There’s an old saying about, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” It’s not an all bad saying. While I don’t prescribe to the no pain, no gain philosophy of success through suffering, there is a lot to be said for perseverance, tenacity, and general dedication and self-discipline. These are core elements prescribed by most true spiritual traditions that I know of. It’s just a lot of times people get so hung up on the structures (meditating for 30 minutes, going to church every Sunday, and so forth) that they forget why they are doing it. And sometimes when things get difficult that’s a sign to change direction, not simply bulldog your way through it.

So as always, this goes back to you and your inner knowing. You have to know you better than anyone else, including those of us spiritual teachers. You have to understand what your tendencies are and when to lean into something and when to step out of it. In developing that understanding, you will be better prepared for some of the inner intensities that arise especially as deeper healing ignites. In this way, you will avoid the tendency to self-sabotage and run-away. In case this is a new topic for some of you (and it probably is), let me talk a little bit about what it’s like as deep healing intensifies and how often people run away from the very healing they want.

The Fire Grows Hotter

We are creatures of habit in so many ways. In many respects, we simply play out our family patterns and life karmas over and over again. This is the nature of the wheel of samskara (a Buddhist idea). We are strapped to this wheel that goes round and round, not just in this lifetime, but for many lifetimes. It’s really easy to stick with it because it’s so familiar. Some of the most basic patterns are often around eating. We learn to eat a certain way from our family, and most people don’t generally think to divert from that way of eating ever. It seems like it “works” for them. But people have no perspective, so usually the intense fire that makes most people change eating habits are major illnesses, heart attacks, obesity, and the like. Finally, the person may see that a big change is necessary, but even then, a person may not whole-heartedly make the change. They may sneak hamburgers from the local burger shop or what-have-you. Even when someone is ringing the death bell, the mantra becomes, “Well, I’d rather die happy.”

But they don’t even really know what happiness is because of their lack of perspective. This is the profound level of ignorance we live in in Western Society, and it’s why the fire has to get so hot to get us to change.

Keeping Your Toes in Fire

We’re going to stick with the fire metaphor for the time being. It’s a great metaphor, really. It gives you the sense of necessary intensity. Fire keeps us warm. It cooks food. It serves all kinds of important functions, and while so many people worry about getting “burned” in life, most people don’t know how to burn in the right way. This is often a function of the work I do. I help people get used to being in the intense fire of love with me. This isn’t a doing; it’s a being. I’m kind of a brush fire, and I help to ignite the inner fire within the other person. For those of you who have awakened and are transitioning from unconsciousness to deeper awareness, that fire is alive, so when you connect with me, all kinds of stuff moves naturally. Others of you are already very energetically sensitive, so things move quickly there. But quickness is not as important as steadiness and inner stability. Staying within that purging fire brings up all kind of locked memories, stored emotions, and even forgotten physical sensations. The time you hit your little brother in the arm may be stored in your arm, and suddenly it is throbbing as if you had hit yourself. “What is this?” the unconscious ego asks. “I don’t like this. This is getting to be too much. I want to get away.”

These sentiments are common, and this is when you know you’re getting close to something really important.

Burning in the Awakened Fire

The Many Layers and Doorways of Ourselves

In a recent webinar, people described their inner workings as a kind of labyrinth. It’s a great metaphor, not because it’s true, but because it’s what the unconscious ego wants to believe. That unconscious victim part of us wants to believe that we are too complicated, shameful, dirty, confusing, weird, crazy, or something else socially unacceptable to be saved or helped. This very idea gets in the way of healing, and yet there is a small nugget of truth in that we go through multiple layers of healing. Our divine self seems to know that many of us can’t handle the whole of our light and beauty at one shot, so we peel away layers to slowly see our radiance. Similarly, we often can’t handle the whole of our darkness and the inner atonement and penance that it may require. So we take that in manageable chunks, which almost never seem manageable to the ego at the time. Once an issue clears, oftentimes, we kind of wonder what we were so upset about, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

In any respect, we work through different pieces as we are ready, and in awakening, this kind of does it on its own. You kind of feel strapped to a wheel (this time in a good way) that is driving you back towards health whether you think you need it or not. For most of the rest of you, it is even more important to be disciplined to ignite the inner fires to get things to a fever pitch. Without that inner momentum, these old issues far prefer to stay in remission and to stay hidden in the dark. You have to want to see all of you more than the old inclinations to hide or avoid don’t want to see.

Then it Hits the Fever Pitch

And then you’re at the doorway. You’re cooking. Your body may feel extremely weird. You may feel fear, anger, resentment, sadness, fear, more fear, did I say fear? All those old triggers start sounding off to runaway.

And you do. At least many people do. They didn’t really want to see what was behind that door. They didn’t step through. They wanted something easier or that would feel good. So they found an excuse. Here are some of them:

  • I’m already healed.
  • I’m just making myself suffer needlessly. I don’t need to do this.
  • This teacher/healer/counselor is torturing me or is wrong for me. I need someone else.
  • I need a different tool or spiritual practice.
  • I can’t handle this. It’s too much. I’m overwhelmed.

