I Must Not Tell Lies
For anyone who is familiar with J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Dolores Umbridge is undoubtedly one of the most unforgettable characters that leaves us cringing and praying we’ll never run into in our lives. She embodies all of the qualities most of us attempt to deny and reject in life – she is cruel, sadistic, prejudiced, manipulative, spiteful, corrupt, the list just doesn’t end. Umbridge essentially represents the shadow of our consciousness; she is so despicable that we will do anything to not be like her. She is the shadow we love to hate.
Most of us have all encountered an Umbridge at some point in our journeys. More often than not, she (or he) is that person who holds power over us rendering us feeling helpless and enraged. On many occasions, my friends and clients have complained about an Umbridge boss that is making their lives as fun as imprisonment in Azkaban (the worst prison imaginable). Having had my share in the past, I only know the feeling too well of waking up in the morning with no goal other than surviving the workday while suppressing the tremendous urge to quit and sprint out of the work building.
Eventually, I came to realize just how much I needed that piece of the puzzle in my life to push me in a direction I never thought I’d have the courage to go. As I moved through my own awakening, my anger was slowly replaced by forgiveness, acceptance and eventually gratitude and I can truly see the bigger purpose behind everything.
I invite you to keep an open mind while reading this article. Remember, life is never about anyone else but you. With every ‘negative” experience or person, there is always a gift (and it could be something that isn’t revealed until years or decades later) buried underneath that presents you with an opportunity to create a grander version of yourself.
Cut the Self-Blame
The first thing that many of us do when we experience less than optimal circumstances in life is to blame ourselves. "If only I went for a different degree in college.” "If only I was younger and more popular," etc. There is a time and place to examine conscious creation and why we are where we are, but know that when the boss is making us feel insignificant for whatever reason, it does not make us any less worthy than we are.
Collectively as a specifies, unworthiness is the theme that runs behind most of our disempowering beliefs. Living in a culture bombarded by those who measure our value with achievements, status and what society deems as perfection, unworthiness eventually becomes our story and our identity. How many of us earned the fond label of "good girl/boy" from our parents when we brought home a test with an A on it? What about when we finally got that promotion we've eyed for for years? Did it make us feel more worthy than when we worked at entry levels? How about when we bury ourselves in shame when we feel we do not have the perfect body portrayed in media?
The problem with allowing external factors whether they are monetary gains or others’ approval determine our worthiness is that the same sources that make us feel like a million bucks can also turn against us and make us feel worthless. This outlook especially doesn't help when our Umbridge boss seems to be on a mission to make everyone's days at the office as cheerful as she is.
We look at our coworkers who are either conforming hoping to be in the boss’s good books or appearing completely oblivious or stoic with a “it is what it is” attitude and the only seemingly logical solution is to blame and doubt ourselves even more thinking there must be something wrong with us for being affected so much! Our unhappiness turns against us and we begin labeling ourselves as "weak," "asocial," "different," "ungrateful," the cycle continues on.
The truth is, who we are has nothing to do with 99% of the impermanent things we identify with in life because worthiness isn’t something that can be earned. Our bodies age, our beliefs shift, our careers switch, our relationships come and go, none of it can add or deduct any value from who we already are - powerful, perfect and infinitely worthy spiritual beings of love having a human experience. When we allow our worthiness to come from the only thing that does not change - our soul essence, nothing and no one can take it away from us and our sense of self ceases to be conditional.
We need neither approval from others nor a numeric value printed on a piece of paper to tell us how we are to feel about ourselves. On the soul level, everyone, and I mean absolutely everyone from those who have to collect cans on the street, to those who are fired from their jobs for not having met the company's standards, to those who do the firing, everyone is intrinsically worthy. We all deserve more love from ourselves, not less.
So next time when the Umbridge in your life reduces you to tears and anger, do a bit of soul digging with the following questions:
"To what and whom do I give away my power to?"
"What in life determines my worthiness? Am I happy with that choice?"
"What could I do different, knowing my sense of self-worth can only come from me?"
Rewrite the Story
When our unworthiness is manifested outwardly, we end up blaming the whole world for the unfortunate occurrences in our lives – we sink into what is referred to as the victim mentality. Suddenly, after having earned an unjustified low rating from Umbridge at work, we start to believe everyone in the world is at fault.
