Love Yourself Into Wholeness
By Frank Giudici
Identifying and Exploring Habits, Worry and Guilt
After resolving issues regarding our body, we may still find it difficult to love ourselves because of uncontrolled habits of thought and action, feelings of self-condemnation, worry and feeling guilty about past actions. In this, the third lesson of the workshop, Frank helps us identify and explore these unresolved issues so that we may address them in the fourth and final lesson.
29 Second area - our mental aspect of being and our habit patterns
In this section of our workshop, we’re going to consider two other major areas of our being that are not allowing us to totally and unconditionally love and accept ourselves.
The first has to do with a mental aspect of being, and in particular with habit patterns. I think that it’s fairly safe to say that all of us have certain habit patterns that we’ve been holding onto, and that we’d like to see changed. Now, in order to change unwanted habit patterns, what we have to do is change the thoughts that are causing them. For all habits are the result of certain thought processes that we have allowed to go on in our mind. If we don’t change these thoughts, then the habits they are producing will become destructive in some way. For example, if I have developed a habit of overeating, then the excessive weight that will result from it will eventually cause me some form of physical distress.
If I don’t change the thoughts that are causing me to overeat, then I could start having heart problems or breathing problems or things of that nature. It’s vitally important that I go to work on changing those particular thoughts.
30 Self-condemnation is worse than the habit pattern itself
Now, while we can see that these thoughts are producing an unwanted habit pattern, there is something else that is usually involved that is more destructive than the habit itself. That is the thoughts I am holding toward myself for having the habit. These are thoughts of self condemnation. In other words, the habit itself is bad enough, but the effects of self condemnation are even worse.
Earlier in this workshop, I spoke of self condemnation as the top layer of negativity and the necessity of peeling it off immediately so that we can work on whatever negative feelings are underlying it. Well, this is what has to be done here. If we condemn ourselves for having the habit by saying something like, “What’s the matter with me? Why do I keep doing that?” Then, we have to make a conscious effort right at that point to stop condemning ourselves. This we can do by calling on the presence and power of God within us.
In these cases, it’s my thoughts about myself for having the habit more than the habit itself that are preventing me from loving myself totally and unconditionally. In most cases, whether it’s the habit itself or our thoughts toward ourselves for having it that is the most destructive, we all still want and very much need to break bad habits. However, I want to emphasize that this workshop is dealing with more than just breaking bad habits. It’s dealing with what I’ve just been discussing. That is healing any unloving thoughts we may be holding about ourselves for having the habit. We invest much energy in creating and maintaining habit patterns, and in condemning ourselves for having them. How often have we heard someone say, “He’d really accomplish something worthwhile if only he would put that energy to good use.” Well, friends, this is what we are about here, redirecting energy we have been putting into maintaining negative habit patterns, redirecting it from unproductive and unfulfilling channels into more positive and productive ones.
31 Mental habits
In further discussing habits, we’re going to consider two main categories into which most can be placed. First, we speak of mental habits. Those which seem to remain in the mind and do not appear to directly manifest themselves in some form of action or condition. These, we speak of as being bad mental habits. Examples of these are holding thoughts of criticism or resentment towards someone or something, or maybe a person has developed the habit of constantly being inwardly afraid. Outwardly, he may appear quite self confident and very much in charge of himself, but inside, it’s something else again. He’s full of fear. Now, it’s true that ultimately all mental habits must manifest themselves in the outer, because divine law says that as we think, so we are. It seems that for the time being, the only place this particular type of habit exists is in the mind.
32 Action habits
The second main category we want to consider has to do with those we call action habits. Here, the habit has moved from the inner world of mind into the outer world of manifestation. It might be well here to state again that all habits, whether we call them mental or action or whatever, have their origin in the mind as thought processes. As a matter of fact, there is nothing that exists in the outer world that does not have its origin or cause for being somewhere in the mind. As students of truth, this is what we believe.
Now back to action habits. An example of this type would be one such as we mentioned before, overeating. Also in this category are things like drinking or smoking too much, or biting your fingernails or grinding your teeth. These are obvious examples of action habits and not too much has to be said concerning their destructiveness. We’re all quite aware of what excesses in these areas can do to us.
33 Action habits in how we talk with others
An example of another form of action habit has to do with talking. For instance, a person could discover that he or she is very defensive when speaking with others. Have you ever noticed this in yourself? That is, a tendency to verbally defend your beliefs or certain actions you have performed when really, the person you’re speaking with hasn’t even challenged them. You can pick this up in yourself whenever you hear yourself preface a reply you’re about to make with something like this: “Now, I don’t want to be defensive, but ...” Well, as soon as you say that, you can be sure that you’re being defensive to some degree. The trouble with that is that it can contribute to a breakdown in your communication with others. The habit of always being defensive has to go.
