“Just as the tumultuous chaos of a thunderstorm brings a nurturing rain that allows life to flourish, so too in human affairs times of advancement are preceded by times of disorder. Success comes to those who can weather the storm.” – I Ching No. 3
Probably the greatest obstacle to a life worth living is the fear of death – not death itself – but the fear of death. Think about the last time you chose to, or were asked to, embrace true and real change – at work, at home, at play or in relationship. What was that like for you?
There are times when we have the opportunity to meet someone who truly has no fear of dying. Exploring this individual’s perspective, it’s often the case they came face-to-face with their own immortality through a deep and intense “life-changing” experience, e.g., illness, divorce, job loss, financial ruin, loss of a loved one, and the like. In the process they most likely hit a spiritual “rock bottom.” In this place, one usually let’s go of their “human” identity – who they took themself to be. They let go of their “ego identity,” their self-images, their “human-ness” to a degree.
In this heightened conscious state, dying is not seen as a typical “temporal” end with all its characteristic fears: “Gosh, I’d hate to give up all my money.” “Gee, my wife will still be here, and I won’t be able to be with her after I divorce/leave/die.” “My job/position/title was all I had and without it I’m nothing.” “I’ll miss so much that I had here.” “I’ll wither away if I can’t run/work/paint/cook…any more.” “I can’t go on without it/her/him.”
These fears are based on our ego’s attachment to life as we know it – attachments which define “me” according to my ego mind. Here, the thought of loss sends fear throughout our being. And, from an ego perspective, justifiably so.
When our human side, our ego self, is confronted with this type of “death,” our knee-jerk reaction is to become defensive – we try to protect ourself from change, we deny the change or the thought of change; simply, our ego doesn’t want to die. It’s like when we were a child and when there was upset in our home, we covered our ears with our hands and yelled in order to silence the noise. Ego death is certainly “noisy.”
Change can be upsetting.
Consider the many instances of change in your life. Perhaps you’re experiencing an illness, or the result of an accident, the threat or reality of a job loss, an impending divorce or separation, the loss of a loved one, a financial demise, a geographical relocation, etc. What’s underneath all these events is some type of experience of “not knowing,” a “not knowing” that requires a letting go. Our emotional connection to letting go arises as fear and if explored deeply, the fear is not unlike a fear of death, i.e, “I don’t know what will happen”; I don’t know who I’ll become”; “I don’t know.” And, not knowing, or fear of the unknown, often evokes fear and anxiety. The “future” is where death happens.
The past as antidote
When change happens, the only safe haven for many is the past – an experience we do know; an experience which we survived. So, the greater the change, the greater the fear, and the more driven we are to seek refuge, safety and security in our past.
Hanging on to our past, we re-orient to our conditioning, our programming, and our habits and patterns of thinking, be-ing and do-ing. The greater our fear of death and dying, the more we dig in our heels and hang on to “the familiar – “the old me.” It’s safe.
Our orientation to (or fixation on, obsession with) our past is the major obstacle that snuffs out the life, the vitality and potentiality of our being. We are actually denying life because we fear death. Right here and right now, we are potential, we are possibility, we are becoming. However, when we fear change and pull our self back into our past, we negate our present and our future – we choose death over life. In nature (the seasons, for example), a lack of life is – death. However, death is a requirement for new life to emerge.
Perspective. When we change our perspective, we can choose to become laser-like focused in the here and now, with an orientation towards our future. We can choose to trust that what is coming is greater, richer and more fulfilling than what was. We can choose to trust in the limitless possibilities for well-be-ing, happiness and self-fulfillment. The fact is, there is a part of every living soul that does not die. When we contact this part of our self, we can access our Essential qualities and experience our True Self – a Self that is courageous, powerful, strong, steadfast, and capable. When we allow our True Self to emerge, we engage life with a dynamism, a vitality and a love that melts and erases our fear. Love and fear are diametrically opposed to one another. They cannot exist together.
If we choose, we can accept change in its various shapes and forms. We can choose to become courageous, stalwart and positively view all life as opportunity. But to do so, we need to be in touch with life, not fear. In this place, nothing can stop us or harm us. In this place, endings are beginnings, upset is a blessing, and death is (re) birth.
Our ego says the world is a dangerous place, that life is threatening and hurtful. This is a life perspective based on fear – fear of death. Another perspective is that of welcoming the unknown, welcoming death. From this perspective, life presents a huge opportunity – life is supportive and the world is a safe place. This is the place where true aliveness, change and transformation happens.
“The call of death is a call of love. Death can be sweet if we answer it in the affirmative, if we accept it as one of the great eternal forms of life and transformation.” – Hermann Hesse
Some questions for self-reflection:
- What significant life transitions have you experienced? What was the “death” involved? How were you transformed as a result? What did you see about yourself before, during and after the experience(s)?
- As you contemplate your future, can you envision positive outcomes for specific hopes and desires?
- What current life changes are you experiencing? Are you fearful? How so? Are you in denial or hanging on to old patterns and habits of resistance? If so, why? What does resistance get you?
- What changes in your life are you most proud of? Why?
- Do you spend much time longing for the “good old days?”
- What was change like for you/your family when you were growing up?
(c) 2018, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful. Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.
What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”
I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.
I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com
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