There are distinct moments in life when the truth comes closer to us. Unfortunately, almost all of these important, potentially life-changing moments are entirely missed, because what is wrong with us, our false nature, sees what is true as an attacking enemy.
Let me show you what I mean so that the next time truth makes an unexpected appearance in your life, you will recognize it for what it is: a friendly and beneficial force that is on your side. Permitting the truth to do what it is intended to do will permit you to be what you want to be, which is happy.
Never are the healing powers of the truth so close as when a crisis is at hand. A crisis always precedes any real inner advancement, because real spiritual growth is a process of removing self-blocking thoughts and feelings. The reason a crisis must precede each new level of authentic self-unity is that the crisis, whatever it may be, points out where we have been holding on to a particular belief, a shaky pretense, or some flattering but deceptive self-image that is in conflict with reality. Where there is conflict there is always pain, and by the time this unconscious kind of psychological or emotional pain reaches the level of our consciousness, we generally experience it as some kind of a crisis.
This explains why a crisis is a close encounter of the truthful kind. So what we call a personal “crisis” is really that moment when some previously invisible conflict within us becomes temporarily visible. We can state this same idea in another way. A crisis arises when some lie we have deceived ourselves with is revealed to be just that: a lie. Let’s take an example:
Maybe a woman has always thought of herself as being loving and kind, but all at once she begins to notice how critical and cruel her thoughts are toward others. She sees that she only does things for others to have them think of her as being kind, and this fills her day with resentment. She has reached a turning point.
The terrible cost of living from lying but flattering self-images has suddenly become conscious, but the only alternative that the false self has, as the author of these self-deceptive lies, is to start blaming everyone and everything for the unhappy circumstances. By seeing to it that everything outside of it is constantly laid to blame, it keeps us fighting with life instead of learning from it. The more we take the side of defending what is wrong within us, the more the truth that exposed this unconscious wrongness appears to be against us.
The truth never causes pain. The only pain in a crisis is the false self’s resistance to the truth. A crisis only becomes a breaking point when we fail to use it as a turning point. In order to transform a crisis into a personal turning point in your life, you must wish to be shown the lesson in the crisis rather than allow yourself to be convinced by it that the world is against you. This higher wish, followed by your willingness to endure a new kind of pain, gives birth to a higher consciousness in you that belongs to your true nature.
This new kind of pain is the temporary pain of consciously enduring what is necessary to end your pain. This new pain is your bold refusal to let whatever conflict you are experiencing go back underground… or… it is your agreement to keep this inner conflict conscious or visible long enough so that you can see its cause.
Pretending that the pain has gone away only compounds its punishment when it returns — which it always does, if its cause has not been eliminated. Temporary relief is just that, especially when it comes to inner conflict.
On the other hand, let’s look at the benefits of what happens when we keep the conflict conscious. Suppose that the cause of a man’s conflict is his pretense to be wise and strong. He wants others to think of him as a source of strength and stability — someone to be depended on in times of a crisis. Of course, part of the reason he wants others to see him in this way is so that he can feel it’s true about himself. And yet, for all of his endless advice to others on how to soar above their problems, he knows that he can’t lift himself even an inch off the ground when his own needs are the greatest. He is in a crisis condition. He can either choose to continue pretending he has a strength he doesn’t — which is to avoid the crisis — or he can enter the crisis, where his heightened awareness of his pretense will not only destroy the pretense but also all of the fear and self-doubt that must accompany it.
No one needs to suffer! Before the light of this new and higher awareness made everything clear to you, the false self had you convinced that you needed to keep pretending in order to feel good about yourself! The pain in this pretense was making you anxious, not happy. You only thought you needed to pretend to be good or kind, wise or strong. What you really needed was to see through your need to pretend. Your true nature is all you need. Let it show you what you don’t need.
(Excerpted from The Secret of Letting Go, Llewellyn)