The Evolving Relationship between Our Soul and Our Personality
Many of us are asleep at the wheel of life, with the ego self as the driver. We are distracted by the landscape around us; pretty objects catch our attention for a while and then fade. Our ego self says, "Let's stop a while and have a drink. That will be a pleasant diversion." Eventually the anesthetic wears off, and we move on to our next escapade. Perhaps we pick up the attractive passenger on the side of the road, who we hope will convince us of our worth. After the road trip with that romantic partner, the honeymoon wears off and we dump them at the next rest stop. "Let's see, there must be some other adventure we can undertake to bring some meaning to life. Ah yes, there's another good-looking person on the way to nowhere." And on it goes until we either crash, run out of gas, or get tired of the detours of life.
Our job is to wake up and put the soul back in the driver's seat.
Today, there is a wealth of books, seminars, television programs, and Internet sites that focus on how we create our own reality. We are told that by consciously focusing our desire, will, thought, and energy, we can change our life or attract something new into our experience. Some people find these tools inspirational and helpful.
However, I've noticed that many people who practice these methods, including my clients, do well for a while but eventually become stuck, feeling blocked from going further. Some even suffer reversals, lose what they had previously manifested, and may find their situation less satisfying than before. Other people manifest exactly what they set out to create, but wind up disappointed because the result doesn't bring them the happiness or fulfillment they expected. On the other hand, some folks seem to manifest only the bare essentials that they need, seldom gaining anything they desire beyond that. What is keeping most of us from creating the life we say we want?
The answer may lie in looking within, not without. Going beyond this focus on adding something external to our life, there is an emerging literature that emphasizes becoming aware of and expressing our soul nature. This book is about connecting to and expressing our true identity as the key to real joy!
Obstacles to Soul ExpressionWhat stands in the way of joyfully expressing that true identity? Let's look at four common sticking points.
Obstacle 1: The Ego's AgendaOne common problem for those trying to manifest an ideal life is letting the ego take the pilot's seat. Many of the people using current manifestation techniques are learning skills that address the wants and the needs of the personality or ego. This is a key point, because when we put the ego in control of creating our future, we have an impostor in charge.
Now, the ego may learn to manifest a Mercedes or a mansion. (I say may learn, because if learning to manifest were as simple and straightforward as mastering the kinds of skills we use to drive, there would be a lot more luxury cars on the road. Many factors can hinder our ability to manifest, including the obstacles we are discussing here.) However, we have observed that even if we get exactly what we want, this alone does not bring us happiness. Eventually we realize that despite having these things, we don't feel content or satisfied. There is always something else to desire, to have, to achieve, until we find ourselves firmly chained to the ego's treadmill of acquisition and achievement.
Our ego wants us on that treadmill; it needs us to believe that we are empty and incomplete, requiring something or someone to make us whole. Its agenda is to anesthetize us and distract us from realizing that we are already whole. The ego's strategy is to fill up our perceived lack with material objects and worldly accomplishments. According to the ego, this is its purpose, without which it would cease to exist.
But this strategy is self-defeating. Sooner or later, we realize that it is futile to use external solutions to solve an inner problem. We have been trying to manifest possessions, relationships, and power to fill a void in our life that just can't be filled by worldly success. What has been absent all along is that overwhelming sense of oneness and connection that only comes from remembering our true identity, our soul. No egocentric desire or need can ever satisfy our hunger to reconnect to our Divine nature and live as the soul we are.
This is my life's work and the purpose of this book: to help people realize that we are souls. When we are in touch with our soul, which is part of God (or whatever term you use for the Divine), we experience who we truly are. Our life becomes meaningful, joyous, and abundant when lived from this perspective, and those qualities are then reflected in our outer world.
To help us live a soul-guided life, I have developed a seven-step process called Soul Visioning. As you continue through this book, you will have the opportunity to experience this process. Its purpose is not to teach us how to fill up a perceived emptiness or distract ourselves from feeling unworthy, but to enable us to experience our wholeness. Instead of seeking to achieve our personality's version of an ideal life, our goal is to wake up from the dream of separateness from our soul and, finally, to express the Divine Love that we are!
