There is one great pitfall that we are all at risk of experiencing on our journey's of self-transformation through life.
This pitfall is essentially our tendency to ignore the entirety of what it means to be a human being. In other words, it can be very easy for us to ignore the darker elements of who we are, and instead focus on emphasizing our lighter, more comfortable elements.
As I wrote about in my previous article regarding discovering your core wound, when we ignore many of the deep-seated and uncomfortable aspects about ourselves, we do ourselves a disservice.
While it is noble for us to want to search for the good within everything, and while it is virtuous for us to want to use "love" to solve all of humanity's problems, we often fail to acknowledge that we must first overcome the series of erroneous beliefs, psychological traumas, and parts of ourselves that we've neglected before "love" and "light" can serve as our guiding forces.
6 Ways You Get Stranded on Your Path of Transformation
A very big obstacle on our journey's of personal growth and self-understanding is our tendency to become enamored by the promise of "peace" and "love," and in the process, shy away from experiencing the more difficult and darker elements of self-exploration. It's not that love and light don't have their places in our journey's—they most certainly do. But if these brighter, more appealing qualities are emphasized to a degree that involves the repression of darkness, and a resistance to the harder aspects of inner exploration, then we are creating an imbalance within ourselves.
Often the reason why we embark on a spiritual path in the first place is due to the fact that we have experienced immense struggles and pain in the past, and have observed the struggles of others around us hopelessly. This tends to awaken a thirst within us to find fulfilling answers that solves why all of these things happen. However, ignoring these "heavier" elements of life in exchange for the "lighter" elements is not a wise approach.
The truth is that when we think about Self-Transformation, our "Higher Selves," and the evolution of our Souls, we tend to think of these experiences as immediately transcending, or miraculously going beyond who we are right now, rather than reaching the fullest potential of our current states, integrating this, and then transforming into something new.
Let me illustrate what I mean by this:
Imagine the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. The caterpillar does not transform into a cocoon and go beyond being a caterpillar. The caterpillar is still a caterpillar inside the cocoon, and it is still a caterpillar once it evolves into a butterfly—only, apart from being a fully actualized caterpillar, it has now grown wings.
The nature of transformation is not to ignore aspects of our nature and fool ourselves into thinking that we have overcome these elements. Transformation is a process of transcending what was before by integrating it (or combining all parts within us to make a whole) completely. In doing so, something new within us can blossom.
There are many mistakes that we make on our journey's of self-transformation. I'll share a few of them below:
1. Trying to Lose Your Ego/Self
Many people talk about going "beyond the ego," losing it, and portray it as something evil. The reality is that our sense of self is essential for the development of our individuality and is not innately "bad." Our ego is necessary for our survival as it causes us to see that our physical selves are separate from others, and therefore we must care for ourselves.
By trying to lose our egos, or by thinking of them as solely "illusions," we run the risk of developing a deep sense of futility with life, a pointlessness in doing anything or relating to anyone (e.g. "I don't exist so what's the point of doing anything?" or "Others don't exist either, so why bother "forgiving" or cultivating deep relationships with them?").
It is necessary to realize that transcending your "self" firstly implies developing a healthy and functional ego that operates in the world harmoniously. To create a harmonious ego, we first need to develop inner wholeness by healing our core wounds and Shadow Selves, establishing strong self-esteem, forgiving others, and coming to terms with what has happened to us in the past. Our ego's will always be there, but the difference is that when they are healthy and when we are aware of their existence, we stop listening to them and blindly allowing them to influence our decisions or actions.
2. Always Be "Positive"
Cultivating the habit of positively seeing the world makes a great difference to many people, especially if they are prone to habitually making negative judgments.
While developing the ability to see the "silver lining" of life can be very beneficial, the very nature of developing a positive attitude involves a constant judgement of the world, of what is "good" and what is "bad," counter attacking anything that is perceived as negative with the belief that thinking positively will make it less bad. This can sometimes be harmful as we don't always succeed in our positive expectations, and consequently we can end up feeling devastated that we failed in changing the outcome.
When we stop judging the world as black and white, when we stop labeling things that happen to us as "good" and "bad," we stop resisting life. We also become less stressed and there is no necessity for forcefully imposing a positive outlook on everything.
