Have you ever felt stuck because of something that happened to you in the past? Do you feel you have to fix the past in order to create a new future? This episode explains how to stop giving away your power to others and past circumstances so you can truly have the freedom to live your fullest life. We discuss:
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How to Stop Giving Your Power Away Transcript
Welcome to Soul Sessions with CreativeMind with Debra Berndt Maldonado and Dr. Rob Maldonado of CreativeMind. Join us each week for inspiring conversation about personal development based on Jungian philosophy, Eastern spirituality, and social neuroscience. Spend each week with us to explore deep topics in a practical way. Let's begin.
Debra Maldonado 00:28
Hello, welcome to another episode of Soul Sessions with CreativeMind. I'm Debra Berndt Maldonado, here with Dr. Rob Maldonado. We have a great topic today. It's called How to Take Responsibility for Your Life. We are continuing our series on spiritual psychology. But before we begin and dive in, I want to remind you all to subscribe to us. If you're listening to us and watching us on YouTube, there’s a little button here in the corner, click and subscribe. If you're listening to us on one of the podcast services, make sure you subscribe, so that you do not miss any of these juicy episodes to expand your mind, expand your life, and get home before dinner. Let's talk about how to take responsibility for your life. It's really one of the biggest push backs we get from our students. People that do our work immediately go “I am not responsible for this, this, and this.” Let's talk about that.
Robert Maldonado 01:36
It's a big challenge, no doubt. But it's such an important one because no one else can do this for you, you have to do it yourself. No one can accept responsibility for your own life except you. Let's first talk about why that's important. What does that do?
Debra Maldonado 01:59
I’d love to say a Sigmund Freud quote. Sigmund Freud said “Most people do not really want freedom because freedom involves responsibility. Most people are frightened of responsibility.” What we are talking about here is that the whole personal development industry, even the mental health industry, there's a lot of talk about blaming the parents, blaming our childhood, blaming the past, ex-husband, bad relationships, toxic people, narcissists, they're all out there ruining our lives. There's nothing about taking responsibility for your life, because what you're doing is you're pushing that power away. When we think about Eastern philosophy, they say that the true self can never be harmed, can never be hurt, can never be damaged. What we're trying to do is really operate on such a surface level. We're just rearranging the furniture of our past experience, we're giving all that power, we're not able to choose our future because “That happened to me, so I can't have this” or “That person is in the way of getting this thing or this goal I want.” That's not a powerful place to be.
Robert Maldonado 03:24
Let's go back to what Siggy said, Sigmund Freud. He's equating it with power and freedom, and rightly so. Why would blaming others, first of all, take away our power? Whenever you project, whenever you say “Something out there causes me harm”, you're giving that experience the power, you're saying that experience is more powerful. The people involved in that experience have the power to hurt me.
Debra Maldonado 04:06
They have the power to take something from me, they have the power to stop me from living my fullest life. We know there's people that do terrible things. But if we give them the power to stop us, we're never free. Because you can't undo the past. You can't go back and punish the past that we’re trying to blame. The ego has this defense mechanism, it’s always looking backwards versus looking forward.
Robert Maldonado 04:36
It certainly appears that way. We acknowledge that it appears as if those experiences hurt us or took something from us, that they’re powerful, and indeed they’re very powerful. But if we ask what the source of their power is, it’s our own mind. It can’t be anything else. Your mind is the one giving those experiences the power. That understanding really returns the power to you, reclaims it, reintegrates it into its proper place, which is your awareness, your consciousness, your mind. Your mind is the source of that power.
Debra Maldonado 05:29
There's a devil's advocate here that comes into play. Do we blame ourselves? If we can't blame other people for our problems, do we blame ourselves? A lot of people talk about creating your life. Did I create those experiences? Did I attract that abuser? Did I pick that parent that was critical? There's all this talk about self blame. That's not what we're talking about when we take responsibility.
Robert Maldonado 06:00
Yes and no. From the ego perspective, from the individual limited perspective of our mind, which is the ego, it's our small thinking, our small I, it appears that way. They say “I created the mess in my life, the problems, the suffering that I experienced, somehow I was the one involved in that.” But if we look at it, or even if we just think it through a little bit further, what it means to accept responsibility even for the difficult things in our lives, then we start to see that it means that if I'm the creator, if I'm the one calling the shots, that means I can change it. That means I can create something different, something new. It requires a little bit of courage to accept that responsibility. Jung says transformation requires great moral courage because it requires us to accept the good and the bad.
