Active Contentment

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What does it mean to be contented?  Merriam-Webster defines it as:
: the quality or state of being contented
: feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation

Sometimes I think that being content is like giving up.  For example, if you have a relationship that isn’t fulfilling, but you’ve decided that it’s good enough.  Or, perhaps you’re being told that you should “count your blessings” and be content with what you have.  I really think this is bullshit and that a person thinking these things has given up a part of themselves.  Especially when it comes to relationships, I think we’ve all been programmed to think that once we’ve indicated that we are connected to another person in an intimate way, we need to find all our fulfillment in them.  The reality of this is that no one can be everything to another person.  We each have our own interests and passions that can certainly overlap with another’s, but why give up on the rest?  What happens when you meet that other person who is a perfect fit for some or all of the rest of what you are passionate about?  Why does anyone need to give up “the rest” out of some ideal that it would be wrong or immoral to connect with another person who can fulfill that for us?

It’s important to indicate that just because you are not finding complete fulfillment in another, doesn’t mean that there is anything “wrong” with that person or that they are “bad” in some way.  I’ve personally been married for almost 25 years to someone I consider to be my best friend in this lifetime.  However, for many years I have had a driving force telling me that I needed to expand on my experiences with relationships with others.  This doesn’t mean that my wife is “not enough” or that there is something wrong with her in any way.  I just simply means that I want to experience more things with other people.  You might be thinking that this is just a “mid-life crisis”, but it isn’t because I’ve always known this about myself, I was just not brave enough to express it until this past year.  Once you are married you are fit into a specific role that has specific expectations by society.  I thought there was something wrong with me and that I was somehow faulty or not good enough.  It has been through my process of increasing my awareness that I’ve discovered that I don’t have to be stuck in a role that I had nothing to do with creating.  I also discovered that by communicating my desires and intent to her, that we can and are, creating a new way of being together.  This is not just being content, but what I call “Active Contentment”.  Active Contentment requires a person to take responsibility for all aspects of their life and to Actively work on being Content!  This is a process of evaluating my life repeatedly in who I am and what I desire to experience, then make a decision and a plan of Action that will adjust things so it moves me toward that goal.  This process is ongoing and has no end.  After all, it’s actually pretty awesome to take control of my life in an active and pro-active way!  The other benefit of what we are doing with our relationship, is that we are both growing more independent, grounded in who we are, and focused on what really matters in our relationship.  This concept has been very confusing for some that have been witnessing our changes, and I think the most confusing part for them is that we aren’t acting in the way they would “expect” two married people who no longer live together should act.  Society most definitely wants to neatly categorize our actions and to set expectations on the outcomes, but at every turn we are causing the expectations to collapse and forcing people to re-evaluate their perception of how a relationship can be.

Another area to consider is what you do for work, whether it is a job or maybe a business you are running.  You’ve made a contract or arrangement with the employer or your employees to the work or service you provide, but if you aren’t happy with what you are doing, why not change?  I can certainly understand this from both perspectives as I’ve been an employer and an employee.  I have experienced stepping into an agreement that I will do something and then perhaps after a time I’ve find that it just isn’t working.  Then what I’ve done in the past is to start to feel guilty about changing, that I will somehow be letting “them” down if I leave my job or have to close the business.  In my last business I wasn’t getting enough cash flow to support the overhead expenses of rent and payroll so instead of shutting it down at that point, I cashed out one of my retirement accounts (at a penalty of course plus taxes) in order to fund the business and pay my employees.  The only thing this did was postpone the inevitable and drain me of a savings I’d been building up for over 20 years.  Out of a perceived “responsibility” to others, I’m the one who ultimately suffered.  I suffered the guilt, the anxiety and the loss of money for nothing.  I also see this all the time with people who have jobs that they really don’t like at all.  Rather than doing something about it, they stay, feel miserable and sometimes complain to everyone who will listen about the job and the employer.  In the end, nothing usually gets solved from the situation, the person is unfulfilled and everyone around them is robbed of having a positive relationship with that person.

