The terror-list

“Help Wanted: Fantastic Higher Self-Employment Opportunity! Needed: Sincere human beings to give their gifts and be the light of the world. Doesn’t matter how flawed you imagine yourself to be. Perfection not required, just willingness.

by Scott Kalechstein — 

In a cave between my ears there hides a terrorist who has been waging a holy war for a very long time. He believes that using force and fear tactics are justified and that holding my inner child hostage is the only way to create real change and growth. He presents a running list of demands — all the things I must accomplish before I can feel good enough about myself to love myself unconditionally.

The list is never-ending, and somewhat magical. Whenever I meet a demand, three new ones automatically pop up on the bottom of the list. Recently I recognized that the items on the terror-list were not really my problems. My real problem was the list itself, the tyrannical consciousness of conditional love.

Sometimes my attitude toward this list has been to acquiesce to its tyranny. I’ll push myself with fear and guilt to accomplish as much as I can, and usually have little or no fun in the process. Other times I will seek to overthrow the terrorist with a labor strike. “No I won’t; and you can’t make me!” my rebel shouts in defiance, while making sure I am engaged in his favorite form of peaceful, passive, political protest — being a couch potato. When the rebel strikes, nothing gets done and two more items get added to the list of the terrorist’s demands: overcome procrastination and laziness.

The terrorist feels threatened when I celebrate or am content. He thinks if I take it easy I will not be interested in getting done everything I should do. And, by the way, “should” appears on the list of demands more than any other word.

Time and experience have proven to me that my inner terrorist cannot be tamed through resistance, which only seems to make him stronger. Waging a war on inner terrorism is just as endless and pointless as the outer war on terror is proving to be.

What can bring peace is the practice of observing him, listening compassionately, making contact with the deeper feelings (fear) underneath the surface show of aggression, and seeing clearly, from a detached witness place, the game he is playing.

This is the way the game goes: First we imagine that there is such a thing as human perfection, and that we are falling quite short of it. Then we summon our childhood friends from the old neighborhood, guilt and shame, to march in a holy war to rid ourselves of our faults and weaknesses. Using scare tactics, they drive us to put the pedal to the metal and get our ass in gear. Does it work? No, because rebel forces are determined not to be driven around by a terrorist, and they make quite sure that one foot stays on the brake, making for quite a rough ride.

So what is this terror-list, really? It’s an old, outdated way of thinking and relating — fear-based, unconscious, mental masturbation. And, like many old-time religious folks believed about masturbation, this kind does indeed lead to going blind: losing sight of the innocence in myself and in others.

I started learning about this myopia of the mind when I was practicing The Morning Pages, a discipline outlined in Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. It consists of the daily writing of uncensored thoughts, freely associated without pausing to direct their flow. I found myself amazed at the degree of negative chatter spilling onto a page at any given moment, and how much of it related to perceptions of “not enough-ness”: I’m not good enough, she’s not good enough, the money’s not enough — not enough, not enough, not enough!

By about the third page, I had had enough already, and would often spontaneously bring forth positive, life-affirming, loving messages from a deeper place within me. And so I discovered that if I let my terrorist have the pen for a while, he would eventually feel heard and then give way to the musings of my higher self.

Since the day the Twin Towers came down, I’ve had a marked increase in my success negotiating a cease-fire with my inner terrorist. I realized I couldn’t necessarily control or prevent crises in the outside world, but I could focus on creating peace and solidarity in my inner world. Now, when I become aware of struggling to meet the demands of my terror-list, my higher self reminds me to lighten up and let in the light. As the lightworker that I am, I have a job to do (be) and there is nothing that I need to fix before doing (being) it. I got the job by answering a classified ad that I saw in the employment section of the paper on September 11, 2001. (The ad had been running a long time, but since that date there has been a dramatic increase in response.)

Here is what I saw: “Help Wanted: Fantastic Higher Self-Employment Opportunity! Needed: Sincere human beings to give their gifts and be the light of the world. Doesn’t matter how flawed you imagine yourself to be. Perfection not required, just willingness. Must be willing to give and receive love, voice your vision, stand for truth, face your fears, forgive mistakes, own your shadow, be the light, trust the universe, and enjoy mystery, paradox and change. Come as you are. On-the-job training provided. Oh, and must be willing to consider that you are mistaken about being damaged goods. God doesn’t make junk.”

On September 11, I got it. This planet doesn’t have the luxury of the time I waste when I indulge in my addiction to shame and guilt. There is work to be done. Humanity needs me (and you) to joyfully heal inner terrorism and to be a channel for love. Unconditional, across-the-board self-acceptance is what opens the conduit. I “con du it.” You con du it. We each con do our part, once we stop giving our power away to the con artist inside our head that makes us feel small, scared and inadequate.

The choice has always been this simple, but it has never been so abundantly clear: love or fear? Both are quite contagious and both are spread rapidly from mind to mind and heart to heart. Whether facing inner or outer terrorism, in each instant we have the choice to respond with love or react in fear. What will it be in this moment?

 

Scott Kalechstein, M.D.T. (Modern Day Troubadour), lives in Marin, Calif., and lightens and opens hearts and minds for a living. Described as a cross between John Denver, Eckhart Tolle and Robin Williams, Scott has been a full-time inspirational speaker, musician, writer, traveling reverend and transformational humorist since 1990. www.scottsongs.com. 

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