Obstacle 2: Unconscious ProgrammingOne key to this process is an awareness of the power of unconscious programming to sabotage our best efforts to create the life we want-a point that seems to be missing from many manifesting techniques. Do any of the following sound familiar?
Life has to be a struggle.
No matter what I do, it is not good enough.
Happiness never lasts.
I don't deserve to succeed.
The universe is an unfriendly place.
I cannot be myself, or I'll be rejected.
I must always please in order to have love.
If you answered yes to any of the above, you have just put your finger on some of your own unconscious beliefs. How much of the mind is unconscious? Estimates vary, but it has been generally agreed upon by many psychologists, including early leaders such as Carl Jung, that the preponderance of the mind is outside of conscious awareness. I use an estimate of 95 percent to illustrate the magnitude of the unconscious relative to the conscious mind. Unnerving, isn't it, to think that our idea of who we are is limited by impulses and forces that lurk in the huge basement of our awareness? Just how successful can we be in manifesting our ideal future (as our conscious mind defines it), when the 95 percent of our mind that is completely unknown to us is also driving our thoughts and decisions? That is like letting a person we have never met, and know little about, make most of the choices about our spouse, career, the place we will live, and how we will raise our children.
Chances are that you have already heard about the power of your unconscious mind. Perhaps you have already tried, or are interested in trying, various approaches to accessing and reprogramming your unconscious mind. Either way, keep reading. This book describes several highly effective new tools that you can employ quickly and easily to release some of your own unconscious programming.
Obstacle 3: Failure to ForgiveA third obstacle to manifesting the life we desire is our failure to forgive others and ourselves. The ego tells us that we are all separate, disconnected beings. It emphasizes duality. It dwells in ideas like "I," "me," "mine," "you," and "competition." It focuses on "getting what's mine" and on being a "winner," not a "loser." This keeps us stuck in a victim mentality, feeling resentment, anger, jealousy, and blame, emotions that drain our creative energy. When we are in this state of mind, we are out of harmony with Divine flow.
The soul is love. It enfolds, embraces, and includes, viewing all with compassion and understanding. The soul's vocabulary is filled with words like "we," "us," "community," "brotherhood," "cooperation," and "altruism."
Like attracts like, and when we are in a blaming frame of mind, we create experiences of separation from others. We must become a forgiving presence if we wish to experience oneness.
Obstacle 4: Ignoring Our Inner Guidance This obstacle to manifesting is quite different from the other three. Although we may be aware of communication from our soul, we may lack the willingness to act on that inner guidance. This is often the case because we don't fully accept or trust our soul. So it is not surprising that some of us simply dismiss or rationalize away our intuitions.
Intuitive messages can be subtle and fleeting, perhaps lasting only an instant. To test their value, we need to practice paying attention and responding "as if" they were true. With time and experience, we will learn the trustworthiness and value of our soul guidance.
We will discuss these ego blocks further in later chapters. The good news, again, is that this book presents revolutionary new tools to more rapidly remove traumas and unconscious core beliefs, helping you overcome these obstacles to a true connection with your soul.
But what do we really mean when we talk about the ego or personality? To overcome the ego's obstacles to manifesting, must we eliminate the ego itself? What are we supposed to do with this "me" that we have known and identified with for so long? Does connecting with our soul imply that we have to go through life without a personality? Not at all!
If our soul wants to express itself in this physical reality, it must do so through a personality vehicle. But our personality first needs to become integrated, meaning that to be effective in life and in manifesting, we must balance our physical, emotional, and mental selves.
Our integrated personality then needs to become responsive to our soul. Through a series of stages, the soul's awareness becomes infused into the personality. When this happens, rapid progress can occur, because for the first time, we are truly responsive to our soul and more effective at expressing its fullness in our life.
In just a moment we'll explore these stages, but first let's take a closer look at the personality and its relationship to the soul. Understanding this is fundamental to the Soul Visioning process.
Manifesting and the Role of the PersonalityWhen we attempt to manifest our desires, we may encounter some of these obstacles because we are experiencing the world from the viewpoint of our personality. These obstacles primarily arise from our ego's inability to recognize the soul as our true identity, and to relinquish control to it.
