By Cathy Eck
When I was little, I’d often find myself caught in some stupid habit or pattern of thought. My mother would say, “Ah, don’t worry about it. It’s just an awkward phase.” What might have become an obstruction to my freedom, like OCD or a serious addiction, left about as easily as it came.
Those are great words to remember on the quest for freedom because it often seems like one big awkward phase. The reason for this is that when you start to choose freedom (the True Self), the remnants of your false self show up so that you can let them go. But often they look very real, important, and true. Usually they involve others. Let’s look at some areas where awkwardness shows up on freedom road.
Let’s pretend that your family had a tradition of Uncle Joe dressing up like Santa and bringing gifts to the children every year. Now you’re an adult; you’ve not believed in Santa for a long time. All the kids are gone, but Uncle Joe still dresses up. It no longer makes sense. It’s awkward.
But even worse, now that you’ve decided to live from your True Self, you find that you can’t lie anymore. Lying obstructs our freedom; it feels bad — yes, even so-called white lies. Uncle Joe isn’t Santa. The tradition that once looked fun now looks abominable.
In time, every tradition looks wrong from the eyes of the True Self. Traditions are just beliefs on a schedule. Traditions serve the false self.
So you’re in a quandary. You don’t want to ruin what others think is fun; but to pretend Uncle Joe is Santa, you have to honor beliefs that now look ridiculous. Awkward!
Love, Heroes, and Care Takers
People who live with both feet planted in the illusion love heroes and often shine way too brightly in a crisis. For twelve years, I lived in a rural Virginia town and never saw an auto accident; my friend saw them all the time. She loved getting in there to help. I started to wonder if she was helping or causing the accidents.
Love is defined in the illusion as rescuing people from their problems, honoring that they’re victims with no responsibility, and care taking or serving without whining. Now do a 180 and head for freedom, and you realize that all suffering is the product of the beliefs we’ve borrowed. You can’t bear to watch someone suffer, victimhood looks like a jail cell, and you abhor problems. But what do you do with the problem lovers and victims in your life? Awkward!
Then there is the flip side where you mess up and create some crap in your life. You know you’re responsible, and you just want time alone to work it out and clear your mind. But friends and family all want to help you. They start to feel sorry for you, and you want to kill them. Very awkward!
The illusion is all about what you do and what is right and wrong according to the illusory rulebook you’ve chosen to follow. Now you board the freedom train, and you recognize that intention is what really matters. Your friend is whining about her bad child for the tenth time this week. But you can see the truth. Her story is contributing to her child’s behavior. Social conventions say a friend is a good listener. But you want your friend to have a great relationship with her child so you suggest that she drop her story. Your friend gets very mad and says you’re rude.
Now who is really the rude one? Is it more rude to bombard your friends with all your problems and victim stories; or is it more rude to say, “I think you’d be better off if you dropped that story?” Awkward!
Then there is the flip side where your friends are all talking about American heroes, war, their beloved political party, and pride in America. They’re funneling tons of fuel into the illusion, and you say nothing. They call you unpatriotic and say you don’t care about your country. But you understand that they’re contributing to more war and problems for the country. You don’t want to contribute to that. So you look bad again. Awkward!
You work very hard on your mind and more and more you realize that if you are thinking something that generates emotion, it isn’t true. So when your family or friends piss you off, you go to work on yourself. They start to think they’re perfect. They never cause a problem anymore.
But then you do something that causes them emotion, and they blame it on you. They still think that others cause their emotions, and they have no intention of letting what they see in you go. Even worse, most of the time you didn’t do what they thought you did. They just caught a glimpse of their own reflection. Now just try to explain that you didn’t do what they’re sure you did. Super awkward!
None of these situations are fun. In fact, they often make you feel like moving to a remote deserted island. You feel like the world is just too crazy to live in.
What causes these awkward moments is that in the illusion, we’re trained to see though the eyes of other people or other beings like the old-man-in-the-sky God. When we move toward freedom, we start to see the world through clear eyes. However, we still remember how others saw us before. We’re meeting the past moments that caused us to adopt someone else’s rulebook and abandon our True Self. Old fear arises that we’ll be judged, humiliated, or punished. But that can’t happen if we just remember to let go.
What looks like an awkward moment really is one more opportunity to gain freedom. As long as we remember to let go, it really is just a phase.