Open Your Heart

burning heart on hands.It is never an open heart that hurts. It is always a closed one.

It is when we meet someone whose heart is closed us to us and we in turn close ours, that it hurts.

It is when we close our hearts to the world because love is taken away from us, that suffering begins.

Keeping our heart open is never painful. Closing it always is.

With practice we can learn to keep our heart open even when we experience loss or meet someone whose heart is closed to us.

It is when we choose love instead of fear that our situation will transform, our suffering will end and miracles will occur naturally as expressions of love.

A miracle is merely the translation of denial into truth. 

Because only love is real.

(This post is largely inspired by the works of Marianne Williamson. Direct quotes from A Course in Miracles in italics).

Trust No One!

FriendsJumpingOnBeachInSunset

Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend who said he had a hard time trusting people, and that he trusted less than five people in his life. To my surprise, my response to that was that as long as he trusted himself one hundred percent, there is no need to trust anyone else. What? Did I say that? I’m pretty sure I did not know that a minute ago.

But it’s true! Here’s why:

As a species we notoriously trust other people, places and things to be the sources of our happiness. A trust that may be lost in an instant through betrayal, inadequacy, different priorities, theft, misunderstandings, poor judgment, bad luck, intoxication, better options, and… What not?

When we place our trust in others we also place our happiness where it has no place. Our happiness can only be found within ourselves, not in other people, places or things. No matter how trustworthy you may deem them to be or how eager they may seem for the job.

Trusting others is giving them a responsibility they should never have. Trust me (pun intended) this is not coming from a place of having suffered countless disappointments which as a result has led me to the conclusion that people generally suck and cannot be trusted. This is coming from the realization that to entrust anyone else with the responsibility for my happiness is to assign them a job that they are not qualified for.

So why do we feel the need to trust others? What conditions need to be met for trust to be necessary, meaningful and of value? As I see it two conditions need to be met:

  • What you are trusting the other person to do, or not do, needs to mean something to you. Trusting your significant other to only wear red socks on Mondays will probably not mean a lot to you, but trusting them to be faithful probably will.

and

  • You must believe that the entrusted person has a willingness, or at least propensity, to act contrary to your wish. If they indeed have a wish to act in this way, is actually not very important. It is your belief in their inclination to act contrary to you wish that determines the degree of trust that is needed. Trusting your vegan spouse to not eat the bacon you put aside probably does not require a high degree of trust. Trusting the same person to not get messy with his hot co-worker may require more trust.

Trust is therefore a way to control others to behave in a certain way. –I need for you to behave in this and that way, otherwise I will be hurt and unhappy. Regardless of what the other person really wants to do in the given moment. Trusting someone instantly creates a contract where they need to act within certain limits to gain and remain deserving of your trust. And it goes both ways. When someone trusts you, they simultaneously place you under an obligation to fulfill a behavioral commitment to them. Otherwise you will lose the trust.

Twin argumentAnd we all know how difficult, if not impossible it is to regain trust in someone if it has been lost once. Or God forbid, twice.

I had never thought of trust between people in this way before. What used to be something noble and good, now seems like unhealthy clinging to a certain image of how you want this person to be. Often with complete disregard to what they actually would want for themselves.

I now believe that the answer to this endless tit-for-tat tyranny of trying to control other people’s behavior by instilling our trust is them, is to take trusting others out of the equation altogether.

Groundbreaking, isn’t it?

By removing the need to trust others we set the tone for an interaction that is totally free of all bondage and need for control. We set them free. I have also realized that trust and unconditional love cannot possibly coexist. They are an impossible combination.

If you trust someone you love, you have placed conditions on your relationship and it is therefore no longer unconditional. If they break your trust, then you withdraw your love. Consequently, if you love someone unconditionally the need to trust them is utterly meaningless because the love you feel for them is not dependent on their actions. It is only by abandoning all need to trust others that we can really love them as they are. We can allow them to be free of our judgment, and if it is mutual we also get to be exactly who we want to be in any given moment. That is unconditional love. That is freedom.

Climbing team on the summit.This is not because I see myself as a separate entity from other people, and therefore want as few obligations to them as possible. Quite the contrary! It is because I believe that we all are one, we are all spiritually connected but by instilling trust in others we try to create a physical manifestation of the bond we already share. Trusting others in this mindset then becomes meaningless.

