The Habit of a Problem
 Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
June 3, 2018

All Rights Reserved




I invite you to close your eyes & look up into the darkness & inhale deeply.  As you exhale, allow your eyes to gently roll down to their normal position.  Inhale again & exhale, relaxing completely. & Now begin to be aware of any outside light that is filtering through your closed eyelids & focus this light into your chest.  Imagine the sun’s light radiating its warmth through your skin & into your heart center, becoming a small candle flame burning warmly, within your spiritual heart & expanding more & more, enlarging with every breath filling your entire body with a bright white light. Now bring the focus your attention to the Source of this light in the center of your heart & begin to see & feel butterflies of light exploding from your center outward; Visualize several large angel-like butterflies fluttering around your body.  & As you watch these transparent white butterflies quivering around your being, notice that more & more are sent out from this white light center core, the Source that you opened.  

Watch them as them swarm around your body, giving your body gentle kisses of love, light & life.  As each kiss against your skin is received you are being energized.  They are helping you to heal & filling you with the wisdom & guidance to meet your every need. Watch the butterflies dart in & out of you as they pick up any pieces of dark, shadowy negativity & fly away with them to the sun where they are burned & transformed into pure energy. Feel the butterflies expressing all the love you desire & carrying that love to your mother wherever she is & to all those to whom you want to send butterflies of light this morning. See them streaming from your heart center & out into the world.  Your angel messengers of love & light, healing & peace.  & now it’s time to come back into conscious awareness of this time & place. Begin to feel your toes & feet, arms & hands.  Inhale a deep cleansing breath & know that you can call butterflies of light from your inner source at any time & send them to help & heal anyone, anywhere. Amen

Today is part 1 of a 2 part mini-series about changing the Habit of Problems to the Habit of Solutions.   You & I really do have the power within us to make a difference in our own lives & it begins by being open to the power of God in & around us & being willing to see God & good in ourselves, others & in all things.  

I had a wonderful opportunity to live at Unity Village with my children & to be a part of a huge spiritual community when I first started on the spiritual path. It is an experience I will always treasure. One of the special things about living in a growing environment was that Spiritual Leaders & Teachers from around the world would often visit & speak to those of us who were there as students. One such person was Brother Mandus who made his transition in 1988. Brother Mandus was from Blackpool, England & head of the World Healing Crusade. He was a person of vision with a great healing consciousness. He was also a very practical person & like the Fillmore’s he gave very practical lessons intended to meet the everyday needs of people. In 1 of lessons to us, he said something that has stuck with me all these years. He said, “We make a habit of the problem.” 

& We do because we are we are creatures of habit. Some habits are positive & others not so much & produce what Unity calls ‘the lesser good’ in our lives. Life is really just made up of habits. We wake up, eat, work, play, go to bed & usually things roll along smoothly. But life can become really challenging, when a habit gets to be what Psychologists call a "conditioned response" & we go on ‘auto-pilot’ & roll along without "thinking."

Let me illustrate this with a story. A woman was in the habit of driving her husband to the train station every morning where he would catch a computer train into the city & his job.  One morning while sitting at the train station after her husband had left for his train, she looked over & saw a friend sitting in her car. She was slumped over the steering wheel.  Concerned, the woman got out of her car & ran over to her friend’s car, knocked on the window & asked, "What's the matter? Can I help?"  Her friend looked up. She was half laughing & half crying & said, "I've driven my husband to this train station for 14 years. Well, this morning I drove off & forgot to bring him."  Her habit of driving to the train station was so ingrained that she went on auto pilot & forgot her husband. Have you ever done anything like this?

When we think of habits, usually we don't think about positive habits. When we think of habits we tend to think about habits that aren’t productive & that we’d like to change.  When we do this we are caught up in what Brother Mandus called the “habit of the problem”.  We are caught up in the "result or effect" & trying to change something in the outer, rather than changing the cause, the thought we held in mind that produced that result after its kind.”

