Dilemmas of Being
Knowing that you are always Oneness, always human, always choice-making, and always in your circumstances, now what? We are immersed in a multidimensional reality, and depending on which domain you focus on, there are conflicting commitments staring you down, at every turn.
Within each Domain, you have a set of beliefs, perceptions, values and priorities: In the Domain of Oneness, you are committed to experiencing union with the Divine, harmony with nature, people, and with all being. Peace, grace and serenity are what we are committed to. At the same time, we are committed to avoiding an experience of emptiness, experiencing annihilation, and the void.
Within the Domain of Humanness, we are committed to having direct experiences with what we consider to be our whole selves. This may include, happiness, connection, creativity, and playfulness. At the same time, we are committed to avoiding restlessness, anxiety, despair, and irritable discontent
Within the Domain of Personal Power, we are committed to being in control of our reality and asserting power over our lives and others’. We are committed to avoiding powerlessness, helplessness and those circumstances that have us feel as if we are out of control. And, within the Domain of Circumstance, we want what we want when we want it; and we are committed to avoiding any circumstance that will take away what we believe to be rightfully ours.
Our choice-maker is constantly choosing to choose what it chooses based on its ability to make sense of all the wants, desires and commitments we are juggling in our heads, in our hearts, bodies and souls. As you can see, this can get complicated. How do we make sense of all this and actually move ourselves in the direction of our highest good and our highest truth?
Values, Priorities and Commitments
How you choose to balance and prioritize anything is based on your hierarchy of commitments, and your commitments are based on values. Your top commitment is usually what you say out loud. At the same time, additional commitments call for attention, which create, more often than not, internal conflicts of interest; otherwise known as dilemmas. I have no doubt you know the experience of feeling stuck, caught, confused, anxious and stressed; progress happens slowly, or not all. The cause has yet to be determined. It feels like there is a problem, and that you don’t know what to do.
People in the midst of a dilemma decide that there must be something wrong with them; that they are inadequate, incompetent and a failure. Quite often they don’t even know that they are in a dilemma, or that they have an option to choose, and that it has absolutely nothing to do with inadequacy, incompetence and failure.
Another component of this dilemma is, when people don’t blame themselves – they blame everybody else as incompetence, inadequate failures. Its not their fault life is the way it is. They perceive themselves as a victim. They experience themselves as completely disempowered, helpless and that their lives and circumstances are hopeless.
Dilemmas pit an individual’s desire to fulfill a dream against a fear of loss: loss of dignity, money, property, security, stability; on and on. For too many of us, our motto is “Security at All Cost.” Whether it’s an individual’s personal or professional circumstance, the choice is always the same: Do I choose based on my fears or do I choose based on my truest desire to bring my highest contribution into manifestation?
In every arena of our lives, we have one or more dilemmas occurring, always!
In the midst of a dilemma, by distinguishing what we are committed to from our underlying and often times, conflicting commitments, we see that we are at a choice-point. On the one hand we want our desires; on another hand, we want to avoid the undesirable consequences that we perceive to accompany having what we want. It’s a dilemma.
Most of us are unaware of our own personal choice-making process and the strategy we use to make decisions. More often than not, this specific choice-making process places us in a dilemma. Stuck and unsure what to decide, not knowing what to choose or how to choose to choose, we sit on the fence, waiting and hoping that something outside ourselves will make the choice for us, or steer us in the right direction.
This choice-point brings about mental, emotional, physical and spiritual discomfort. In order to avoid discomfort, we often choose to compromise our convictions and commitments to what we say we want. At the same time, we end up compromising our stand for what we don’t want. We become professional fence-sitters. In so doing, we don’t get what we want, but we don’t have to suffer any dire consequences we may imagine.
If you are committed to experiencing a life that is fulfilling and meaningful, it won’t happen by choosing compromise as a strategy. It just won’t happen!