Debra Maldonado 07:10
So if someone experiences a terrible childhood or experience, there's some element of them that was a participant in that, because something can't randomly happen to you? The thing is you're not conscious of it. It could be a pattern of abuse that's been passed to generation upon generation, you're born into a situation. That's a question we get a lot.
Robert Maldonado 07:42
This requires us to rethink that the I in that situation is the ego because if we think about the I as the doer and the experiencer, that’s true to some extent, but to a limited extent. What we understand from epigenetics, from genetics, from social psychology, how behavior is conditioned in all of us, how it is expressed in this intergenerational pattern, then we understand that the idea of the individual acting out of freewill is a false one. The people that appeared to hurt us, they were acting out of their own past conditioning, out of those forces, any one of us in their position would have acted the same way.
Debra Maldonado 08:44
If you weren't conscious and aware, if you weren't self aware, you would repeat. You're conditioned to act out of anger because that's in your DNA, or you've been suppressing it, then you act out of it, but you're not conscious. The person on the other side, what is their role in that? Is their role that they were in that space for some reason?
Robert Maldonado 09:08
They play out their parts unconsciously. Not out of free individual will, but out of conditioning, an expression of genetic and epigenetic potential.
Debra Maldonado 09:26
Are you talking about the victim?
Robert Maldonado 09:31
We're all caught up in these patterns. If you notice, families play out these patterns, cultures, societies play out these long held patterns. Change comes through individuals that accept responsibility for their own life and their own mind, then decide differently. Because taking back the power gives you the power of decision to choose something different.
Debra Maldonado 10:05
Let's say there wasn't a person involved as far as harming them, but a tragedy. Their child dying, their parent dying, they're in war zones. What about that as far as creating and taking responsibility?
Robert Maldonado 10:27
That's what people ask and want to know. The answer is that you're responsible for giving those experiences meaning. What it means is up to you, you're given complete freedom, like Freud says, to choose what that experience means to you. If you choose to make it something terrible, something that hurts you, you're a victim, life is terrible, it will always be terrible. You're recreating that, you're calling that up continuously. You're using that as the filter through which you see your life.
Debra Maldonado 11:13
A good example of this in business is the pandemic. A lot of business owners had to shut down. They were like “I guess I can't do business the same way, poor me. I got to do something else, it’s out of my control.” But a lot of people had lots of success during the pandemic because they were innovative. The event itself can present it as an opportunity or a curse in every situation.
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Debra Maldonado 12:43
I want to bring this up. When our parents were younger, maybe they were in their 20s, maybe they were struggling financially, they were under a lot of pressure, maybe they didn't love each other. There's a lot of stuff that we didn't see as kids, their parents conditioned them. When we see the person in their 20s, scrapping through and losing their temper, or being depressed, or whatever it was, we make them into a fixed image in our mind. When we grow up, we're in our 40s and 30s, we're looking at our parents as if they were still 20. We're still holding that picture of harm, or whatever that happened. That person is fixed. You said to me once that that person no longer exists. I'd love for you to explain that a little more, that concept. I thought that was so mind blowing when you said that.
Robert Maldonado 13:40
If we understand memory and look at how memory works in the mind, it's a beautiful way of recording our experiences and holding on to them. It's designed for survival. It's designed to give us a record of what we found to be useful, good, nourishing, nurturing, etc. Also to push away or understand, identify what was not good for us, what was harmful, what was painful, what was abrasive to us. It works really well in childhood because it gives us a record of what I want to move towards, what I want to stay away from, except that it's not a true record of reality. It's an interpretation of what is useful for our survival. That picture of what is useful for our survival, if we never augment it, if we never update it, it remains in our unconscious mind for the rest of our lives. We operate from that assumption that the world is the way we experienced our parents, the mother is either critical or nurturing, or beautiful, or great, or supportive. It's not a good way to live because most of us received a mixed message about what's possible, who we are in a very emotional sense. Our memory recorded the experience of emotion of those parents that were in their 20s and 30s. Our parents were young at that time. That's the image we carry for the rest of our lives. That plays into the way we do relationships, the way we do success.
