In cartoons, whenever a major character is facing a moral dilemma, two opposing figures sometimes pop up on their shoulders. There’s an angel, which represents the kind and loving thing to do, and there is the devil, which represents the greedy or selfish thing to do. Almost always, these two characters get into a fight with each other, but usually the character decides to “do the right thing,” and the devilish figure is defeated. In real life, we often find ourselves in a similar predicament: There is a “right” choice, and a “wrong” choice, and we must do what we feel is best. Even though we never have figures appear on our shoulders, we almost always have their corresponding voices in our minds.
That voice of the angel could be called your higher self, while the voice of the devil could be called your lower self. If you are serious about personal development and becoming the best person that you can be, you must learn to connect with your higher self. Only by consciously choosing to listen to your higher self (while simultaneously ignoring your lower self) can you become a better person. However, this isn’t always as easy as it seems. We get so caught up in living our lives that we rarely think about the moral implications of our choices. And even when we think about morals, we usually restrict our thoughts to “good” and “evil” But how many of our choices that we make really fit into those terms?
A Better Polarity
Instead of thinking about issues in terms of “good” and “evil”, or even “right” and “wrong”, I think it is much more useful to think in terms of “love” and “fear.” Even though most people tend to think that the opposite of love should be hate, this isn’t accurate. As Master Yoda taught us, “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate…” If you sit down to think about that statement, you can test its validity for yourself. Of course, not all of anger comes from fear, but the overwhelming majority of it does. If you are honest with yourself, I think that you’ll find that most of the time, your anger has been a secondary emotion that came after your fear.
First, something scares you. You don’t like feeling afraid, and so you turn that fear into anger to protect yourself from feeling weak or cowardly. When we don’t express our anger, or when we allow it to fester inside our soul without releasing it, it becomes hatred. Therefore, the root of hatred is fear. In fact, I believe that fear is the root of all evil in the world. Most of our decisions (at least the truly important ones) can be summed up in the choice between love and fear.
A Personal Example
The hardest decision that I ever had to make in my life was a custody decision for my child. After my divorce was finalized, I had won custody of my daughter, and she was living with me full time. I had a hundred reasons for keeping my daughter with me. I could rehash them here, but I won’t. All you really need to know is that most of those reasons were based in fear. I was afraid that my ex couldn’t provide the right kind of life for my daughter, and so I kept my daughter for myself.
My daughter was miserable living with me.
She missed her mom, and she cried herself to sleep nearly every night. I couldn’t find a job, and so money was incredibly tight. And even though I had the full support of my family and friends, and even though everyone felt like I was doing the right thing, I felt awful about it. Even though I hadn’t consciously come up with the “love vs. fear” polarity yet, on a subconscious level, I knew that I wasn’t doing the right thing. As it is said, if you love someone, let them go. Sometimes, we even have to do that with our children. After about six months, I knew that I had to let my daughter go live with her mom. It was simply the right thing to do.
My family hated the idea. My friends hated the idea. Everyone told me how crazy I was, and how stupid I was being. Everyone thought I was making a huge mistake. “You’ll never see her again” and “She’ll turn against you” were common things I heard. All of my external influences were dead-set against this decision. They were even aligned with my own lower self, who was screaming at me to keep my daughter with me.
It was all fear-based thinking. And it was all wrong. The only opposing viewpoint was my own higher self, which kindly and gently, but firmly, told me to let her go. That voice told me that if I truly loved my daughter, I had to let her go. I had to give her a chance to be happy, even if that chance wasn’t with me. Even though it hurt me (and still hurts me to this day…over 6 years later, honestly) I know that I made the right choice. My daughter is growing into a healthy, well-adjusted teenager. She makes good grades, and has a lot of friends. I’m closer to her than I ever was, and I’m closer to my ex, too. Even though we will never be “one big happy family” together, at least my daughter knows that she has the love and support of both parents, and that she is well protected and provided for.
Knowing the Difference
It’s never easy to know what the right choice is when making important decisions. Our egos get in the way, and we can easily be overwhelmed by fear-based thinking. Many other people are controlled by fear, so they often give us advice that is rooted in fear, too. The only way to slice through all of that negativity is to focus on love, and to listen to your higher self. But how will you know which voice is truly coming from your higher self? Here are a few techniques that I use. Feel free to add more in the comments.
If you feel angry, there is a very good chance that fear lies beneath your anger. Try to get to the root of it. What are you afraid of? Now, what are you really afraid of? Why does this make you afraid? If you are making a decision because of fear, then it is probably a wrong one.
Think of someone that you know you love, without a doubt. Perhaps this is your spouse, or even your child. If they had to make this decision, what would you encourage them to do?
Think of your spiritual leader. What would they do in this situation (What would Jesus do)?
If you were on the receiving end of this decision…if this were somebody else’s choice to make, and you had to live with the consequences, what would you want them to do?
Selfish choices are almost always the wrong ones. It’s not that you shouldn’t take care of yourself, but if you’re only looking out for number one, then you’re probably on the wrong track. Can you turn the situation around so that it becomes a win-win for everyone involved?
As I continue to grow and evolve into a kinder, gentler, more loving person, I find that it becomes easier and easier to connect with my higher self, and give my lower self the boot it deserves. I can honestly say that I have never regretted any decision that I made out of love, but I have regretted nearly every single one that I have based out of fear. It isn’t always easy to love people to the point that it causes you pain (learning to let them go), but it’s always the right decision.