emotional discomfort you experience. And it is this very drama, the ongoing, underlying psychological and spiritual conflict between the parts of yourself that you own and the parts you disown, that leaves you feeling fragmented.

So wholeness is an important aspect of your emotional and spiritual well-being. In order to create wholeness, you need to [re]claim all of your disowned selves as well as divorce yourself from the false selves created by Ego. Think for a moment about all the things that you deny about yourself. Vulnerability? Emotional expressiveness? How comfortable are you expressing your softness, compassion, and playfulness? Creativity may live within you but never be expressed. How safe do you feel expressing your anger, your sexuality, all the good, the bad and the ugly about who you are? Yet it’s these very parts of Self--not given expression, forever pushed further and further away--that take up space in the shadows of your life, oftentimes creating chaos, and ultimately leaving you disconnected from your life’s journey.

[Re]claiming those parts of yourself forever unrealized, unacknowledged, and disowned, requires you to look deeply within. That is why this path requires rigorous self-examination, so that you can make the unconscious, conscious, the disowned, owned. By honestly looking inside and discovering these old-new pieces of who you are, you can begin to view yourself in new ways. In so doing, you’ll emancipate the rest of your humanity, wisdom, and compassion. The best part of all is that in becoming whole you will heal the relationship you have with yourself, enrich the relationships you have with the people in your life, and create an understanding of the meaning of your life and your connection to a higher power within your universe.

How do you go about the business of [re]claiming. As I just said it starts with honest self-examination. In its most concrete terms, you must be in a transformation process that will enable you to more clearly and honestly see who you are and the underlying truths about the choices you make.   

Secondly, you need to release yourself from the bondage created by the judgments you hold about who you are and what you should be. As important as it is to give yourself permission to be who you are, do you not recognize how often you stop yourself by censoring what you think, feel, and do?

This censorship arises, in part, from many of the judgments you have about those pieces of yourself you judge to be less than acceptable. Can you see how these judgments inhibit you from fully [re]claiming all the pieces of who you are. The formula is a simple one--only when you embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly of who you are, can you then most fully be present to the here-and-now, available to the present moment, in mind, body, and soul.

Let’s not kid ourselves here. The act of [re]claiming is easier to write about than to participate in. The reason is simple. [Re]claiming initially stimulates competing tensions? On one hand, you have a strong desire for the pain of your existence to be lifted and exorcised. On the other hand, you have an equally strong desire to not want to go there. No, it’s much more tempting to turn back from rather than delve into the pain of rigorous self-examination. The idea of embracing those aspects of yourself you like least, or, out and out despise, is distasteful at best. Yet, in order to heal and obtain release from the oppression of Ego, you must first create an integrated wholeness by [re]claiming all that you have disowned.

Don’t let the competing tensions between the desire for healing and the aversion for the cure sabotage your best intentions. The problem can be easily solved. As you commit to living in Truth by applying the scalpel of rigorous honesty to the illusions created and fostered by Ego, the tensions inherent in the process of [re]claiming will subside.

As you begin to integrate the different pieces of who you are into a greater whole, you will also necessarily expand your consciousness. However, no matter how desirable or inevitable it may be to expand your consciousness, doing so can be as difficult as squeezing an elephant through a keyhole. Why? Two reasons. First, your mind is terribly limited. Second, you don’t see how terribly limited your mind truly is.

Therein lies the problem. Sadly, in spite of how limited your mind is, you’ve elevated your mind and all that it perceives and thinks to Godlike status. The irony is that you believe in the infallibility of what is initially a very fallible instrument--your mind and its perceptions.

So how do you get off the merry-go-round that your limited mind creates? In order to expand your consciousness, in order for your mind to experience its unlimited power and scope, your mind must continually transcend itself. That is to say, your mind, itself, must bridge the gap created by its own limitations. I’m sure you’re thinking, “sound’s like a neat trick, but how do I pull it off?”

It starts with being open to new and expanded possibilities of who you are, what your life means, and how best to express its meaning. You bridge the gap by expanding your sense of Self. You expand your sense of Self by noticing how Ego limits who you are, distorts the truth about who you are and what is happening in your world, hinders how you can be in this world, and blocks your connection to Essence. There’s only one way I know how to open yourself up to seeing beyond the limited ways you have of thinking about yourself. That way is what is referred to as emptying your cup.

