“Feeling bad” is one of egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate’s most fiendish scams, for a couple of reasons. One is that it’s the same language we use to describe being pretty-sick-but-not-dangerously-so. I have a “bad” cold or a “bad” stomach flu and you ask me how I’m feeling. I might respond with, “Not good. In fact, I feel bad, terrible, awful.”
It’s all “bad,” right? Colds are bad, the flu is bad, headaches are bad. But all bad is not physical, is it? I just lost my job, my person just dumped me, I didn’t get the promotion I was hoping for, my landlord raised my rent, my car is on the fritz. These are all bad things. Yes?
How do we know they’re bad? Well, they’re not “good.” They’re not situations that are likely to elicit a “good job” or “congratulations.” (An aside at this juncture: We may, and often do, look back on those tragedies and realize they were perfect for us—if I were still involved with that toad I wouldn’t be with this wonderful human, I found a better job, I bit the bullet and bought a new car which I love, etc.—but we do not want to hear any of that from someone else. Fair enough.)
Bottom line is that in ego’s dualistic world we’re heavily conditioned to divide up the world and Life into good/bad, right/wrong, should/shouldn’t, and we’re meant from early childhood to know the difference and behave accordingly.
And what happens when we don’t behave accordingly? We’re punished. We’re punished so that we learn that what we did was wrong. The punishment might be corporal or emotional, but either way we learn that love will be withdrawn if we do something we shouldn’t do. We might get smacked, hit, even beaten, but that’s not nearly as devastating as the withdrawal of love. If I am unacceptable (bad/wrong), and love is withdrawn, I will not survive.
What must I learn to do to survive? I need to learn to “do to” myself before anyone else can do it to me. I will reject myself before you can.
Now, we could go on for volumes about all the various ways this can manifest, but those basics will be plenty for the purpose of waking up and ending suffering!
What must we do to sidestep that whole universe of suffering? We must take the simple and challenging, nay, exciting path of accepting our self.
Yes, there is all that brainwashing leading to deep belief that if I accept my self as I am I will become evil, lie on the couch and watch television day and night, eat nothing but sugar and drink nothing but alcohol. Yep. Gonna end up on the street with my paltry possessions in a shopping cart parked next to me. Actually, that tends to happen to people who are non-accepting at a level that we have not yet reached. (Note the “not yet.” Continuing to live in self-hate is a pretty solid guarantee that we will get there eventually.)
Self-hate? How did we get to self-hate? Weren’t we discussing feeling bad, that mild, course-correcting aid to ending bad behavior? We were. Turns out they’re the same thing.
What happens when I “do” (which includes think, feel, say) something I have deep conditioning not to do/think/feel/say? I act out that old programming to judge and reject my self, withdraw love and kindness from my self, and punish my self through hateful language and behaviors, just like I learned was the right thing to do when I was 3 or 4 or 5 and then continued to develop and refine through the years.
Is the answer to just do/think/feel/say whatever and feel good about it? No, but that is the first question ego would pose! The “answer” is to be present. Which, as we know, is the whole point of Awareness Practice. When we are HERE, ego isn’t. Will everything in the world still happen? Absolutely. Jobs are lost, people leave, cars break down, and everything else that can occur in a human existence on this earthly plane. But when we’re HERE, when we’re PRESENT, ego is not able to step in, take us over, and control us. When we’re HERE we don’t behave out of unconsciousness. We can let Life do the speaking and acting.
But what happens if I’m not HERE? What happens if I go unconscious and act out? Well, I get to see clearly what happens when I go unconscious and let ego take over. In Awareness Practice we call that a “moment of inspiration.” I really don’t want to go unconscious! But I did, didn’t I? So, what now? Now I get to respond to the human being from the Unconditional. Ego won the first round, but we don’t need to let ego win the next round.
How? Do not feel bad, no matter what. No matter what. If you want to acknowledge to someone that you behaved from unconsciousness, that’s okay, though never recommended. Apologize. Don’t apologize. Just don’t go to feeling bad.
What’s the alternative? Stop. Stay still and wait patiently for the Intelligence That Animates to inform you about what happened to you, how ego grabbed you, exactly how the scam worked. Awareness Practice is a lifelong retreat. It’s a verb. We’re practicing. We’re waking up. We’re ending suffering. And most important of all, we’re leaving ego’s dualistic imaginary world of opposites and we’re living in Life, in thisherenow.