For me, I’ve been doing the same kind of work for over 20 years, but never fulfilled with what I’m doing.  This has caused me to move around in my jobs hoping the next place will be the one to fulfill that need and during this time I would “suffer” this discontentment by having anxieties and depression about feeling lost in my life and career.  I would always have a reason to seek the greener grass to motivate me to find a new job or start a business.  I never spent the time to really understand what was at the core of my discontent and therefore kept re-creating the same situation over and over hoping for a different result (therefore insanity was a reality for me).  Through Active Contentment I was able to discover that the root of my issues around my jobs was in my own lack of self esteem and self love.  I never felt that I ever measured up to my expectations nor the perceived expectations of others.  My “assumptions” said that others found me lacking and that I wasn’t really capable of performing at the level which is really needed for this position or as this kind of employer.   However, the overwhelming responses I’ve always received from reviews and customers, was that I am an exceptional person.

I had a recent experience where I was talking with a former customer of mine about the business I had closed.  I was indicating to them that I had found someone locally to take on my customer’s needs and that they were very competent and capable of handling the same services I had provided.  The customer looked at me and said that I didn’t get it; that it was Me that people wanted to have as a service provider, not just someone that would provide them with a “service”.  I was stunned by this as I had never considered what I was doing or who I was as exceptional or irreplaceable.  This gave me a whole new perspective on myself that was at the beginnings of my discovery of a positive self worth.

Active Contentment means that you have responsibility, but it also means that you have the freedom to choose how you are going to feel content.  For me in my job, I’ve shifted into an active contentment about what I do.  This doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on changing what I do for a living at some point, but it does mean that I’m a lot happier in the meantime.  I am choosing to love myself, to see the great things that I do and am able to do, to admit freely of things I don’t understand and to seek help without embarrassment or self deprecation.  I am choosing to leverage my employment to prepare my life in a way that will enable to me step away from what I’m doing now, to a new career or business.  I am choosing to be excited and methodical without being unrealistic.  I am choosing to discover what it is about another person that intrigues me or attracts me to them without feeling like I’m betraying someone else or myself.  I am choosing to be content but not to give up or settle.

What can you do in your life to be content without giving up or settling?

 

Dwight Raatz

Submit

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Have you ever committed to something and the moment you do, things begin to change?  For me, I can reason and think about actions I might want to take, but nothing much changes until I submit and commit.  By submit, I mean that you take an action or step that commits you toward the goal or destination you have decided to attain.  This action is something that you can’t easily change your mind after submitting.  In my case, I recently went on a trip that involved quite a few things outside of my comfort zone because it was out of the United States and involved traveling to a retreat in the middle of the Amazon jungle with no connection to the outside world.

As I was on the retreat center’s web site and I filled out the payment forms, the moment I clicked the submit button to send my payment, I could feel things change and shift.  This was even compounded more when I booked the hotels and flights.  There was no changing my mind, no going back.  I committed to the journey and the Universe started to manifest my wishes.  I felt different immediately, lighter, more free, nervous, excited, focused.  Debate or worry about going on the trip ceased and a new perspective started.  I only had to decide what I wanted and it began to form immediately.  This has me wondering about all of the other things in my life that I’ve “thought” about, worried about, not decided.  I think about all the time and energy that I wasted in the space of indecision and worry that came to nothing in the end.  I can see how it’s better to make a dozen different decisions than to worry and think about one decision that takes forever to decide (if at all).  Deciding is an action that sets in motion a whole myriad of other actions and releases a flood of energy that is fully dedicated to making what you decided come to life.  If after making the decision you see that it isn’t working, then you decide something different and again set in motion more actions and energy.  The first decision loses it power and dissipates into the void (or some might say that the first decision continues on to create an alternate reality) and the new decision begins to take form.  It’s the indecision that blocks energy which can cause anxiety, high blood pressure, constipation, and other forms of dis-ease.

Submit to me also means to release.  Once you have “filled out the forms and clicked submit”, you have decided to do something and then released that decision out to the Universe to become manifest.  In my act of submitting to the retreat journey, I sent out to several organizations my intent to act and it was up to them to fulfill my intent.  At that point all I needed to do was show up!  Yes, that’s right; you can do the act of deciding and acting on that decision, but it really takes many subsequent actions to fulfill the intent for my part of the agreement.  Each subsequent decision and act continues to build a momentum of energy that culminates once you’ve reached your goal or destination.  Then the energy can resolve and complete to satisfaction, self-assurance, joy and even love.

If you’re feeling the anxiety and pressures of life holding you in place, the best thing to do is start making decisions and lots of them!

Dwight Raatz

The Reality of Fog

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Fog is like the illusion of reality.  There are things that exist but are just out of site.