Let me share with you a story to demonstrate what I mean. A learned professor once went to visit a Zen master to debate the finer points of Zen. The professor came armed with his credentials and his many accomplishments in the field of comparative religion. Included in his introduction to the Zen master was the mentioning of the many awards that had been bestowed upon him during his long and distinguished career.

While listening to the professor, the Zen master offered tea to his guest. As the learned professor continued presenting his credentials of expertise in the field of comparative religion, the Zen master began to fill the professor’s tea cup. While the professor went on and on about the level of expertise he had achieved, the Zen master continued pouring tea into the learned professor’s cup until it was overflowing. Even as the cup overflowed, the Zen master continued pouring and pouring.

The professor protested, thinking the Zen master a madman. The professor pointed out that the cup was overflowing and had become too full to hold any more tea. “You are like this cup,” the Zen master told his guest, “too full of your own opinions to receive anything else.”

As you start this path, you, too, will be very much like the professor--“too full of your own opinions to receive anything else.” Commit to emptying your cup. Open yourself to the Truths of the Universe. Dedicate your life to the spirit of Morihei Ueshiba’s words, “You must have shoshin, a beginner’s mind, a mind of pure white paper on which to see the moving images of the [Universe’s] secrets. You must try emptiness. A mind that is filled with opinion and prejudice has no room for the truths of the Universe. If a cup is always full, the water becomes stale and spoils. To be refreshed, it must first be emptied. If your ears are always filled with the sound of your own voice, you cannot hear the rich harmonies of God.”

There’s only one purpose for anyone to experience the pain of [re]claiming and go through the exhaustive efforts entailed with expanding your consciousness--to create a connection with your spiritual center, Essence. You, like everybody else, sense an inner longing stirring at the depth of who you are. The source of this longing is the knowledge that a higher state of consciousness can empower you to experience life in a fuller way. This longing comes from the sense that there is a grander form of consciousness from which you can live your life. This grander form of consciousness, Essence, is what produces a state of being in which you can live without painful distortions and tortured confusions. Connecting with this deeper spiritual center, Essence, is what enables you to function on a level of inner strength, quiet comfort, and security. Being connected to your spiritual center will allow you to experience your deepest emotions. You will notice how capable you are of meeting life without fear because you no longer will fear yourself.

In order to most fully connect with your spiritual center, you must first remove the self-made obstructions of Ego. “Ah, hah,” you might be thinking, “one more of his simple statements, pregnant with complexities, charged with fear and insecurity, a seemingly innocent invitation to merely abandon what is most familiar to me by wondering off into the darkness of the unknown.”

That reaction is completely understandable. I’ve heard it a thousand times. You see, the problem is that you’re so closely identified with Ego, it’s overwhelming to even think about how you could possibly unplug from the identity Ego has constructed for you. But, whether or not you like the sound or feel of it, that’s the path--cutting your attachment to Ego and creating an identity that is Essence dominated.

Here’s the single most compelling reason to make such a leap. Living exclusively in Ego has meant you’ve built a life that’s dependent on emotional and spiritual support from resources exclusively outside of you. In so doing, you’ve completely divorced yourself from the reservoir of divine emotional and spiritual sustenance of Essence. And as a result of cutting yourself off from your spiritual center, a feeling of self-alienation has permeated your emotional world. How so? Do any of these sound familiar?

You depend solely on winning the admiration and approval of others rather than self-affirming your own divine grandness. You depend on capturing the love of others rather than attracting love to you through your own offerings of compassion. You depend on manipulating others to do your bidding for you rather than relying on faith in your higher power. You depend on placating others rather than honoring the voice of Essence. You abuse substances to control your mood and environment rather than live in the love and compassion of your higher consciousness. You lose yourself in achievement rather than discover yourself through the acts of loving and being loved. You numb yourself through doing rather than expand yourself through experiencing.

