LOOK UP: STEP TEN
The journey to healing begins with the understanding that
there is something more powerful than us. This is the
beginning of the road back home to where truth and trust live
together, hand in hand.
When we were born, we had faith and trust. We believed we would be looked after. This was our birthright. However, through consistent neglect, abuse or harsh parenting, the feeling of trust in a loving power was diminished. Thus we came to believe that any power greater than us was punishing or fake. With an open mind, let’s re-start our journey towards finding a power greater than us.
Why do we need a power greater than us?
The short answer is: because we have tried to live without one and, so far, it hasn’t worked.
Those of us who struggled to reconcile our childhood hurts on our own came up against buffers. The term ‘insanity’ is often described as trying the same things over and over again and expecting different results. In our case, we tried to fix our families, either directly by challenging the old ways, or through our current relationships. We thought we were the ultimate power, and that we had ultimate knowledge over our families by trying to control them. It turns out we have the same issues we challenged our families about.
We tried to ‘fix’ ourselves without the need for any power greater than ourselves. But, there are a great many things we cannot fix on our own. We cannot ‘fix’ the anger, confusion and self-pity we feel every time we interact with our original family. We cannot ‘fix’ other people so they are always there for us no matter how hard we try to please them. We cannot ‘fix’ our parents and make them see how wrong they were. We cannot ‘fix’ our desire to harm ourselves through the excess use of alcohol, drugs, sex, etc. We cannot ‘fix’ our children who may have played out the same childhood roles in their lives.
What we can do is come to believe there maybe another way. We don’t come to believe overnight; it takes commitment and faith, perhaps blind faith, to truly believe there is something greater than us. We can come to recognize there is a greater force at work and we no longer need to do everything on our own. Our own will hasn’t helped to heal us, but relying on a power greater than us is the beginning of change. Finally, we don’t have to do everything ourselves.
Our journey to recovery is a spiritual journey, but it’s not religious. It’s about finding the church inside us. Everyone needs a spiritual guide and no one - NO ONE -can do it alone. We need to learn to surrender and let go so we can come to believe a higher power is there to help us. We may say, 'Well if there is a Higher Power, he/she/it certainly hasn’t been around for me!' We might think our Higher Power abandoned us, but he/she/it didn’t. It was us who abandoned us; our Higher Power was always there for us. As hard as it might be to believe, this is the reality.
What is a Higher Power? A Higher Power is any power which is greater than us. There are many perspectives on this idea and here are a few:
All religions embrace the idea of a Higher Power. Many of us can easily lean on traditional faith that has been part of our childhood culture. Others of us, however, struggle with this idea because our Higher Power has been sold to us as something to be feared. Those of the Catholic faith have a particular tendency to view a Higher Power as a stern, paternal force who is to obeyed – or else! If we can’t embrace the idea of a religious God, there are many other ways to understand the idea.
There is the idea of a Universal Law or, as it is known amongst physicists, the law of nature. This refers to a set of laws within the universe that have been in place since time began and will stay in the same place until the end of time. The universe is governed by these laws, which are 100 percent dependable, mathematical, immutable and universal. Physicists have spent hundreds of years trying to discover why these laws are absolute, and the same answer is usually, ‘Because that’s the way it is.’ It is the way of the world, a life-leveler, which has its own set of laws.
There is the power of honesty when we open up to another. Sharing deep thoughts or feelings with someone we trust is a powerful experience. During an intimate exchange we take a risk and share ourselves with someone who gives us a feeling of belonging, like a coming out of the darkness.
There is a power in intimacy, and it can only be generated between two or more people. It’s the power of a group, and it’s a case of one and one making ten. This creative field is immensely powerful.
There is faith in fate. This is the idea, ‘What will be, will be’. This is a pragmatic approach to belief in a higher power because we can’t control the future no matter how skilled we are at making future plans. Fate in this sense is a power greater than ourselves and can be relied on as a safety net to help us let go and trust more.
There is also the power that comes from being in this moment. By bringing our awareness into the present, we meet a steadiness and stillness, which is ever-present and will be here always. This still, steady peace is steadfast, just as the sun always rises and sets. If we cannot allow ourselves to believe in a power greater than ourselves, we can tune into the power of the present moment where there are no problems.
The evidence for a Higher Power is there. We can look back to a time when we thought we were never going to get through a particular situation. Perhaps someone close to us died or we lost everything we owned and we thought we would never recover from these losses. Perhaps we hurtled out of our childhoods with nothing but despair and hopelessness. But we did make it through, and we came out on the other side all the stronger. Why? Because we faced a fear we never thought we would survive. But we did. No matter what happens we come through our worst fears intact, and often there is no evidence that we won’t, except what is conjured up by our own imagination. This is why we can afford to trust to fate, the ‘powers that be’, the Universal Law.
Real change doesn’t happen until we acknowledge that we can’t recover from our original childhood on our own and that we need to rely on something bigger and wiser than us. It is pure arrogance on our part to believe we are the most powerful thing in life and that there’s nothing more powerful. This step comes as a relief as we recognize we can step down and let something else take up the slack.
This thing, which is bigger and more powerful than us, is real. Call it what you will – a higher self, the Kingdom of Heaven, fate, the future, instinct, God, a collective conscience of a group of people or even a total human collective awareness. Whatever the title, this Higher Power is ready and waiting for each of us.
Through the restoration of a belief in a power greater than ourselves, we can heal our old pain. This pain has developed because we assumed we could heal ourselves. It’s grandiosity or a disorder of our ego. As we ignore the presence of a power greater than ourselves, our ego becomes grandiose. This grandiosity covers our shame of who we are and where we’ve come from. We hide our shame with perfectionism, control, blame, criticism and contempt. This is the road to spiritual bankruptcy, and why we must now reconnect to the essential bond of our dependence on a Higher Power.
There’s a quote by a Buddhist nun called Pema Chodron: “In the process of discovering our true nature, the journey goes down, not up, as if the mountain pointed toward the earth instead of the sky. We move down and down and down, and with us move millions of others, our companions in awakening …right there we discover a love that will not die."
Answer these questions about your idea of a higher power:
What is your idea of a Higher Power? Examples: kind, punishing, loving, harsh, judging, critical…
How does your idea of a Higher Power remind you of your parents?
What were you told about God as a child?
Does your Higher Power love you?
How does your Higher Power hear your prayers?
How much faith can you put in your Higher Power to help you recover?
Is your Higher Power hard to reach?
What would it take for you to recognize a Higher Power at work in your life?
Can you be open to recovering with the help of a Higher Power?