Aside from wishing all sorts of things on Umbridge, we blame our parents for not having inherited a gold mine from their parents, we blame our first grade teachers for having ruined our self-esteem when we screwed up a presentation, we blame the government, the system, the taxes, the debts, the competition, we even blame our cats for meowing too much when we are busy hosting our pity party with a bottle of wine. Our stories can take on many different versions but they all share the same theme - someone else is responsible for our sufferings and we are powerless to make changes.
What can make the story even more convincing is when we gossip with coworkers who feel the same way as we do. When a group is telling the same story over and over during lunch (unless the lunch meetings are used to form Dumbledore's army, a secret group to overthrow Umbridge's reigning) while adding more details and feelings to it, it perpetuates the victimhood cycle. As beings of energy, when we gather under the same purpose, it literally creates a synergetic and intensified effect (which is why group meditation and prayers are so powerful). We feel validated and even elevated temporarily while the victimhood pattern becomes more and more pronounced in our lives.
On an energetic level, what we feel attracts more thoughts, words and deeds on the same vibration. Neurologically, our repetition of the same story strengthens and reinforces the cluster of neurons in our brain that triggers feelings of anxiety and helplessness. Remember, practice makes perfect, and that applies to any skill or pattern whether it is to play the piano or develop a pessimistic view in life.
This is neither to say that we have not experienced pain and defeat, nor to suggest that anything is better than what it appears to be. We are not making excuses for Umbridge’s behavior and the hurt she may have caused. On the contrary, all emotions we feel are valid and real and are to be treated as such.
However, if we look closely at each story, there is always a disempowering belief waiting to be uncovered. Perhaps the underlying reason for us staying at the current job is we keep telling ourselves the competition out there is too fierce and we'll never make it, or the motivation for sacrificing our own needs and being a people pleaser is because we find it hard to love and accept ourselves. Whatever it is, for as long as we allow our lives to be dictated by the same stories we tell, we are handing over our own power of being able to choose to the antagonists in our stories on a silver platter. For as long as we compromise our true powerful selves in order to take on the role of a powerless victim which takes an enormous amount of energy, we remain drained, unfulfilled and resentful.
Wishing our lives to improve while making everyone else responsible for our joy or waiting for them to change so our lives can change is equivalent of asking our reflection in the mirror to smile while we are staring at it in anger.
If we live our entire lives under a mistaken identity, then the stories make sense. However, we are so much more than our stories. The only way to align our lives with our dreams is through inner alignment.
"What are some of the stories you often tell yourself and others?"
"What belief is underneath each story?"
"What story do you want to tell?"
Accept Our Own Shadow
Acceptance plays a significant role in change. Anything that we resist, reject and repress in life is like a ghost that forever haunts us; that is because the frequency and intensity of the energy we spend in fearing, judging and avoiding far exceeds that which we place in visualizing and attracting what we truly desire. Just think about the last time you had to do something you knew you did not want to but had to, did you spend more time and energy dreading it and fantasizing the worst possible moments, or were you dedicating most of your energy anticipating a positive outcome?
I know I used to lose sleep every Sunday night, and eight out of those ten nights, I lost sleep not because of anything particular that was happening at work, but because I could not stop my negative train of thought about what has happened or what may happen.
Most of these thoughts comprised of what I judged to be unfair and outrageous treatment by Umbridge, elaborate and fantasized conversations that would never take place if I wanted to keep my job and a detailed scene (that kept on expanding) of how I’d storm into her office and give her a piece of my mind the day I’d win the lotto.
As a result, the very thing I wanted to be liberated from kept me imprisoned even when I was not physically there. I kept the mental image of Umbridge alive and well on evenings, weekends and vacations by continuously showering it with my attention that was made of my own disapproval of, and reaction to her behavior and choices in life.
It never occurred to me at the time just how much energy I wasted by fighting with my reality. Had I accepted her for who she was and my work life for what it was, I would have cleared much of the needed space inside of me and utilized that time and energy to look for ways to improve my life.
The vibration of the energy we spend in dwelling in our problems never works in the long run to resolve the same issues simply because in order for creative insights to occur, we must first raise our own vibration from being the victim to being the creator in our lives. The second when total, complete acceptance occurs and we stop resisting what is, our vibration shifts. Suddenly, we see the larger picture beyond the seemingly locked cage in front of us and all possible paths begin revealing themselves to us one step at a time.
What we choose to pay attention (or energy) to in life is an investment and becomes an extension of our own energy. Wouldn’t you rather spend your energy currency on building the life of your dreams?
