In the late 60's through the late 70’s, I went on a quest to find out how people got through potentially devastating situations. This quest involved: 1. interviewing people who had gone through some tragedy, 2, taking psychology, anthropology, and humanities classes, and 3. working at jobs in human services, including at a crises center with people considering suicide and at an inpatient facility for psychiatric patients. In the process, I formulated 5 core beliefs.
Unfortunately, I got caught up in living my life and these beliefs receded into the background to surface again in recent years. Now, as I backtrack over them, I find myself continually fascinated by the beauty and power that they represent and by the promise they offer. Perhaps I needed to make this odd and amazing journey through life before I could embrace them. I do not regret that I “abandoned” them, and feel, instead, gratitude for remembering them and making them an active part of my life at this time.
There is greatness in everyone
This idea grew out of the fact that everyone with whom I talked had experienced some kind of difficulty in life, including loss of loved ones, failed relationships, physical injury, physical or emotional abuse, betrayal and other emotional and mental blows. But, for the most part, these people were still functioning and living interesting lives, many with a sense that the suffering gave them a gift they would not have otherwise obtained in life.
My crises center experience and work with disabled and psychiatric patients showed the limits of human tolerance and the impact of neurological and physical defects and damage. Despite these worse case situations, I concluded that the human spirit is amazingly resilient. I first formulated the idea as: “there is something of value inside of all people that is always there and that you can always rely on.” I eventually shortened it to “there is greatness in everyone.” I later described it as the human spirit, or human flame, that we each carry and embody in our own unique way.
Experience Is Priceless
In my quest, I noticed that most people integrated the “tragedy” over time, transforming it by accepting it, growing from it, and often finding benefit from it. I began to realize that we really do not know the value of an experience and concluded that any value we assign an experience is only a matter of human judgment. This first occurred to me when I was riding in a van and I saw a drunk on the street, carrying a bottle in a paper bag, staggering, thin and toothless. I watched as he stumbled and fell, people avoiding him, walking around him on their journey as we traveled on our own. I felt pity for him and then realized, based on my growing awareness that experience is priceless and we cannot use human judgement to determine the ultimate value of an experience, that I could not truly say this drunk’s experience was good or bad. Any evaluation of the experience could only be a human judgement based on social standards and our ideas in the moment.
No Two Are Alike
No matter how similar, no two people are alike. My quest also revealed that the same incident could be perceived as a tragedy to one and a blessing to another. I began to formulate the idea that each person has their own inner landscape which is absolutely unique to that person and is based on the unique genetics and unique accumulated experiences of a lifetime. A difference of an inch in height would lead a person to live a dramatically different life.
This idea, combined with the idea that experience was priceless, formed a staggering insight. I then realized that I could not judge the worth or value of a person. We may judge people based on human standards, but this evaluation does not determine a person’s worth in a spiritual or larger sense. I could not say the drunk in the street was less important than the president of the USA. What really threw me for a loop was a corollary of this idea: I could not determine my own worth. In this larger sense, it does not matter whether I like or dislike myself or whether I feel good or bad about myself. Such assessments could affect the quality of my life but could not set my ultimate value as a person. My worth is beyond my own judgement.
Attitude and perspective were the keys for transforming and integrating tragedy. Many people simply embraced a new way of being in the world or “adopted” a new frame of reference, sometimes slowly over time, and sometimes quickly. I soon formulated this idea of psychological mathematics: the shortest distance between two points, psychologically, is being there. This is one of the key ingredients in the book, The Secret, and one of the principles frames of NLP, which is to “act as if.” Like so many insights, I have lived this principle sporadically and have had a few vivid occasions when it proved itself.
Once, in my mid twenties, I used this approach when I was single and longing for a girlfriend. I wrote a series of poems titled, A Lover’s Hindsight, that described moments with my beloved as if the relationship had already formed. This process changed my inner experience from desperation to a sense of calm completion and I met someone within two weeks from finishing the poems. I am currently using this approach with “letters to my future self.” I have learned to recognize that this form of living the future does not mean I have fully manifested the future, it is not a substitute for the accomplishment itself. It is more like a process of mirroring the future, where I see and dialogue with a future version of myself while also feeling that future version of myself within me. Then, every step toward that future gets rewarded with the good feelings attached to the future.
Unique Love For Each
I recall these interviews and studies continually fascinating me with how each person finds their own unique way and how each person, and each person’s experience, was a unique expression of that human spirit. This pattern of uniqueness seemed to play out in so many ways in the world. I was particularly fascinated by fractal patterns and the idea that no two snowflakes are alike. It occurred to me that the universe (or life) loves uniqueness and continually produces unique configurations from the same basic ingredients.
This lead me to an amazing insight: the universe loves the uniqueness of each person. Of all the possibilities in the universe, each one of us is absolutely unique and an absolutely unique expression of life. I began to feel an overwhelming sense that there is a unique love flowing from the universe to each person. It is flowing with massive abundance every second of every day. But we humans are limited in our capacity and cannot easily see or feel it in this energetic or universal form.
We “get it” when it is channeled through another person or being to us, which is why we get pets and seek soulmates. We can also get it by being a conduit for the unique love for another person. This may be why we use the term “fall” in love. It is this unique universal love for that person flowing through us, and it overwhelms and saturates us, giving us all the loving feelings that go with it. We are “swept off our feet.” Many of us long for this kind of experience without realizing that it is always available. We can actually make a practice of opening the channel for the unique love for another to flow through us. It may actually be easier to channel the unique love for another than to feel the universe’s unique love flowing into us directly.
This post is part of a series of posts tagged as "Core Beliefs." To read more, click the tag below. Please also post your thoughts and comments below!
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