With Sundiata Alaye’
Owning Your Brand
I was hanging out with a close friend of mine not long ago having drinks and catching up when the subject of relationships came up in the conversation. I could feel his energy shift as he began to tell me yet another all too familiar story of a failed relationship he had just experienced and I could sense that he was deeply hurt. Apparently, a relationship he was hopeful about with a Brother he had been seeing for about six months had recently transformed because the Brother he was seeing said things were moving too fast and he wasn’t ready for a relationship. My friend was crushed as he went on to say that he couldn’t understand why he kept meeting Brothers who would lead him into thinking that they were in a committed relationship or at least working on establishing something long-term and weeks or months into it tell him that they weren’t ready for a commitment. He explained how heartbroken he’d become each time it happened and how he was now very clear that the majority of Brothers in our community have real commitment issues. “Never again,” he continued. “I will never put myself in that position ever again. Don’t you agree?” he said, exhausted from pouring out his soul and from reliving each similar experience.
I sat there for a moment staring at him blankly not because I was surprised that he was angry at the Brother for cutting off the relationship but because I was searching my thoughts for the proper way – a gentle way – to explain to him that he needed a drastic change before the barrage of finger pointing, blame and his own victimization started to take hold. I knew I had to be delicate in my delivery too, as the change he needed was nothing a haircut, a vacation, shopping spree or my agreeing that other people were the cause of his pain would easily erase. My friend, like many of us, needed to own his “brand” in a way that he would understand the messages he was sending to these Brothers and to the world.
I explained to him that I believed that the problem was not that these Brothers couldn’t commit but that perhaps that he wasn’t ready for a commitment. He gave me the evil eye and rolled his eyes way up in the back of his head and said sort of sarcastically, “Why would I even think you could understand? I forgot that you’re too Holier than thou to get it. You are so righteous.” My initial response was, “And you’re a neurotic mess!” But I couldn’t just leave it there. I had to dive a little deeper with him.
I know my friend was looking for me to validate that these Brothers were heartless and stupid for not seeing what a great catch he was. I know he wanted me to agree with him that these Brothers were too caught up in themselves or just plain crazy not to see that he was a “complete package” (a term I really do despise for a variety of reasons) but if we consistently blame onto others for our landing in the same situations over and over again it assumes that they are always wrong and that we are always victims. On the other hand spiritual accountability, our creative expression of loving embracing and branding ourselves, dictates that we assume responsibility for our own experiences and the thoughts, emotions, actions, behavior that give them life.
I first explained to him that he shouldn’t think for one moment that because I have chosen to exit my own confusion and face my fears head on that I don’t get mad or upset. I do. I really do! Sometimes I get very angry at the ebb and flow of life; when things don’t go according to my plans or people test my patience and commitment to the Spirit. And there are times, though they don’t happen as frequently as they did in my past, where my neurosis kicks in and I feel overwhelmingly scared, confused, lonely, unfulfilled, insecure, and terrified at life. These experiences are a part of the human experience for all of us. The only difference is that I spent years trying to actively find a way to rid myself of them. One of those ways I found many years ago was to rebrand – completely change my destructive thought pattern by catching myself at the moment negative thoughts begin to overwhelm me. I recognize that when I was overwhelmed by these thoughts what I needed most was spiritual correction; not a date, a new outfit, a drink, food, or an expensive something to make me feel better. I needed to correct what was happening internally rather than externally. I also recognized that spiritual rebranding does not come when I deny that I am angry, lonely, or scared, or self-loathing but it comes when I acknowledge that these feelings are rooted in loveless thoughts that I am willing to have healed. I simply say this, “Dear God, this is how I am feeling about this but I’m willing to feel differently.” I surrender all of the negative thoughts and beliefs I’m experiencing and invite a new interpretation in. I simply ask for a shift in my perception. I ask for a miracle. And it comes.
So the problem is not that my friend keeps meeting these Brothers. That’s not it at all. The real problem is that he keeps giving them his phone number! Why? Well, because these are the Brothers he’s attracted to. Something inside of him is afraid of commitment and it has little to do with the Brothers he’s dated or the people he has met or those he will continue to meet. His attention needed to be focused on his own thoughts and if he doesn’t his subconscious thoughts will chain him to confusion and blame, and he will find that the same situation will repeat itself over and over again. “Rebrand,” I said to him. “Pray for a fresh perspective – to think about this differently so that you recognize that you’re thoughts about commitment or more appropriately your fear of committing is deeply rooted in your subconscious and those thoughts are what will keep you sabotaging any hope for a long-term committed relationship.”
We all have our share of self-defeating neurotic thoughts that seem to appear most pronounced when we are faced with the prospect of relationships an love. Our neurosis is merely our fears and our fears manifest as separation from higher consciousness – our disconnection from love and thus our disconnection from God. The two are not separate. Our collective fears are represented by “ego” (read: Etching God Out). The ego is surface. The Spirit is mind. Think of it this way: if it is the job of higher consciousness to ensure that we have whole, fulfilling, and peaceful lives and relationships then the ego’s job is to ensure that we don’t. The ego is very strong and it is very seductive. It succeeds in guaranteeing that we cling to thoughts harmful to our spiritual growth, and it ensures that we never think to elevate our conscious vibrations to look inside of ourselves to find solutions. Admittedly, many of us are too spiritually immature to grasp onto this concept and it’s not our fault. We aren’t bad people because we have egos. Our egos merely represent the places where we have been beat down – the pain, wounds, and negative beliefs we hold in our subconscious minds that we know exist but for many reasons cannot acknowledge or heal.
The activities of our subconscious mind are fixed in place and do not differentiate between past and present. Our subconscious minds are a direct reflection of what we learned as children including our beliefs about love, relationships, our own self-worth, self-love and the perceptions we hold of ourselves. Unfortunately, many of the perceptions we have developed about ourselves are limited and self-sabotaging. The thoughts of not being worthy, the fear of being rejected, or thoughts about how we love or should be loved are built from our own fearful perceptions. The conscious mind on the other hand is our source, our spirit and our connection with the Creator. It is not limited by space or time and allows us in our greater being to relieve past experiences while allowing us the creative power to expand our vision for something different for ourselves. It gives us permission and opportunity to rebrand.
The question I invited my friend to ask himself was, “Am I really ready for a committed relationship?” I suggested that he spend time uncovering his own fears about commitment and relationships just long enough to resist placing blame on someone else. I reminded him that nothing happens outside of us (we are the authors of our own experiences) and that healing begins with a conscious shift in thought from fear to love. It is important to note that our minds are idle but our thoughts are not. With idle minds we are afforded “free will,” the choice to decide for ourselves how we will interpret our past and how we rebrand ourselves in the present. Whether these thoughts are directed by the ego (fear) or the Spirit (love), and whether the course of action we take in responding to them is to retreat as victims or evolve as spiritual giants must be driven by a conscious mind. The subconscious mind will always engage in old patterns of thought and habits. A conscious mind gives us the ability to rewrite beliefs and in the process create a different experience for our lives. As we recognize that we have this power to change old programming we evolve from passive victims to responsible co-creators, brilliant in our thinking and cultivating new behaviors that allow us to regain creative control to rebrand our lives and our presence in the world.
Peace, Blessings, Light, Love
Sundiata Najja Alaye¢