Acceptance can also occur on a much deeper level once we acknowledge there is a little Umbridge in each one of us. On the surface, the Umbridge that is belittling us at work seems to be a completely separate entity who is wrecking havoc, and by demonstrating our disapproval by criticizing her behind her back, we make ourselves feel superior and detached from everything she is. We establish the firm separation between us and her with the Great Wall erected in between, and we swear we will never exhibit such obnoxious behavior towards others.
The little truth we hide from everyone, especially ourselves is that though we may not have committed the same "crimes" as Umbridge has and our actions may not have been on the same magnitude, we each have formed thoughts, spoken words and engaged in deeds that have been hurtful and even against our moral character. Every time when we judged someone based on their appearance or manipulated a situation for our gain, we have invited our own little Umbridge to step forward.
Can we be so quick to condemn the collective shadow when we have turned our backs on our own shadows?
To forgive and be forgiven, to accept and be accepted unconditionally involves not arguing with or judging any aspect of our lives and in ourselves. Acceptance breaks the energetic chains between us and those parts as raised vibration opens the door for inspired action. It is only after we have fully accepted all there is can we clearly decide whether change needs to be made. Will we be going back to school for another degree? Can we find a part time position while finally pursuing our passion? Do we stay put for the time being but with a brand new perspective that allows us to master whatever we need to master? The possibilities become endless.
"How much energy do you spend in arguing with and resisting your reality?"
"What can you do with all that time and energy?"
"What are some shadow aspects in you that you turn your back on?"
In Viktor Frankl's Men's Search for Meaning, he detailed the 3 long years of unspeakable pain he endured in Nazi concentration camps. In the midst of extreme humiliation and inhumane conditions, logotherapy was born. Though having been exiled by the Chinese government, the Dalai Lama is the living embodiment of compassion, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and advocate for human rights and freedom.
Will we allow ourselves to drown in the waves of our pain, or will we rise above them?
Some of us may have experienced our greatest triumphs in our darkest moments. Perhaps the painful paths we once walked have led us to new heights. J.K. Rowling, the very author who created the Umbridge character was an unemployed and penniless single mom living on welfare when she wrote the Harry Potter series. If at any point, Rowling stopped reaching out to one more publisher after having been rejected by many, we would never get to know Harry Potter and the wonderful world of witches and wizards.
I would not have been where I am today had it not been the Umbridge’s in my life. Had I perceived I was treated better, perhaps with more compassion or respect, I would not have left a fairly safe career that I desperately wanted to, but was too afraid to change. After long years of self-blame and playing the victim, my fear of change succumbed to my will to live, to truly live. Just as Dumbledore’s Army would never have been formed had Harry and his friends chosen to drown their sorrows in butterbeer, I realized until I chose life, I would forever be a muggle version of The Moaning Myrtle stuck in between worlds.
As a human being, the human component of us experiences through the 3D realm of the relative. In order for us to know (not intellectually but experientially) ourselves as light, the quickest way to achieve that is through experiencing darkness as it is a contrast of light. Similarly, when we wish to know ourselves as love, compassion, abundance, or anything we desire in life, we most often find ourselves in a situation of the lack thereof. It is only when we can no longer rely on an external source to find what is intrinsic do we go within and explore the infinite amount of resources of love, joy and inner peace we are each born with, and that is what resides within the being component.
On the highest level, every soul we encounter is a teacher bearing a present for us to experience ourselves. Without the attachment of judgment, every experience has in it an embedded opportunity for us to know an aspect of our being. The more we choose to give ourselves what we perceive as lacking in our lives, the more we can harness the power of our own creation.
On the highest level, Umbridge has agreed to come to our lives to co-create this journey for us to know who we truly are.
It matters not if we are ready to forgive or thank the Umbridge’s in our lives. And it certainly does not mean we are going to give a free pass to any abuse inflicted by Umbridge or invite her over for family dinner. It only matters that from this moment on, we choose to honor and accept all the parts and emotions within us because their one and only goal is to move us forward so we may boldly and lovingly declare to the world who we are. Even if we start with small steps such as replacing the self-criticism with kindness or opening ourselves to receiving more help from others, that energy will create a shift.
We are beings of love. Anything less than that is not our true nature. It’s ok if up until this point, we have deprived ourselves of it. It is never too late to give love back to ourselves.
And the little secret is, once we have chosen to accept, love and honor ourselves, those around us begin to do the same.
We cannot change the world through anger, but we can be the change and shine our light a little brighter through love so the rest of the world will remember to shine theirs.
Will you accept the challenge of giving yourself more of what you feel has been lessened in your life? Will you embrace your true self – a being of love?
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Also published on Wake Up World.