Sometimes a problem becomes so familiar that we can describe it in great detail to anyone at any time. We intimately know the habit of that problem. Some people seem to enjoy talking about their problems. They appear to enjoy the attention & sympathy they receive when they do it. In our culture this is socially acceptable behavior. Have you ever noticed that? 

Without a "thought" of embarrassment, someone will show you the downward direction of their thinking & reveal to you exactly where they lack faith.On the other hand, if a positive person like you comes along & someone asks, "How are you doing today?"  & you respond, "I'm alive, alert, joyous & enthusiastic about life!"  People often back away & wonder if you’re high on drugs. They don’t know what to say.  It can be a real conversation stopper.Manypeople can’t relate to happiness & say, “Are you for real? You can't be as happy as say you are.” 

Some people are afraid to show happiness because they ‘think’ God will take it away from them if they appear to be gloating about it. There’s an underlying feeling of ‘Job ness’ in our society. You remember Job from the Old Testament, don’t you? Job had everything & then lost it & really had to suffer before he regained it. Some people think that if something good is happening now, something bad is on its way. There’s even a saying, "No pain--no gain."  Thank God that is not the Unity Way of life.  Unity teaches that God is good & only good. Sometimes we do go through a difficult & painful challenge but the purpose of that is to help us to arrive at a higher level of consciousness & a larger expression of God as good in our lives. God doesn’t want us to suffer for suffering’s sake or to prove ourselves. I was raised Roman Catholic. There was a time when I was really into suffering & I was really good at it too. But I’ve been in Unity so long that I'm just not into suffering anymore. I’ve spent years getting rid of old programming & distancing myself from people who say I must suffer or that life is supposed to hard.

We all carry around old programming that can be triggered when someone says something great & spiritually true about us.  For example, someone says, “You really look great!”  What do you say?  Do you say, “Thank you?” Or do you begin to tell them why you don’t look great. If so, you are telling them “the habit of the problem.” We all need to practice accepting the highest Truth about ourselves.  We are individualized expressions of God. We are created in the image & after the likeness of God.  God is good, so you & I are too!  We really are the greatest & deserve a pat on the back! 

Pavlov was a Russian scientist who experimented with dogs. He would put dogs in a room, ring a bell, put down a plate of food & the dogs would immediately begin to salivate.  He repeated that action over & over again & discovered that very soon, all he had to do was ring the bell & the dogs would salivate. He didn’t have to put down a plate of food.  Pavlov called his discovery ‘a conditioned response’.  We all have both positive & negative conditioned responses. Sometimes the person who 1st gave us the message, ‘the bell ringer’ is no longer in our life or even alive but we’re still responding in a certain way because we’ve been conditioned to respond that way. We’ve internalized that authority figure. When you are a baby & learning to eat, you are making a habit of it.  At 1st, a baby gets food all over its face. Pretty soon it finds its mouth & starts eating normally. What does ‘normally’ mean?  It means “in a socially acceptable manner.” Walking upright is another habit. A baby gets up & tries to walk but falls down. It tries again & again until it forms a habit & can walk upright. These are examples of constructive habits because they help us to fit in & get along in life. They are habits that have become solutions to challenges you faced when you were little.  Like learning to tie your shoes & button your own clothes.
But along the way, we’ve also built in mind some habits that aren’t life enriching.  We all have some ‘conditioned responses’ that are the result of old, worn out ideas that as Unity students, we now know are just not true about us. Ideas we were conditioned to hold in mind long ago by authority figures & that are pushed deep down into the Subconscious Mind. These forgotten conditioned, habitual thoughts of lack & limitation, hurt & anger, rejection & abandonment can still limit us. & we might not even be aware of them until we find ourselves operating ‘on auto pilot’ & surprised to find ourselves responding from an old level of consciousness we thought that we had eliminated. It’s summed up in the saying, “Insanity is repeating the same action & expecting different results.”  We keep repeating the same actions over & over expecting something different to happen until we ‘wake up’ & realize we’ve made a habit of the problem. When we do that there are we can take steps to alter our consciousness & consciously shift to making a habit of the solution.

