Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson


            I have been manifesting some life lessons lately. Life lessons are experiences that we come to this planet to have and learn. The difference between life lessons and the ordinary daily lessons we experience is that life lessons often involve deeply rooted, often-subconscious beliefs that cause us to limit ourselves and suffer.  These are our “sacred cows,” the beliefs that are so deeply imbedded into our psyche that we don’t even know they are there. We manifest “life lessons” to bring our attention to the root cause of these experiences so that we can see what is limiting our consciousness and life experiences.

            One of the most frequent life lessons involves relationships. Relationships include any interaction, whether it is with a parent spouse, child, coworker, boss, or authority figure. If you are experiencing disharmony, lack, frustration, negative emotions of any kind, or feelings of abandonment or rejection, you can be sure it is a life lesson which you are creating to show you a belief that is no longer working for you.

            If someone is not behaving like you want and you are suffering as a result, the first step is to detach from the drama of the situation and ask yourself what you need to see about this experience. It is likely that this experience has happened before in your life and you need to see the pattern of it. If at anytime you have said to yourself  “not again”, you can be sure that there is a pattern you need to see about your behavior, not the behavior of other person. Anytime you blame suffering on another person, this is perhaps a life lesson on how you always project your issues on another person.

            One of the most common causes of suffering in relationship is the subconscious attempt of one person to make the other responsible for his/her happiness. We all know that only we are responsible for our happiness, but if you experience suffering because of the behavior of someone else, this is called “disempowerment” or making someone other than yourself responsible for your happiness. If someone’s behavior can cause you great joy or great suffering, you have likely disempowered yourself to that person.

            True power is created when we can stay grounded and centered no matter what someone else is doing. We lose our power or give our power away when we make ourselves miserable due to the behavior of someone else. Did someone say an unkind word that caused suffering? You gave your power away. Feelings hurt? You gave your power away. Are you anxious or worried about someone or something? You have given your power away. Are you experiencing feelings of lack or victimhood? You have given your power away.

            Thousands of self-help books claim to prescribe the formula for self-empowerment. You don’t need to read a book; you just have to accept the fact that you are giving your power away every time you don’t like something.  If you can recognize what you are doing, you can simply stop it. If you are not aware you are doing it, you can’t change anything. So if you are mired in the fear of lack or victimhood, you probably will have a hard time understanding that you created this situation so you can see how you are giving your power away. So accept the responsibility of your creation and stop resisting.

            There are a couple of simple (maybe not easy) ways to take your power back. The goal is to be happy with yourself no matter what is going on around you. The most powerful person in the world is the person who is happy. Do you feel alone and unloved? Be happy and see how people are magnetized to you. Do you feel like you are a loser? Be happy and see the abundance flow. Do you feel like you are a victim? Be happy and you will never be a victim again. 

            So the ultimate question is how to get off the drama train and be happy. The only thing that is required to be happy is to understand you are God’s representative here on Earth and you are experiencing your life to rejoin God. Now if you are an atheist, you can be happy if you understand that happiness flows from acceptance. There is nothing wrong with the planet, only our perception of it. What we experience in life is not as important as what we believe about what we experienced.  If we believe something is good, all will be good and we will experience a life filled with light. If we believe it is bad, we will experience a life filled with darkness and shadow. It is all the same life; the difference is how we perceive it.

            Just remember when we receive life lessons, we asked for this. All of us on the spiritual path asked for enlightenment, consciousness or just a better life. The joke is that life happens when we had something else planned. The reality is that when we asked for enlightenment we left kindergarten and immediately enrolled in the graduate level programs of consciousness. At that level we have to be responsible for everything we perceive, including our happiness. We have to quit giving our power away to people, places and things and start reclaiming our own happiness. This is the source of true power.

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson


           Ah, a new day…a day of beginning, promise, hopes and plans. The day “resolutions” are born. Everyday we can remember the past and seek changes to improve our lives. My thoughts today are on strength. It is said that only the strong survive, but in this male dominated left-brain world, this is normally interpreted to mean the physically strong. So we lift weights, worship the low fat body, and exercise ourselves into a frothy lather trying to be strong in the way our egos, our left-brain, would have us be. Our society worships the male form without fat, muscles rippling, plainly defined. Interestingly enough, the male ideal form has not changed much over the millennium, while the female ideal changes over time. Now we worship emaciated models whose height/weight proportions are insane. I wonder if anyone has done a study on the life expectancy of a runway model. Fifty years ago society worshipped the Rubenesque form with the healthy curves of Marilyn Monroe or Jane Mansfield.

            I think the reason that we have seen these changes is due to the effect of civilization on the human psyche. When people became domesticated and lived together in large groups, certain beliefs started to manifest in males versus females. Roles were assigned by subconscious agreement; men assumed (grabbed?) the role of authority and survival and sacrificed their nurturing instincts. Women did the opposite, sacrificing their desire for survival and authority for the capacity to nurture. Thus we created the male dominated society.

            Today we see these roles changing, thank God. Women are becoming more empowered, taking on leadership roles in numbers unparalleled in history. Men are becoming more nurturing, willing to let women share the responsibility of leadership. Women gather to empower themselves, men gather to get in touch with their feelings. Slowly but surely we are becoming more balanced. In the far distant future perhaps we will become more androgynous, only time will tell.

