During a recent conversation about A Course in Miracles (ACIM), a dear friend decided to form a study group for support in a yearlong study of the course. Every two weeks we come together to discuss the lessons (each lesson corresponds to the a day of the year – Lesson #1 corresponds to January 1st, and so on) and share our insights or ask questions.
For those not familiar with the course: A Course in Miracles (ACIM) is a metaphysical, self-study text available to anyone willing to work through the principles to achieve a positive spiritual transformation. One of the main teachings is to practice forgiveness in daily life. In the bookstore you may find ACIM books under New Age, but it could also be included on the Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Non-dualism, Psychology, Self-help, Poetry, Physics, or Taoism shelf because like other formal religion that all point to the Universal Truth (love, peace, forgiveness), so does the ACIM teaching. It is what you need it to be for you.
The reading for January 23rd had special meaning for me because it triggered memories that lead to me taking time to really examine them and figure out how these memories fit into my life today. The following is a recap of my aha moment.
Lesson 23 (January 23): I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.
Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed. – ACIM Lesson 23
One particular thought has been making its appearance since last week. On Jan 22nd, while composing an email to my thesis advisor regarding my thesis draft and questions/concerns, the thought barged in once again. I guess it got tired of being ignored. Our thesis draft (first 3 chapters) must be reviewed, approved, and graded before we can begin our experiment. My experiment includes a 60-survey questionnaire focused on Occupational Stress, of which, another advisor reviewed and said it was good work that required minimum changes. Hence, the review and feedback portion went well. So, one would think I’d be thrilled with hearing that the draft was good, feedback suggested minimal changes, and received an “A” for my grade, right? Well, I felt unsettled. Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely satisfied with my grade; however, as I was typing the email I kept thinking, “I am not satisfied with my survey questions, or the thesis draft”. After reading Lesson #23 that spoke about attack thoughts, I had to step back a bit and ask myself, “Why am I being so hard and critical of my work when an experienced thesis advisor tells me that it was good work. Why can’t I just accept what he said? What are these thoughts about?”
When I initially read the lesson, I didn’t get it, so I put it aside. As I was preparing my tea, the light bulb (figuratively) started to illuminate. It hit me…I get it!!!
The idea for today introduces the thought that you are not trapped in the world you see, because its cause can be changed. This change requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced. – ACIM Lesson 23
The light bulb continued to glow brighter and brighter then a flash of another incident with the same theme came back to my mind.
Two weeks ago a trusted friend complimented my first blog entry. I was thrilled with her feedback because I value her opinion. Part of me was surprised to hear the words, because when I finished that blog entry, I thought to myself, “It’s good, but not good enough”. I kept wondering what changes should be made to make it better. Once again, I was being critical of my work. Then it struck me, the tape that keeps running in my head is that my work is not good enough, and will never be good enough, no matter what other people say. In other words, I am not good enough. Major attack thoughts!
When and where did these (attack) thoughts start to appear and why? It clicked…Childhood.
As a student I didn’t have to bust my ass to get good grades (As/Bs), it came naturally. I eventually encountered a math class where half the semester focused on statistics, which kicked my butt. I got no joy out of trying to figure out math equations, but I made an effort to study and try to understand. Well, I never got it and I received a “C”. This was the first time I ever brought home a “C” on my report card, and it just so happens that it took place at the end of the first semester of my senior year of high school. I was terrified to show my parent this report card, so I waited until the last night before I had to return the report card to school with her signature. At the sight of that “C”, she declared, “You will never amount to anything”. Hard to believe, but yes, the prior As/Bs and having my name on the Honor Roll list numerous times did not count for anything. I guess because I always earned As/Bs, it was taken for granted that I would always bring home acceptable grades. Some kids were thrilled if they could pull a C; I on the other hand, knew I was doomed.
So, during my last semester, right before graduation, I called myself rebelling by not to submitting my last assignment in a class where would have received an “A” if the assignment was submitted. When the instructor informed me that my grade would suffer if the assignment were not submitted, I told him I was not going to do it. He gave me an “F” for not turning in that assignment. I didn’t try to fight it; I just didn’t care any more. I ended up with an overall “B” in that class, so it wasn’t too bad. Of course my defiance didn’t prove anything and I would advise students to do it, but it felt good to finally go against an authority figure’s expectations. It was also my passive aggressive way of getting back at that parent. LOL!!