As I was driving in fog recently, I was suddenly struck with the feeling of isolation as I could only see about 100 feet in any direction around my car.  Every so often I would meet a car going the opposite way, that didn’t exist a few seconds earlier.  This was even more prevalent with drivers who chose not to turn on their lights whose vehicle’s would seemingly pop out of nowhere.

This observation started me thinking about the nature of perception and our reality and it reminded me of a recent trip I took to Peru with my friend Andrew.  We were standing in one of the airport corridors trying to determine which direction we needed to go to find our gate “D6”.  As we both looked down the hall toward some signage, I saw the sign hanging from the ceiling that stated gates D11 – D15 were down that particular direction and when I said to my friend that we needed to go the other direction, he gave me a quizzical look and said, no we need to go the direction of the sign that had our gate number on it.  It turned out that even though we were standing only a foot apart, from my perspective I saw one sign, but not the one he was seeing.  Nor did he see the sign I was seeing (even though they were in the same direction of the same hallway).  It was all a matter of perspective because of where we were standing and the difference in our heights.  We both saw the “truth”, but we just saw different aspects of the truth.

This observation can be related to so many aspects of life ranging from the economy, to the state of the world, to relationships, to religion, to war, etc.  Each of us has a historical life-time of experiences and influences from our environment that we use as a comparison for constructing our everyday realities.  These “perspectives on the truth” are at the very core of everything you know.  We become so convinced that our perspectives are the only obvious truth and that everyone should know or see this truth the same way as you do.  We are so entrenched in our truths that we are willing to kill for it or to even die for it.

The real truth is that there isn’t any one superior or all encompassing truth and we need to keep reminding ourselves of this each time we think we know what we are saying, seeing or doing.  Especially when it doesn’t agree with or match up with what someone else is saying, seeing or doing.  Like my friend and me, we needed to take a moment and say to each other, wait a minute, can you show me what you are seeing, because I’m not seeing what you are seeing.  I didn’t take much for me to move over and stoop down to see a completely different view of the same hallway and the sign to our gate.  Seeing the other perspective doesn’t mean that either of us were wrong, we just saw different versions of the same truth.

Like driving in a fog when you see your whole world around you, just wait a moment or move just a little bit and you may see it completely different than before.

Dwight Raatz

A Defining Moment

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In November of this year, I will be traveling to Peru to take part in several shamanic ayahuasca ceremonies over the course of eight days.  Initially I was just excited to take part in a shamanic tradition that has been part of the native Peruvian culture for hundreds, if not thousands of years.  I know that there are many ways a person can experience deep connection to themselves as well as the realms beyond through meditation, journey work and other forms of energy work.  Even though I’ll be shifting into high gear during these ceremonies, I know that there are really no short cuts to this process.  I know that I will be processing and growing from my experiences there for months after.  My goals in going were simple but I also needed to focus on what I really wanted to get out of these ceremonies that would help me propel forward in my path, so I put the request out to the Universe – “Help me discover what I need to release and show me the next steps in my path.” was the request I made about two months ago.  Nothing has really come up that has given me clarity on what to focus on… that is until recently – the work has begun and the path is being illuminated before me.

 

In my last post (The Contradiction of This Day), I wrote about coming to terms with my feelings around celebrating my mother’s birth day and mourning my father’s death on the same day.  I also wrote about the feelings of loneliness that I’ve been experiencing lately.  Initially I thought that these feelings of loneliness were related to the five year anniversary of my dad passing.  It seemed to make sense, but I wasn’t completely convinced.  Then this morning many aspects of my life started to connect together in front of me, charting the course back through time showing me events and circumstances that have shaped as well as restricted me, until I reached one moment in time that stands out.  This moment is very vivid to me and is one that I’ve gone back to many times and have released the events of that day, but what I’m seeing now is a pattern of many other events that parallel this one.

 

