A Helpful Adjective to Describe Yourself
Physical health is one of the greatest of blessings. But when we’re healthy, precisely because we don’t feel any aches and pains, that’s when we’re at greatest risk of being unappreciative of it.
Spiritual health is the same way. It’s might be easier at first to become aware of our souls when things internally are not working as they should.
Let’s think together about three scenarios where the soul / self seems to be malfunctioning. Through the lack of soul harmony, we’ll better understand the ideal of soul-health to shoot for:
SCENARIO #1: Sometimes in life, for one reason or another, you check out. You go through the motions, but it’s out of habit, or just social norms. You’re doing stuff, but without soul. You’re out to lunch with a bunch of friends, and while someone at the table starts yapping away, you mindlessly pull out your phone and start scrolling. Now you are “out to lunch” while you’re out to lunch. Your friend turns to you and says, “Hey what’s up? Why are you so distant?” “Be present.”
Which is a totally fair question: why AREN’T you present? Where did your soul go? Where’d YOU go?
This is the problem of spiritual EMPTINESS.
SCENARIO #2: A similar, but different scenario is that you’re at that same lunch with friends, but this time you’re very much present and engrossed in the conversation. The reason you’re so engaged is because the group is busy sharing some great gossip about some woman you know, whose name is Heidi, who isn’t there. This time, however, your soul does something else, it makes noise in your head. It might feel more like a spiritual migraine that comes on. You don’t really know what it is or where it comes from, but you recognize that it’s your soul or your conscience telling you this is not an outing you want to be part of.
This is the problem of spiritual DISSONANCE.
SCENARIO #3: One last scenario — very different from the first two — for you to think about. You’re at a crossroads. You just graduated college, or finished your first job out of college — or you’re simply at a quarter- or mid-life crisis — and now you have two job offers on the table. One is a stable job very much like stuff you’ve done in the past, offering great pay, but not very interesting to you, and doesn’t sound all that fulfilling. The other job is more of a risk but in an area that you’ve been dreaming to get into since you were a kid, but just never worked up the courage. You’re at a loss. Where are you going to find the clarity and confidence to make such a decision??
This is the problem of FORGOTTEN SPIRITUAL IDENTITY.
It turns out that the Soul — the Self — is like an ONION.
All of us have layers upon layers. Some layers are more visible, and closer to the surface, and some are deeper, and perhaps harder to see.
Your body can be present with friends, but your mind can very easily be elsewhere.
Your emotions and interest can be engaged in a conversation, but your deeper, ethical desire is calling for an uber.
And while more superficial parts of you want a job that is closer to your comfort zone, your innermost self — who you can’t even put into words yet — knows it wants — and maybe even needs to fulfill a dream of deeper self-expression.
When “I Want” and “I Feel Like” Don’t Agree
Here’s something you can do to pay attention to your different desires. Listen to the words you use to give voice to them.
Do you ever have the experience of wanting to do something but not FEELING like it?
“I WANT to exercise regularly, but I don’t FEEL like it.”
Or how about the opposite?
“I FEEL like eating a pint of ice cream right now, but I WISH I didn’t…”
If you “want to,” why don’t you feel like it? And if you “feel like” doing something, how could you wish you didn’t?
The reason is because we’ve got more than one thing going on inside of us:
We have more superficial desires, which we sometimes refer to as those things which we “feel like,” or “don’t feel like” doing.
And we have deeper desires, which we may call our sense of right and wrong, our conscience, our aspirations, our hopes, our dreams — which even if we want very much — very often, we simply don’t feel like pursuing.
These are different layers of who we are. It’s not a matter of right and wrong. It’s about bringing them into harmony. Over the course of this series, we’ll be learning to identify, name and draw from these different layers at different times.
Feeling our own desires conflict with one another can be disturbing. “I really want to do X, but I’m scared to.”
You may feel like there's something wrong with you in some way. But the diagnosis in most cases is nothing more than: you’re human. We humans are complex, layered creatures. I like us this way. It makes us interesting, exciting, and often comical as we sometimes clumsily figure ourselves out. Any character in a book or movie who is always happy or always sad or always full of themselves is flat and boring, but more importantly, the character isn’t real.
Real people have layers. We’re all Onion-like.
The goal is not to chuck out any parts of who we are but to align our inner selves with our outer selves, and our outer selves with our inner selves. It's this alignment that brings the truest and the only lasting happiness.
Are You Your Body?
Let’s begin peeling the layers of the onion that is our souls by starting with the most outermost layer of our bodies. Let’s study the body and see how exactly how deep this layer goes.
You can start by looking at yourself in the mirror. Wave to yourself 🙂
And as you do, think about this:
Are you the person you see in the mirror, or is what you see just the physical machinery your soul is operating?
See you soon.
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