Debra Maldonado 15:49
It's a projection. We project that old image of that person in that snapshot of a moment as this is how I deal with matter, the material world, which is the mother, how I deal with the unseen, my faith, my will, my mind through the father and sense of power. We have these fixed ideas, we carry them. For me, working on myself, exhaustingly, for so many years every workshop was about healing your relationship with your father, heal your relationship with the mean boss, heal your wounds. After a while, it's a lot of blame. Then the whole forgiveness thing, I forgive this person, you're so wrapped up in the past that you didn't have time to really say “Who am I outside of this? That was the old me. What do I want to create in a relationship? Who do I want to be in a relationship?” We just keep picking apart the past. That's the reason why I don't have a relationship, that's the reason why I'm not making money, that’s the reason why I don't have confidence, that’s the reason why I'm angry all the time, I have this illness because of this situation. We can go on and on. What are we going to do with all this stuff that happened to us? How are we going to fix it all? We can’t. The only thing we can do is in the moment, take responsibility and say “Those things happened to me, I understand it came from conditioning, I understand I got conditioning from it. But I'm not locked in by that.” When we take responsibility, we say “The past doesn’t have power over me. My ego may have been conditioned, but I am not my ego, I am something greater. No matter what happened to me, I am more powerful than anything that happened to me.” At the time, we felt powerless. Then we carry that powerlessness into the future. We continue that narrative of “That thing is the reason why I'm not getting things in life. I gotta keep undoing it and fixing it and examining it.” Then you're just wasting your whole life looking backwards and not saying “I gotta take responsibility, pack up my bag, pull up my big boy pants, let's go and create something new and use all the things that happened to me as inspiration maybe to help others who've gone through that and get yourself out of it.” You can help others. Everything that happened to us can be useful and can be an opportunity, even tragedies.
Robert Maldonado 18:32
Especially tragedies. Pain and suffering is a great motivator. But let's go back to projection because projection is the idea that the power is out there. We're projecting, it's a powerful ego defense because it gives us some space. It lets us off the hook temporarily. We say "If the power is out there, I'm not responsible for what happens to me, for my life and how it turns out. There are all these powerful forces out there that determine my fate.” Having the courage to take back that power restores the true source of the power, which is your mind. How do we do that? How do we get to that point? First, we have to think it through. What is the nature of this experience I'm having? What are those memories made out of? Are they real or are they interpretations? Are they constructs that are useful for our survival but we've grown and need to now take the reins of our own life, take the reins of our destiny. Definitely we need to take the reins of our own destiny and make real choices. It begins with accepting full responsibility. It's hard to accept that we had a hand in everything that happened to us to some extent.
Debra Maldonado 20:12
There's no other way to have power because as long as there's one little addendum that says “I take responsibility for all the good things I've created, but I don't take responsibility for this, you're not fully in it. It's almost like a leaky bucket, there'll be a little hole that no matter how much power you get and create in the world, it'll still have a little power leak, because you're still tethering yourself to something in the past or someone in the past you're still giving power to.
Robert Maldonado 20:48
When we start to see the nature of projection, it works like a mirror. If we're projecting our assumptions of what reality is and what's possible for us in that reality, all we have to do is look at what our reality is. What is showing up for us? What are the things I see as potential, as possibility or what lack do I see in my life? All those things reflecting back to us are projection. We're seeing it in living color. It's showing us what exactly our mind is on what our life and what our potential is. If we start to read it as that, then it's very instructive. I don't have to wonder if I see potential in my life or I just look at my bank account, at what a social situation is, if I see opportunity or lack of opportunity? All that is my own unconscious assumptions, my own past conditioning. That gives it away essentially, because if I understand that, then all I have to do is treat it as what it is. It's reflecting my own mind. What do I want to do with that?
Debra Maldonado 22:22
For example, when I was in the corporate world, I wanted to do something else, but I really didn't have an idea. My mind was reflecting that there's really nothing out there for me, this confusion. But when I got clear that I wanted to help people, at first I was just doing energy work, because I was like “This is really cool. I want to do this.” I started feeling this sense of in me, it was like all these other things started showing up. You're going to see your conditioning at first. Then there's gonna be a little sliver, there's this higher self that's showing you this little drop of possibility. The more you work with your mind, in Jung's term — individuate, where you move out of the ego conditioning, you're really becoming more self aware, you start to see more of those shiny glimmers of opportunity. You're gonna see half and half for a while. Then all of a sudden, your whole world starts, you evolve into seeing all the possibilities in your life, all the wonderful things you can have. But in the beginning, it feels like we have blinders on, we're only seeing our conditioning. That's why it's important to do our inner work. That's why it's important to work with our mind because our mind is showing us right in front of us where we are. Take responsibility, instead of projecting and saying “There's no opportunity out there”, you say “My mind is seeing no opportunity. Let me shift my mind, let me go inside.” That's what our work is all about, it is about going inside. A lot of it you're not conscious of, it's not just thinking positive or visualizing something different — which helps. We have to get into what's deeper in our unconscious that we can't see, that is reflecting out there, in plain sight. But we don't know how to read it because we think that's out there, that's not reflective of the mind.
