The Union Path Podcast - A practical spiritual podcast about truth, awareness, and walking the path of unity.
The Union Path Podcast
"Being Honest About the Cost"
Sometimes it can be difficult to be honest with ourselves.
It can be difficult to be honest about what the true cost of things are. Especially when we've invested in something, especially when we've invested ourselves in something, especially when we've invested our dreams in something, especially when we've invested our hopes in something. It can be really difficult to look at whatever that is in the face and objectively say what is this actually costing me? What am I actually getting out of this? What is any of this actually in service of? It's one of the areas of awareness and self-awareness that can be particularly prickly and challenging being able to come to a place to be able to really be honest with ourselves and be honest about what the cost of what we're doing really is. And one of the areas where it can be really difficult to even know what the cost of things are is the cost of the things we're not doing, because it can be so easy to just gain a lot of momentum around what we do, to go into what we do with just a set of expectations, and it's so much easier to never actually challenge those expectations. It can be so much easier to just follow other people. It can be so much easier to just do the thing we're supposed to do, to never defy expectation, to never go against the grain, to never raise a fuss, to never really do anything different. That the well-worn path truly does have a level of comfort to it, as a level of predictability to it. It's comfortable because it's known. It's comfortable because it's know of all. It's comfortable because we don't feel alone. We can look at things that other people have done and when we're doing the same things we don't feel quite as isolated. Things don't feel quite as dangerous. We don't feel quite as vulnerable Because we're just doing the thing that we're supposed to be doing. We're just doing the thing that other people are doing, and it's very easy to build an entire life around this kind of thinking. It's very easy to build an entire life around this way of being Just constantly walking the path of least resistance, of constantly walking the path of least awareness. But at some point the truth will make itself known. At some point we will be confronted, sometimes aggressively, sometimes violently, with reality, with the truth that we'll really have to face. What is the cost of what we're doing and we're really getting out of it? How close is this to what we really imagined? How good is this really? How much of a future does this actually have? Again, this can be really challenging.
One of the hardest people to be honest with can often be ourselves. We can go through an entire life deceiving ourselves. We can go through an entire life deluding ourselves, and if we've been living a bit of a fantasy, if we've been living in an illusion, that fantasy and that illusion will crumble eventually, because eventually the center will fall out of anything false, because there's nothing fundamental to hold it, there's nothing underneath it, it's not grounded in anything. It's held up by perception, it's held up by expectation, it's held up by ideas, but doesn't really have any grounding in reality. It doesn't really have any grounding in what's real. It makes it far more fragile, far more temporary than something that is.
That's something that is real, that's something that is true, and we can find ourselves pursuing things that we don't even really value that much, that we don't even really want, because, for whatever reason, we're lingering in our own expectations, whatever reason, we're continuing pull the wool over our own eyes to pretend things are different than they really are. And this can be very difficult awareness to have, because the world life is constantly changing, even if something was true once, that doesn't in any way mean it'll be true forever. Truth is something that exists in the present moment, that exists now. It takes a lot of discipline, it takes a lot of courage, it takes a lot of strength to stay grounded in the truth, to stay aware, to keep our eyes open, to not go back to sleep, to not be inert with expectation or fantasy and the illusion, to actually look at what is to actually look at what we're getting out of this life, what this experience is really like, how things are really going, what we really want, what we really don't want, how things actually feel.
Because there can be all sorts of very loud, very powerful voices in our lives, in our culture, in our experience, coaching us away from our own knowing. Because sometimes at least, this knowing can be highly inconvenient. Sometimes this knowing can be a little scary, can sound a little bit dangerous, can sound threatening, especially to someone who's trying to get something. It can sound alarming and threatening to us when we're trying to get something. We can feel the rug being pulled out from underneath us. We can feel this possible potential future being stolen from us because of this unfortunate reality, this uncomfortable truth.
