Do you find that as you move along your spiritual path, you become more aware of people who don’t seem to have one?
Have you started to feel like the people you see on the news, on Facebook, even in your personal life, have less and less in common with you? That “Us” vs. “Them” has gotten more pronounced?
And are you secretly frustrated with yourself because even though you know you’re moving toward an enlightened state of Unconditional Love and Oneness, you can’t seem to summon that Love for these particular people?
It’s OK. What you’re experiencing is not only a “given” in the human experience, it’s a natural part of your Ascension process. In truth, you’ve always separated yourself from the people around you; the difference is, now you’re noticing.
The “otherizing” work of the ego
The human ego is programmed to compare and contrast. That’s how it forms its (your) identity – by observing its surroundings and putting everything in one of two buckets: “I am this” or “I am not this.” One unfortunate by-product of this process is an “I’m not this” bucket that’s pretty full; it leads to a strong sense of separation, and the overflow might even feel threatening.
The writer of a HuffingtonPost article that my friend Larry recently shared called this phenomenon “otherizing.” He shared a poignant story that illustrated one painful effect of “otherizing”: If a person walks into a room that he believes is full of people who aren’t like him – in this case, in big ways like religion – his experience in that group will be markedly more negative than if he looks for what he has in common with those same people.
I’ve experienced this mindset difference in the last few years with my husband’s singing group. He sings with The Alexandria Harmonizers, a 100+-member, world-class barbershop chorus that is very much like a family in how the singers, wives and partners come together in fellowship and support of the performances. For years I stayed away from their events, social or otherwise, because I told myself stories about how little I’d have in common with people who are so much older than me, more conservative, and probably think I’m a witch or something when I told them what I do. For five years I talked myself out of what might have been some great times, and when I did muster up the courage to attend (for the sake of supporting my husband) the result was a lot of wallflower activity and at parties, some serious face-stuffing.
Last year, however, I changed my tune. When given a chance to play a small role in their holiday show, my interest in doing that eventually won out over my fear of the “others” I would encounter. As I warmed up to the group I stopped seeing “others” and started seeing fellow music loves, fellow smart (and sometimes sensitive) human beings, and people who shared my passion for supporting the Harmonizers who performed and competed on stage. The culmination of my transformation may have been the day that I requested a name badge like all the other wives wore; that was the end of my (and their) “other” status.
How to stop “otherizing”
As you continue your spiritual journey, how can you keep yourself from “otherizing” and shift into Unconditional Love and connection? There are two key answers to that question: one reactive and one proactive:
Reactive: When you catch yourself “otherizing,” either by feeling like the outsider or trying to label others as such, take some time to search for commonalities, as I found common ground with the Harmonizer family. This isn’t a new idea, but it’s good to be reminded of it once in a while.
Proactive: This is where the gold is. The key to preventing “otherizing” is to rise above your ego. I know I’ve written in the past about how your ego isn’t a bad thing; I definitely stand by that still, BUT – just because you accept your ego doesn’t mean you have to let it rule your life, including by “otherizing.”
When I say “rise above yo
ur ego” I’m being literal: The higher your overall vibration, the closer you are to the frequency of Unconditional Love and the sense of Oneness it fosters. Oneness, of course, being the opposite of “otherizing.” When your vibration is high, it’s easier to be inclusive.
Think about it: Haven’t there been times when you’ve been in such a good mood that nothing bothered you? That’s what I’m talking about! Make it your daily goal to create that good mood for yourself.
How do you get and keep your vibration up? By committing to regularly doing things that get you out of your monkey mind and infuse your life with Joy and Love, such as:
You know better than me what puts you into a great mood; pick from this list or add your own. And if this advice sounds like the same thing you’ve heard before, that’s because the key to getting much of what you’re looking for really can be this simple. (Simple, but not always easy, right?)
The bottom line is, you don’t have to beat yourself up for keeping others at arms length. Be intentional about keeping your vibration up, and as the “otherizing” antics of your ego lose their grip on your life, the divide between “Us” and “Them” will dissolve into Oneness.