I grew up on a family farm in south-eastern North Dakota.  If you’ve been so lucky to have been raised on a farm, you know that you grow up just “knowing” how to do things.  Things like driving tractors, vehicles, fixing things, working with animals and having a real sense of what to do next and the satisfaction of a good day’s work done.  I had all of these experiences and I also knew I was good at them all.  The “good” wasn’t boastful, just a knowing that had no doubts and I felt valued and appreciated by my family – even though this appreciation was never verbally expressed.  There came a day when my father decided to quite farming in 1978 and he made it clear to all of my siblings that he refused any of us to take up this vocation.  So, at the age of 14 I was “out of a job” so to speak.  I decided to look for work with a local farmer, but I couldn’t work at this age unless I went through special “tractor school” training to prove I could safely work on a farm, drive a tractor, backup up trailers, etc.  The training days arrived and one of the challenges was to back up a four-wheel trailer into a designated area.  While this kind of trailer can be challenging for some, I had full confidence in my abilities.  My turn arrived and up on the small tractor I jumped, and zip-zap, the trailer was in its spot.  I felt great that I achieved this easily and jumped down.  On my way back to the group of boys, three of four of them came up to me and said since I had done such a great job, I was supposed to walk across the parking lot to where a man was driving a tractor to get some kind of special task to do.  Thrilled that these boys talked with me and ready for the next challenge, off I went.  I walked right up to this man and asked what he wanted me to do.  As you might have guessed, it was a prank on me.  Then I had to make the walk of shame back to the group of laughing boys with my head hanging low.  This was my first real public humiliation and it came on the heels of a triumph I had just experienced.

 

I know that experiences like these are not uncommon for kids to experience, and in a way it’s like the many forms of bullying that kids experience every day.  What I didn’t realized until this morning was the huge affect this defining moment has had on my life.  From that day forward, I became very withdrawn and never did anything that would make me stand out from the crowd.  Even though I knew I had the skills and know how to do many things, I never put myself out there.  If I was in a group situation, I tended to let others lead – even though I would work closely with that leader giving them advice.  I was always second fiddle by design and very very infrequently allowed myself to have any fun.  Having fun means that I would be vulnerable to judgment and ridicule.  If I did have fun, it was still measured and only in the company of very close friends.

 

What I’m now discovering is this defining moment has created a ripple effect in my life creating boundaries, blocks and a huge amount of low self esteem that have lead me to anxiety, depression, sexual dysfunction, and a tendency to be slightly obsessive to the point where I create drama where none exists.  This all came out of a pattern in my life developed from a moment in time where I lost my innocence and in a way, I lost the love I had for myself.  I doubted who I was and began to build an illusion that I was really not good enough for anyone, that I was really not worthy of anyone loving the true Dwight – because I was faulty.  So henceforth, I created the new version of Dwight that would be safer and less likely to be hurt.

 

The new Dwight lost much of his strong masculine traits like confidence, daring, rebelliousness, etc.  What come forth was more feminine traits like caring, nurturing, listening, protection of the self and connecting with others who were wounded.  I became obsessed with females seeing them as accepting and nurturing.  As I stepped more into my puberty years and on throughout college, I became preoccupied with masturbation and fantasizing about sex with women.  I saw Playboy pictures and Penthouse stories as the ideal of what women wanted and expected from a man and if I cannot deliver, then I am not a real man.  This rolled forward into my adult years where my expectations of what I was supposed to be able to do became sexual dysfunction and all the doubt and frustrations and self-judgment that have developed from that.  The maddening part is that I still have an obsession with sex, but it won’t work for me when I want it to the most.  I’ve become trapped in a catch-22 situation where I’ve sabotaged myself from enjoying sex because that means I would truly have to open up my real self to my partner.  It’s much safer to do poorly and maybe they will give up and reject me proving my belief that I am not a real man, that I deserve to be alone because I’m not worthy of love since I am not capable.  I can’t allow anyone into that protected space for fear that I will fail and be found out as less than adequate.  The funny and rather paradoxical thing is that even though I’ve done all of these things to myself, I’ve still managed to attract women into my life in a variety of relationships.  For those who have tried to get close to me or even the one I married, none of them have really ever known the true Dwight.  They may have an idea of me, or even caught glimpses of me, but no one knows the truth or that playful man that is deep within me.

 

I have those who do love me unconditionally, but I feel unworthy – I am flawed, I am a fake – Do they truly love the real me or my puppet.  I wouldn’t blame them if they left, said you’re crazy, you’re a twisted fuck who should be locked up.  They can’t waste their time with me, I wouldn’t blame them, I am broken – Imperfect

 

I’ve been my true self and been ridiculed, bullied
The walls are up to protect
Be quiet, follow orders, don’t stand out, don’t be free
You will attract attention and be ridiculed again
Protection is paramount
Acceptance is desired
Come and find me
I am alone
Who will love me?
Don’t let them know the true self
Put up a front – fool them
Don’t let them in
You may be hurt again
Must protect
Lonely

My salvation is to align myself – to no longer be trapped by my illusion.  I MUST come out – I must play without self-prejudice.  I must release the illusions and hell that I’ve created in myself or I will surely die without true fulfillment in the life that I came here to experience.

