from Stop Fixing Yourself
by Anthony De Mello
Suppose there is a way of getting rid of all of that? Suppose there is a way to stop that tremendous drain of energy, health, and emotion that comes from such conflicts and confusion. Would you want that? Suppose there is a way that we would truly love one another, and be at peace, be at love.
People ask me all the time, what do I need to do to change myself? If you are one of those people, I’ve got a big surprise for you! You don’t have to do anything. In fact, the more you do, the worse it gets. All you have to do is understand. The trouble with most people is that they’re busy trying to fix things in themselves that they really don’t understand.
Stop fixing yourself. You’re OK. Don’t interfere. Don’t fix anything. Simply watch. Observe. These things in you that you struggle to fix just need to be understood. If you understood them, they would change.
Most people have never stopped to consider this simple fact: Their efforts are going to get them nowhere. Their efforts will only make things worse, as things become worse when you use fire to put out fire. Effort does not lead to growth. Effort, whatever the form it takes, whether it be willpower, habit, a technique, or a spiritual exercise, does not lead to change. At best, effort leads to repression and a covering over of the root problem. Effort may change the outward behavior, but it does not change the inner person.
Just think what kind of a mentality it betrays when you ask, “What must I do to get holiness? What sacrifices must I make? What discipline must I undertake? What meditation must I practice in order to get it?” Think of a man who wants to win the love of a woman and attempts to improve his appearance, build his body, change his behavior and practice techniques to charm her. And so it is with spirituality and holiness. It is not what you do that brings it to you. What matters is what you are and what you become.
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