Do You Really Want to be Happy or is Something Else More Important?By Phyllis Stein, Ph.D.
June 19, 2008
Is your Inner GPS pointed toward happiness or towards trying to have control?
We all have an "Inner GPS" that collects information and provides us, on a moment-to-moment basis, with directions about where we want to go next. It is clear that the price of growing up with unhealed wounds is that our Inner GPS is set to steer us towards more of the same, more pain, more anxiety, more shame. The information that we are feeding our Inner GPS and the directions that we get from it come from our wounded self. We came to Inner Bonding wanting to change that, wanting to heal our wounds so that our Inner GPS is pointed towards happiness, love and inner peace. The direction we truly have our Inner GPS set for is called our "intent."
As Margaret has emphasized so many times, our intent is the most critical part of Inner Bonding. Maybe this metaphor of the Inner GPS will help you get a better handle on what that really means. So to start, do you really want to be happy? You might tune in at this point and honestly, perhaps to your surprise, realize that you do not. Maybe you became consciously aware that something else is more important, perhaps that if you allow yourself to become happy you will lose the "advantage" of remaining a victim. In this case, your intent is clear and the good reasons for it need to be explored so that it can shift.
Most, however, will immediately say "Of course I want to be happy." In that case, the next question might be "Do you want the job of operating your Inner GPS in a way that will take you in that direction?" Maybe before you answer that, I should remind you of what this involves. The job entails making sure that the receiver of your Inner GPS is tuned to YOUR feelings at all times, not how someone else feels about you, how YOU are feeling right this minute. The job also requires that you listen to this receiver and notice, moment to moment, what direction you are going in: More happy? Less happy? More alive? Less alive? More peaceful? Less peaceful? And it requires that YOU understand that if you are moving away from happiness, it is completely because YOU are following the wrong directions and that is YOUR job and no one else's, to use your guidance to get better directions. You may not completely know the answers, but if this is truly what you want, you will learn how to steer in the direction you want to go.
Well, that is basic Inner Bonding, I hear you say. Yes, it is. That is what the intent to learn looks like. What could be more important than that? A lot of us believe that we want to be happy, but we also believe that being happy can only come from getting other people to treat us in a certain way or from some other external circumstance. In that case, having control over what you believe to be the source of happiness becomes more important that being happy. That is the intent to control. How does that work? If your intent is really to steer your Inner GPS towards happiness, you focus, as I said, on your own feelings, on getting directions from guidance and on steering your own life, making decisions based on what is most loving to you, what steers you in the direction of greater happiness. But if your intent is to control something outside in order to BECOME happy, the receiver of your Inner GPS is tuned to something else, to other people's feelings and actions. You will continue to use your Inner GPS to try to find out what to do about them and take your directions from your wounded self. You will feel completely stuck. Aside from the fact that can never work, as almost everyone has found out before they came to Inner Bonding, the result of this is GUARANTEED inner abandonment, because if your receiver is tuned to other people's feelings and actions, then your child is automatically completely abandoned by you.
So, if you decide you really do want to be happy, the good news is that you can shift your intent at any time. The bad news is that usually having our Inner GPS receiver tuned to outside signals is deeply ingrained. If that is the case, may I make a suggestion? Just start consciously practicing step 1 of Inner Bonding, noticing when you are tuned out and reminding yourself, without judgment, to tune in. I guarantee that without even proceeding to the next step of Inner Bonding, your feeling that you are not important, that no one cares about you will begin to shift. When you do remember to tune in, congratulate yourself for a job well done. I mean that literally. Not only will you be helping yourself remember to tune in, but by congratulating yourself, you will be starting to take the loving actions that steer you in the direction you want to go. Which choice will you make?
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What nurtures you? Do you feel nurtured by being out in nature? By doing something creative? By sitting quietly and listening to music or reading or watching a movie? By being with caring friends? By being physically active - hiking, playing a sport, or gardening? By meditating, journaling, practicing Inner Bonding? By playing fun games? By playing a musical instrument? Today, be sure to create balance in your life by nurturing yourself.
By Dr. Margaret Paul