Seeing clearly how you choose to choose what you choose, which has your circumstances be what they be, empowers you to understand the depth of the choice-making process, which you are immersed in and enmeshed in; to the degree that you don’t even know that you don’t even know. Through investigating your choice-making process, you become empowered to choose in alignment with your highest good and your highest truth. To discover and explore available options to choice-making you empower yourself to choose effectively, only in service to what you want.
Case in Point:
Understanding the mechanisms that occur within a dilemma
My client Ira has been unhappy in his work for years. One circumstance after another has him choose to choose to remain in his job. New house, new baby, moving back to Israel; one after another, circumstances keep him entrenched in an unhappy predicament – of his own choosing.
Over the course of years, Ira has worked with me as his thinking partner. He is clear about who he is and who he is not. He is clear that when in his work environment, he is mostly acting a part, playing a role, which allows him to feel invulnerable to attack and to rejection. Often, in our sessions, he explores how vulnerable he is when he even imagines exposing his true self at work.
In the spring, Ira was clear that he would be leaving his job in August, 2013. He was waiting for a major project that he was directing to be completed. Now that the project is completed and the space is now open for him to leave, he and his wife have decided that perhaps it would be best for him to stay in his current position for another eight months, after which they well be moving back to Israel, and that would be the time for him to engage in a more thorough search of what’s next.
The Abyssness of the Circumstance
When I ask Ira what it is like inside of him, in this new choice he has chosen, he shares that he feels sad. He sits quietly, and then adds that he is experiencing an abyss-ness that is very deep and uncomfortable. At this point, Ira feels restless, and wants to shake loose from this sensation and talk about something else. That’s what he does when he is facing a difficult dilemma. He wants distraction from the experience of restless, irritable discontent.
Ira’s dilemma is to leave or not to leave. He chose to leave, then, it appears as if life throws him some curve balls, and he has to choose to stay – just a little while longer. He is able to clearly see this pattern, yet can’t yet break himself of the pattern. It’s okay. By seeing the pattern he can explore who he is within the pattern. This is a huge part of the work of spiritual immersion. It shows up in the most common places, even within the corporate environment.
Together Ira and I engage in a dialog that reveals to him that up until now, he has been able to avoid being present to the underlying fears and perceptions that keep him choosing to choose to stay in his current position. However, now, with a greater degree of commitment to living in his essential nature, he isn’t willing to settle, survive and suffer in the way that he has in the past. He courageously engages in what’s beneath the stalling and the fence-sitting that’s been going on for the majority of his life.
Through inquiry, what is revealed is that, if Ira stays in his job, his greatest fear is that he will cease to exist as the essential truth he knows himself to be. What also becomes clear is that the greatest fear he will confront, when he leaves his job, is that he will cease to exist as a successful, supporting father and husband.
What Ira will be facing by choosing, either to stay or to go, is his fear of ceasing to exist – annihilation. That’s a pretty strong word. But, within the Domain of our Humanness, this is a very real element of being in human existence; one that each of us face, sooner or later. And it is terrifying! No wonder most of us choose to not choose—remaining on the fence, safe, secure and stuck, but not in danger of some of the most challenging qualities of human existence to be experienced.
Working with every one of my clients, regarding every one of their goals, objectives, dreams and desires, brings each of them to their specific dilemma. They see how they choose to get stuck and stay stuck at the point of actualizing their commitment to create momentum in the direction of their desire.
The reason so many of us choose to not choose is because whatever dilemma we face, choosing to choose brings us to the edge of our comfort zones. It requires that we be uncomfortable; that we see ourselves and our reality differently; and that we explore and experiment with the countless facets of the potentiality we’ve come to be—not have, in this life. The edge of nothing is the same edge as something. The practice of walking both sides of this edge, fearlessly, well, that’s what we are up to when we begin to explore who we are within this human experience. It’s pretty darn scary.
How do You Decide?
