What does dying to yourself really mean?
After I mentioned to a client that it’s essential to die to yourself a little bit each day, she then asked me, “What does that mean? Can you elaborate on that concept?”
Since I awoke and understood the spiritual part of life 23 years ago, I’ve been “consciously” dying to myself every day in numerous ways to create a healthier, happier and more purpose-filled life.
Before this last 23yrs was the period in life when I came close to death from built-up childhood traumas, 16yrs of chronic alcoholism, 12yrs of homelessness and utter hopelessness to eventually make a choice to live beyond the self-inflicted pain and suffering that I unconsciously took on for my 28yrs.
This conscious, transitional period in my life was the shift from ‘literally dying’ into ‘dying to self’, and there is a huge difference. The former is degenerating, devolving and a whole myriad of poor health, mental and emotional anguish and ultimately an unconscious death wish. The latter is truly learning to live with inspiration, creating ways to heal the body, mind and spirit and discovering a life purpose that is greater than your suffering.
I had attempted on numerous occasions throughout those troubled times to resolve my suffering, but never really made any change or headway until I finally hit rock bottom and was faced with an ultimatum...live or die!
Making that exceedingly difficult choice of redeeming myself from the brink of mortality was, in and of itself, dying to myself. It was the ultimate test of willpower and spiritual resolve, to lift myself up from years of self-loathing, chronic depression, and a multitude of physical issues to choose a different life. And as I see it now, it was nothing short of a miracle.
It’s mind-blowing, when on the verge of death, how you can find that part of you that says, “Hold on, I’m worth more than this.”
Potentially, when in that dark place of utter despair and complete loss, something can shift and a glimmer of faith rises up to meet you. I believe that that shift is the part of you that chooses life over death, and that priceless moment of redemption is the most divine gift ever.
Yes indeed... the realms of darkness, when discerned, certainly have their rewards.
Sinking into complete darkness was where I discovered my sacred calling and the true purpose of my life. I had to experience enough trauma, adversity and sheer hell to venture deep within the caverns of my heart, know the truth and enlighten the spirit within.
So that was my initiation in learning to die to something greater than myself. Of course, I could have continued to deny, avoid and disassociate and not be here today, but that wasn’t my path.
You never experience anything that isn't meant for you!
To shift those ingrained habits, chronic addictions and the lifelong emotional torture was the greatest feat I ever encountered. The burning off of negative karma was initiated, the journey of healing my heart had begun, and dying to myself was in full swing.
Back then, one wise being stated, ‘You already know yourself. Connect with that part, then feel, visualise and manifest who you inherently know yourself to be.’
Every one of us knows who we are. Even if it is a subtle, almost imperceptible resonance, it’s most certainly there. We inherently know what’s right from wrong, moral or immoral, just or unjust, and essentially these are merely habits that we practise one way or the other. Whatever you feed into becomes your habit and life. Which reminds me of an old Cherokee tale.
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
For me, this tale is saying that in every moment you have a choice to make, and that choice determines the way life will be experienced and reinforces that relationship to who you know yourself to be. If you choose to make good or wise decisions, you're reducing your karmic debt, and a mini death of ego occurs. Each time you override the ego’s attachment in making a poor choice, you forgo sabotage, break the bonds of suffering and fill your heart with love.
Discovering how to apply a greater self-love into a daily practice to live and become the best you possibly can is, I believe, is the greatest challenge of all, as facing the truth takes considerably more resolve than anything that's gone before.
Solely because the greatest fear a human can experience is “dissolution of the ego”.
NOW THAT’S DYING!!
I believe one of the most effective and powerful ways of learning to die to self is to apply yourself to your inner calling, the sacred contract that you came here for and the overarching dream that lies before you through this life journey. That part of you which authentically yearns and aches to become the person you know yourself to be at the highest level. Or put another way, making choices that are solely motivated by love. Choosing with love is a sure way of dying beyond the ego’s story.
Not the easiest of paths when programmed and conditioned from an early age to follow society’s ideals, which ultimately becomes a survival mode. A survival mode that eventually causes mental and physical breakdown, loss of spirit and a half-lived life.
Then again, part of the human journey is to awaken from that first unconscious or instinctual stage of development and consciously align with our highest purpose.
That unconscious to conscious growth can only be transformed through subconsciously dying to those old, limiting beliefs, and truly distinguishing the difference between pain and suffering or joy and love.
Dying to self is a conscious practice that is potentially available any time you decide. Perhaps one of the most accurate explanations of what dying to self truly means is doing something that is outside of your comfort zone, which is usually a creative expression of some kind, and creativity on any level begets a new experience. In habituating this creative flair, it cultivates more life force energy (chi) , and opens up a new sense of self for constant growth and evolution.
In some respects, that new sense of self feels exactly like a part of you is “dying.” Trepidation, unease and even anxiety can arise when faced with making an authentic decision.
Conversely, you can also feel inspired, excited, intense passion and an urge to become the person you’re seeking to be. Sometimes, you may not be sure which is which?
Perhaps both… A. K. A. love’s confusing Joy!
To me, those sensations are transforming the flight or flight conditions that have been biologically controlling you for years, that are rooted in shame, fear and insecurities, which are now being “burned off”, arousing feelings of accomplishment, fulfilment and joy.
Face those fearful parts that are reluctant to step out, and become constantly reborn to live a dream that can only be experienced, One thing’s for sure, you can only truly live by learning to DIE!!
Perhaps you, like me, realise that without going through that early life of adversity and suffering, you wouldn't have acquired the necessary wisdom and self-love to know how to effectively heal yourself, find a deeper meaning to life and live with a purpose so empowering that it’s worth dying for with each and every day?