Maybe you find that in your conversations with others, you are always being apologetic. “Oh, gee. Pardon me for saying that. I didn’t mean to offend you.” When actually, what you said or did was really not offensive to the other person at all, and he or she clearly tells you so. Some people carry this habit of being apologetic to the extreme of finally apologizing for even existing. In other words, what they’re really saying in all their conversations with others is, “Excuse me for living.” Obviously this is evidence of a severe lack of self worth, and therefore is a habit that also has to go.
One more habit that has to do with talking is that of simply talking too much and too long. That’s a habit that can really get you into trouble. I don’t think we have to elaborate on that one, do we? But, it does bring to mind another habit, which is just the opposite: Not talking enough. Some people have developed a habit of being too quiet and never speaking out. This is one that also has to be changed if a person expects to find happiness and fulfillment in his relationships with others.
34 The action habit of worry
Of course, there are many more examples of action habit patterns which are in some way destructive, and which we want to change. Remember, not only are the habits themselves destructive, but our thoughts of condemnation toward ourselves for having them are even more destructive, for they prevent us from loving ourselves totally and unconditionally, and from enjoying the blessings that come from that act of total self acceptance. Once we deal with the condemnatory thoughts about the habit, we’ll see that dealing with the habit itself becomes easier.
Some other examples of action habits are being too shy, or maybe too aggressive, acting in a childish manner. How about procrastinating? Putting things off all the time and causing all sorts of problems as a result. How about the antithesis of the procrastinator? The compulsive worker who doesn’t know how to relax and enjoy life. How about the person who’s always in a hurry either to get things done, or just to get from one place to another? One final one that comes to mind is worrying. How many of us have made a habit of worry? We worry about this, and we worry about that. Even if things are honestly going well, we may still find something to worry about.
In his book, Unity of All Life, Eric Butterworth speaks of worry as substitutionary fulfillment. What this means is that whenever our hands are tied and we don’t seem to be able to do anything constructive about a situation in which we’re involved, we worry instead. This gives us the feeling that at least we’re doing something. It may be worrying, but at least it’s something. Well, it may give us some sense of fulfillment all right, but obviously, it’s not a very fulfilling way of handling things.
35 Assignment - write down in one word a habit we want to change
These are all types of action habits that are in some way, and to some degree hindering our spiritual growth and our ability to love ourselves. They, and our negative thoughts about them have to go. The first thing we have to do is change our thoughts about the habits, and then actually change the habits themselves.
Now, take in hand the pencil and paper you have set before you, and this time, indicate in writing the one habit you would like to be rid of. It may be a mental habit, such as fear, or an action habit, such as procrastination. It really doesn’t make any difference what kind of habit it is. The important thing is that it be one that you have quite a bit of feeling about, and that you honestly want to change. It may be a habit of longstanding, or it may be a recently acquired one.
Again, the important thing is that it is a significant one as far as you are concerned, so now write it down. Name it in one word if possible, or maybe two or three words, but don’t write out a paragraph. Keep it simple. Let’s take a moment to do this.
36 Third area - something we have done
Now that we’ve written down the one habit that we would like to be rid of, let’s turn to the third and final area that we’re going to consider, and that is preventing us from loving and accepting ourselves totally and unconditionally. This area is a very sensitive one, because it involves something that we did or that we failed to do in the past, and that we are still not very happy about today. In other words, it may involve a thoughtless or even immoral act on our part. An act of which society may disapprove. Because of this, we haven’t been able to completely forgive ourselves for our part in it.
It’s been said that actions speak louder than words. This is true when we consider the greater intensity of feeling involved in an action. There is a certain amount of feeling invested in a thought or even a word, but when an action is involved, there’s almost always a greater investment of feeling, of energy. This is why we can become tied to the past, as the saying goes, because of certain actions we have performed or neglected to perform. Being tied to the past is something that takes place on emotional level. That is, we can be tied to the past emotionally through the feelings we are holding today about something that happened in the past. To be healed of this emotional bondage, we need to break the hold we have been allowing past actions to have over us. We need to quit living in the past and begin responding to the present on all levels of life.
Now, because of the power involved in all this negatively invested energy, I feel that this third area is probably the main thing that is preventing us from loving ourselves totally and unconditionally. Here, we want to be sure to be as honest with ourselves as we possibly can. When we get to it, we want to be sure to do our prayer work sincerely and diligently.
37 The fear of exposure is a fear of rejection if exposed
There’s another factor involved in dealing with certain past actions that we’re not happy or proud about, and that is the fear of exposure. We may be afraid that someone is going to find out about it. Well, a number of people may already know about it, but the thing is we may be afraid that someone who is close to us today will find out, and this, we feel, would endanger our relationship with that person. To a degree, this is a normal fear, but whether it’s normal or not, fear still does its harmful work and it has to go.
What I’m going to say now may sound like a bit of a paradox. However, here it is: In order to be healed completely of the fear of exposure, we must expose whatever it is that we are afraid of exposing. Once this happens, there’s a release that takes place that opens the way to a complete healing of the fear of exposure.