But when you begin to act from Essence, you’ll attract an abundance of emotional, spiritual, and material sustenance from within. This does not mean that you’ll no longer need the recognition of others. It does not mean that you won’t need the support of people and things external to you. By living from your spiritual center, you won’t be dependent on external support and recognition to the degree that you currently are.

But as long as Ego obstructs your connection to Essence, your longings can never be fulfilled. There’s no getting around this simple fact. It’s likely that much of your life has been spent avoiding it. Panacea after panacea has been tried. All in the hopes of avoiding the path into and through your own darkness. In order to get beyond your false hopes, you’ll have to trust in your own time and in your own way this one simple truism. Ego is not who you are, Ego is not what is holding you together. Your spiritual center is who you really are. Essence is the provider of all you require for living your life.

Wholeness, expanded consciousness, connection to your spiritual center--all worthy, lofty goals. Indeed, ones that anyone would aspire to. But how do you get there? The answer lies in the first sentence of this pamphlet--The practice of honest, compassionate confrontation of Ego, is the path to liberating your spiritual center, Essence. Just how do you practice honest, compassionate confrontation of Ego? Here are a few tools that you’ll find useful--rigorous honesty about yourself and how you perceive the events in this Universe, experiencing and accepting the totality of your emotional world, and being present in each moment of your life.

Truthfulness, created by the clarity from experiencing yourself through the lens of Essence rather than Ego, is the engine that drives personal transformation. This path demands truthfulness with yourself about yourself, ownership of what exists now, elimination of false selves and pretenses, all amidst the experience of your naked vulnerability. This is a tall order, and yet it’s the only authentic path to Essence.

The point is a simple one. In the first paragraph of this pamphlet I mentioned the word self-responsibility. The key to your transformation lies squarely with you. The core of self-responsibility is identifying the attitudes in you that prevent you from experiencing life in a fulfilled and meaningful way.

You see, this path requires you to face whatever is in you. Only then can you find your Essence. If you wish to find your Essence but refuse to face whatever is in you, this is not the path for you.

So how does rigorous honesty translate into actions you can take? It starts with constructing a very specific mindset. YOU MUST BE WILLING TO LOOK AT YOURSELF AS YOU REALLY ARE INSTEAD OF AS YOU BELIEVE OR DESIRE YOURSELF TO BE. YOU MUST RECOGNIZE AND ACCEPT WHO YOU ARE IN THIS VERY MOMENT. These two statements are the most elemental aspect of the work that lies before you. All of your difficulties stem from your desire to cling to illusions about who you are, how you are what you are, and how you should be. Until you give up these illusions and rigorously examine the truth about who you are, those illusions will leave you alienated from your own spiritual Essence.      

So rigorous self-examination requires, first and foremost, that you surrender the self-righteousness with which you imbue your reactions to your life experiences. Until you recognize your daily dishonesties, self-deceptions, and erroneous assumptions embedded in your reactions, you can’t possibly make room for a new, expanded, Essence dominated reality.

Once you’ve developed a mindset for honest self-examination, here’s a simple, specific way for you to examine your reactions to the events and circumstances of your life. You can examine your reactions by exploring their authenticity. For purposes of this discussion,  I refer to reactions as the collective whole of your perceptions, thoughts, and feelings. I refer to authenticity as whether your reactions are authored by Essence.

Quite simply, as you attend to your reaction to any event or circumstance, you only need ask yourself , “who is the author of this reaction--Ego or Essence? If you identify the reaction, as being authored by Essence, then you merely need listen to it, honor it, and follow it.

If you identify the reaction as being authored by Ego, then you only need explore it. Here are some questions you might use to help explore the authenticity of your reaction to an event or person. What part of Ego is the author of this reaction? Why is it so important for you to hold onto that part of Ego? What wound is this reaction oozing from? How can you heal the wound within that part of Ego? Finally, and most important of all, what would this specific reaction look and sound like, if it came from Essence rather than Ego?

There are some important implications about what I have just suggested. These implications are about what rigorous honesty is not. Rigorous honesty is not the byproduct of accumulated knowledge, theoretical understanding, disciplined study, or achievement of goals. Rigorous honesty is not a derivative of your desire to be different in your life, or by striving to attain a state that does not already exist within. It can come only by being in the moment, by discovering that everything already exists within, behind the levels of confusion and pain.

