The Work: An Exercise

excerpted from Inspired by Miracles by Dan Joseph

Having said that, I'd like to present an exercise that builds on these ideas. This exercise is one of the most challenging in this book. As I mentioned earlier, you're welcome to work with these exercises in whatever way is personally meaningful. I will, however, try to be as comprehensive in my presentation as possible.

Step 1. The first step in this process is to choose a person in your life who troubles you. It could be someone who seems quite irritating, or someone who seems just mildly annoying.



(ex. Debby, my co-worker.)

Step 2. Next, describe why this person troubles you, using as much detail as possible. You're encouraged not to "censor" your current perspective. This step calls for a great deal of honesty.




(ex. Debby constantly gossips, she always asks me to do things for her, and she acts very petty. I just don't like being around her. No one really likes being around her.)

Step 3. Even though these things may seem to be "facts" (and on the worldly level, some of them may be), let's reframe them in terms of our thoughts. Let's restate step two in the form of, "I'm choosing to see _____ (person) as _____ (quality)."

You may find that you have some resistance to this. Part of the mind wants to say, "I'm not choosing to see things this way; they just are this way." Although things may indeed be this way on a behavioral level, the Course wants us to take responsibility for our thoughts about them.

Again, our job in this step is to rewrite each sentence from step two in the form:

"I'm choosing to see _____ as _____."

This is a powerful step because it involves taking full responsibility for our thoughts. By doing this, we're identifying the contents of the cubbyhole.




(ex. I'm choosing to see Debby as someone who constantly gossips, who always asks me to do things for her, and who acts very petty. I'm choosing to see Debby as someone I don't like being around. I'm choosing to see Debby as someone whom no one likes being around.)

Step 4. Now we can evaluate how you feel about what we're thinking. We're pulling these stored-away thoughts out into the light.

I invite you to ask yourself: How do I feel about these thoughts? Are they bringing me peace? If not, might I be willing to accept a new set of loving thoughts and inspired perceptions?

If you find that you are willing to receive a new perception – a new set of thoughts for the cubbyhole – you can say the following prayer:

God, I lay these thoughts before you.
I have no idea how I should look at this person.
But I am willing to receive a new view.
I give you my thoughts in exchange for your vision.

Then try to sit for a full minute and exchange, to the best of your ability, your view of this person for something new. God can show you a spark of beauty in this person that you may have never before seen. In seeing this spark of beauty, you will strengthen it in yourself.

This can be a very holy process. It can bring peace to our minds and gentleness to our hearts. Our goal in this minute is to let our personal thoughts about this person be replaced with God's loving thoughts about him or her.

Like we did in the earlier exercises, we can use imagery in this practice. You can, for example, imagine this person stepping out from behind a costume. The costume is the old way you've been seeing her. But that isn't who she really is. You can envision this person shedding her old role like an actor at the end of a play, and coming forward to greet you.

Regardless of whether or not you use imagery in this process, the goal is to let a spark of God's light be revealed in this person. We want to exchange our old ways of seeing her for God's new way. Every time we do this with anyone in our lives, we're letting our own minds be healed.

In the Course, this type of exercise holds a central place. According to the Course, we can't find a real sense of peace if we're storing unloving thoughts toward anyone. The Course teaches that there is an exact relationship between holding resentments and feeling unhappy. Every unloving thought that we hold toward anyone causes us pain.

When I first read this idea in the Course, I was stunned. My dark thoughts toward that slow driver on the road are causing me pain? My judgmental thoughts toward those people on television have an impact on me? The Course says yes. But it also says that if I let God show me a spark of innocence in those people, I'm doing the best thing for my own state of mind.

That is why it can be so valuable to identify our current thoughts about a person, and become willing to exchange those thoughts for miracles – God's loving thoughts. As we do this, our own minds are healed.

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