Shortly after discovering a friend had completed suicide, I stumbled through an illusion that I had been playing in for many years.
It was a horrific discovery that brought with it loads of guilt and shame, like unwelcome house guests in too tiny of quarters. I am an addict.
This was an addiction like nothing I had heard of before. I knew plenty about substance abuse, sexual addition, food addictions, even internet addictions. To the best of my knowledge, I’d never heard of this addiction before!
I was addicted to excuses.
I hid behind them and took them as fact in my mind. I lived my life around them. I was so adept at my addiction that I could create them and manipulate them so it looked like it was happening to me and not by me.
I know exactly when this started. I was four. I made a promise I could not keep because keeping it would put me at risk, at least in my mind, of being abandoned, unaccepted and unloved. For me, that wasn’t safe.
I relied on the people I sought the love and acceptance. As I dimmed my own light, hiding my most brilliant self, I recognized the confusion, discomfort and pain that went along with it. I didn’t want to feel like that. I wanted to be safe, loved and accepted, so I shifted. I put on masks. I started making excuses for not showing up fully.
I made a mental note of not wanting to risk safety and pain. That became a marker on a map in my mind. The mind is like an internal GPS that guides us based on the markers on the map. Thoughts and beliefs begin to form from the markers. It changes how we show up in the world.
As a yoga teacher, I have come to know of five core limitations that form the illusion in which we hide:
>>> limited ability or capacity
>>> limited knowledge
>>> limited time
>>> limited body or space
They feel like this:
>>> Every time you feel yourself expand momentarily before contracting and getting trapped in, “Yeah, but how?”
>>> Using an excuse for not being able to do what aligns with your true nature—from practicing unconditional love to a self-care to speaking your truth.
>>> All the ways you think you don’t know enough—“I need to get another certification or learn more before I start teaching or working in my field.”
>>> The sense of scarcity, of wanting/needing more to be happy, safe, accepted and loved.
>>> Using time as an excuse—so either not having enough time or putting stuff off till later. Living in the past or the future rather than the present.
>>> Bodily limitations—weight, pain, disease, judgement. Looking outside of yourself for safety, acceptance and love. Comparison-itis.
I have used every single one of those limitations with an infinite number of variations throughout my life. I always thought it was fear—of abandonment, failure, success. Then I thought it was a sense of unworthiness. Now I know it’s just the core limitations that create an illusion from which we have the choice to stay in contraction or expand out into our highest self.
Knowing this is your own creation and the divine qualities that exist within it, provides a precious opportunity. When you recognize your creation, you can see if you are willing to be okay with it or will you resist and judge it, furthering the limitation?
I think being with is in acceptance transcends forgiveness. It allows us to simply be with what we have chosen to think, do, believe, and look honestly at our perceptions and choose to love even the most hidden parts of ourselves. This space provides an opportunity to springboard beyond the illusion into a sense of profound peace.
We all have so many layers built into our illusion that they come up for clearing in waves. It would be overwhelming to heal everything at once. We will always have opportunities to transform our limitations back into light and love. It’s a matter of if we are ready to release from that layer of the illusion or not. It’s always a choice.
For me, recognizing the limitations I have created and exploring those shadows with light and love has afforded me a great deal of freedom from the burden of suffering. This perception also allows me to not take things quite as seriously because I recognize we all have illusions in some degree or another. My life has been enriched with more compassion and love than I could ever have imagined even five years ago. Perhaps this is Grace.
The next time that you catch yourself engaging in your own illusions, pause and ask yourself if what you are feeling is real. If you think it is, challenge it further. If it is not, then pivot. This is your power of expanding outward from your contracted illusion. You do have the power and you are worthy of transcending your illusion.You simply have to choose—stay in the limitations or expand out.
Author: Wendy Reese
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Mitya Ku/Flickr