Many of us identify totally with our "personality self" and seldom question or think about it, let alone name it as "ego" or mere "personality." What we think of as our identity-based on gender, family background, culture, race, religion, belief systems, memories, jobs, personal desires, habitual thoughts, and so on-may seem to completely define us. Those of us who are religious may believe that we have a soul or spirit, but that is very different from experiencing our life with the full awareness that we are a soul.
Having a personality is necessary for us to function in this world. In fact, most diagnostic measures of mental health are based upon how effectively our personality functions within our environment. But identifying exclusively with the personality leads to a very limited view of our true potential. If we expect that the only things possible for us are what our personality self has learned, done, or can imagine, that is all we are likely to experience.
Our personal history and learned beliefs can limit our ability to see and experience truth, causing us to judge anything that appears to be different from our everyday experience as undesirable, unachievable, or of no worth. For instance, if we are not open to listening when we receive an inner message, we may ignore that message by labeling it as "just our imagination." The following account from an acquaintance illustrates the crucial value of remaining open to experiences outside the limited worldview of our personality:
I was helping a neighbor to dig holes and plant trees. I had planted eight trees without any problems when I noticed a few wasps buzzing around. I didn't think much about this, even though I am severely allergic to bees and wasps. All of a sudden, a voice inside my head clearly said, "Calmly walk away." Without stopping to question this, I laid down my tools and unhurriedly walked up the driveway about twenty-five yards. As I did, I was thinking, what am I doing? Then I turned and looked where I had been working seconds before, only to see a wall of wasps, about eight feet wide and eight feet high, right above where I was digging. I found out later that there was a huge ground nest of wasps just where I was about to dig. I cannot begin to explain the emotions I was feeling. Forever will I listen to the inner voice of my soul!
Personality Integration Is KeyOur body, our emotions, and our mind are all vital to our experience here on earth. In the physical realm, it would be hard to interact if we didn't have a physical body. Our emotional body is essential to our capacity to sense and respond to feelings. Without a mental body, we're incapable of thought and reasoning. If our soul wants to express itself here, it needs to do so through these three aspects of our being, preferably as a balanced personality.
Why does the soul have trouble expressing through our personality? An unintegrated personality is usually the problem. Imagine a carriage, a driver, and a horse. The carriage represents the physical body. The driver, who decides which way to go (I'll go this way or I'll go that way), signifies our mind. The driver is supposed to be in control of the horse-our emotional body, which gives us the energy to pull the carriage in a particular direction.
The problem is, they are all separated from each other. The carriage (physical body) is sitting there empty, not moving, because it's not connected to anything. The horse (emotional body) is out grazing somewhere, just running on impulse, doing whatever catches its fancy. The driver (mental body) may have great travel plans, but he or she is off at a bar reminiscing about the past while hefting a few glasses. They're not connected, and they're not integrated.
When we go through personality integration, we link the horse and the driver to the carriage. Now the horse can actually pull the carriage, and the driver can use the reins to direct the horse. What's important is that the emotional, the mental, and the physical are connected and integrated, and they can move together as a unit.
But we've left out a major part of our analogy. What is the purpose of having a carriage? Why not just have a horse and rider? We only need a carriage if there is a passenger! The passenger is the soul. The soul is the one who hires the carriage for the purpose of taking a journey. Many of us ignore the passenger and let the driver go wherever he wants to go, but the soul is quietly whispering directions to the driver. Have you ever heard an inner voice or had a strong inner feeling? That's your soul trying to talk to the mental body, trying to tell you where to go and what path to take.
Until we integrate the mental body, the emotional body, and the physical body so they can work together in harmony without being at cross-purposes, how can our soul direct the personality? How can the soul work effectively with us if our personality is consumed with mental and emotional conflict?
What keeps our personality from being integrated and responsive to our soul? One factor is early conditioning. Our culture perpetuates certain myths, which are drummed into us by our parents, through school, and through media such as TV or the Internet. The social and familial programming may shape us in ways that are not in harmony with our soul's vision. We may also have unconscious memories from past lives that we carry into this life. Until we change any limiting or unbalanced patterns in our personality, there will be disharmony between our mental and emotional bodies.