But what about trusting your doctor or your bank? Or your politicians? (Sorry, that was a joke). Shouldn’t we still be putting our trust in them? After all it is our hard-earned money and our precious health we are talking about. Even here I don’t think you should let bankers, doctors or anyone else define your happiness. By all means, take precautions and seek out professionals who seem honest, well-intended and in integrity. But nonetheless you should not be putting your happiness in their hands either. Even the most immaculate doctor makes mistakes sometimes, no matter how much you trust her. Trust that you to the best of your abilities have chosen the right doctor and then place your trust in yourself to be able to tackle any situation that may follow. This is how we lose our attachment to the outcome of a situation and claim our absolute power over our lives.

I realize that it may seem that I am now against all forms of trust, but that is not what I mean.

I believe you should strive to trust yourself completely to always do your best and to act in integrity in a way that your actions lead to the highest possible outcome for everyone involved.

I believe you should trust that everything always is well, and that things are exactly as they need to be for your greater good in every moment of every day.

I believe you should trust the Universe, God, your higher power, pure positive energy, The Force or whatever you believe in to always have your back.

You are not supposed to trust other people.

You are supposed to love them.

Just as they are. And then trust that that is enough.

Aim for Awesomeness

incredible-sky

You need to feel down sometimes in order to appreciate the good in life. Everybody knows that, right?

This is true because…?

Then do you also intentionally buy uncomfortable shoes too, in order to appreciate the comfort of taking them off? Or to more appreciate the shoes you have that actually don’t hurt you?

Whenever shit hits the fan and things get difficult, by all means learn what you can from it, get up, suit up and use it as a stepping stone for greater things. But don’t for a moment believe that a certain amount of hardship is necessary and that we humans need a fair share of misery to appreciate the good in life. Because we don’t.

Aim for awesomeness everyday and expect nothing less. Don’t aim for some good and some bad to show up, ensuring you a mediocre life and nothing more. Life is exactly what you make of it. Realize that you have the power to create exactly the life you want. And use it!!

Hardship is only necessary until you realize that it isn’t necessary.

Free Will vs Handing Our Power Over

Climber on the summit.I guess I have been confused with free will for quite some time. I know I have it and that it is one of the fundamental laws of our existence. But I haven’t realized that it means that it is free. It doesn’t mean I have to be in control all the time. It only means that I may choose to be in control if that is my wish.

This means I may also choose to hand it over to God, My Higher Power, the Holy Spirit or whomever I choose to invite into my life. As a student of A Course in Miracles, I will choose the Holy Spirit.

I can look at my current life experience like my car. My own car. Since it is my car I can choose to drive it myself and I can choose to drive it wherever I want. If I choose to go driving in areas where I have no clue as to where I am or what lies ahead I will probably get lost. Which has happened many times.

I can however choose to invite the Holy Spirit into the driver’s seat and schooch over to the passenger seat myself, trusting that the Holy Spirit knows the road better than I do. That he knows where I should go and when, in the best interest of myself and everyone involved. This is no violation of my free will since I allow him to take control. At any point I can choose to kick him out and take over the driving myself. That is always my decision.

Today I invite the Holy Spirit into my driver’s seat. Please take over the steering wheel and take me to where I want to be. You know the way, and you know how to get there swiftly, safely and harmoniously. For everyone involved.

A few weeks back I had the pleasure of attending the Sunday service at Agape International Spiritual Center in Los Angeles and during Rev. Michael B. Beckwith’s speech he said that fear leads to manipulation. Love leads to right action.

Key of successThat’s right. I believe that fear prevents us from handing over our power and instead try to sort out and manipulate our surroundings ourselves. With limited results. Love will allow us to trust a power greater than ourselves to lead us to wonderful places. The Universe has any miracle available at all times, and all I have to do is to get out of the way and allow it to work its wonders.

God only knows that my own futile attempts to drive the car has lead me astray so many times. Till now.

So Holy Spirit: Here are my car keys! Let’s go on a roadtrip. You know the way, so I’ll just sit back and enjoy the ride.

K

The Non-Existence of Nothing, Fear, Darkness and Lies

WaterfallIntoOceanOne of my favorite stories as a child was The Neverending Story where Bastian is called out to save the wondrous land of Fantastica from total destruction. The Nothing is slowly but surely consuming everything in its path, leaving a void of nothingness where once was life, colors and joy thriving in harmony. Everything and everyone in Fantastica are trying to escape this unspeakable menace of darkness and destruction, all flocking toward the Ivory Tower hoping that the empress can save them from total annihilation.