 

Dwight Raatz

The Contradiction of This Day

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Today I honor two events connected to my life.  The first is the celebration of my mother’s birth day and the second is the celebration and mourning of my father’s transition to the other side of the veil.  This day reminds me of the cycle of existence in that we are born, live and then die again.  Which is parallel to the cycle of nature – Spring = Birth and Creation and Fall = Death and the Harvest or gathering in.  Often times we focus on these two events more than the other two aspects of existence which are Summer = Living and Winter = Reflection and Preparation.  Each phase is important and balanced even though it can be hard to see sometimes.

 

The emotions in me today are fluctuating and at times very tearful.  While I miss my dad’s physical presence, I can feel him in my life every day.  Today is the celebration of life and all of its phases.  Since, I believe, there is only physical death, I choose to honor my parents in the two phases of life that are of great importance; their choice to be born and their choice to move on to their next phase.

 

Lately I’ve had this feeling of loneliness and to be honest I haven’t felt lonely in decades.  Even when I’ve traveled by myself, I always felt connected to someone.  I’ve spent the past ten or so months clearing what no longer serves me from my life.  Most of these “things” have been energetic and emotional programming I’ve received over the past 40 plus years.  And some of the clearing has involved unnecessary material things that is now being donated to others in need. Whatever aspect of the clearing, it’s been a necessary step in my evolution as I transition to my next phase of existence.

 

Up ’til now, I’ve been so focused on the clearing that I’ve not spent much time on knowing what to do with the space that I’ve created.  Initially, I was wanting to fill that space with all the things that I “thought” I wanted instead.  But a funny thing happened in that when I started to fill the space again, I became uncomfortable with myself and felt like I was restricting myself back to where I came from.  This just wasn’t going to do.  So I just stopped!  I decided to let that space just be space, to be nothing at all.  What I found is that the less “stuff” I had filling my life, the more peace and wholeness that I felt.  This was going all fine and dandy, until recently this feeling of loneliness has come up.  My only thought on this so far is that it was coming up on the anniversary of my dad’s passing and also the contradiction of feelings on this day of celebration of my mom’s birth.  It’s hard to know where to go with these feelings even though I try to focus on my dad’s life and the great affect he had on me and so many in his life.

 

So, the great contradiction of this day has come and almost gone, but I think the contradiction really lives on in each day.  The contradiction of living life, being creative and expanding your awareness beyond all limitations or focusing on misery, restrictions, gloom and the impending physical death that will come for all of us.  We never know when the Reaper will come calling for us, just as you might think my dad didn’t know.  From the witness accounts of seeing him that day, he was glowing and full of life and happiness.  I choose to believe that, at some deep level, he really knew it was the day of his return Home and the literal glow that people saw was his True Self beginning to expand out from his physical being.  He would never know the pain of the crash as his Self would already be gone, leaving behind a shell of flesh and bone.  He was going Home and that is where I will see him again.

 

Dwight Raatz

Gods Among Us

Our Children Are Divine

As our children emerge into this life from the womb, they are the closest beings (aside from nature) that is connected to the Universal Divine Source. In spending time with my Grandson (pictured here eating cherry tomatoes), I am in awe of his presence and feel like I’m with someone who is not fully human, but more Divine.  As we grow and dis-connect more into our reality illusion, it is our children who are truly Gods among us.  Spend time to see your child’s simple perspective of life and know that you have much to learn from them.  Laugh, Smile, Enjoy the Succulent tastes of Nature, Love without condition, Show your emotions without shame – then Forgive and let go.  Sleep soundly in the arms of those you love, even if it just yourself.  Give love AND receive it graciously.  Help all children to stay connected and to not fall into the illusion we did.  This is how we will change the world.

 

Dwight Raatz

The Addiction Factor

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There seems to be many addictions a person can have like drugs, sex, work, Hello Kitty, etc. What it is that drives us to have an addiction, that state of being that something so simple can occupy our thoughts and cause us great distraction?  How can we engineer our lives to match up that same addiction factor with what really fulfills us?  For example, I have a desire to play a guitar.  But I’ve been very successful at procrastinating on learning this very thing.  How can I take my desire and apply an addiction factor to it?  Is this “factor” learned?  Is it biological?  Where does it come from?  I think if I can crack the code to the addiction factor and apply it to any of my desires, there is nothing I couldn’t achieve.