3. Become Like a Child
It is often said that we must return to the state of being a "child" in order to experience divinity or oneness, just as we were said to have experienced before we developed a sense of self that created separation between us and existence.
The unity with life experienced by a child is not the same as the unity experienced by an adult. The child experiences a state of "fusion" with life as they haven't yet developed a separate identity and consequently have never tasted anything else. However, the adult who has developed, integrated, and transcended their sense of self, acquires a completely different experience of unity and deep connection with life. This unity experienced by the adult is one of responsibility, of awareness of the interconnection between themselves and existence.
This sense of responsibility is what distinguishes whether we regress to a "child-like" state where we shift our personal responsibility onto outside forces (like God or Karma), or whether we develop a "child-like being" that is fully aware of the affects of our actions due to our feeling of unity with life.
4. Logic and Rationality is "Evil"
As we progress through our lifelong process of soulful evolution, we begin to experience moments of complete inner silence, deep peace, inner revelations, and insights into our unity with existence beyond our individual sense of self. It is through these experiences that we start becoming anti-mind.
These experiences are often moments where we don't use our thoughts, instead, we intuitively feel and experience these realizations about our true nature. Sometimes through these experiences, we tend to start thinking that logic and rationality is an "evil" part of ourselves that prevents us from experiencing these profound sensations more. And so we begin to associate all kinds of non-rational states—even supernatural events like encountering UFO's, Ghosts, Time Travel and Angels— with "spiritual experiences."
Our minds are tools, that when not mastered, can lead us astray and can cause us immense amounts of suffering. But the important thing to remember is that the mind itself isn't at fault, we are at fault for allowing it to control us in such extreme ways. It is our logic and rationality that stops us from jumping in front of oncoming traffic because we feel "One" with the truck.
Let your passion and intuition be the sails to your ship, but allow reason to be the rudder that guides you when necessary.
5. Focus On the Higher Chakras
Hinduism teaches the idea that we all possess within us seven different energy centers that we can tap into. In fact, this notion of energy centers being present within the human body is found in many different cultures in some form or another (for example, in Peru we call them "Chunpis," or "Belts" of power which extend around our bodies).
Many teachings that use Chakra centers for their work encourage you to focus on your "higher" centers such as the "Crown," "Head," and "Heart" chakras, while avoiding the lower ones. For many people who require a lot of harmonizing done in their lower centers this does not lead to a balanced being.
Let me give you an illustration that might explain what I mean better:
Imagine a very tall building where the first few floors are ignored completely and are rarely maintained, while the top floors are glorified, swept, mended, and polished daily. The reality is that no matter how beautiful the top of the building is, if the lower floors are not given the attention they need, the whole building will crumble to the ground as the lower floors form the very foundation of the entire structure.
6. Listen to Your Inner "God"
As mentioned above, we all create a self-image, or an ego that we present to other people.
In doing so, we simultaneously create a "Shadow Self," which is essentially composed of the elements that we want to avoid other people and ourselves from seeing. Therefore, we repress many elements of ourselves that we perceive as "bad, " or "dirty," for example, our sexuality, our fears, our vulnerabilities, our secret desires, our "immoral" thoughts and so forth. When we reject these various elements of ourselves, we create a "dual nature" within us.
Our Shadow Selves often only manifest themselves under certain types of pressure that prevent us from containing them anymore. Examples include when we are under great stress, when we experience strong emotions, anxiety, or any other experience that brings our guards down (in Shamanism we often encounter people's Shadows during altered states of consciousness).
These "disowned" parts of ourselves can influence a lot of our behavior, and drain us of a lot of energy. Our Shadow Selves, or our personal "demons" are made all the more worse when we are taught through cultural and quasi-spiritual influence to focus solely on getting in touch with, and manifesting, our "inner gods" and "goddesses."
Our most common unhealed "core wounds" are usually sourced from the relationships we had with our parents, siblings, and ex-lovers.
To become whole and healed beings we must walk the path of the middle: we must experience both the light and dark, "good" and "bad," and beautiful and horrific parts of ourselves. The only way to truly and authentically progress on your path of soulful maturation and involution is to experience, and integrate, as much of your nature as possible.