It’s a paradox of the true spiritual path, but the more conscious we become of what limits us, the more limitless becomes our life. So, take as long as you need to understand the lesson that follows. It’s intended to shed much-needed light on one of the more deceptive dark states that stands between us and the freedom for which we long.
The only purpose discouraged feelings serve is to keep your thoughts on what you can’t do. And with your attention fixed in this fashion – on what seems impossible – there’s no room for discovering what is possible – for what you can do.
Let’s cover this important discovery one more time.
The only thing that feelings of discouragement do is keep you busy doing nothing except feeling sorry for yourself, which is the perfect guarantee that your sorry situation will remain hopelessly the same. Enough is enough! You don’t have to put up with one more discouraging moment, let alone a life filled with its darkness. There is another choice you can learn to make besides falling into those familiar feelings of failure. Use this next higher idea to help you start thinking about those old discouragements in a new way.
Whenever we suffer over what we aren’t able to do, have, win, or work through, our attention in these moments is riveted on our own thoughts, thoughts that are busy telling us we’re somehow stuck. Maybe you can recognize some of these heavy-hearted inner voices. They say in one way or another . . .
• “I’ll never get out of this mess.”
• “I’m too stupid to learn these things.”
• “I must have done something terrible to deserve this!”
• “There’s no point in going any farther.”
• “This is definitely hopeless.”
Now, on the surface of things, these all-too-familiar whispers of defeat – these dark voices that reach our inner ears, speaking to us with our own voice – seem to be genuinely concerned with our unfortunate condition. But a deeper look into this covert operation reveals these troubled thoughts are up to something totally different. There is an unseen “conspiracy of limitation” taking place within our own consciousness! Follow the next four ideas all the way to their stunning conclusion. They show us that self-illumination and self-liberation are one and the same power.
1. The more these gloomy voices talk to us, the more discouraged we feel.
2. The more discouraged we feel, the more certain we are that we have no other choice but to feel that way.
3. The more convinced we are that we have no choice, the less choice we have.
4. The act of identifying with this dark inner dialogue actually produces the dead end we fear!
We end up being able to go no farther with our wish for broader personal horizons because, unbeknownst to ourselves, we now believe that there’s no way to get past where we now perceive ourselves to be limited or tied down. The key idea in this part of our investigation lies within the word perceive, because – for the purposes of this exercise – the word perceive rhymes with deceive. And that’s precisely what this faulty perception is: a self-deception. Here’s proof.
There are no dead ends in real life. You must prove this bright fact to yourself, and here’s a good place to start: in any given moment, there is always something higher you can do with your life than sit there and suffer over what you think you can’t have, or do, or be. Why wallow when a small amount of interior work will act to change your reality?
Here’s one example of a new and higher inner action to take when faced with the presence of any discouraging inner state: See that the size of the discouragement you feel is directly proportional to the size of your insistence that life conform to your demands. Then, having verified this truth for yourself, dare to quietly drop that self-defeating demand.
The first time you bring such a light to bear on any discouraged thought or feeling, it will fade from view – much as shadows do when the sun reaches its mid-day zenith. Their departure leaves you with fresh new energies that not only grant you “new eyes” through which to see how you can proceed with your wish, but that also grant you the strength to begin the next leg of your quest.
For instance, maybe you’ve felt discouraged because you wanted to learn something new – a higher skill or a difficult lesson – but felt sure that certain limitations of yours placed this possibility beyond your abilities. And so you resigned yourself to feeling discouraged. While this kind of self-defeating behavior is commonly accepted as natural, it’s totally unnecessary. You can do something much higher!
Instead of falling into those familiar feelings of futility over yourself, work to deliberately drop those discourage-filled thoughts that are telling you the limit of your present view is the limit of your possibilities. Who you have been matters only to those dark states that want you to remain that way so that they can continue to rule the day. Refuse to dwell in discouragement over who your own thoughts are telling you you’ll never be. Just get started working on who, and what, you are right now!
In other words, do what’s in your power and refuse to be discouraged about anything else. And keep repeating this new conscious action one step at a time, over and over again. It is in your power to learn whatever it takes – one lesson at a time – and make it all the way to your designated goal.
Here’s one last special thought to help summarize this important life lesson in liberating ourselves from the limitations of discouragement:
Any conversation you permit yourself to have with dark and discouraging thoughts guarantees you’ll wind up with a dozen good reasons for why you feel so dark and discouraged. When it comes to any negative thought, the first word you have with it is the same as giving it the last word with you.
Practice these higher lessons in self-liberation until you’re free of all feelings of futility. You’ll soon see how this new action gives you the last laugh on discouragement.
(Excerpted from The Essential Laws of Fearless Living, Weiser Books, 2008)
Link to Guy Finley's Non-Profit Life of Learning Foundation website: