UNITY OF VANCOUVER
3814 FRANKLIN ST. VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON 98660 360-696-0996
The Habit of the Problem
Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
August 15, 2021
All Rights Reserved
I invite you to close your eyes and contemplate the Truth that no matter what the question, the answer is always God and God is already within you. Do you know, beloved, that all the power that you need is already within you just waiting to be released? Do you know that you, as the individuation of all that God is, has the power to overcome any adversity, condition or habit, no matter how long you have been caught up in it?
The power, the answer you need to find is already present within you for you live, move, and have your being in God. Draw upon the power of God within you in prayer now and feel God Mind illuminating your human mind. As God light dawns within you, it reveals the best way for you to transform your life. Ask God for guidance and God will show you what to do and how to do it. Silently affirm: “God Light illuminate my mind. Reveal what habits I need to let go of which are no longer productive in my life. Fill me with the strength to let go. God, fill me with prospering ideas and the guidance to manifest my dreams. I affirm: “Let there be light and the light of God, reveals the right path for me to take.”
If you’ve been challenged with a physical condition, affirm: “God is life.” Speak the word. Feel God life surge through you as a mighty river of energy, vitality, and harmony. Whatever the need, God is the answer. The power to overcome anything is already within you for God is within you. Affirm: “I invite God life to wash away the old.” In the silence of prayer feel God Life flowing as living energy freely through your body temple strengthening you and filling you with all the energy needed to meet every task that is yours to do. God renews and heals your body temple. The power of God love within you harmonizes and heals any life situation or relationship.
Feel the love current of God, moving through you. It radiates through you and releases all that is not like itself and increases that mighty flow that radiates around you, to bring to you the things you desire and the love you want to experience. God is within you and when you experience and express it, It draws Its own to Itself. The power to draw to yourself all the goodness of God that will uplift and fulfill you is present within you right now. Open your mind and your heart to the riches of Spirit. Allow them to fill your mind and flood your whole being with light and you will be satisfied. Take these thoughts into your own being now in the silence of prayer and allow the power of God to do its perfect work in you, through you, as you. From the deep silence within you, comes the sure knowing that you are loved with an everlasting love. Whatever the desire of your heart, it is the desire of the Lord of your being to bring it forth into manifestation.
As you lift your mind-heart to the power of God within you, know that it is established in your world for the law is: As in mind, so in manifestation. As in heaven, so in earth. As the heavens of your mind are now filled to overflowing with the awareness of your God-given power and potential, like wise shall be the earth of your experience. As we bring this meditation to a close, know that we have established this in our consciousness and shall see it come forth in our life’s experience. This we do affirm in the name and through the power of the living, loving presence of God, which we, experience and express always. To this great Truth we do say, Amen.
THE HABIT OF THE PROBLEM
The practice of meditation takes us out of the habit of thinking about our problems. On the human level of being, we are creatures of habit. Some habits are very positive and result in very good in our lives and other habits aren’t so constructive and thus produce what we might call the lesser good in our lives.
If you look closely at your habits, perhaps you can begin to see that human life is like a string of pearls. It is made up of a series of habits. The accumulated habits of your lifetime are the activities you have spent most of your time doing. Sometimes we find life to be a little challenging, especially when the habit we keep experiencing over and over gets to be what Psychologists call a "CONDITIONED RESPONSE." This term is used in reference to a habit when we seem to go on ‘auto-pilot’ and respond in a situation by do the habitual activity without conscious awareness or without stopping to "think” about what we are doing and why we are doing it. For example: A woman was in the habit of driving her husband to the train station every morning. This went on for a very long time. One morning when she arrived at the train station and her husband departed, she looked over and saw a friend of hers in another car. The friend was leaning over the steering wheel. The woman got out, looked in the window and asked, "What's the matter?" Her friend looked up half laughing and half crying and said, "For 14 years I've driven my husband to the train station. This morning I drove off and forgot him." So good was her habit of driving to the train station that she forgot her husband. Has anything like this ever happened to you?