Generally speaking, it’s not what you choose but how you choose. When I ask my clients how they choose to choose when they don’t know what to choose, they can clearly describe their choice-making process.
Generally, each of us has one specific strategy that we utilize in choosing what we choose. Getting clear about how you choose to choose, will empower you to perhaps utilize a different strategy, only in service to what you say you want.
None of us escape our childhood without dealing with dilemmas of choosing which strategies will work best for each circumstance. How you relate to your mother and the strategies you use to stay on her good side may be different from those you use to relate with your father, siblings or teachers. You learn to apply your personal strengths to make the most of what you have.
Now, as an adult, you can choose to implement strategies of your childhood, or you can choose to look at your circumstance as an adult. How would you choose as a child? How would you choose as an adult? These questions alone can bring about an ability to choose more freely, because as an adult it makes sense to choose to choose as an adult.
Significance creates dilemmas
Our perceptions and memories of our past, as well as the stories of our culture, have us immersed in a reality we choose to decide is true. We learn to perceive the world based on this truth; like putting on a pair of glasses with green lenses: everything is colored by the lenses we use to see reality. Our external world may provide many teachings, but it’s the inner-self that takes that information and makes sense out of it, for themselves. Each of us use our intelligence to give significance, power, value, and meaning to every thought we’ve ever conceived.
We create, throughout our whole life, one-moment-at-a-time, based on what has meaning, value and significance to us. When we want what we say we want, we create a dilemma: We have to choose which thing or experience has more significance; the thing we say we want, or what we have already?
This dilemma brings us to a choice-point, a time to discern what it is we value, and how much significance it has had thus far in our lives. We get to decide the level of priority, significance, value, worth and meaning of “it,” in relation to what we want and what we don’t want. We also get to choose to let go of our attachments to what we want and to what we think of as right, wrong, good or bad. This is one of the most challenging steps to empowering ourselves, but one that liberates us so we can manifest the success we want in all our relationships, our careers, our spiritual and financial lives—all of it.
We can continue to use the same strategies that manage and control our lives and avoid risks and vulnerability, or we can be open to exploring our capacity to include more of our authentic selves, risking exposure and vulnerability. This is a moment of spiritual immersion – choosing to take the plunge.
Everyone consciously stepping into their lives face the dilemma of deciding how successful, powerful, wealthy and healthy they want to become. You face questions everyday regarding the degree to which you want to create, play and live on the cutting edge of your life. How willing are you to practice things that are hard, or seem impossible, in order to bring your ideas, dreams and desires to fruition?
My belief is that each one of us has unique gifts and talents. In order to bring these gifts and talents into manifestation, we are required to go through an obstacle course made up of a menagerie of challenges and dilemmas that will strengthen our resolve and our mettle, empowering us to live in the fullest expression of our essential nature. The degree to which we are willing to expand our capacity to be powerful, through conscious practice, is the degree to which we will empower, not only ourselves, but also everyone with whom we come in contact to live in their full potentiality.
The dilemma is that, many of the strategies you believed to keep you safe as a child can now be ineffectual in your current circumstance. You believe yourself to have a limited capacity to manifest the life and career you say you want, not because you are not smart enough or don’t have the right resources or education; it is only the degree to which you are willing to be vulnerable in the face of what makes you feel vulnerable.
How Does One Be With Dilemma? How Does One Be With Conflicting Sets of Truths?
Realizing how you are being with what is, in all domains of your life, which includes desires and unfulfilled desires, allows you to choose to be aware of all of what influences you to choose to choose what you choose. Cultivating awareness, through noticing, empowers you to clarify and discern what is true, what perceptions, memories and unconscious social norms make sense and which ones actually encumber your growth and happiness. You can actually choose to relinquish any interpretation or belief and choose new one’s that support the outcome you are wanting.
