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Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Guest Writer - Todd Schaefer

Autopilot, Self-Worth and Being Myself - by Todd Schaefer

Family Weekend

I had a nice weekend with my family this weekend. My fiancé and I went to visit my mom who lives about 45 minutes away. My brother and his family are staying with my mom because they are in the middle of building a house. We had a grand old time, playing some Rock Band and laughing in each other’s company.

As it started to get late, my mom and my fiancé were still talking so I decided to read a little bit. I began dosing off, so my mom offered us to sleep over. It was a comfortable sleep on that futon. When we woke up and continued our visitation, a peace began to fall over me that made me want to stay longer the next day.

I noticed that the interactions had changed. They felt fresher, clearer. See, I had already enjoyed my family a lot the night before. But when morning came, I observed myself interacting with my sister-in-law, in particular, in a new way. The change wasn’t anything you could point at, and it wasn’t a different amount of openness with each other.

What was it?


It was interaction without running the ‘autopilot’ program. Ever notice that? We get together with family on holidays and the same conversations seem to come right up? “How’s your job?” “It’s been cold, hasn’t it?” Small talk, etc. There’s nothing wrong with it. But it’s a psychological program that we all run. We have programs for lots of things. I’ve had issue with one side of my extended family for years for behaving with such pretense, never really appealing to me because I’ve always valued human interaction at much deeper levels. But then again, it was my own autopilot that decided I would not reach out for those deeper levels of engagement with them. My family is very good-natured. As I decided that I was willing to give more, I noticed that my perceptions became more accurate. I wasn’t settling for autopilot anymore, and thus, I came to accept them and myself much more.

Let’s go back to my immediate family. More ideas began arriving to me (as ideas often do) as I observed the changing quality of our time spent together. My brother’s family, my sister, my mom and I are already close. But we bonded even more closely yesterday because we spent some time beyond what we were accustomed. This magic has happened many times in my life, but it's not easily predictable. It’s a good idea to change the scenery or the activities with people we spend time with every so often so that we don’t fall into traditional roles, experiences and autopilot which often keeps things stagnant.

Shortchanging Ourselves

I also observed how often our expressions are on autopilot, and how curious it is that while we write about brilliant things, they often reveal very little about ourselves.

Why is that?

One of my speculations is that it’s because we want to prove to ourselves that we are “strong” or that we “know” something. We seem to be a little more comfortable after we affirm to ourselves that we know something. Another thought is that we may feel that in order to produce something valuable, we must produce something profound or intellectual.

Could it be that we have a natural pretense with ourselves? Look around you. Everyone has an identity (at least one) that we are upholding; something about ourselves that we project onto the world. It could even be “Hey, look at me, I’m spiritual.” Is that a true representation of the level of self acceptance that we have for ourselves? That we must produce to be of value? That we must build up our ego to develop self-esteem/self-worth?

Self Worth

An interesting definition of self-worth came to me this weekend while talking to a friend. It went something like, “self worth is how much it is worth to you to be yourself.” In that definition, self worth had nothing to do with how well or how much or how deeply you can do something. It simply meant, “how much are you willing to put yourself through before you decide to just be you?” “Is it worth not being you?” When we don’t have any self worth, we don’t believe that being ourselves is enough, or worth it. That doesn’t only mean to feel unworthy, and thus, do nothing. It also means that we could be spending a lot of our time trying to be something else (sometimes doing a great job of it) instead of just being ourselves. That’s a self worth issue, too, only buried and harder to recognize.

Practicing Mastership Through Self Acceptance

I structured this article just as I did to ensure that the reader would not easily run on autopilot, as well as so I, the writer, wouldn’t either. That isn’t the path that is important today. When I asked myself to focus on the most important thing today, I began receiving these insights. I began to realize what it was that masters do.

When we practice our mastership, we aren’t afraid to be ourselves. Boy, that is the hardest thing for people to do, isn’t it? When we practice mastership, we don’t defend. When we practice mastership, we aren’t afraid to respond to others, or to admit when we’re afraid, or that we have fears. We're just being ourselves, without hiding ourselves.

Over the years, throughout different phases, I’ve watched myself put on a new belief system, or collection of thoughts which I now recognize as substitutions for just being me. It's human nature to identify ourselves with things or ideas in order to know the difference between us and everything else. With friends, family, and people we know won’t attack us, we can be ourselves without putting up our walls. But when something “important” is on the line - career, public perception – we sometimes clam up so fast we don’t know what hit us. Whatever we’re attached to owns us.

Some of the fears I have had have been the fear of making mistakes, or not being seen for who I really am. I’ve watched as I’ve surrendered most of those fears over time. Letting go of those programs yields high rewards. It was just last week or two when I spoke to someone who thought they had a major problem in their relationship, not being sure if it could go on and work out, when we discovered together that that person was merely in intimate contact with a part of themselves that needed the healing.