There are 3 primary levels of mind: Subconscious, Conscious & Superconscious. When we make a habit of affirmative prayer, we hold new, higher & true ideas about ourselves in our Conscious Mind. We use our Conscious Mind or Awareness to condition ourselves to respond from Superconscious or Christ Mind & not the Subconscious Mind where the old thoughts & habit patterns that limit us are stored. We must become conscious of the habit of the problem & own it. This means we stop blaming others for how we feel or for what’s not in lives & accept responsibility for the choices we make in life & the outcomes of our choices. We have to be awake enough in the moment to ‘observe ourselves thinking’ & to be aware of what level of mind we are choosing to act & react from.  

We are habitually responding from either Subconscious or Superconscious Mind all the time.  The Conscious Mind is pivotal. It is our ability to choose which mind to use in the now moment or in the instant that life is occurring.  We all have the ability to think up, positive & constructive or down, negative & depressive. When we think down we often also project our feelings & blame someone or something else for ‘how we feel or what is happening to us.’ Every time we repeat something, remember it is becoming a habit.  & We not only make those habits a part of our thinking, by thinking the same thought over & over, we are actually making mind paths with our thoughts. In time, our minds will automatically, neurologically take the same path positive or negative in that situation. 

You’ve heard the story of how HENRY THOREAU lived at Walden Pond.  1 of the things he said while he was there was, "I had not lived there a week before my feet wore a path from my door to the pond.  & though it is 5 or 6 years since I trod it, it is still quite distinct.  The surface of the earth is soft & impressible by the feet of man.  & so, it is with the path that the mind travels” Our minds ARE impressible.  But just like a single footstep doesn’t make a path on the Earth & you have to walk it again & again; a single thought doesn’t make a mind path.  It is the thinking of that thought over & over again that makes a neural pathway & a conditioned response. 

So, if we continue to repeat old thoughts based on instinctual consciousness, thoughts of disliking or hating someone & if we persist in taking things personally & feeling hurt & rejected, soon we will begin to feel something happening within us & we will begin to see those thoughts producing after their kind in our lives.

In Unity we believe in the formative power of thought. We know that if we aren’t experiencing good in our lives, something is happening in our thoughts.  If we habitually think thoughts of anger & hurt, we'll find our relationships are impaired.  We’ll subconsciously chase people away or sabotage our relationships.

On the other hand, the more we think of love & of the love we have for others & the things we love in life, the happier our relationships are. In Unity, we know that the more we invest the living energy of Spirit, in positive, uplifting thoughts, the more they produce after their kind in the outer.  When we begin to think of ourselves as vital, alive, energized & full of God energy & strength then we begin to experience all that in our body temples. We are lifted up because we are thinking up & so we begin to feel up & really good about ourselves. The same is true about prosperity. God is giving rich ideas to every 1 of us.  When we habitually think & affirm rich thoughts, we will be inspired to bring abundant living into our lives. We have to know that even though we may still have a lot of conditioned responses that aren’t very productive, we are not hopelessly stuck in a problem.  We always have the power within us to change from the habit of the problem to the habit of the solution.  & we do that individually by changing the direction of our thinking & the level of mind we are living from.  We do that by thinking up & thinking true thoughts from the Christ level of consciousness.

As a young man, Walter Chrysler was a railroad mechanic, who dreamed of going into business for himself.  He wanted to change his life, so he saved $1,000 bought a car & took it apart piece by piece.  He examined every part & then put it back together. He then, took it apart again & put it together again.  After doing this many times he was able to see the strengths & weaknesses of the car. He used that knowledge to build a car that had the good & eliminated the weak. He revolutionized the auto industry.  Well, that's very similar to what we have to do. We have to begin to take ourselves apart & observe our strengths & weaknesses & pin-point the times we don’t practice the truth we know. We want to stop acting unconsciously & be aware of the times or situations in which we don't pay attention to or realize what direction our thinking is moving in.