Getting clear about what is like to be in the midst of a dilemma also allows you to choose to be different while in the dilemma. Resentful, withholding and angry, may be the way that you have been being. Now you can see that, that may not be in service to your highest truth and highest good. So, you can begin to explore other possibilities. You can begin to practice choosing to stop those thoughts and actions which bring about feeling of –in this case, resentful, withholding and angry. You can begin to see how you chose to choose to feel that, and you can begin to explore other ways that may be preferable. Its all up to you!
Risk of annihilation – another opportunity to take the plunge
Every dilemma brings us to the brink of annihilation, only to the degree to which we are attached to our beliefs and interpretations. The more we detach from our assessments of right, wrong, good, bad, is the degree to which we can fluidly move in the direction of what we say we want, dismissing the fear, anxiety and worry that has us stuck in dilemmas and indecision.
Being stymied and stumped
People who have practiced detachment have learned to discover and strengthen specific muscles that allow them to willingly penetrate and explore the edge of reason of their current paradigm. They face personal demons in dilemmas that surface throughout everyday life. They choose to see things differently so their intentions may be realized. It isn’t that they are fearless and courageous beyond measure; it’s that they are curious to know what lies beyond the signpost that reads: “DANGER: DO NOT ENTER.”
Expanding one’s repertoire and capacity to choose differently when facing unknown territory and dead ends is the practice. Immerse yourself in your Domain of Universal Source/Oneness and engage the wisdom and essential truth to guide and assist you into more expansive and effective way of being. Time and time again, this may require a leap of faith. You are scared, just like the rest of us; however you have the capacity to act, regardless of the fear.
The foundation of all dilemmas are universal. Who am I? What is important enough to risk security, stability and invulnerability?
If what you want is security, stability and invulnerability, let go of the dream and surrender it to the heavens. Release the angst and worry of having it and feel the relief of living in the safety of what is, now.
What if This is as Good as it Gets?
Sometimes, life circumstance are impossible to change. Nothing we can choose can make a difference. Then we have to choose to choose how to be with what is. The serenity prayer: Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Choosing to accept what is, is a choice. It means religuishing hope, personal power. It means immersing ourselves into a direct experience of our humanness – powerlessness, hopelessness. Again – we face the dilemmas of avoiding what we don’t want, in service to what we do want. Do we want it enough?
Again the question: How do you be with life as it is? Not the way you want, but the way it is. This is an important element – another place to take the plunge – into the now, and away from the what ifs, yes buts, and if only.
When we can’t get it right, how do we ‘be with’ the current dilemma, especially when there appears to be so much at stake?
The dilemma though, is that as we exercise and stretch to expand our repertoire. We experience growing pains that bring with them discomfort, uncertainty, fear and insecurity.
Oneness: The Teachings, taught me about the purging of cellular memory – that it’s a required process. The physical discomfort can be challenging to be with.
For those of us who attend church every Saturday and Sunday, hearing over and over the importance of using our power in support of all people, too often we ignore opportunities to practice what we preach when we enter our Monday through Friday Church of the business environment. We are faced with a dilemma: Do I do what I know to be in the highest good of all – my company, employees, my own soul, or do I act from my personal desire for gain, safety, security and control? There is so much at stake!
Each individual teeters on the brink of personal annihilation. The devastation we witness in all aspects of our Global system is only a reflection of what’s occurring within each of us. When the current and flow of a Universal and natural unfolding is ignored, diverted or stopped, in service to our insatiable hunger for power and invulnerability, we inevitably come face-to-face with the consequences of our choice-making. Funny how it works that way!
We are Adolescent
Pretending that choosing to choose to not choose, will keep us invulnerable to our human frailties, is adolescent thinking at best. Inevitably, our commitment to avoiding mature and wise choice-making will lead us to a phenomenal human experience called despair. Despair is when we realize that the reality of our own creation – our skyscrapers in the air, are coming down, detonated by our own ignoring – not ignorance.
All of us face dilemmas that inevitably put us in the line of fire of our own humanity. It’s your call to make life-choices consciously or unconsciously. From my point of view, it’s far more fun to powerfully engage in life, fully awake, conscious and mature.