But at some point we all have to acknowledge that either we're living in the truth, we're living in reality, we're living in what's real or not, and we can choose to do with that information whatever we wish. But it's important to be honest with ourselves. Relationship with ourselves is the most important relationship that we have. It's the most load-bearing relationship on our life, on our experience of life. Our relationship with ourselves is reflected in myriad ways across our entire life experience. We can see how we really feel about ourselves, what we really think about ourselves. All around us, it's obvious. Everything in our life gets imbued with a similar energy. There's a congruence there, there's a symmetry there, because if we're not being honest with ourselves, then in some way we've probably also cut off our own feeling. We've cut off our own ability to feel, usually because it's inconvenient, usually because it isn't helpful, usually because we just don't know what to do with that information.
It's funny I used to get so frustrated when I'd read any sort of self-help book, when I'd read any book that purported to solve a problem, but it wouldn't tell me what to actually do. And it seems like this formula would be repeated over and over and over again, probably because it's a brilliant way to sell books. But you'd buy this 300-page book and it would spend 280 pages describing the problem, and then the last 20 pages would be kind of simple platitudes about ways to possibly solve this problem. But I'd always come out of that unsatisfied. I was come out of that like wait a minute, it's like you're trying to explain something to me that I already know. I bought this book, I read this book because I'm already experiencing this. I don't need you to explain it to me. I need to figure out what to do about it. But the problem was no book could have ever told me really completely what to do about anything, because it's just a book.
In a lot of ways, I was outsourcing the clarity that I was looking for to someone else because I wasn't being aware, I wasn't using my awareness to actually take stock of what I already knew, to actually look at my own experience, look at how things were actually going, look at the reality right in front of me, see what's going on, look, listen, feel, really feel what things feel like. Let that tell me something. Let that communicate something to me that in most situations I actually had all the information I needed. I had all the evidence that I needed. But the solution wasn't obvious because I wasn't really dwelling in reality, I wasn't really grounded in the present, I wasn't really paying attention. I was trying to leap forward, I was trying to jump to the end. I was trying to get some sort of solution that I could apply as quickly as possible so I could just jump out of whatever discomfort I was experiencing.
But that's the thing about taking shortcuts, trying to solve our own problems, because universally we miss something, we skip over something. Usually we skip over something vital because we're too impatient, we're too afraid, we're too insecure to really let things play out, to really dwell and exist in our own lives. But it's so easy to let discomfort urge us, compel us to just leap out of ourselves. We can do this. We can try to leap into someone else and get overly involved with what they're doing. We can leap into entertainment, we can leap into various substances that will distract and numb us in some way. It's hard to stay present, it's hard to stay aware, it's hard to be confronted on all sides with reality. It's a lot easier to pretend, it's a lot easier to imagine, it's a lot easier to escape, because life is hard, lessons are hard, growth is hard and we have a culture that seems to try to sell us quick and easy solutions from every angle.
There are countless people trying to sell us solutions to our problems when in reality at least some of the time, if not most of the time the person best equipped to solve our problems is us, is ourselves. It's one of the unfortunate things that happens when we constantly lean on other people to solve our problems for us is they end up solving our problems their way, if they even address our problems at all. This can really get us stuck into patterns. This can really cause a bit of a loop, because we're listening to this person, we're attending this seminar, we're buying this book, we're listening to this podcast. We're doing all sorts of different things, trying to get someone else to tell us what to do, trying to use someone else's way to solve whatever problem we're facing.
Of course perspective is valuable. Of course, it is valuable to listen to and learn from other people, but no one's experience is 100% like us, especially when it comes to someone that we don't really have a direct relationship with. They're working on scanned information about us. At best, they're working on a lot of assumptions. They're working on a lot of generalities. That's kind of like the whole idea of getting too reliant on statistics telling us the truth, when in reality there's no such thing as an average anything. It can be so easy to think about a problem and boil it down to norms and averages, especially anything involving people.
Every single person is unique. Every single person's problem is unique. Sure, there are definitely commonalities. Sure, there are definitely things that can be applied in general, but no two people need the exact same thing. Even if people's problems seem similar, no two people's problems will be solved in exactly the same way, which is why we always have to stay involved in our own lives. We always have to stay involved in solving our own problems. We always have to take responsibility for ourselves, because otherwise we don't really have a chance at the comfort and the liberation and the freedom that we really want. We don't really have a chance at the fullness, at the security, at the confidence that we really want as long as we are fully dependent on anyone or anything else.