Usually when we think of habits, we aren’t thinking about building positive habits into our life. We usually think of getting rid of habits, which, we feel aren’t so productive or constructive in our lives. When we do that, we get caught up in the habit of the problem because we are caught up in the "result or effect" and trying to change the ‘result’ rather than the ‘cause.’ “The thought we held in mind that produced that result after its kind.”
Have you ever found that when you have a problem you can describe it intimately? You are so well acquainted with it that you know exactly what’s going on with it. The challenge is so well known to you and has been around such a long time that you describe it like an old friend. You know the ‘habit of that problem’ and you are always willing to recount that challenging habit at the drop of a hat. And, if you listen carefully to what other people say, you are liable to hear the habit of their problem.
Many people like to recount the ailments and the challenges in their lives. If you stand still for even a moment, they will take it as an opportunity ‘introduce’ you. They do this because they often get attention for this and even sympathy. Think of doing this like losing blood. Imagine that these individuals are just ‘bleeding’ all over the place and squandering their vital life energy. And as a Psychologist and Minister who has worked with people for over 50 years, I’ve noticed that in our culture this is socially acceptable behavior. Have you noticed that? Most people do it! Have you noticed how some people without a thought of embarrassment will show you the downward direction of their thinking just like that (snap)? They will reveal to you exactly where they lack faith? It is socially acceptable behavior to relate all our problems to someone else. Think of that behavior in terms of dumping garbage on somebody’s beautiful front lawn.
On the other hand, if somebody comes along and says, "How are you doing today?" And you respond, "I'm wonderful! I'm alive! I'm alert! I'm joyous and enthusiastic about life!" People back away or wonder what drugs you’re on because they don’t know what to say to that kind of positive life energy. I find its often a great conversation stopper. People don't feel comfortable with somebody who is cheerfully recounting the good things about life. Some people can’t relate to happiness and have nothing to say in return. Psychologists have suggested that maybe this happens because we are sometimes conditioned to fear that if we talk about the good things in our lives, we might have them taken away from us. They also say we may fear that somebody will say something like, "You aren’t worthy of having that. You haven’t earned it so you can't have it. You are already too happy. A teacher once told me I wasn’t going to get a part in the school play I had worked hard to get and really wanted. He said, “You are always going to succeed and have good stuff in your life, so I am giving the part to someone less fortunate.” Considering my life at the time it is amazing that he could make such a value judgment. He didn’t know me or my circumstances at all. However, I was just happy to get to be in the play and since I already had a full time job it was easier to have a role that required less rehearsal.
Some people are afraid to express happiness because they are still holding dualistic thoughts about God in mind such as “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” We can be afraid to show happiness if we ‘think’ God is going to judge us and then take it away because God thinks we are gloating or wants to test or punish us in some way or for some unknown reason. We are often conditioned to think: “If something good is happening now, something bad is on its way.” Remember the story in the Book of Job. Job had it all one moment and then everything was gone the next. There’s an underlying feeling of Jobness in our society. In other words, “You really have to suffer before you deserve to ‘get’ happy.” Have you ever gotten the feeling that suffering is something people think you must do? Has anyone ever said to you, "No pain--no gain?"
Well, thank God that’s not the Unity Way of life. In Unity, we know God is good and only good and that we are meant to flow from goodness to goodness according to the spiritual Law of Grace. Sometimes that means going through a challenge, but the purpose of the journey is to arrive at a higher level of consciousness and a larger expression of God as good in our lives. I’ve been in Unity so long now that I am not into suffering anymore. I’ve cleaned up my consciousness and life. I’ve rid myself of ideas, people, limiting habits and as Unity teacher Emilie Cady said, ‘the ignorance of the truth that there is only God and good that results in useless and unnecessary suffering.”
We all carry around some conditioned old messages that can be triggered within us when someone says something really great about us like, “You look great! Or I love that dress on you!” Have you ever been told something positive like that and you responded by telling the person why you don’t look great or that the dress is old, etc.? That’s the habit of the problem. The Bible says, we are made in the image and likeness of God and what God created God called good. We need to practice the habit of accepting this spiritual Truth about ourselves: We are all individualized expressions of God and God is good, so we are good too!