Often our body, mind, and emotions are very closely connected, but in dysfunctional ways. For instance, the body reacts rapidly to strong emotions. At a particularly terrifying or stressful moment, our heart begins to race, our hands perspire, and our breathing pauses. Powerful emotions can block our ability to think clearly. In fact, compelling emotions based on limiting unconscious beliefs cause most of the poor choices we make. When emotionally stressed, we may pour milk into the sugar bowl, drive through a red light, or choose the worst possible moment to tell our boss what we really think. Discordant emotions can easily disturb our physical and mental poise.
I am not suggesting that we can heal every one of our dysfunctional patterns. Even if we could, we should not expect ourselves to remain physically and emotionally calm and mentally balanced at all times. Life is filled with challenges at every level of personality development. Situations such as physical illness, emotional traumas, and conflicted relationships further complicate matters.
However, the more harmony between our physical, emotional, and mental urges-the more integrated we are-the greater our ability to be truly effective human beings in our interactions with others and in manifesting our desires. Reducing our internal conflicts frees up tremendous energy, energy that we would otherwise scatter and waste. To manifest on the physical plane, our energy must be focused, not fragmented. Thus an integrated personality increases our relative power to manifest, compared to people who are less integrated. Our personality must have a reasonable degree of integration and balance to be an effective vehicle for soul expression.
Intuition: The Will of the SoulWe need to listen to our inner guidance: our intuition is our soul's Will. Inspiration is the feeling of the soul, and imagination is the way the soul thinks.
How do we recognize the Will of the soul versus the voice of the personality? If we feel genuine joy, that's a clue that our soul is talking to us. Intuition also gives us that "Aha!" feeling of suddenly seeing the solution to a difficult problem.
For example: years ago, I was having a conversation with an intuitive friend, during which I said that someone had approached me about collaborating on projects. My friend made a statement that sent waves of chills from my head to my toes: "If you choose to work with this person, you will help many people." I knew that what that friend said was true. That truth inspired me to make a major life decision that was emotionally difficult. But my soul had communicated with such authority and authenticity that I never wavered in doing what I needed to do. That inner certainty saved me a tremendous amount of agonizing that I would have gone through if I hadn't had a clear sense of following my soul's intuition.
Stages in the Relationship Between Our Soul and Our PersonalityWhat happens if we receive intuitive soul guidance but our personality is not integrated? If our unconscious conditioning drives us emotionally, it undermines our ability to follow the will of the soul. Our unconscious habit patterns are powerful barriers to following our soul's vision. The problem is that for most human beings, personality desires compete successfully with the soul for our attention.
How can the soul and the personality become collaborators, rather than competitors? It takes time, but through the following five stages, the personality can be increasingly guided by the soul.
Stage 1: The Fragmented and Unconscious PersonalityIn stage 1, we are not an integrated personality. There is no consistent harmony between our physical responses, our emotional desires, and our mental ideas. We are highly reactive and at the mercy of our mental conditioning and beliefs, as well as outside influences such as other people, events, and even the weather.
We wear a mask designed to display what we want others to see in us. Their expectations, our environment, and our fears dictate our actions. We ricochet around like a billiard ball, responding unconsciously to the pressures of our world. Our emotions shift from sad to happy to annoyed to bored, depending upon which outside influences are prevalent at the moment. In our mind, we blame other people for how we feel. As a result, our happiness seems to be in their hands. We see ourselves not as the cause of our experiences, but as their effect-and often, their victim-because we are unconscious and unaware of our soul.
Stage 2: The Integrated PersonalityBy this time we have harmonized our physical, emotional, and mental natures to a degree, and we function as an integrated personality. Our sense of identity has shifted from viewing ourselves as a powerless pawn to recognizing our power to direct and change the course of our life. We tell ourselves, "I'm in charge. I'm not part of the herd anymore. I'm making the decisions here."
How can we tell when this vital process of integration has taken place? For one thing, as an integrated personality, we are very effective at acting on and manifesting our ideas in the world. We are able to design a "better mousetrap," or automobile or vaccine or organization. Secure in our abilities, we are self-reliant and confident, knowing that we can make things happen. This characteristic independence is what makes us stand out from the crowd.