The End of Our Rope

Often times when we think we’re at the end of our rope, we’re actually at the beginning of real growth. We’re not at the end of a relationship when we have a big fight, we are at the beginning of making it a more conscious relationship. That which hurts us the most we only see as the 'end' because it has always been an insurmountable fear for us as an individual. If we try dealing with a fear or pain instead of running from it, we’ll discover some inner strength that we’ve never known before. You wanna be spiritual? Put yourself through those experiences. Spiritual growth isn’t about 'flying high' all the time. It’s about dealing with discomfort when it comes instead of covering it up. Regarding spiritual matters, you’d be astonished how easy it is to confuse the two. One action masquerading as "spiritual growth" can be weaponized to bury pain, and it can happen at any level of "success." On a similar note, quoting Wayne Dyer, "you can’t give anything away if you don’t have it."

Our psychology is such that we avoid pain. That’s what we do. It’s fine, no big deal. We can go for the feel goods, and that works out fine, too. We can choose to feel good as long as we want, but if there’s pain under there, it’ll be waiting for us to release it. Repression is, in my opinion, one of the biggest epidemics I observe in people. We’re all so busy being mothers and fathers and ‘whatevers,’ we don’t make the time to be ourselves, and we need to tend to those needs.

Comfortable in Our Own Skin

Watch others and watch those instances in yourself when you’re not running on autopilot, when you’re not afraid to speak as yourself. And nurture those times. Those we admire most are those who are comfortable being themselves, and who accept us for who we are regardless of what we do. It is said that a teacher is someone who is expressive of love. Look for that quality first (not special abilities) if you feel the need to learn from a teacher other than yourself.

When we are not comfortable being ourselves, when we can’t write the ‘spiritual checks’ of acceptance, we analyze, we pick apart, we feel threatened, we try to prove ourselves, we hang on the words of others. We are in an insane state most of the time. Some of us merely are better at controlling it (or controlling others) than others.

I say enjoy being a crazy person.

Accept it. Accept the fact that sometimes (or perhaps, a lot of the time), we feel weird about ourselves, we focus on what we don’t want, we build a bigger ego, we feel discomfort. A business mentor once told me long ago in speaking of financial situations wearing on people, “Most people live lives of silent desperation.” It’s even truer for spirituality. How we really feel about ourselves is usually buried a few layers below “autopilot” as well as buried a few layers below our projection of ourselves to the world.

Ever think about what it would be like to be successful for being you?

Being Ourselves

People always benefit more when we simply speak from the heart rather than perform aerial acrobatics that ‘those who require big acrobatic acts’ need. Good luck peddling that drama. Instead, I’ll say that it is easier being you, and attracting people like you. If we play to the world, we play to the illusion. But if we play to our own song, we help the world by default. I always strive to be the best version of myself. The more that I go back to my Inner Self and take the actions that feel good to me when I feel connected with God within, the more my life flows because I’m not peddling anything that I am not.

Here’s an interesting scenario. Observe people with a lot of success who spent a lot of time being who they are not to get there. Ever meet one of those folks? They are typically apathetic. They are stuck with the same disease that caused them to take that path to begin with. They aren’t healed. They’re just a sort of "successful" version of themselves. Something seems kinda missing though. Ever see people who are paraded around with success too early for their development? They become unstable, many times. Now, meet someone who has honored their own personal path by practicing being who they are, not holding pretense, not running on autopilot, being true to themselves, making a decision about themselves each step of the way with deliberate intent. Meet them and see how they enjoy every moment life gives them, including the moment where they meet you. Their path was chosen out of honoring the self, choosing what they want, over and over again.

I think what has led to my success in growing spiritually the most has been spending most of my time connecting with my Inner Self, and honoring that and being honest with it. When I deviate, I begin to struggle. Hey, sometimes we don’t know when we deviate. That’s fine. We just redirect ourselves when we notice that. Recognizing how I deviated in some small way may take months. But I always get back on the path. Every path taken is important, even if it appears to be a detour.

What is the moral of the ramblings? I guess it’s up to you to decide what you get out of it. I hope you enjoyed it, no less. It’s been great for me. Until next time!

Todd is the founder of the Soul Solutions Healing Group, which features a team offering widely, varied spiritual writings from many different voices serving as a profound teaching and learning instrument for a wide variety of audiences. You can find out more about Todd and the team at SSG by visiting their website and blog.

Visit: Soul Solutions Healing Group Website

Visit: SSG Team Blog


Temple said...

Totally amazing post, as always! In fact, I've left you a little something over on my blog to help celebrate your greatness :)

Laurie B. said...

What an amazing post! I love love love this blog. Oh, and the meditation gif you have seriously rocks! Thanks for following my blog! With gratitude, Laurie B.
comments on my blog are "ucommentifollow" now so comment away and increase your traffic!

Julieanne Paige said...

Hi Temple

It is definitely a great post from Todd!

And Thank You for the mention on your site! I will be back to get the details. Very much appreciated!

Speak soon!


Julieanne Paige said...

Hi Laurie

I'm glad you liked it. Todd will be happy to hear your comments.

Thank you for your kind words. If you click on the meditation gif it will take you to the site where you can make your own. It's very easy and would love to see what you come up with!

Have a great day!


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