Rigorous honesty is the process that will free yourself from the illusions created by Ego. However, you cannot fully free yourself from Ego until you fully unearth and experience all of your feelings. Implied in this statement is the idea that you can’t merely think your way through this process. The reason for that is simple. There’s nothing whatsoever for you to learn on this path, there are only experiences for you to be present to. And if you only attend to your life experiences with your mind, then you will manage to merely sanitize your life experiences, but in no way be present to the joy, sorrow, and/or wisdom that they can convey to you.

Experiencing the totality of your feelings is an absolute must. There’s no getting around it. You may wonder how that can be so. Afterall, so much of what you do feel is so uncomfortable. Often times you may believe that your feelings are nothing more than a keg of dynamite just waiting to explode. And that’s just the beginning of the catastrophe. For once the fuse is lit, the potential for your world to be irrevocably thrown into a swirl of chaos and loss of control looms larger than any possible advantage you can think of to work through whatever it is that you’re feeling.

Perhaps you have come to fear what it is that your feelings reveal about you. But no matter how negative, mean, vain, or egotistical a feeling that you’re experiencing is, it’s important that you recognize that they’re merely part of who you are.

The rule of thumb is a simple one to understand, a tough one to follow. No matter how destructive, cruel, or bad a feeling might be, your feelings, in their original form, are nothing more nor less than beautiful and positive energies of your consciousness. By taking ownership of your feelings, you can work through the distortions embedded in your feelings and convert them to their original form.

No matter how negative or explosive, how complimentary or not, no matter how frightening or liberating, your feelings are, it’s essential that every aspect of your emotional world be accepted and dealt with. No part of your emotional world should be avoided or glossed over in the hope that it matters not whether or not you acknowledge your feelings.

Rigorous honesty is the scissors you’ll use to sever the ties that Ego holds on you. Experiencing and accepting the totality of your emotional world is the scalpel you’ll use to cut through layer after layer the scar tissue you’ve accumulated over the years. There is one more device at your disposal, a device that will be the most important teacher you’ll ever come upon--the present moment.

The present moment is a grand teacher. Through your connection to the present moment, you’ll acquire a very personalized look at your reactions to the events and circumstances of your life. For even in the most insignificant moments of your life, your Ego dominated conditioned reactions will be activated. In this regard, the present moment serves as a mirror, reflecting back to you your allegiance to inflexible conditioned responses, self-sabotaging choices, and oppositional behavior born out of fear and ignorance. It is this intimate connection to the present moment that facilitates your moments of transcendence--not by paying lip service to personal transformation, not by an act of sheer willpower, nor through information collected by a superior intelect.

Not only a sacred teacher, beyond a hallowed mirror, being connected to the present moment also awakens you to the fact that your life unfolds only in moments. In order to most fully appreciate the preciousness of your life, in order to make choices that honor your life, attending to each unfolding moment is of primary importance.

It’s easy enough to see why that would be so. Your life is made up of a never-ending parade of choices. But for many of us, the life choices we make do not honor the Essence. Why? Think about it for a moment. What most influences the choices that you make about your life--fear and self-doubt or courage and faith? What best characterizes the foundation on which you build your relationships--acceptance, trust, and love, or judgment, suspicion, and possessiveness? Do you approach each new moment of your life as a victim or a warrior? How does your egocentric, self-will warp what often starts out as your best intentions? You know the old saying about talking the talk? Which will it be for you--will you talk the talk or walk the walk?

There’s much that will enrich your life as you progress beyond the initial stages of [re]claiming the disowned parts of yourself, taking ownership of all that you experience and feel, and shedding the influence that Ego exerts on your life. As your vision becomes grander, as your perceptions become clearer, as your life becomes more majestic, you’ll discover the potential within you, you’ll experience your own divinity. Just as Dorothy found out in the Wizard of Oz, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, I hope for you a life time of discovery that there’s no place like your spiritual center--home to all that is grand, loving, and wise about who you are. I wish you peace and good fortune as you set out on the path to your own spiritual home.



Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at drfrisch@aliveandwellnews.com  or at
(847) 604-3290.

Recover from 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. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.


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