I think that fear is the main source of our procrastination in achieving our desires, but also the main source of our addictions.  It seems those addictions we have, maintain such power over us that we will almost stop at nothing to achieve them.  Fear is the one power in our lives that rules so many people; that drives us to do many things we really don’t want to do at all.  How can we “flip” fear to work for us?  How can we trick it to take its immense power and apply it to achieve our personal, life fulfilling desires?

I think the key to mastering our fear and ultimately to achieving our desires is to truly Know Thyself.  What I mean by this is to understand that the true You is not your thoughts or your mind, but rather something much more powerful.  The true You is Limitless and can achieve all that you desire.  You have just forgotten who You really are.   To take the power of fear and flip it to your favor you must step outside of the self or the mind and see them as tools.  Your mind is a great orchestrator, organizer and very effective at achieving results.  So, when you have a goal of playing a guitar and you find yourself coming up with all kinds of reasons not to learn it, Stop and step outside of these thoughts and see them as false.  See that this is the ego “protecting” you by convincing you that you shouldn’t even try because it will be too hard or that you will be embarrassed if someone heard you play.  The True You can take control and say to your mind, “shut up!”, this is my decision to make not yours.  The power here is that You are taking control of this decision and you see your ego’s thoughts as a distraction.  This power position, once it’s fully realized, can be a source of great pleasure and passion for more.  Once you see how effective you can naturally be at achieving all your desires by directing your thoughts and mind, you will want more until you have firmly created an addiction to being You!

I am not my self nor my mind
I am much more powerful
I have the wisdom of the ages
I am limitless in potential
I need only choose and act
I am awakening to this truth

Dwight Raatz

A Person’s Worth

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There are so many places that we are subjected to judgment and taught that we need to earn acceptance from others.  We first hear it as children in things like:

•    Santa – if you’re good you will get a toy
•    Being ignored by parents or family because of various circumstances
•    Not being the right size or shape to have friends
•    Not being the right sexual orientation
•    Not “cool” if you don’t have the latest gadget or clothing
•    In church where you hear that you have to follow a set of rules to be saved or worthy of heaven.

This condition of acceptance is prevalent in our workplaces, in the media and especially in society as a whole.  We are accepted or not based on some set of rules or made up standards that have no bases in a true loving and accepting relationship.  The frustrating part for me is how it’s all couched in words that are “believed” to be inspirational and supportive.  I’m seeing this over and over how brainwashed people completely believe what they are saying, but they have no idea of the true meaning behind their own words.  Blissful ignorance is a good phrase for all of it.

Each of us seeks love and acceptance from others.  I believe this is genetic and “primal” to us as we are truly pack animals.  If we don’t have the touch and connection to others, we tend to go a bit crazy.  This is even true for new born babies, if they don’t get touched and held, their health and chances of living diminish drastically.  Even as adults, if we are not touched, our minds take over to try and fill in the reasons for why it is this way.  We tend to blame ourselves and create shortcomings or faults in us to explain why we are unacceptable.  This state of being tends to send us into a state of survival where we start making odd decisions about how we run our lives.  We do what can seem to others at the time or in hind-sight to you, as unacceptable.  We might decide to ignore our kids in order to go out and find a mate or someone who will pay attention to us.  We might even drink or take drugs to soothe the pain of loneliness.  We might even become a workaholic just to feel like we matter to at least someone – even if it is an employer.

While these actions are self centered, they are rooted in the fact that we want to survive and to be loved and accepted.  Moreover, when this happens, we are not specifically intending on hurting anyone but it can and often does happen.  Oftentimes the ones who are hurt most deeply are children.  They don’t have the maturity or understanding to “reason out” what is happening.  The child just knows that the people they love are not loving us back unconditionally.  The pain of this becomes anchored deep within the psyche and their ego kicks in to try and protect them.  It starts to manufacture all of the reasons why this is happening based on the “facts” as a child would understand.  An usually the created story is not supportive in any way.  Then as the child grows and brings forth all of these fears into their adult life, they continue to search for acceptance and love anywhere they can.  As these adults have their own children, this cycle can continue forward if the adult hasn’t taken their life back into their own hands.  This dis-ease of nonacceptance, unworthiness and conditional love spreads out to all generation after generation if gone unchecked.