Because ultimately, in order to be free, we're the ones who have to set ourselves free. We're the ones who have to take responsibility. We're the ones that have to take back authority over our own life, because, especially when we're looking at our lives, especially when we're being honest about what the cost of what we're doing really is, as long as we are being honest about what the cost of not doing what we're not doing really is, we're the only ones who can really ever fully know that. We're the only ones who can ever really fully calculate that. We're the ones who can only ever fully appreciate that, because ultimately it's personal. Whatever situation we're in, whatever change we want to make, whatever life we want to live, whatever our preferences are, whatever our desires are, that's always completely personal.
Because it's completely personal, it's important, it's vital, at least on a fundamental level. We're the ones directing our own life, we're the ones taking responsibility for our own life Because we're the ones living it. We're the ones doing what we do, we're the ones making the choices that we make and, ultimately, we're the only ones who can directly, deeply influence our own life, especially over a longer term. And so it's important to be honest. It's important to be honest with ourselves, especially when we look at our life and we really start to look and we really start to listen and we really start to feel and we really start to inhabit our own life experience, we really start to fully experience our own life experience. It's important to be honest with ourselves.
What's the cost with what we're doing? What's the cost of not doing what we're not doing? Where is this really getting us? What do we really want? We only have one life. Are we really fully living it? How would our life be different if we endeavored, if we tried, if we made the attempt to live it fully, to make it fully ours, to make it as real and as meaningful and as authentic and true as we possibly can? And, of course, we all have obligations, we all have responsibilities.
This isn't about blowing up our lives or sacrificing anyone or anything else unnecessarily. This is about knowing ourselves, this is about honoring ourselves and this is about facing the reality of what our lives are actually like, breaking through the fog of our own thinking, our own expectations, breaking through the fog of the thinking and the expectations of those around us and really becoming aware of what is, of what's true, of what's real. Because whenever we make the choice to include something in our life, we make the simultaneous choice to exclude something else. Our life is a finite container. It can only hold so much, especially when resources are involved, whether they be money, time, effort, energy. All of those resources are finite. There's only so much to go around and it's important to ask ourselves.
It's important to know how wisely am I utilizing the resources of my own life? Are my days well spent? Is my life well spent or am I waiting? Or am I waiting for something else to change? Am I waiting for something else to happen? Am I waiting for someone else to do something? Am I waiting for my life to change based on some sort of external circumstance? And, if so, in what ways can I stop waiting? Can I start to actually do the thing? Can I start to actually be who I really am? In what ways can I seize a sense of meaning and wholeness and fullness and reward and joy and passion and success?
Now, if there's something I'm not doing, I'm not including in my life, then on some level I feel I actually need to. It's more than a want. This feels like part of me. This feels like part of myself that's been silenced, that's been muzzled, that's been muffled. What would it be to start to express that? What would it be, if there is no expression, to just acknowledge it, just know that it's there. What would it be to look around at my life and be honest about what the effects of what I'm doing really are, to look at my life and look how closely does this actually match an ideal version of myself? How full is my life really? And how does my life match who and what I really am Really?
And entertaining some of these thoughts can feel a little scary, can feel a little bit dangerous, because what do these answers mean? What if I start to feel, I start to sense a void? What if I start to feel and I start to sense a conflict? What if I start to feel and realize that some part of my life feels wrong, feels missing, feels incomplete? What do I do with that information? I've got way too much momentum. I've got way too much writing on what I'm doing. I've got a family to support, I've got bills to pay, I've got expectations on me, I have a social standing, I have relationships and all those things feel very vulnerable if I start to entertain too many of these ideas. Well, if that's the case, I would say these ideas aren't dangerous if they're true, if they're real, because what's true is already true, no matter how much we try to ignore it. No matter how much we try to trick ourselves, no matter how much we try to renegotiate or reconcile, the truth is always the truth, whether we like it or not.
But the nice thing is, the beautiful thing, is we get to choose what we do with this information. We don't have to act on anything we don't want to act on, because this in and of themselves are not dangerous, and there's value in knowing the truth. There's value in acknowledging the truth. There's value in living a life we actually feel good about. There's value in living a life that actually makes sense. There's value in living a life that's grounded in something more than just ideas, than just expectations, than just fantasy, than just illusion, than just appearance. Living a life that is real and true and deep and rich and meaningful is its own reward.
