Spiritual Challenge in Aisle 2
Would you say that you are generally a proactive person?
I used to think that I was. That is, until I began to study Kabbalah at The Kabbalah Centre.
I have been a student of Kabbalah since 1990. It is the longest commitment that I have ever made in my life! And, after all this time, you would think that I would be the kind of person who smiles all the time, only imparts words that are pearls of wisdom and occasionally gives out flowers and smiles to strangers at the airport.
"Would you say that you are generally a proactive person?"
What I have come to learn and appreciate about my spiritual path is that spiritual growth and evolvement, like everything else, is never as it seems.
For example, I was teaching a class recently. We were discussing how to apply the Proactive Method. It is a tool that we use to help transform our reactive, robotic thinking and actions into proactive thoughts and actions.
If you don’t know what the Proactive Method is, it looks like this:
A challenge comes up and you recognize you are being reactive. What do you do?
"If you don’t know what the Proactive Method is, it looks like this."
When something triggers my reactive nature:
At a later time, depending on how traumatic the event is, I can ask “Why is it in my movie?”
(When I am ready to address it, I can ask, “What is the gift that the universe wants to give me?”)
Sounds good, right?
I challenge you to try it. In fact, I challenge you to remember what you just read!
It seems like an easy thing to do. But, when I shared a recent personal experience in a class I was teaching, and I asked them how they would apply this tool, they didn’t get it. Can you figure out how to apply the Proactive Method in the following scenario? Here is what happened to me recently.
I was shopping in the supermarket. As a matter of fact, many of my spiritual lessons and opportunities take place there for some mysterious reason. Just saying.
I loaded my cart, feeling pressured for time because I was running behind schedule. In spite of the growing internal pressure, I patiently waited in a ve-e-e-r-ry long line. I congratulated myself on employing the patience of a saint, when, in an instant, a product on one of the shelves not far from the register caught my eye. After glancing at it for a moment, I decided that it wasn’t worth taking the risk of losing my place on line.
The line started to move as I turned my attention forward again. Just when I was about to push my cart up to the register, an elderly woman with the speed and chutzpah of a Hell’s Angel biker, shoved her cart in front of mine. With her meek husband in tow, she shot me a dirty look and said to me in a distinct New York accent, “It’s your own fault. You snooze, you lose.”
Well, I must admit. A thought briefly crossed my mind that went something like this: “Why that B@$%^! Who does she think she is?! I ought to grab her cart and move it out of the way, say something nasty, and give her a dirty look in return.”
After all, I was bigger than her and pretty sure that I could take her in a fight if necessary. (Please don’t judge me.)
"Spiritual growth is never as it seems."
So, that was the incident.
I asked the class how they would apply the Proactive Method in this case. A few students gave responses like:
(In other words), they clearly did not understand the Proactive Method!
Here is how I explained how to apply the Proactive Method:
"It is not spiritual to pretend to be spiritual."
I realize that my reactive thoughts are in full bloom. I choose to pause them. I say, “What a pleasure!” because it stops my robotic reactive programming in its tracks.
I say to myself, “This situation is coming from the Light.” There is no such thing as accidents or random events. This is meant to be an opportunity for my personal growth! It is a gift from the Creator. “Thank you, Creator!” (Said with a cheery smile.)
I think that instead of getting her back, I will embrace this opportunity to starve my ego of instant gratification. I await instructions from my Higher Self as to how to proceed.
I decide to become the Cause, instead of being the Effect of this situation. I am not going let this minor incident ruin my day. Instead, I choose to think of this person as an angel (no longer a Hell’s Angel, but the other kind) sent here to give me an opportunity to exercise more compassion and tolerance for my fellow human beings. I regard her with compassion and grace.
Now, doesn’t that feel better?
I am sure that it would have felt better - if I had done that.
Unfortunately, I am a slow learner.
I confess that I forgot all about the Proactive Method at first. Instead, I let my reactivity get the best of me as I judged her severely and blurted out to her that what she did was not very nice. I repeated “Not very nice” a few more times for a more dramatic effect. (In other words, I gave her a guilt trip.)
"Practice. Fail. Fall. Struggle with it. It’s all worth it."
To which she replied with a shrug, direct eye contact and a very succinct comeback to my unsuccessful attempt to control her. She said, “Tough.” (In other words, your guilt trip ain’t working on me, you rookie!)
What?!! Now, I am really reactive!
Don’t worry. This story ends well. I finally got a grip on my reactive self and was able to successfully apply the Proactive Method on the second round.
As we learn at The Kabbalah Centre, we are all boxers in the boxing ring of life with our own unique Opponent. Yes, I got knocked down, but I got up again. (‘cause they’re never gonna take me down!’)
So, the take away of this story is: It is not spiritual to pretend to be spiritual. It is spiritual to be real.
Please accept my gift of the Proactive Method. Practice. Fail. Fall. Struggle with it. It’s all worth it when you choose to get back up again.