An excerpt from From Anxiety to Love by Corinne Zupko www.FromAnxietytoLove.com
Author Corinne Zupko, a licensed counselor and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction teacher, undertook her study of psychology out of necessity when debilitating anxiety threatened to derail her life. Seeking ways to do more than temporarily alleviate her symptoms, Corinne began to study A Course in Miracles (ACIM), mindfulness meditation, and the latest therapeutic approaches for treating anxiety. As Corinne healed her own mental anguish, she compiled the perception-shifting process she describes in From Anxiety to Love: A Radical New Approach for Letting Go of Fear and Finding Lasting Peace. We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book.
Waking up from the dream of anxiety is a gentle, gradual, and loving process. To move from anxiety to love, we have to learn to distinguish between the two voices in our mind and choose the voice we want to listen to. For each of us, there is a part of our mind that is sane and a part that is insane. The sane part is our Inner Therapist, who is the link back to remembering our Loving Source. The insane part is the ego, which believes itself to be exiled from its Source, and which views the body as its home and ally.
Turn on the nightly news, and you’ll instantly see ego insanity in action. The world is full of it. In the twisted theme park that is this earthly realm, dream figures utterly convince us of our separation from one another. This park has two attendants who are present to us during every moment of our visit. One is the ego, and the other is our Inner Therapist. We can hear both their voices, but the “ego always speaks first” and loudest (ACIM T-5.VI.3:5).
By choosing to listen to your Inner Therapist instead of the ego, you can repurpose every experience you go through in this theme park, changing it from an attempt by the ego to keep you asleep into an effort by the Inner Therapist to help you wake up.
The ego might tell you that you need to win tons of shiny tokens in the boardwalk games in order to be happy. Your Inner Therapist will tell you that winning or losing those tokens doesn’t define who you are, and your safety doesn’t depend on winning. When the roller coaster breaks down and you’re stuck in midair, the ego will tell you you’re vulnerable and should be terrified. Your Inner Therapist will remind you to think of the experience as an opportunity to trust that you are safe no matter what the circumstances. When you eat too much cotton candy and get a bellyache, the ego will use that as evidence that you must be a body. Repurposed through your Inner Therapist, the bellyache becomes an opportunity to learn that you are not your body.
Because the ego belief was made out of our feeling guilty for seemingly separating from our Source, it isn’t capable of satisfying us: it is only capable of delivering dissatisfaction. For example, think of the last time you wanted something like a new car, a new job, a new relationship, or a new outfit. Once you finally attained it, did it sustain your happiness? Did the thrill of retail therapy or bingeing on chocolate cake make you permanently joyous? Nope. You may feel short-term happiness, but it doesn’t last. Anything the ego tells you that you need ultimately will not satisfy you. The ego is not the voice that wants to make you truly happy.
Yet the ego voice is really compelling. Recently, I had a very unpeaceful encounter with a friend and former colleague, Teri. Throughout years of working together, we had exchanged many personal stories and developed an affectionate relationship. Yet my file of judgments against Teri included the belief that she tends not to take responsibility for her actions. During a phone call, we were discussing a recent event in the news related to drug use. Teri said something that seemingly contradicted a story she had previously shared with me. With “good intentions,” I decided to point out that there was a discrepancy between what she had said then and what she was saying now. Here’s how the phone conversation went:
Teri said, “I have never done drugs in my life, and I never would.”
“But you told me a year ago that you had tried something with some friends,” I responded innocently, but quite sure of myself.
Teri exploded. “How dare you! I never said that!” she yelled in a very loud and adamant voice. “I never said that! You are a horribly judgmental person. You should be ashamed of yourself with your ‘holier than thou’ attitude.”
I immediately felt my body tense, my stomach tighten, and agitation flood my veins. What is happening? I asked myself.
“You’re a liar!” Teri continued angrily. “You’re taking something I said and twisting it around! You’re so judgmental!”
The ego in my mind rose up to defend myself as the innocent victim of these accusations. Yet I recognized, dimly, that Teri felt she was the victim of my words. Where did this leave me? In righteous indignation, of course. In my head, the ego was screaming, “Defend yourself! You were only trying to help Teri look at herself. You are being wrongfully accused!! Fix Teri’s perceptions, because they are wrong!”
But I knew where defending myself and attacking Teri would lead because I’ve gone down this road many times before. In other words, when I give my allegiance to the ego, I end up with a closed cycle of attack and defense with no way out. My defenses would always justify my position, making me “right” and anyone else “wrong” (for instance, I might say, “Teri, you’re the one misperceiving because you are not remembering correctly”). Whenever this negative cycle is in control, I’m left feeling angry and utterly without peace. I knew I didn’t want to attack back, even though I was already feeling the urge in my heart. What to do?
I knew that there was no way of finding true resolution by argument. Any attempt to fix Teri’s perceptions would just keep the ego’s games going. My job was to be willing to allow the Love in me to join with the Love in Teri, even though the ego in me wanted to clash with the ego in Teri. Teri was asking me, without knowing it, to listen to my Inner Therapist instead of the ego, because there was no other way out of the situation. Despite the ego’s firm objections and the habitual desire to attack back, I was willing to give it a try. One of my favorite quotes came to mind: “Do you prefer that you be right or happy?” (ACIM T-29.VII.1:9). I want happy, please.
Still feeling angry and hurt after we hung up the phone, I turned to my Inner Therapist: “I have no idea what to do! I don’t want to react from ego and be ‘right,’ even though the pull to defend myself and attack is strong. I’m really upset. Help!”
In response to this inner plea, only five words came up for me: “I love you” and “I’m sorry.” So, in an email, that was all I conveyed to Teri. In this situation, I listened to my Inner Therapist instead of the shrieking ego. And then I considered that perhaps I had “hired” Teri to give me this opportunity to choose for healing.
When I spoke to Teri next, the shift was palpable. It was as if we were both lifted “above the battleground” (ACIM T-23.IV). Teri said that she understood I had not meant to hurt her, and she seemed to let go of her interpretation of the situation, as I had been willing to let go of mine. Teri’s perceptions changed not because I proved her wrong, but because I had turned to my Inner Therapist as my guide instead of the tempting ego. Although Teri did not admit that she had experimented with drugs, I sensed that she had a lot of guilt attached to this issue and wasn’t ready to go there, hence the explosion. I realized it was not my job to correct Teri from my ego. If I see failings in Teri’s ego, it’s only because I’m seeing through my own ego (ACIM T-9.III.3:1).
Corinne Zupko, EdS, LPC, is the author of From Anxiety to Love. As a licensed counselor and keynote speaker, she has helped thousands of individuals through her one-on-one counseling, weekly meditation classes for corporations, and the largest virtual conference of ACIM in the world, through the organization Miracle Share International, which she cofounded. Visit her online at http://www.FromAnxietytoLove.com.
Excerpted from the book From Anxiety to Love: A Radical New Approach for Letting Go of Fear and Finding Lasting Peace. Copyright ©2018 by Corinne Zupko. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.