Robert Maldonado 24:22
The results we see are the fruit of the tree, the roots are in the unconscious mind. But if we see the fruit, we can deduce what the roots are. If you see an orange, you know it comes from an orange tree. That's the same principle. Whatever we see as the fruits of our labor, the results of our life, it’s pointing to what the root is. The root is always in our unconscious mind, most of the time. But can we make it conscious? Absolutely, if we do self inquiry and if we understand that principle that we are the cause, the mind is the cause of our life. How do we do this in everyday life? You start with things that trigger you, or that push back to you.
Debra Maldonado 25:23
Or things that make you afraid, or get you to stop, or the things you complain about. I wish this was different or that was different. If that thing was only different, I’d be successful. If there were more available men on Tinder, I’d find that love. You're projecting your power out there.
Robert Maldonado 25:44
Whatever you feel limits you, whatever you feel as those blocks people talk about, something's blocking me — nothing is blocking you except your own mind.
Debra Maldonado 25:54
You're blocking yourself.
Robert Maldonado 25:56
But use it to go inward, to ask “Where's the root of that?” It's always in your own mind, therefore, you're going to find it, but you're going to find it within you. Once you find it within you, once you make that unconscious conscious, you become aware of it. It no longer has power over you. Then you have the choice, you can choose. What do you want it to be? What do you want your relationships to be about? What do you want your work to be about? What do you want your financial status to be about? All that is your choice. That realization is a powerful one because it means you're completely free, like Freud says, it will give you freedom to choose who you are and what your life is about.
Debra Maldonado 26:47
What's really important for me and my journey is I did a lot of self inquiry on my own, trying to self examine. But when I hired a coach, it's like they can see the possibilities that you can't see, that little glimmer. They laid up the glimmer in you, they're like a reflection of your potential because maybe they are further along than you are, living in possibility. It's like a transmission of waking up your inner self to see those possibilities. It's so important, everyone should have a coach because it really is very helpful. It's the modern practice of having a guru, not a wiser person that knows everything but someone who knows the mind, that can help you see those things, help you read the world, help you stop getting caught up in it and catch you, so you can cultivate the discipline, start working with your mind, retrieving and reading the world, seeing your own risk, taking responsibility. It's such a powerful thing. Coaches aren't supposed to heal you or do any technique on you to magically clear things. A real great coach, like our Jungian coaches, help you shine your own light, they reflect your own light, so that you can see who you really are in your true magnificence and all that possibility, get you out of that habit of thinking “This is the reason why I'm stuck. I'm always going to be stuck and have to blame it on this thing.” They can help you examine those thoughts, examine those feelings and get you to see a new perspective where your ego won't do it. It'll justify and keep you stuck in a circle. The coach is bringing in that light that is reflective of your light. They're not giving you light, they're reflecting your light and helping you on your way to see that. Isn't that beautiful?
Robert Maldonado 28:53
That's beautiful. Now we read Freud's quote in a different light. He says most people do not really want freedom because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility. But remember, if you're willing to accept responsibility for your life, then you have the choice to change it. That's the freedom and the power.
Debra Maldonado 29:26
I always say, when you invest in a coach, you're betting on yourself to win because it's an investment, it's something you're taking responsibility for. You're saying “I know I have it in me.” It's that confidence. You may not know how you're gonna get there, but that investment in yourself and personal growth, in your vision and your dreams is actually confirming somewhere inside. I'm betting on myself. I know I can make my dreams come true. It sounds fluffy, but it’s about having the relationship, having the success, having the health I want, having the things in life, even just being happy. I know that in me and I am betting on myself because I trust that deep within me, there’s something powerful and amazing that can overcome any obstacle. Great conversation. We’ll continue our series on spiritual psychology. I hope you enjoyed today. If you're listening to us on our podcast, through Spotify, iTunes, and all the wonderful podcast services, please subscribe so you do not miss an episode. Continue your journey to really becoming your true self and being happy in your life.
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