I’m going to ask you to do one of my favorite exercises. My daddy taught me this when I was little, and we did a lot. Place your right hand out in front of you. Now raise it, reach back, and pat yourself on the back and say, "I'm the greatest!"
When we do this, do you know what often happens? In some people, it triggers all those old messages within that say, "You can't do that, that's egotism. People will think you’re conceited." But that isn’t the Truth. The Truth is that we really are created in the image and the likeness of God. God is individualized as us and we have the individualization of all that God is within us. We really are the greatest. We really are expressions of good.
Pavlov, the Russian scientist, experimented with dogs. He would have dogs in a room, ring a bell and then he’d put down food. The dogs would immediately begin to salivate. He repeated that action over and over again. Until every time he just rang the bell the dogs would salivate. He discovered a conditioned response. We all have both positive and negative conditioned responses. Sometimes the person who gave us the message is no longer in our life or even alive and we’re still responding to that inner message or idea because we’ve internalized that authority figure.
For instance, as a baby you learned to eat and make a habit of it. At first, you got food all over your face and overtime, you began to eat normally—which means in a socially acceptable manner. Walking upright is another constructive habit. Constructive habits are habits that have become solutions to challenges you faced when you were little and growing up. Of course, we’ve also learned that we can make a habit of being ‘prayed up.’ We can make a habit of prayer and that habit of prayer will lead us to fulfilling activity in life. But along the way, we’ve also built-in mind some habits that aren’t enriching or rewarding. We all have ‘conditioned responses’ that are old, worn-out ideas that are no longer true about us that we’ve pushed down into the subconscious mind. These are the thoughts that limit us. They are thoughts of lack and limitation, hurt and anger, rejection, or abandonment. Sometimes we find ourselves still responding from them and suffering.
Sometimes we don’t even know why we’re responding from a lower level of consciousness. We don’t consciously recognize that we’re still acting or reacting from something that’s old, worn out and counter-productive in our lives. It’s summed up in a card someone sent me years ago that said, “Insanity is repeating the same action and expecting different results.” A lot of times in life we’re repeating the same actions and expecting something different to happen in our lives. We don’t realize we’ve made a habit of the problem.
Now, there are three phases of mind, subconscious, conscious and superconscious. When we make a habit of prayer, we develop new ideas about ourselves. We respond from our superconscious mind and not from the subconscious level of mind where the thoughts and memories that limit us are stored. We must become ‘conscious or aware’ of the ‘habit of the problem’ and own it, which means we must stop blaming others for how we feel or for what is or is not in our lives. We must become conscious of our own responsibly to choose the level of mind we are living from in order to change the level of mind we’re acting and reacting from when we find ourselves caught up in the habit of a problem. We have to be awake in the moment and able to ‘observe ourselves thinking.’ We are habitually responding from subconscious or superconscious mind all the time. The conscious mind is pivotal as our ability to choose which way our mind is looking in the instant that life is occurring. We all can look and think up and positive. We also can look down and be negative and depressive. When the mind looks down it tends to project and blame others for ‘how we feel.’ And remember, every time we repeat something, it becomes a habit. We not only make those habits a part of our thinking, but we make them mind paths or neural paths that our minds automatically take in that situation.
HENRY THOREAU lived at Walden Pond. This is one of the things he said while there: "I had not lived there a week before my feet wore a path from my door to the pond. And though it is five or six years since I trod it, it is still quite distinct. The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of man. And so it is with the path that the mind travels"
The point of this lesson is to tell you that our minds, like the soft earth of Walden Pond are impressible. A single footstep doesn’t make a path. You must walk it again and again. Likewise, a single thought doesn’t make a mind path. It is the thinking of that thought repeatedly that makes the neural pathway. If we continue to repeat those old thoughts of hating someone, disliking someone, or taking things personally and feeling hurt and rejected, soon we begin to feel something happening within us and then we’ll see those thoughts producing after their kind in our lives.
In Unity we believe in the formative power of thought and know that if we aren’t experiencing good in our lives, something is happening within our thoughts. If we think thoughts of anger and hurt, we'll find our relationships are impaired. We will subconsciously chase people away or sabotage our relationships. On the other side of that, the more we think of the love we have for others and 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.