Alcoholics Anonymous has a 12 step spiritual program for the recovery of an alcoholic. The fifth step of that program is as follows: Admit it to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Now, you can see that there are three parts to that one step. Admitting to God, to ourselves, and here’s the touchy one, to another human being. That third one may not always be easy to do, but once it’s done and the individual discovers that he or she is not rejected by the other person, then something wonderful happens. There’s a release of fear and tension, and the person finds that he can now function more freely, and is better able to deal with whatever needs to be dealt with at that time.
What we’re saying is that beyond the fear of exposure, what we really fear is rejection and the resulting loss of love. In other words, if I tell you about this past action of mine, you won’t love me anymore. I find that hard to take. Well, the point is that if you have really fulfilled the prerequisite of honestly wanting to be healed and it’s necessary for you to reveal certain things to another human being, then you will be led to the right person through the guidance of spirit within you. If you believe it to be possible, then the meeting will take place by divine appointment. Everything will work out harmoniously and for the highest good of all persons concerned. In this way, you will have dealt with any self defeating thoughts of condemnation and will have taken another big step Into loving yourself to wholeness.
38 Dealing with thoughts and feelings instead of people
Sometimes, in dealing with past actions, we may feel that we can’t do anything about them anyway, because they involved certain persons who are no longer with us. These persons may be living apart from us, and we may not know where we could contact them even if we wanted to, or maybe they’ve passed on from this life experience. While it may be true that in some cases we are not able to communicate with certain persons who were involved, it’s also true that it isn’t always necessary to do so. With God, with the presence and power of good that indwells us all, we can always do something about past experiences, and not in the way of living in the past or spinning negatively in the experience, but in the way of being healed of our thoughts and feelings about those experiences.
Friends, here is where the solution lies, in our thoughts and feelings about what happened or didn’t happen. We can’t always deal with the people who were a part of this experience, but we can always deal with our feelings toward them and the experience itself. Once again, this is exactly what we are attempting to do in this workshop.
39 God's love is constant
The real key to dealing with certain past actions we have performed lies in the act of forgiveness. In the beginning of this section of our workshop, I referred to the idea that possibly we have not been able to completely forgive ourselves for our part in whatever it was that happened. Because of this, we haven’t experienced the wholeness that we should be experiencing. Now, that’s exactly where the problem is, in our inability to completely forgive ourselves. We really don’t have to worry about God’s forgiveness because we’ve always had it. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that God never forgives us since he’s never held anything against us to begin with.
Forgiveness is simply love in action. God, pure love, is always in action in that regard. What I mean to say is that God’s love for us is always with us as a constant, not a variable. God’s love for us never varies. It’s always the same. The truth is that there’s nothing so terrible that we could ever do that would cause God to love us less than he loves us now. By the same token, there is nothing so wonderful that we could ever do that would cause him to love us more than he loves us now, for God’s love is constant. It never varies.
40 We can't make anyone forgive us
Two, we shouldn’t concern ourselves with forgiveness at the hands of others. You can’t make someone forgive you. If you say that your wellbeing, your healing depends upon your being forgiven by others, then you’re giving others a power over you that they don’t have of themselves. True, it would help if certain other persons would forgive us for past actions on our part, but we can’t always count on that. We can forgive them, and this we should do, but we can’t always expect to be forgiven by them in return. However, when you’re honestly doing your part in bringing about the healing of a particular situation, then you can be sure that if it’s necessary for you to experience forgiveness by someone else, then that is exactly what will happen. God will see to it.
It all comes down to forgiving ourselves. Once we’re able to accomplish that, then again, we’ll have taken another significant step toward loving ourselves to wholeness.
41 Assignment - write down some action we are not proud of
Now, we have come again to that part of our workshop where there's something for you to do. What I'd like you to do now is to write down on that same piece of paper some action on your part that you are not proud of. A mistake you made or something you failed to do. Something that is still creating guilt and anxiety, and that is preventing from loving yourself totally and unconditionally. As I mentioned earlier, this is a highly sensitive and personal area, so take your time.
Now, something may come to mind concerning a past action that you feel that you've taken care of, or maybe you feel that you have already healed yourself of any negative thoughts and feelings relating to it. If it persists, and nothing else comes to mind, then write it down anyway. The least you'll be doing in the next portion of our workshop is simply checking it out. If you've really been healed, then this will confirm it. If not, then healing is on the way. In any event, consider what action it is that you feel is still disturbing your peace of mind, and then write it down in just a word or two, or a brief sentence at the most. Let's take a moment to do that.
42 Preview of the next section of this workshop
This now concludes the section of our workshop which has entailed listening to and considering certain ideas, as well as writing a few things down on paper. In our next section, we’re going to do something about these things that we’ve written down. In other words, we don’t intend to simply identify certain problem areas and then leave them alone. No. We intend to do something about healing them, and more specifically, healing our thoughts about them. Before we continue, I want to remind you once again that it would be well to destroy the paper that contains your writing as soon as this workshop is over. It really serves no good purpose hanging onto it.
Now, set aside everything that is in your lap, or that would, in any way, interfere with our next experience, which will be that of prayer and meditation. Be prepared now to enter into communion with God through the process of meditation.