But we're the ones that have to craft it, we're the ones that have to pursue it, we're the ones that have to choose it, and of course we should be responsible. Of course we should care about other people. We also have to care about ourselves. We also have to care about the truth. We also have to honor, acknowledge the truth when we come across it, because if there's one thing I know for sure is that lying to ourselves never ends well, never feels good, never leads to anywhere we want to actually go.
So if we're in a situation where an uncomfortable truth has made itself known, the most important thing is that we acknowledge it. It can be a very uncomfortable feeling, but we don't have to leap to the first possible solution because of our discomfort. We can sit in this knowing Like we've all had this happen at least once or we've been in some sort of situation, we've been in some sort of relationship, we've been in some sort of circumstance where we realize this isn't right. And not only is this not right, but this will never be right, this is a bad fit, this is a wrong thing. We've included ourselves in something that's not actually for us, and working our way out of it can be really complicated, can be really hard. But I've found anyway that once I have that awareness, once I've realized that I'm doing something that doesn't actually serve me, doesn't actually fit me, is actually making my life worse. Just sitting with that information, being able to take that uncomfortable realization and just sit with it For a little while anyway, is enough. It's enough just to know, because a lot of times, problems didn't show up overnight, and so the solution won't show up overnight either.
It was a process getting ourselves into whatever situation we're in, and it may very well be a process to get ourselves out, and we can find a responsible, skillful, reasonable way to do so. But it starts with acknowledging the truth. It starts with acknowledging reality. It starts with being aware of how things actually are.
I've had this come up several times in a professional setting where I've been involved in some sort of job or some sort of project, and I may have even been really excited about it and put a lot of effort into it and had all sorts of ideas about how this was going to flourish and be amazing. But then I actually get into it and I realize no, this isn't it, this isn't right, this isn't good. That's really hard to sit with Because, like a lot of us, I assume, I've been coached into the idea that winners never quit. The best way to accomplish anything is to grind, is to stay at it and just push and push and push and push and push some more Until finally, through brute force and effort, whatever outcome I'm trying to create actually happens.
But that's one of the gifts of mid-age. I don't have the same energy, I don't have the same naivete that I used to. I can't persist in a bad situation as long as I used to be able to. And even when I realize this, it doesn't mean I can immediately snap my fingers and solve my problems. Sometimes I have to stick with a bad situation for a while, but at least I'm not deceiving myself, at least I'm living in reality and through that realization that this situation wasn't actually good, isn't actually for me then I can kind of crack the door, I can create a little bit of space to start thinking about what to do next, what to transition to next, because nothing is forever, everything is temporary and sure. When we're in a bad situation it can feel like forever. It can be a situation where every day feels like a week, every week feels like a month, every month feels like a year, with no end in sight. But that's not actually true. Of course, everything changes.
We all go through far more transitions and transformations in our lives than we think we do, and that next transformation, that next change can be kicked off, can be started with just acknowledging and accepting the need for change, knowing that things need to be different, even if we have no idea what to do about it in that moment. That awareness, at least to start, is enough. That's enough to create a subtle shift in the direction of our life, a subtle shift in the momentum of how much energy that we've been investing in what we've been doing, and to start finding little bits of energy that we can invest elsewhere, that we can start to extricate ourselves In the negative situations in our lives by acknowledging that they're negative in the first place and then putting effort towards whatever comes along that seems like it might be better, and keep moving in that direction. Keep doing whatever. That is Because, even though, through our discomfort, we may want things to change instantaneously, I think, if we look at our lives, a lot of the best changes had to develop over time.
It was a process, there were levels to it that we had to walk through. We couldn't jump from level one to level ten. We had to walk through one step at a time, because we wouldn't have been equipped to get there in one leap. We had to actually walk the path. We had to actually take the journey, and oftentimes that journey can start by just acknowledging how things actually are, what the cost of what we're doing really is, then make the decisions, and then make the best decisions we possibly can with that information. Use our experience, use our discernment, use our knowing, use our intuition, use all the resources we have available to create change, to do something different, because oftentimes we know far more than we give ourselves credit for.
