What Changes

The human race is not going to change because you’ve embarked on a spiritual path. Nor is your perception of the human race going to change. What changes is your attachment to the human race and to the world. And then your perceptions change. Maybe.

Here is a totally made up scenario, but it’s very typical of what I often hear from students:

Mary is married to George and they have three children. George has always been pretty much about George. When he’s not working, he’s watching TV or playing computer games or hanging out with his friends. George has no real interest in his home and only nominal interest in his children. He’s particularly interested in his children when they share an interest with him, like a computer game or a TV show.

Mary lived with George and knew what he was like before they had children, but she thought that having children would change him. It has not. Mary has a different set of values. Though she works too, she puts her marriage and her children and the care of her home first. Her family and home take up all of her free time. She thought for a long time that George should have the same values. A few years ago she became a student of A Course in Miracles and realizes that her unhappiness in her marriage is because of her perceptions of George as lazy and selfish. She has been struggling to see the Holy Spirit in George and sometimes she thinks she succeeds, but really overall she’s still unhappy with him.

This is the point where students will contact me, either casually or for formal mentoring. Mary has shifted from blaming George to blaming herself for not being able to change her perceptions of him. She accepts that George is not going to change. That’s a positive step. But she still wants him to. This is where she’s stuck.
Mary isn’t wrong to see George as lazy and selfish because, frankly, he is. Choosing to see Spirit does not mean that you have to pretend that a person is not who they are. In fact, you choose to see Spirit instead of the person. Mary’s real problem is that she perceives herself as separate from God, which means she perceives the world as her reality. Her next step is to make her relationship with the Holy Spirit her primary relationship. She needs to commune with God daily, to practice the holy instant, to consciously choose to see God’s Love instead of the world (forgiveness), and to develop an ongoing conversation with the Holy Spirit. In time, God will be restored in her awareness as Reality and the world will fade into the background. She will no longer need George to be a certain way to be happy herself. She has a partner in the Holy Spirit. And it’s also likely, though not certain, that her perception of George will change. George has said for years that he sees his working 40-60 hours a week to bring home the bacon to be his contribution to the family. He says he loves her and the kids and that going to work day after day is his way of showing that. Mary begins to hear this because she’s no longer holding on to an idea of who George should be. She realizes that she and George have different values and different ways of showing their love. Since she doesn’t need him to make her whole, she can accept him how he is, even if that is lazy and selfish. She becomes grateful for all that he does do. And George may change, too, though this isn’t guaranteed either. George may be liberated by her change in attitude. The pressure to be something he isn’t is off of him. And just as she’s become grateful to him, he becomes more willing to give. Occasionally, he actually takes out the trash without her having to ask. Sometimes he sees how much she does for him and for the family and he takes the kids for a day so she can have time for herself.

Mary’s choice to be back in touch with Reality will not change George. Nor will it change her observation of George as lazy and selfish. What it will do is result in her shrugging off -- maybe even laughing off -- George’s behavior, because it won’t matter since it isn’t Reality to her.

www.acimmentor.com find information on one-on-one mentoring, a free weekly telephone study group, study and practice aids, and answers-by-topic from this blog.


Anonymous said…
I completely understand.I've already taken these very steps in my own marriage. But what if some of the things that your life- partner is doing is hurting you (not physically)the family, finances and so forth , do you still turn the cheek and accept it as not real.
ACIM Mentor said…
I suspect you haven't taken some of these steps if you still see your partner's behavior as "hurting" you or anyone else. All behavior is neutral; "hurting" is a judgment.

Once you realize that you cannot be hurt by anything but your own thoughts about a situation you need then to look at the practical results of your partner's behavior. Without the judgment of "hurt" you can now look at their behavior with detachment and you may find answers you never thought of -- for example, compromises you can make with your partner. Without the emotional charge of "you're hurting me" they may respond to your impersonal suggestions postively. If, however, you find that their behavior truly does put you or your family at risk (financial, for example) and that they are not going to change you can then determine whether or not you want to continue in the relationship.

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