Thinking up Is happening when we think of ourselves as vital, alive, energized, and full of God energy and strength and then we begin to experience all that in our body temples. When we’re lifted, we begin to feel good about ourselves. The same is true about those rich ideas that God has given to every one of us. When we begin to think rich, we’ll be inspired, and we’ll bring about abundant living in our lives. So, we must know that even though we may have a lot of conditioned responses that aren’t very productive, we aren’t 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 because we always have God in us. As individual Unity students, it is our responsibility to change the direction of our thinking. It is an inside job that no one can do for us.
Here is an illustration of this point. 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 $1,000.00 and bought a car. He then took it apart piece by piece, examined every part, put it back together and then, took it apart again. After many times of going through this process, he was able to see the strengths and weaknesses of the car and build a car that had the good and eliminated the weak. He revolutionized the auto industry.
Well, that's what we must do. We must begin to take ourselves apart, so to speak and observe our strengths and weaknesses which are the times we do things so unconsciously that we don't realize what direction our thinking is moving in.
1. The first step is: Become self-observant and look at each area of your life to see what habitual thought patterns you have. By examining your own mind paths, you can then decide which are productive and which are non-productive. Build-up the productive ones and eliminate the non-productive ones. This means you begin to accept responsibility for the "results” of the choices you are making regarding the direction of your thinking in your life. At this point you stop looking out there for someone to blame and solutions. Instead, you look inside first and examine your own thinking patterns and make changes.
2. Once you identify your habitual thought patterns the second thing to do is ask yourself questions: For example, look at your personal relationships and ask: "Now what is it that isn’t working here?" or "Why is this bothering me? Is this a problem for me?" Once you can stop and look inside yourself and ask questions, you are ready for step 3.
3. Make a Decision: “I don't want to live like that any longer. I am willing to do the inner work to eliminate the "buttons" that people always seem to be pushing to set me off.”
4. Check the direction of your thinking in various situations. For example: The bills arrive and you suddenly you get an anxiety feeling even though you have a good paying job and know you can meet the challenge. Stop, look inside and ask: "What's going on? Why am I feeling like this?" Most likely you’ll find an old, conditioned message about not having enough or that you'll never be enough. Next say to yourself, "That's not true about me. It is just an old, conditioned response. I don't need it anymore." Stop the downward direction of your thinking and you will release yourself from free floating feelings of anxiety.
5. Once you’ve released the old untruth and created a vacuum, fill the space with the Truth about yourself. Affirm: “I am a child of a loving Mother/Father God. I have all the good I need in my life. I am open and receptive to even greater good in my life.” When you can do this, you’ve begun to take dominion of your life and responsibility for the creation and transformation of your world. You’ve taken your power back from the people or situations you placed it in until it controlled your level of good and happiness. You now accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. With God as your partner, you co-create healthy, wholesome living for yourself. When you do these 5 steps everything begins to cooperate with you. If you don’t, you remain a slave to those old responses. The secret of spiritual success is to realize the power is within you to do what needs to be done.
In 1 Corinthians 10:13 Paul recognized this truth and said, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful and God will not let you be tempted beyond your strength. But with the temptation God has also provided the way of escape.” He is saying that God has invested the power of good, strength, life, love, and every good thing within you. You have all the power you need to get over yourself and get out of whatever negative situations you have thought yourself into.
God has placed righteous judgment in you as the power to habitually think through your super conscious mind thoughts that are True, Christ-centered, and productive. Persist in repeating productive thoughts until they become a habit of solution in your life.
Paul put it this way: “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and 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.” The prize is the power of God Mind as Christ or super consciousness that’s within us. The same ability is in us that was in Jesus. (Jesus, Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus)
It’s our destiny to experience the Christ and to express the conditioned response of upward thinking/of super conscious thinking attained through the Christ of our being.
When we have that conditioned response, we have established the habit of the solution. We begin to experience life the way God created us to experience life. God bless you as you go forth to work with the habit of the solution and transform your life by the renewing power of your mind so that you can experience and express “the Christ in you, your hope of glory.”
What do you think?
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