For us looking for love and acceptance we are sometimes called seekers.  We go out to our communities, bars, churches and other various locations seeking this connection.  This got me to thinking about my Christian Lutheran birth religion and that one of its purposes was to provide this connectedness for people.  In my years of going to church the only part of the whole thing that felt “real” to me was when we got together as a group for fund raisers or even the after church for cookies and coffee.  In my opinion, where all of it goes wrong is when the church tries to make you believe that the only way for you to be accepted by this group (long term) is to abide by their belief system which is rooted in conditional acceptance.

I just watched the movie “Mouth to Mouth” with Ellen Page and the overall story is about street kyds getting recruited to follow this “new path” or way of living with this person’s vision.  Initially it is a very attractive ideal and feels very open and accepting.  It does draw in many kyds and adults alike, but as the story goes along, it becomes more and more apparent that the leader has different motives and is ultimately applying the same conditions of acceptance that the kyds were “rebelling” against in the first place.  This MO is so common in many aspects of our society.  We are so incredibly starved for touch, love, acceptance that we are easily convinced to believe the ideals of a “profit”.  This also reminds me of a new documentary called Kumaré about a man who impersonates a wise Indian Guru and builds a following in Arizona.  His group was amazed at how we are all looking for this connectedness and will so easily believe in someone simply because the “Guru” is paying attention and listening to them.  Truly spending time to connect with others is really a huge part of healing.

The good news is that the cycle can stop at any time and it is completely in your control.  The process to reclaim your life starts with loving yourself  completely.  This doesn’t mean you have rose-colored glasses on and believe you are not capable of mistakes.  It means you accept and love yourself just as you are.  And when you mess up, you don’t berate yourself or find reasons to think you are less than any particular standard.  You just simply acknowledge what happened and make a plan or decision on what to do to fix, remedy or mitigate the issue.  Then move forward.

It is important to understand that the dis-ease of unworthiness has been very infectious and has been growing in the world society for thousands of years.  The basis for curing all of it is for us to stop right now, in our tracks and spend a few minutes each day just loving and acknowledging  ourselves.  Take time to just sit with yourself or go for a walk in nature and just breath.  Clear your mind of the chatter of the day and just listen to your footsteps or maybe the sounds of nature around you.  This can be achieved in various ways and you will find it.

Stop the dis-ease of thinking you are unworthy from spreading. BE STILL and know that you are love. You do not need to earn love. It all starts with you – loving yourself.

Dwight Raatz

Author’s Note: This post was edited on 06/23/2012

Becoming Completely Unraveled

The More

 

Building the Butterfly ~
I am not who I once was
I am primordial ooze forming
I am all potential with intention
I am growing and defining
I am beauty beyond belief
I am building the butterfly
I emerge
                                  – Dwight Raatz

I pulled the string that was wound around my life and began the unraveling of a lifetime of myths, fears, expectations and perceptions.  At times, I watch the spinning and wanted to reach out and pluck peaces out to hold them fast as to not change them, but that isn’t possible.  I’m finding that in order for me to create myself anew, I must completely unravel down to Nothing.  And this process has not been simple or in any way easy.

In the beginning, it was religion that was a main focus for me to reveal my own thoughts and truths about what I felt about what was going on in church and what it all meant to me.  But I have come to an understanding about my spiritual path and view of religion, so this no longer concerns me.  What I aspire to now is the intricacies of my relationships with others and with full acceptance of myself.

As I become closer and closer to the core of my true self, I find that I am less and less concerned about all of worries I’ve held and created in my life that have never served me.  My mind is less bogged down with churning in and through all of the “situations” in life and it is free to be creative, to write, to experience people and places with a new and healthy perspective.  I’m slowing down the pace and seeing what’s truly there and truly important to spend my time responding to.

If you find that life is just not going the way you’ve planned or thought it should be, then let it unravel and see what is really being presented to you that you’ve probably been missing.  Look upon life as a new gift and an adventure each day and you may be surprised at the peace and love you will find.

Dwight Raatz

Meaning from the Meaningless

The More

 

Where does the need to find meaning for my life come from?  Is this an innate force that comes from within, or is this a learned behavior that is so engrained I don’t even know the original source?  I think about all of the situations I’ve been in, the people I’ve met and how perfect the timing has been.  How is it possible that there is no purpose behind these events?  It seems impossible to me that everything that has happened and all that exists is a continuous result of pure random chance.  I’m not saying that I believe there is some all-knowing power out there that has a detailed plan for my life and I am simply acting out a predestine part.  What I’m coming to see is that there are natural states of being that attract or repel the like or unlike.  Could it be that there is no true intelligence out there that has an agenda for each aspect of my life, but rather that there is an ebb and flow of life energy?