The more we achieve, the more highly we regard ourselves, and the outside world generally agrees. We are rewarded with recognition, increased status, financial success, and power. We identify ourselves with these outside accolades, telling ourselves, "I'm a very important person." In fact, most of society's powerful, successful, and well-known people are integrated personalities. Someone who becomes a leader in any arena of life is usually an integrated personality. To achieve at high levels takes the ability to direct and focus the mind, body, and emotions toward a goal, regardless of distractions in the outer world. (However, someone with an integrated personality is not necessarily soul guided, as we will see in stage 5.)
At this stage, we may start asking ourselves, "Who is the ‘I' that's making my decisions?" Well, in this case, the "I" that is our personality, not our soul, is still in charge. Our personality's desires and goals are running our life, and about 95 percent of that is unconsciously motivated-hardly a recipe for success of any kind.
The personality always has a subtle selfishness. Our relationships, job, home, social and service activities, and hobbies all become the arenas in which our personality achieves and experiences what it desires. These desires are valid, but may be limiting. We need to realize that these desires are coming from the personality, not the soul.
Indeed, we may face an obstacle to our further development if the fame, recognition, power, and financial success of our integrated personality prove so seductive that they become our only goals. In that case, our personality then continues to be our entire sense of identity. The integrated personality is supposed to be a channel for soul expression, not the final stage of growth.
Stage 3: The Personality versus the SoulHere, the soul starts to infuse the integrated personality with higher energy and purpose. The integrated personality becomes aware of the soul's existence and begins to respond to its influence. The more our personality listens to and follows intuition, notices synchronicity in our life, and invokes the soul through meditation or other spiritual practices, the more our interests, abilities, and goals begin to shift. For example, the qualities of our integrated personality typically form the basis for the skills we use in our occupation. However, our soul's agenda evokes different qualities within us, and we find ourselves attracted to new purposes. Our soul invites us to change our priorities and to be guided by its vision of service. When we respond to this invitation, the type of work that we do, or the way we do it, may change.
Resistance to Change
When the integrated personality realizes that the soul wants to use the personality for soul expression, a conflict begins. We-being identified with our personality-are being asked to relinquish the well-defined identity we have worked so hard to create, to exchange it for something that is invisible, intangible, and uncertain. At first our integrated personality, seduced by its own power and what it can do in the world, often fails to respond.
A battle usually ensues as the ego tries to defend and hang on to its own ideas and desires. Attached to a narrow viewpoint and its own beliefs and values, the personality strongly resists the soul's wise vision and abstract values. Our soul is urging us to expand into an ever-higher state of awareness. But this is not easy. The struggle in stage 3 can create tremendous inner turmoil.
Indeed, it took a lot of time and energy for us to build a successful and powerful personality. Now the soul is hinting that we are not who we think we are at all. We are actually something abstract and spiritual that our personality can't understand. For all these reasons, stage 3 can be intensely disturbing and confusing to our personality. The ego may cling desperately to its familiar identity, much like an abused spouse who stays in a painful, destructive situation, preferring the known to the unknown.
If we effectively resist the call of our soul, we may swing toward ever-more-selfish activities, ambitions, and desires. We can display an intense self-absorption and constant need for attention and recognition. "Look at me." "Look at how powerful I am and what I can do."
Although there is no single way in which the personality moves past its resistance and becomes ready for stage 4, certain scenarios seem to propel people into seeking a deeper meaning for their life. In some cases, people have achieved great worldly success but suffer from a chronic "crisis of meaning." They begin to question why they aren't happy, and they feel empty despite their many achievements.
Another catalyst for change in some people is an acute life crisis, such as divorce, illness, financial losses, or the death of a loved one. These spiritual wake-up calls shake us out of our comfortable complacency, and can motivate us to search for deeper meaning.
In other cases, natural life transitions allow us the time and space to focus on deeper questions of purpose. When the major milestones have been reached, such as establishing a career, a family, a home, and relative financial security, we have the time to shift our focus to less mundane concerns. We may ask ourselves some of the same questions we have pondered earlier in our life-Who am I? What am I doing here? Where am I going?-but now these questions pertain not to worldly matters, but to our spiritual purpose.
Each of the above scenarios has the potential to loosen our identification with our personality and open us more fully to the soul.