            I agree that the strong will survive, but not the physically strong. The strength that will survive is strength of character, integrity, compassion and self-worth. It is said that the species that will survive is not the species with the strongest physical form; it is the species that is the most flexible with the ability to adapt. So unless we become more flexible, more compassionate and more caring about one another, we may in fact be replaced as the dominant species on the planet. It is not the strength of acquisition that will survive; it is the strength of sharing. It takes a much stronger person to sacrifice for the good of the people than someone to accumulate wealth.

            “Where does this strength come from?” one may ask. This strength arises from our undeniable ability to love one another. It comes from our focus on higher spiritual truths, that we are all connected and we have to put each other before ourselves. It is said that the wealth of the major churches/temples/sects/religions would feed every man, woman and child on this planet for thousands of years. I do not believe that God would approve of such hoarding. On an individual level, whenever we do not share our blessings, wealth and gifts, we also risk poverty of the spirit.

            So on this day, I resolve to think of others before myself. That is it. I don’t want to lose weight, I don’t want to learn a new sport, and I don’t want to accomplish anything other than to improve my connection with the God of my understanding. All of the major religions say this: be joy, be love, be compassionate, bring peace, and do no harm. This is the strength that will survive

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson


           I am amused by all of the self-improvement empowerment literature that discuss how we dis-empower ourselves by thinking dis-empowering thoughts. This line of thinking recommends that we think empowering thoughts, make empowering choices and live empowered lives. I could not put my finger on why this huge cultural phenomenon did not ring true to me. Then I remembered that Albert Einstein once said, “You can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it.”  The problem is not how I am thinking; the problem is that I am thinking.

           A lot of the self-empowerment focus is on how to be wealthy and abundant. I suspect that most people would rather be happy. I know that when I am happy, I don’t care whether I have a big bank account, material things, the perfect soul mate, or anything else for that matter. The defining question in my life at this time is “am I happy?”  If I am not happy, then I know I have moved from my heart into my head.

           I often contemplate the difference between living in my heart and my head. One of the greatest moments of my life was to discover that there is a difference between being in my heart and in my head. At one of his workshops several years ago, Derek O’Neill taught a meditation of looking at life through the heart. It took a bit of practice until I finally felt and experienced the difference between looking at life through my mind and looking at life through my heart.

          When I look at life through my mind, the first thing I notice is all of the thoughts that are rapidly crossing my mind. Either critical or analytical thoughts, or both, fill my awareness and quickly steal my happiness from me. I am obsessive-compulsive by nature, that is why I was such I good lawyer. This is also attributable to an over developed defensive radar that is constantly scanning the horizon for danger. When my primitive brain is activated into the fight or flight mode, my mind goes on overload and is calculating at warp speeds. My self-perpetuating mind wants this condition to exist at all times which gives it something to do. I am a Leo, and my calculating analytical mind is constantly trying to figure out how to conquer the world. Leo’s are particularly well suited to rule the world, by the way. We just have problems convincing everyone else of this well-known fact.

          When I look at the world through my heart, it seems like I have stepped into a completely different dimension, which has a completely different perspective. I look at life as completely safe and wonder-filled place to be, and I can truly believe and trust that there are no dangers on the horizon. I step into a place of harmony and equality; I am a part of the world, not separate from it. Duality disappears and all is one. I am at peace, and I have no memory of trauma or disappointment. I don’t care who rules the world, I am here to help people, not control them. It doesn’t matter whether I have ten dollars or one million dollars; I have faith that I will be given everything I need to exist.

           The most amazing difference between life viewed through my heart and life viewed through my mind is the absence of fear in my heart. I have to conclude that fear is not real; it is a figment of my imagination. In other words, it is a thought that my mind creates in order to give it something to do. After all, if I am afraid, my mind gets to work overtime. When I am in my heart, I do not fear. There is no fear, because there are no thoughts in my heart, only love.

           This is similar to “detaching” from my mind or my thoughts. Many meditations recommend that we detach or imagine that we are watching ourselves thinking. While difficult, it is possible to do this. At first, don’t get caught up in doing it for longer than a few seconds. It will take lots of practice to be able to sustain this detachment for more than a couple of minutes.

            I had an amazing realization recently, that when I am in my heart I am experiencing God, the divine creator who I AM. I get to experience the world as my higher self, my Christ self experiences it. Buddhists describe this as the Buddha that exists approximately 18 inches above the top of my head, and is illustrated in Christian art as the dove floating above Christ’s head. New Age practitioners describe this as the 8th or 10th chakra, depending on your school of thought.  It is typical that in trying to analyze and describe the aspects of living in our heart, our mind has projected that “place” out above our heads and as something separate from us. This is the basis of the belief that God exists somewhere “up there,” and not within us.

           So to answer all those people who contend that we should think differently to solve the problems that our thinking creates, good luck with that. I would suggest that we stop thinking from time to time and start living in our feelings and our hearts. Thinking will not make us happy, only being in our heart can make us happy. We do not need empowering thoughts; we need to stop thinking. This does not mean that we all move into caves and become yogis. This means we need to shift to another perspective on a regular basis and remind ourselves how it feels to connect with God through our hearts.