That’s the gist of the main ideas that people come up with. Others simply disappear. They can’t make appointments or otherwise find a way to fall out of integrity with the work. They allow obstacles to appear just as they’re getting close to the very healing they’ve been striving for. Keep in mind that this happens for many people who have acknowledged that they have big issues to deal with. Those who are in denial are in yet a more impossible place. Without being able to accept that healing is needed, the fullness of a person’s dedication is not brought to bear, and it is always within the individual to do this healing. It is never about what a third-party is doing as much as the individual and their sincere, dedicated interest in healing.

Enduring the Ego Grind

The Hundredth Monkey

People may go through cycles of self-sabotage like this again and again. They’ll get right on the doorstep of healing, and they’ll self-sabotage and leave. This goes on and on until they finally hit some breaking point where they have to do it. It may not even be in this lifetime. This isn’t meant to be pessimistic, but it is meant to inspire you about being dedicated and the importance of healing now.

And healing is always here and now. The deepest and truest aspect of healing is letting go. When we in no way want to be in pain or hurt, we can let all that inner suffering go. While some people may have life paths where suffering is simply a part of their expression, we do not run to that conclusion until every avenue and every depth of healing has been explored. For instance, some people came to this world to have cancer. Don’t ask me why. This is not meant to work within human logic. This is the divine consciousness at work exploring ever aspect of consciousness and its varied expressions, but before we come to the conclusion that this person simply must suffer from cancer, many opportunities for healing should be explored. When sincere interest in changing and healing is brought to bear, many diseases do resolve back into health.

What You Can Do to Unhook From Self-Sabotage Habits

We’ve looked at the problem together, so let’s look at some ways that greater self-discipline can help.

  1. Journal. Yes, we’re back into the journal together. Writing down when you run away and what triggers you have help you to explore yourself. You start to understand when you shutdown, shut out, and shut off from healing within yourself (because ultimately healers are just bringing you back to the healing within you). The more you understand when and how you do that, you can identify them to let your healer know what’s going on.
  2. Finding spiritual community. Spiritual friends and community can be a great way to get reflections from people on a similar path. Ask them about your blindspots and tendencies. This requires that you create a safe space for others to share with you and that you can be open to hear things that you may not like.
  3. Working with a spiritual teacher or healer. Healers, teachers, psychologists, and counselors help you to heal, but they can also help you to find your self-sabotaging habits. I encourage you to do that type of work as preliminary work to diving into the deeper issues. That way you can see how you’ve set up your escape routes in loving and kind presence before the heat really turns on.
  4. Breathing into the triggers. When you feel yourself being triggered and once you have identified these triggers, breathe in. Slow down. Get a sense of what is moving inside of you. Use the breath as a way to focus on the moment and not get lost in the story, emotion, or physical sensation. This helps to create greater inner perspective and the ability to be uncomfortable so that your immediate response isn’t running away.
  5. Expanding your spiritual practice. As things get more intense, more meditation, prayer, yoga, journaling, and whatever else is in your practice may be required. This is where your discipline is crucial. Remember that usually a part of you does NOT want to be healed, and you have to build up enough inner fortitude to be with that screaming part of you so that you can do what you need to do.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

There’s no way I can describe how wonderful it feels to heal an issue. The freedom and expansiveness that comes from opening more fully to your own love is inexplicable. It must be experienced. All of you have this love within you. It’s not some mythical beast. It’s not some endorphin high either. It’s a pervasive, calm love that travels with you always, but it has been buried by fear, suffering, trauma, drama, and other things. Trust me. It’s a wonderful space, and you can move through the healing that you need to be in it.

So take heart. When the self-sabotage and the running away start to rear their heads, get spiritually tough. Get dedicated. Find your inner strength and find your outer support. You’re getting close. Don’t stop when the finish line is only fifteen steps away. Not even fifteen steps. Not even one. The healing is right here. Be right here. Drop in, and embrace it.

For more on this topic, you can watch this YouTube video below:


I'm a spiritual teacher who helps people find freedom from suffering.

1 Comment

  1. hi Jim, this is what i needed. Before I embarked on my spiritual journey, I had years of childhood programming, trauma, and repression: staying up at night, masturbating, playing games, phones, I also accidentally broke shoulder ligament. As a result, I am nearsighted, my health is weak… etc and after going through the dark night, I gradually see, experience and understand these spiritual lessons better. but sometimes I self-sabogate myself because I find my eye is nearsighted and it can't recover, my shoulder is injured and it's hard to fully recover. I always have a nasty feeling of resentment when I think about these things, which leads me to push myself to recover, to stop using my phone, but the more I do, the more I feel the suppression, and ultimately the frustration. self-destruction occurs. I understand that I will pass this lesson, but I still regret that in this lifetime I cannot use my eyes to see the outside world clearly, or practice martial arts. Why does the universe want me to go through this? This is my story. You can give me advice if you want. Thank you Jim

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