There is a beautiful stillness outside as I sit to write this post, a jumbled collection of musings which started to come together last night as I sat working on course content.

Is it ever personal?

I was working on a section entitled ‘the fictional self’ which looks at the different masks we wear and why we wear them. Uncovering and integrating the ‘shadow’ is something I’m fascinated by, and over the course of my exploration (which is ongoing!) it has occurred to me more and more that we fear our shadow because we make everything personal.

I realize this is not something new – I realize that spiritual teachers have taught throughout time that we are all one, that there is no ‘self’ with the little ‘s’ and that transcending the ego is the ultimate goal.

But still most of us insist on believing it’s personal. We decide on our identities, put on our masks, and spend our time grasping; building and clinging to everything we think we need to preserve them. We may let go in certain areas, but there are still parts we believe are exclusive and we fight tooth and nail to maintain them.

We want ownership, security, the ability to be able to say ‘it’s mine.’ You don’t have to look far to see this in our society. But it’s all an illusion we buy into, and it’s the illusion that’s maintaining the paradigm we live in and know at some level is dysfunctional.

It’s easier to say ‘it’s mine’ when it makes us feel good. But still there is this grasping because we know at any point it could disappear, leaving us faced with the nothingness that terrifies us. We see our pain as personal. Some of us fear joy and happiness and make the pain personal to protect ourselves. But what if it’s not? Of course we feel it, and it’s real and it hurts and sitting in it and allowing it to be can be one of the hardest things we ever do. But it’s not personal. It’s our pain. When we feel pain, others feel pain. When we feel joy and love, others feel it too. When we stop making it personal we open ourselves to feel more. To be more, to connect more.

Just as we don’t have to look far to see the ‘my, my, my’ paradigm, we also don’t have to look far to see the truth. We hear it in the space we inhabit when we stand on a beach and realize how small we are. It’s there in the restless feeling. It’s there is the niggling voice we try so hard to shut up with consumerism and projection. It’s not going to go away – so why not listen?