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Each one of us develops a number of psychological issues as we develop a full fledged personality. These are natural based on certain events in our childhood and adolescence. In addition, conditioning from parents, teachers, media, government and society also play a major influence in how we develop instinctually, emotionally, imaginatively, mentally and egoistically. Living spiritually means that we have to become aware of, face and transform our past from this life as well as those issues that we have repeatedly created in past lives. If this seems like a monumental task, it can be. Our saving grace is the tremendous help we get from the Christ energy, the other energies of Spirit and those inner spiritual beings whose job it is to help us. With all this help though, we have to take steps in a methodical way to release our hold on what can be deep-rooted psychological complexes. And frankly, this is not something that can be accomplished over a few years. For most every one of us, it will take diligent effort over decades.
From Life Struggles....to Living by Spirit
Resolving Instinctual Issues
By Jef Bartow
So let's start with aggression. We can all easily understand how the aggression of the bully is a psychological issue for the bully. A milder form of aggression is anger. There are a myriad of ways in which we create anger within our world. The key is not that we get angry, but why we get angry. Much of our anger is generated because we are not getting something we want, our feelings have been hurt, our sense of security is threatened or we are not being recognized for who we are or something we've done. The simplest way to deal with our anger is to first stop expressing it. Second, to look behind our anger to the real issue involved. Once we've identified the real issue, we can then process those emotions, fantasies and mental thoughts until we can release ourselves from our attachments to them. Only when we become detached can we evaluate how they fit in or not fit in with our spiritual commitment. And finally, we can then release our anger that goes along with these issues. Moving beyond our aggression, we all must deal with fear in our life. Actually, fear is a very positive motivator for humans. It very much helps us survive in a harsh world. But what is healthy for humans, becomes an obstacle in spiritual growth. As we found in dealing with our anger, we will usually find that we have a fear in letting go and detaching from what has been comfortable. As humans, most of us would like to remain comfortable with our dependencies and co-dependencies in life. Unfortunately, becoming a spiritualized being requires becoming fully independent regarding the world, our relationships and within ourselves. Only when we become fully independent can we become a transparent channel for Spirit. The easiest way to deal with our fears is to identify them specifically and then take specific physical actions to break through them. Then repeat these actions over and over again until we can do them without triggering any fear. A good example comes from my life. Since adolescence, I had a fear of being isolated or singled out in social situations. Like many of us, I avoided going to social events alone including public places like theaters and restaurants. When I met my first wife, she admitted she'd never been to a restaurant alone in her life. I decided to break this fear within me. So how did I do it? I had an ideal opportunity when my spiritual family moved across country and I was left alone within the city that I lived and worked. I chose to go to the movies at least once a week by myself. I specifically chose movies which would have larger crowds. I also chose date night in order to have the most couples and groups around me. Finally, I made sure that I went early enough that I would have to wait in line or in the lobby before the movie. I did this spiritual exercise for almost a year. I knew this exercise had run its course when I was completely comfortable mentally, emotionally and physically in seeing a movie by myself, eating in a restaurant by myself or going to parties alone without a date or friend. Major areas of fear for many of us involve death, aloneness, humiliation, job security, money, family relationships, home or illness. So, identify which of these areas triggers fear within you. Then ask yourself how a change in any of these areas just mentioned would affect you. Then define specific actions or exercises that you can implement to deal with your fears. As you can imagine, this can range from fun activities like parachuting or scuba diving up to confronting difficult family relationships or job situations. The key is not how forceful you take action, but your attitude and orientation toward growth in which you move persistently forward. Another instinctual motivator that we must deal with is our "herd instinct." Again, there was a time in human history when living and behaving within clans, groups, communities, etc. was helpful for growth and development. Living by Spirit is becoming fully independent in order live inter-independently as a spiritual being within society. Even though most humans consider themselves to be independent, only the rare individual is. A good way to get a handle on this is to review your current living situations. How much do your clothes and daily appearance reflect the fads, traditions or expectations around you? How much do your car, your home and the rest of your material possessions reflect the same thing? How do your friendships and close relationships reflect your conditioning and what's expected of you from others in your life? And how much have we been led into key relationships, jobs or partnerships because of how it reflects on us to others, not just our passion? Systematically making changes in each of these areas to truly reflect our true nature and spiritual passion is a fantastic spiritualizing exercise. Two other instinctual motivators are sex and relatedness. My experience and discussions with others leads me to conclude that a majority of humans do not have a fulfilling sex life. In addition, that the relatedness within family and friends could be much improved. I have discussed sex in creating a spiritual romantic relationship. For many, creating a spiritual romantic relationship is not realistic in the near future. This does not mean that we have to be celibate to be spiritual. For myself, when my first marriage ended I decided that it would be a long time before I would seek another long-term relationship, as a spiritual partnership did not seem reasonable. I also determined that I was not ready yet to be celibate for the rest of my life. To resolve this spiritual quandary, I decided to spiritualize my social life as much as possible. Since I was not highly romantic anyway, I resolved to make my gestures ones of giving, appreciation and love for my dating partner. A big key change was to become direct and openly honest about where I was in my love life and that I was not seeking a long-term relationship. Thirdly, my dates were always about activities I believed my date would enjoy and not about what I might gain from them or the money I spent. And finally, I invested significant time and effort to become a good lover, making sex about how I could make her experience more enjoyable and fulfilling. Beyond dating, I also focused much more on entertaining in which I would seek to make my dinners or parties out of the social box; to give my friends a unique enjoyable experience that they would obviously feel that I had invested significant time and creativity for their benefit. And this did not mean spending a lot of money, only time and attention with a giving and loving attitude. The conclusion to all of this is that spiritualizing our instinctual nature is not about denying it, but transforming it into further ways that we behave independently, lovingly and consistent with our spiritual ideals. By doing so, we can much more easily break free from our conditioning and the unconscious motivators which usually bring about ongoing struggles in our life. So how do we begin? My suggestion is to begin with those issues closest to our physicality and move upward through our personality until we can break free from our ego issues and soul complexes. The closest part of our personality to our physicality is our instinctual nature. We have five senses, just like our physical senses, which help us live and survive without a lot of conscious effort. These include procreation, self-preservation, activity, reflection and creativity. In utilizing these innate senses, we qualify a lot of energy and matter with aggression, fear, sex, relatedness and our "herd instinct."