How do I choose to choose?
What you say you want and what you say you don’t want always create a challenge a dilemma; one that often has an individual stuck and unable to move in one direction or the other. Here’s the quick summary:
- Focus on what you are wanting – the end results.
- Notice your context – your thoughts, beliefs and interpretations, as well as your actions and behaviors are in alignment with this result; if you are not in alignment with your goal, Investigate and declare what they are in alignment with.
- Distinguish Commitment from Conflicting Commitment
- Acknowledge the Dilemma that arises from having two or more conflicting commitments.
- Empower yourself to choose to choose, in service to what you want – taking incremental steps.
- Empower yourself to create practices that will directly facilitate and generate the outcome you are wanting.
- One step at a time is all that’s required.
- Sustainability comes with time, practice and many, many shortcomings. This is so we can learn from our mistakes and become more disciplined and perceptive to what creates these shortcomings.
- Its not the destination. It’s being present to what is and who is choosing to choose to choose.
Dilemmas as Choice-points
Seeing that every choice-point is an opportunity to either choose to move along the trajectory of one’s vision and one’s highest truth, or to follow the well-worn path of least resistance, this is where extraordinary people create themselves. Exercising muscles of discernment to facilitate the undoing of dilemmas, utilizes untapped intelligence – cognitive, emotional, somatic and spiritual. All are required to resolve underlying conflicts that keep most of us stuck.
Understanding how one engages in the process of choice-making won’t make dilemmas disappear. They will never, ever disappear. But as we begin to “unpack” our choice-making process, we become more effective at understanding the dynamics of each dilemma, and the values and hierarchy of commitments we have in place that actually create the dilemma in the first place.
The personal element will compound every dilemma. Inquiring into the hierarchy of commitments reveals which intention, values and meaning are getting attention over others. It’s an opportunity to ask – “Is this really what I’m committed to?”
The unfolding of our lives and how we ‘be’ in life will always be perfectly imperfect. This provides us with a multitude of opportunities to discover and declare our truths, values, and the intentions that serve those truths. When faced with the edge of our comfort zone, once immersed in a new dilemma, we will generate strength, wisdom, faith, intelligence and curiosity to bring us onto our paths. I have no doubt that each of you will amaze yourselves and delight in the discovery of who you are with every dilemma you explore.
Remembering to be your truest self, as best you can, may save you in the midst of a dilemma. For it is an incredible act of courage to release yourself from self-judgment. This sole act will bring about the capacity to repeat this process over and over; the outcome being a sense of thriving as the fullest expression of your essential self.
Its so easy to whine and complain about how hard it is to choose to choose what you choose. You can whine and complain and choose to stay safe, secure in the reality of this moment. You can choose to fence-sit for the rest of your life, and come to accept that this is as good as its going to get. This will take you into grief and loss of what you will never have. Or you may experience physical symptoms of the dis-ease of not choosing to choose. Its all up to you.
The practice you may want to implement in support of working through dilemmas, is a practice of discernment. Discernment is the process whereby you engage in deep listening and inquiry within yourself, to truly investigate what’s true for you, and to choose willingingly in service to that.
A choice-point is the foundation from which all of us can consciously choose to choose to choose in service to our highest truth and highest good. Or choose to not choose, remaining on the fence, or choosing to choose what already is – like Ira has chosen, for the moment.
You can see, there is no problem to be fixed. There is nothing broken. There is no psychopathology or dysfunction. What there is – in Ira’s case, is a human being, having a human experience; as he learns to engage in life consciously, with intention and commitment. As he clarifies the dilemma – what has him choosing to choose, as he chooses, he has more space within himself to thoroughly consider what is going on below the surface. It’s not that hard. You just have to willing to ask yourself questions – unsure of the answers, and willingly sit in an exploration of what is true for you. This is called Discernment.