Look for these profound shifts in consciousness during stage 3 as we move to the soul's perspective.
Perspectives and Priorities: Contrasting the Personality and the Souling partnership between the soul and the integrated personality begins. We have started to awaken. We desire to be a spiritual person, or more accurately, our integrated personality wants to behave like a spiritual person.
Stage 4: The Spiritualized Self-Image (Soul Impostor) When we start to follow the soul's impulses by paying attention and responding to its communication, we enter stage 4. A conscious work
The integrated personality says, "I need to do something to make the world a better place, because this is what a spiritual person does." This is an important stage of development, even if it is a wish rather than a reality. Acting as if we already are a soul-infused personality (stage 5) may help us to become what we are now only pretending to be.
However, this natural and essential stage in our evolution can be very tricky. Because we are basing our behavior on our personality's perception of spirituality, we can fall into the trap of self-delusion-a spiritualized image of our self that I call the "soul impostor."
Concepts of Service: Contrasting the Personality and the Soul
How does this play out? Lurking in the unconscious is a personality-based expectation of reward or recognition for our efforts. We want something back for what we give. This is not a bad thing-we are trying to express a spiritual impulse, such as service to others-yet we are motivated by a self-focused point of view. We look around for circumstances that give us an opportunity to be of service, but primarily where our efforts will be noticed. And so our personality seeks very concrete results that it can point to for credit. We measure our effectiveness by how well we can manipulate the outer environment to create what we believe to be good. We feel an urgency to achieve quick results. We may "keep score" of the hours of service given or the amount of money we contribute, all the while regarding ourselves as spiritually superior to those we serve.
The soul impostor is an evolutionary stage. We're trying to embrace Spirit, but our efforts are being driven by our spiritually idealized self-image, rather than a soul-inspired vision of service.
Stage 5: The Soul-Infused PersonalityEventually, we awaken as the soul-infused personality. What springs from us is a deeply authentic desire to serve, to help, to heal. A spontaneous outpouring of joy, compassion, and benevolence defines who we are. The need for approval disappears. Giving and loving occur without attachment, expectation, or the need to see results or receive recognition of any kind.
Our soul "measures success" by how fully it infuses and expresses its being through the personality-by how constantly, deeply, and purely the soul emanates through us.
We give in response to the needs of the whole, rather than in response to some at the expense of the whole. As a soul-infused personality, we perceive ourself as one with all others. There is no experience of division, separation, or duality. Comprehensive, inclusive, all-embracing, unconditional love is the essence of our soul. The soul is the light that reveals our Spirit and shows us the divinity in everyone.
At stage 5 we become a soul-infused personality, expressing universal love and compassion in service to the Divine.
Manifesting and the Journey to Becoming Soul Infused
Those who have tried other manifesting and prosperity techniques may notice that some of them address personality integration, too. But they generally don't go far enough. They may help us to get from stage 1 to stage 2-from being a fragmented, unconscious personality to being an integrated personality who can function decisively and effectively in the world. This is a necessary step. However, if we stay stuck at stage 2, we won't connect with our Soul Vision (you will have an opportunity to begin to discover your Soul Vision later in this book). The integrated personality has a set of goals and desires it wants to achieve, based on its limited understanding of life. The soul has a much broader perspective and different desires.
From the point of view of a spiritualized personality (stage 4), or, most authentically, from the perspective of a soul-infused personality (stage 5), the measure of a successful life has to do with spiritual service and learning, not with material acquisitions or accomplishments. Material resources and power are simply a means to fulfill soul purposes. Spiritual growth-our own and others'-are what the soul cares about.
Certainly, our personality desires will not suddenly disappear when we become a soul-infused personality. We will still have preferences-we might prefer a red car to a blue car-but we will not be attached to them. And those preferences will be consistent with our Soul Vision.
Cultivating the ability to manifest, then, is a legitimate and useful step in our growth. But as we continue to shift our identity from the integrated personality to the soul, we will start to feel the irresistible embrace of love and understanding. From that place of deep peace, we will begin to remember our True Self as an eternal spiritual being at one with the Divine, which is a transcendent experience. Our greatest desire and purpose for living will be to express from this awareness.