Truthful principles can only act as agents of change for us when we choose to enact them. Their capacity to restore self-command, grant us a mind at peace, or deliver us from fearful dark states is only as great as our willingness to call upon their powers. That’s why we must do the personal work it takes to put higher principles into practice. Napoleon Hill, one of the early great pioneers of personal development, asserts: “We can become complete masters of ourselves, if we so desire. The main thought to hold in mind is first to gain the knowledge, and secondly to act upon it.” And then act upon it! Wisdom is the seed of freedom, but only in action do we see it flower.
Study the special lessons that follow closely. Welcome their insight by allowing the wisdom they contain to remind you of their corresponding part in your own consciousness. Little by little, but surely as the acorn becomes the oak, you will know and grow into their power. New courage will flow into all of your actions, and the change will be unmistakable. Instead of reliving old reactions that take you nowhere, your path will become one of ceaseless transformation. And the fuel that drives this upward spiral of self-renewal is simple. You are learning to act on what you know is true about negative states, instead of allowing them to tell you what is true about you.
1. Understand that any lingering sense of discontent belongs to an inconsolable level of self that believes it can escape its pain by reliving it. Giving yourself over to this kind of unconscious suffering is like falling off a boat at sea and hoping that a great white shark will save you if you promise to feed it a small sardine. You know what happens next! Now, have the courage to act on this knowledge:
Refuse to ever again hand yourself over to a nature that loves to complain about its circumstances, even as it does nothing to change them. Your reward: Being released from the false belief that dark thoughts or feelings have any power to improve your life.
2. Understand that there are parts of you that always want to take the easy way to do things half-way, to avoid unnecessary challenges, to coast whenever possible and pedal only as needed. Now have the courage to act on this knowledge: Deliberately choose to take the more difficult path, and finish whatever you start. Walk into what you’d rather walk away from, and persist with what you know is true for you until all resistance to your new actions proves itself a lie. Your reward: Discovering that on the other side of the resistance is the flow that always takes you, effortlessly, beyond yourself.
3. Understand that being anxious – rushing to or through things – does nothing but drive you nowhere faster! When you find you’re in a mad rush, remember that what you’re really trying to get to is a quiet mind, that peaceable state of your original Self reached only through this realization: There’s no place more empowering for you to be than in the present moment. Now have the courage to act on this knowledge: Deliberately slow down your life. Dare to stand directly in the stream of your own rushing thoughts and feelings, instead of allowing them to carry you away. Your reward: The deeply refreshing realization of what it means to be “washed clean” of anxious states.
4. Understand, in spite of the highly polished performances to make you believe otherwise, that everyone you meet suffers in much the same way as you do. No one wants others to know the weight of their unspoken pain. And yet, all are burdened with broken dreams, shattered hearts, and whatever other sorrow walks with them through their day.
Now have the courage to act on this knowledge: Refuse to ever again add to the pain of another, even a small measure of your own. Whatever suffering you agree to shoulder in this way not only helps to lighten the load of those in need, but also serves to awaken within you the strength you need to be a real “friend in deed.” Your reward: The birth of a whole new kind of compassion that not only flowers when faced with the weakness of others, but whose fragrance helps heal all those who are touched by it. Always remember:
Your original Self cannot help but act from what is right, bright, and true any more than the sun has to remember to shine each day.
(Excerpted from The Courage to Be Free, Weiser Books)
Guy Finley is the best-selling author of more than 38 books and audio albums on self-realization. He is the founder and director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit center for self-study located in southern Oregon where he gives talks four times each week. For more information visit www.guyfinley.org, and sign up to receive a free helpful newsletter emailed to your desktop once each week.
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