I’ve spent the better part of my life seeking meaning in all things.  This fact has really been the core of virtually all my struggles with depression, the resulting anxieties and pent up anger that, at times, consumed me.  I would analyze and pick apart what a person said to me, or didn’t say; how a person would look at me, or not look at me, why I wasn’t happy at my job, what I was lacking as a husband and father, etc.  Each time I looked earnestly for the answers to my “why” questions, I come to a dead end or I find myself going in circles around “situations” that have no answer or meaning.  I see this search now as futile and my role as a Seeker of meaning to be pointless.  Seeking answers for things outside of me, for justification of what has happened, is happening, or is going to happen is really not only a waste of time, but also a huge drain on energy.

I can clearly see now why religion was and is such a perfect “solution” to the dilemma of wanting meaning to life. While it doesn’t necessarily answer all of the questions, I think it gives the person enough to satisfy and abate the bigger aspects of one’s questions. However, I see the destructive nature of religion being that it instills a deep unworthiness inside us.  If you were to ask someone with deep religious convictions about this unworthiness, they would deny that meaning and say that they are accepted by their God because they believe in some constructed rule-set that allows them to be accepted or saved.  When you look at the rules laid out by Christianity, you will see that each one is based in judgment, worthiness, and conditions in order to be saved.  I’ve always been confused at putting human emotions on God.  How He will be angry or upset or jealous if we do not follow a set of rules.  This picture of the Christian God has always reminded me of the stories of Zeus and other gods of Olympus.   I see Him looking down from above upon his subjects and seeing only their disrespect and misbehaviors and him getting mad, stomping around in “heaven” yelling and cursing at his disappointment in how he is being treated.  And if his “rules” are not followed, he brings upon the earth all sorts of disaster, pestilence and bad luck to all those who need to be taught a lesson.  And these “lessons” are what we conjure up to give meaning behind things.

Recently I was sharing with a friend my personal perspective on my beliefs.  One of them is that I believe that no matter what path I take in my life (good or bad) I will still end up going into the great energetic “collective” of the Universe (a.k.a Heaven).  I also shared with him that I don’t believe in Hell as it’s described in the bible.  I told him that I believe Hell is here on Earth – in that how we treat ourselves, how we treat others, how we deny ourselves or separate ourselves from our true Divine nature.  While I consider my friend to be a pretty calm, level-headed individual and very intelligent, he became visually and emotionally agitated in what I was saying.  His response was that he believes “Satan” has me wrapped around his finger and exactly where he wants me.  For me to believe that all is well and there are no concerns for my soul being saved seemed irresponsible to him and he said he would and is praying for me.  While I knew he was completely serious about this accusation, I couldn’t help finding it a bit humorous and very interesting.  It seems that his version (Lutheran Christian’s view) of God is very judgmental and God’s love and acceptance is conditional.  This makes no sense at all.

So when we seek meaning in our lives through religion, what we are taught is that we as humans are not completely worthy of love unless we follow a set of rules.  We are taught this from a very young age and so begins the illusion of unworthiness that inundates and infects us as we grow.  This idea of conditional love is rampant in everything from the stories we are told, books we are read, in school, and in social circles.  Unless we prescribe to acceptable rules, love and acceptance is withheld and given to only good girls and boys.  We continue this idea of unworthiness into our school years, college and then on into our work world.  We constantly are comparing ourselves to others, to people on TV shows, to advertising, etc.  We look for meaning in what we are doing and whether it is acceptable to others, whether we measure up and if we will be included and accepted.  Is this really what life is about?  I don’t believe this at all.

I don’t believe that God or any “higher source” has a master plan for my life, I believe I choose.  If you were to consider there to be any “plan” at all, it would be to give love, to experience love and to explore our own vast abilities in each day of our existence.   I see religion’s version of life to be about conditions, judgment, pain and suffering.  My view on life is to combine love with others, to grow and exponentially create and expand to become greater than the sum of the parts.  It is to enjoy our own selves and others for who we are and to support those who need help to recognize their true selves and abilities.  To find the meaning in my life is irrelevant in order to find love and enjoyment of myself and everyone else in my life.  It has been said that what life is, is just simply what it is and nothing more.  We choose how we will be and interact with all that is around us.  I say, choose wisely and with Love in your heart.

Dwight Raatz