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Our emotional life and thus our freedom and happiness are largely dictated by the feelings, beliefs and needs generated by our childhood experiences. We can call that part of our subconscious that still feels, thinks and behaves in the ways we learned as children, the "inner child".
We have become split personalities who function with two minds. One is logical while the other still perceives life through the eyes of the children that we once were. While one sub-personality knows that logically we have no reason to fear or doubt ourselves, the other continues to experience anxiety, fear, guilt and self-doubt. While we know cognitively that we have the ability to deal with life, a part of ourselves continues to experience fear, hurt, jealousy and anger.
We cannot freely manifest the reality we desire, as long as we are subject to this automatic subconscious childhood programming, which limits our perceptions of ourselves, others and life. Here is a simple example of how we limit ourselves with false perceptions form the past.
SELF LIMITING ELEPHANTS
Elephants born in captivity are restrained by a chain that attaches one leg to a metal spike driven into the ground. This prevents them from roaming. They become accustomed to the fact that, as long as the chain and spike are next to them, they are unable to move.
As they grow older, their minds become programmed. When they see the spike and chain, they "believe" and accept that they will not be able to move. They become so conditioned that when their owners place a rope and wooden peg next to them, they make no efforts to step away from it, because they "believe" they are unable to.
In truth, their actual power as adults is so great that they could easily pull up a chain and spike of any size. Their programming or "belief," however, allows this tiny rope and wooden peg to limit their movement.
We are all very much like these elephants. We allow the weaknesses, fears and rejection we experienced as children to program us into a life in which we lack power, peace, love and happiness. We become controlled by false childhood assumptions we have made about our ability, strength and self worth.
We can move away from these "pegs" of self-limitation, but we must chose to do so and then methodically free ourselves from these false beliefs. Here is parable that will help us understand this.
THE LION CUB
Once there was a great lioness that went hunting with her newborn cub. While chasing and attacking a flock of sheep, the she-lion made a wrong move, fell off a cliff and died.
The cub was left without a mother and grew up in the midst of the sheep. As the years passed, the cub became a full-grown lion, but it was instinctually conditioned to behave as a sheep. It ate grass, made a bleating sound, and developed a fear of all other animals, just like the sheep.
One day, another lion attacked the flock, and in the chase, was shocked to see the ridiculous sight of a full-grown lion running away with the sheep bleating "bah bah" in fear.
He caught up to the sheepish lion, and asked, "What are you doing? Why are you acting in this ridiculous way? You a great, powerful lion acting like a lowly powerless sheep? What has come over you? You should be ashamed of yourself."
The sheepish lion explained that he was a sheep, and that the flock had taught him to fear and bleat and run in horror from the powerful lions.
The adult lion took the sheepish lion down to the river and asked him to look at the reflection of his own face. He saw that he was like the lion and not like the sheep. The lion then woke up from his ignorance and discovered his previously ignored inner courage, strength and majesty.
We are like the sheepish lion. The sheep represent our human nature, our personality, which moans, fears, complains and worries. The Lion is the spiritual aspect of our being, which is a source of great power, wisdom, creativity, goodness and love.
Great spiritual teachers have appeared throughout history with the same message of our "LION NATURE", the untapped spiritual power and greatness that dwells within us. All our problems are simply the result of our mistaken identity.
THE LONELY ADULT
We have learned to suppress what is naturally good within us. We have learned to mistrust others and compete against them, rather than cooperate and share with them. We have learned to be neurotic and fearful of new persons and situations. We have lost the ability to be open and loving, as we were when we were children. We have been taught that we must fight for what we need even at the others' expense.
Such beliefs have been instilled into us, as supposed ways of "being smart", or "being successful". Many of us who have followed this philosophy find ourselves isolated, secluded and lonely. We may have everything that society programmed our minds to believe was important, but do we have love, freedom, health, peace of mind, self-understanding, harmonious relationships or happiness?
One natural disaster, such as an accident, fire, earthquake, war, or death of a loved one, can destroy our happiness instantaneously when it is based on external factors.
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