Oftentimes it's a much bigger challenge to be able to acknowledge what we really know, and sometimes it's our body that knows things before our mind does. Sometimes we can be in a situation where our mind is 100% committed to what we're doing, but our body knows something different. We find that when we involve ourselves in a situation, our energy dips, that we always feel worse after than we did before. We can find ourselves procrastinating, we can find ourselves cutting corners, we can find ourselves avoiding the very thing that we're supposed to be doing. Sometimes this is out of fear, sometimes this is out of insecurity, but sometimes this is out of a knowing. Sometimes this is out of something. Our body knows that, on a visceral level, our body is resisting whatever we're doing. Our body is unwilling to go along.
At the very least, our body isn't energized and engaged towards whatever we're doing, and in these circumstances it's important to listen, even if I might not at all be clear why or what we can even do about it. It's important to listen. The why and the what usually become clear later. In the beginning, at least, in the moment at least, feeling. The feeling, paying attention, being aware, is what matters, is what will set up whatever change we're trying to create. We have to listen, we have to pay attention, we have to feel first, because when we're ignoring ourselves, we're missing out on so much feedback, we're missing out on so much information, we're missing out on so much helpful guidance that we could be tuning into, especially to our mind, with all of its plans, a lot of that guidance can feel really unhelpful or inconvenient or, at the very least, uncooperative. Like, come on, we have a plan, we're trying to get something done. We need you digging your heels in and lollygagging away. But again, maybe a part of us knows something that other parts of ourselves need to know as well. Maybe there's a knowing that we're avoiding because it's inconvenient, because it's ill-timed, because it seems like an obstacle, like it seems in the way.
Whatever goals we have, whatever momentum we've created, whatever we're trying to get out of life, we'll always have to reckon with the truth. One way or the other, it will always make itself known. It will always be a fundamental part of our experience. So we might as well become aware of it. We might as well be friended, because working against the truth, fighting the truth, definitely isn't going to give us the quality of life we're after, definitely isn't going to give us the kind of experience we're after. Might as well, engage with it. We might as well allow it to do what it's trying to do Just communicate something. Might as well, let the truth help us learn and grow. We might as well allow the truth to help make our lives better, because then our lives are more in tune, more imbued with the truth, with reality, with what's real, with what we actually want and what we actually want as a whole being not what a fractional part of ourselves wants.
We can connect with deeper, more fundamental wants when we pay attention, when we listen, when we notice, when we acknowledge. Through this listening, through this noticing, through this acknowledging, we can find our way to life with more depth, we can find our way to a life with more richness, we can find a way to a life that's full of all the things we really want, all the things we're really after that, underneath all of our striving, underneath all of our attainment, underneath all of our accumulation, the things that we're really going for, the things that really matter, can allow some of the quieter or more subtle or deeper part of ourselves to lead us toward. We can trust ourselves, we can trust our feelings, and just because a feeling is true doesn't mean the first thought we have about that feeling is exactly what we should do. Feelings have to be interpreted. When they're being interpreted, feelings have to be felt. Sometimes they have to be sat with for a while.
We can use our feelings, understand our feelings. We can entertain various possibilities and various options and use our feelings to guide us to which one feels right. We don't have to completely overwhelm our feeling with our thinking. We can integrate the two. We can imbue our thinking with feeling and we can imbue our feeling with thinking. This is how we become whole. This is how we utilize and live through all parts of ourselves, by allowing all parts of ourselves to speak, by giving attention to all parts of ourselves, by listening and acknowledging all parts of ourselves.
And when something isn't right, when something has a cost that we haven't accounted for, we can listen, we can acknowledge, we can value that communication, we can value that feedback and know that the clarity on what to do about it will come. And when the clarity comes we'll know it because we're utilizing our full selves, not just hitting parts of ourselves against each other. We're united, we're whole and we can make the decisions for ourselves. We can do the things that are wholly correct for us and we'll know they're wholly correct for us because they come through, they come with the whole of ourselves. I hope you enjoyed this episode. All episodes are given freely. If you feel inspired to give, please visit theunionpathcom. Forward slash, donate. If you have a question, you can contact me at theunionpath at gmailcom. Take care and all the best.
Transcribed by https://podium.page