The ultimate solution to stop this juggernaut of destruction is as beautiful as it is simple: Bastian must shout his dead mother’s name. This does not just miraculously restore all of Fantastica to its former glory but also ensures its neverending expansion. But why does it have to be his mother’s name? Why not something else? Because the love he feels for his late mother is the purest form of unconditional love that is available to him. His mother’s name is therefore merely a symbol. The real healer here is the feeling of unconditional love it triggers within him. It didn’t even go on to repair anything. It just miraculously undid the rampages of The Nothing as if they had never happened in the first place.

This is beautiful. And as a student of A Course in Miracles there is a lot to appreciate in the message of The Neverending Story.

What is nothingness? What is darkness? What is fear?

Most people would be able to answer the first one quite easily. Nothingness is nothing. It’s the absence of something, anything and everything. It doesn’t exist. It’s as simple as that.

And darkness? Does it exist? Although darkness can feel very real in the blackness of your bedroom it doesn’t change the fact that it is simply the absence of light. Nothing else. According to A Course in Miracles darkness possesses no qualities of its own because light abolishes darkness merely by showing you it is not there. You cannot pour darkness into a lit room, but you pour light into a darkened room every time you flip the light switch.

Conflict, close up of two fists hitting each other over dramaticThen what about fear? Arguably the single most dominant force in the world of man. Fear tears us apart emotionally. Fear judges. Fear leads us to war with ourselves, our lovers, our friends, and our enemies alike.

What if fear has a relationship to love that is identical to the one that darkness has to light? Could it be that fear is not the presence of an evil and negative force, but rather only the absence of love. Is fear actually merely the absence of something good rather than the presence of something bad? Could it be this simple?

Yes it could. And as a student of A Course in Miracles I am getting increasingly certain that it is.

The Course teaches that only love is real. All else is an illusion of the mind. But then how can all the fear, misery and suffering in our lives, not to speak of in the world as a whole feel and look so real? There is unfathomable misery experienced by the millions on our planet every day. How can this not be real?

Although something painful may in fact seem and feel very real, it is also a matter of perception. Fear and suffering is subjective, felt in varying degrees depending on who is feeling it. It is, however only felt by the one who suffers. Anyone else can only empathetically imagine it, but not experience it. It is not their reality. Yet, it can feel very real because it has been made by our mind, and we will believe in everything we make. All beliefs are real to the believer.

Consider this:

You can make up a lie. You can tell this lie to a million people and these people all believe you. That doesn’t make your invented construct any more true or real, although it will feel real to the the one million people who believe you. What happens when the light of truth shines on a lie? The perceived realness of the lie dissolves as if it never existed at all. Do you remember Bernard Madoff’s ponzi scheme where countless of people’s savings vaporized in thin air as if it were never even there? In truth their money was gone as soon as it was put in the hands of Madoff, and their previous belief in that their money was safe did not in any way alter the fact that their savings no longer existed.

If we as human beings can accept that fear and love share the exact same relationship to each other as darkness does to light, it will transform our entire destiny. Because we will learn that the only cure to fear and suffering is love.

The Course teaches that whenever you find yourself in pain, a very appropriate question you can ask yourself is where am I not giving love in this situation? Contrary to popular belief giving love freely is never painful. It is when we close our hearts and start withholding love that the pain begins.

Broken Heart on Roses - Faded

Just think about it. What if fear, pain and suffering don’t really exist, but are only constructs of our delusional and out-of-control minds? Constructs we insist on believing in like we believe in so many lies we individually and collectively have made up. What if we could eradicate fear in our own lives simply by just loving more? What if we, like Bastian, had a magical word that could undo all the negativity that diminishes our enjoyment of life?

Just what if?

What if we as a culture and as a species haven’t yet evolved into living in love and harmony with each other, nature and the rest of the planet? (See, it doesn’t sound as crazy anymore, does it?). And what if the one thing that is missing every single time something is out of whack is something as simple, but yet infinitely powerful, as unconditional love?

Now that would be a revolution.

K

Know Your Worth!

Hands and the Rising Sun

I read once that we are willing to take as much abuse from others as we abuse ourselves. It is only when someone start treating us worse than we treat ourselves that we leave. Never before.