  1. The 1st step is to become self-observant & to accept responsibility for the results in your life & examine your habitual thoughts. Look at each area of your life & examine your habitual thought patterns & then you can decide which are productive & which are non-productive. We want to build-up & increase the productive thoughts & decrease & eliminate the non-productive ones. This means we stop looking out there for someone or something to blame. & We stop looking out there for solutions & look inside 1st & examine our own thinking patterns.
  2. Ask yourself questions.  For example, if you have a challenge in a relationship ask yourself:  "What is or isn’t working here?"  or "Why is this bothering me?  What is the problem for me here?"  Once you learn to look inside & start asking yourself the right kind of questions, at the right time, you are ready for step3.
  3. Decide to live differently. “I don’t want to live like this any longer. I choose to live consciously & from a higher level of mind.  Be willing to eliminate the "buttons" that others always seem to be pushing. Once you identify these, you’ll find it easier to let them go. As long as you don’t pull them up from the Subconscious Mind & into the light of day they will just keep popping up & producing a lesser good.
  4. When something happens observe the habit of your thinking. Do you habitually think up or down? Look at your everyday life experiences. When you get a bill, what happens inside of you? If you get a big electric bill do you get a feeling of anxiety even though you know you have a good job & income. You know you can meet this challenge & that you always have in the past. So, stop, look inside & ask yourself:  "Why am I feeling like this?"  Most likely you’ll find some old messages about not having enough to go around or that you'll never have enough or be enough. 
  5. Create a vacuum by denying what is not true about you. If you hear an old negative self-image program beginning to play, stop it say, "That is not true about me as a child of God.  It's an old conditioned response & I don't need or want it anymore."  Use your awareness as your Conscious Mind to stop the downward direction of your thinking & you will release yourself from feelings of anxiety & fear.
  6. Fill the thought vacuum by denying what is not true about you & affirm the Truth about yourself. Commit to speak the truth & only the truth about yourself & others “I am a child of God & heir to all good. I am 1 with unlimited good. Everything I need is already within me. I am a child of God & I do not inherit sickness & lack.”
  7. Live the highest truth that you know. When you are awake to who & what you really are & decide to live the highest truth you know, you have begun to take spiritual dominion of your life. As Jesus said, “You shall know the truth & the truth shall set you free.” Choose to speak the truth & only the truth about yourself & everyone & everything. Make a commitment to live the truth. Take your power back from the people or situations you have been conditioned to give it to until it controlled your level of good & happiness. If you don’t, you will remain a slave to those old conditioned responses. You are choosing the Habit of a Problem over the Habit of a Solution. The power is within you to do what needs to be done. 

The words of 1 Corinthians 10:13, indicate that Paul recognized the Truth that Jesus Christ taught & applied it to his own life. He said, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful & He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength.  But with the temptation He has also provided the way of escape.”  God has invested the power of good, strength, life, love & every good thing within you.  God has placed the power within you to habitually think thoughts that are True, Christ-centered & productive.  Persist in repeating productive & true thoughts until they become a habit of a solution in your life.  Charles Fillmore said, “Your mind, body & affairs are the expression of your thoughts. So, if you are not happy, change your mental habit. Cultivate the habit of seeing the good, the true, the bright side of every subject. Just keep yourself positive and poised in Truth.”

Paul put it this way, “This 1 thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind & reaching forth unto those things that are before.  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” It is your destiny to experience the Christ & to habitually express the conditioned response of upward thinking, as super conscious thinking attained through the Christ of your being.    When you have that conditioned response, you have established in your consciousness the habit of a solution & you begin to experience life the way God created you to experience it, beautifully, freely & abundantly. 



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