Anyway, the thought of not being “good enough” have dogged me my entire adult years. It’s always been nagging at me to pay attention, but I never really examined what it meant to be good enough or not good enough. When I was young, those words didn’t consciously register in my psyche, all I knew was that I couldn’t do anything right. Needless to say, this was not the only negative experience with that parent. Except for defiantly not handing in my last assignment in high school I always strove to do my best. I’ve had accomplishments, along the way, but there’s always that underlying fear of failure and not being “good enough”.
When I was laid off (position elimination-2009 downsizing where over 2k positions were cut) from my job, my first thought was, “if my work was not good enough, why didn’t someone inform me?” Throughout my 11yrs with that company, all my bosses consistently told me I was doing a good job and my performance appraisals reflected such; I never had a derogatory write-up. I was confused and angry. After I received my notice, my immediate director called to tell me that she and three other team members were let go as well. She said our position elimination was not due to our work performance, it was all politics. Hearing that it was not a performance issue soothed me slightly; however, I kept wondering what else could I have done to be “good enough” to hold on to my job, a job that I enjoyed. In hindsight I now realize I needed to leave that company in order to grow. I’ll tell you, the universe is so funny – it had to produce a job-loss for me to finally leave and embrace new experiences. Ha, ha!!
Let me be clear, I am not assuming the victim role, nor am I blaming anyone. I am just overjoyed that I finally understand my “vengeful” thought pattern (at least in this instance). Now it’s time to severe the link from that particular thought pattern; therefore, allowing room for more positive awareness, which all begins with my thoughts.
The world you see is a vengeful world, and everything in it is a symbol of vengeance. Each of your perceptions of “external reality” is a pictorial representation of your own attack thoughts. – ACIM Lesson 23
After reading Marianne Williamson’s interpretation of Lesson 23 (thank you Natalie for sharing), I see the conflict and battle that I’ve been trying to reconcile all these years. For 15yrs I’ve been exposed to enlightenment materials and speakers, but those negative thoughts remained with me.
Cognitively, I know we control our thoughts; therefore, control the world in which we choose to reside. I know that we should not allow external forces to shape our being. I know that words are powerful, so chose them wisely. I know that the energy that I emit is what returns to me. I know this and more; nevertheless, subconsciously, “not good enough” have stayed with me through all my learning. I have made my world a “symbol of vengeance” by subconsciously replaying that negative, self-defeating tape. Now that the “cause has been identified”, I can consciously work on changing those attack thoughts. I know that it won’t be easy and the change will take some time to stick, but the knowledge of having peace within is worth doing the work. I a way, these subconscious conflicts have weakened me….but no more.
Marianne Williamson (taken from Oprah.com)
The idea for today introduces the thought that you always attack yourself first. If attack thoughts must entail the belief that you are vulnerable, their effect is to weaken you in your own eyes. Thus they have attacked your perception of yourself. And because you believe in them, you can no longer believe in yourself. A false image of yourself has come to take the place of what you are.
The word vengeance was included in Lesson 22 and Lesson 23, but today it has more meaning than it did yesterday. I no longer “fear” that word. Yesterday, when I first encountered the word vengeance, I immediately thought of – damnation and failure. I didn’t care for those words either, so to get a better understanding of the vengeance, and to eradicate the fear of the word I did some research.
Etymologies of the word vengeance:
c.1300 (originated circa 1300), Old French vengeance “revenge,” from vengier, venger “take revenge, to avenge,” – 1620s, “to avenge or revenge,” from Latin vindicatus” Meaning to clear from censure or doubt, by means of demonstration”
Prior to reading the etymology, my interpretation of vengeance meant: revenge, payback, destruction, and other negative connotations. After reading the etymology, I see that it also means: to clear from censure or doubt by demonstration. Well, this word is my new friend as I clear away fear, doubt, anger, confusion, etc. by doing the (ACIM) work.
Loving this Awe Inspiring moment!!
I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about…”not good enough”…
Quote of the Day
“When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.” — Excerpted from A Course in Miracles