Now think about someone you know who lives in an abusive situation and apply this rule to them. Frightening, isn’t it?

The sad truth is that we are not just willing to let others mistreat us to the level we mistreat ourselves, anything else will in fact feel uncomfortable and in some cases intolerable to us. Yeah, that’s right. Someone seeing us as better than we see ourselves or treating us with more kindness than we deem ourselves worthy of will feel unbearable. And so we make a run for it. Back to our self-certified misery.

Has anyone ever told you: “You are too good for them”? A well meaning phrase originally intended to comfort the heartbroken may in fact be truer than you ever imagined.

All in all it is about vibration and how highly we think of ourselves. If we vibrate self-love, true confidence (NOT arrogance!) and joy it is impossible to bring people of lower vibrational energies into our lives.

Start changing the way you view and value yourself, and the people in your life will re-group themselves to match you. Guaranteed.

Today I read this quote:

When you learn how much you’re worth, you’ll stop giving people discounts.

That’s right! Sale is over.

K

Courageous Vulnerability

WomanCheeringInSunshineOnCliffOverOcean

A while back I came across Brené Brown’s TED-talks on vulnerability and shame on YouTube. Within the course of the 40-or-so minutes it takes to watch those videos I realized that I was standing in front of a major paradigm shift in how I would perceive myself from that moment on.

I have always regarded being vulnerable, and in particular my own vulnerability, as something that makes us humans weak, fragile and a little bit pathetic (sometimes a lot). That being said I have never really shunned away from potentially hurtful situations, although when things have not gone my way it has left me feeling weak, stupid and most importantly shameful. Shameful that I was not able to control myself better and that I should have been able to avoid going into a situation where I was not certain of a victorious outcome. My ego has thus far been quite successful at making me feel this way.

Then enter Brené Brown who after years of studying shame and vulnerability has a diametrically different take on it:

Vulnerability is not weakness. […] Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.

-Wow!

Investing in something you want where success is uncertain is not a sign of weakness. It is pure courage. My old self (read: ego) would say stupid, as you risk getting hurt, rejected or even humiliated. But why should we let fear of failure and rejection run our lives and limit our possibilities? Wouldn’t it be better if we all were brave enough to go after what we really want, trusting that we have what it takes to handle a possible failure? Are you confident enough to know that it is not your failures that define who you are, apart from helping you grow and evolve into something bigger, better, stronger than you were before?

Being vulnerable means giving a relationship your all even if you are uncertain of whether it will work out or not. It means having the guts to say “I love you” first even when you know the other person may not reciprocate. Being vulnerable is standing up for your convictions and ideas in circumstances where applause is far from certain. It is having the perseverance to be the stayer in situations where your for a prolonged period of time only can fly on instruments. Vulnerability is giving other people or situations the benefit of the doubt, when the ego in your head is screaming that this should not be trusted.

These situations are not about being weak. They are about finding the strength and courage to go the distance even when you are not certain that you will get there or what you will even find there. It is about following your dreams, and about trusting yourself, your instincts, and your strength and capabilities to handle whatever comes your way.

Going after something you want with zero risk is easy and doesn’t instil much growth. Going after what you want when there is a considerable chance you may end up getting hurt is transformative. It builds confidence and it reinforces the fact that we absolutely are able to create our own life experience.

But do not misunderstand me. Going after the girl you want when she has told you that she is not interested is not courage. It is stalking. Repeatedly trying to become the next big singer when no one except your mum has told you that you sing well is also not courage. It is being ignorant to the fact that your time and talents could be put to better use. Seeking out situations where you are likely to get hurt without any potential of a reward is also not being courageous. It is self-destructive.

Slack line in the nature.I am talking about situations where the only thing separating you from making that leap of faith is your own doubt and fears. I am talking about situations where you keep wondering if this actually could work, even if it’s a long shot.

Brené Brown had discovered that the one thing distinguishing people whom she would classify as happy and sorted was that they accepted their own vulnerability. That doesn’t mean that we should relish the feeling of being vulnerable jackass-style. It means that we could have a lot to gain from viewing our own vulnerability as a natural side to life that shouldn’t be ignored or feared.

While most people are busy contemplating all the things that could go wrong, it is not the pitiful and weak ones you see out there in the arena fighting for what they want. They are the brave and courageous ones.

Don’t you want to be one of them?

 

Vulnerably and courageously yours,

Kristian