Last week I wrote this post about the relationship between risk and freedom.

As I was working on it I kept thinking of my friend, Ted Grace. Since he is both a spiritual seeker and has been a Risk Management professional for over 30 years, I have always thought he was in a unique position to see both sides of the real world/metaphysical world coin.

This week I welcome his thoughts on the subject. – Christopher

The Tool of “Trouble” in Our Lives, by Ted Grace

Risk is something we all live with; it’s part of the human condition. Not only does it constantly play in the background of our subconscious, but we are addicted also to initiating risk in our playtime.

Remember your first roller coaster ride, mountain climb and first time to drive a car?  The idea that we were doing something risky thrilled us when we were younger.

As we age, we become less risky and learn to perceive danger in various pursuits in life.

The problem for most of us is that we have a belief that life shouldn’t be risky, and as Christopher points out in his post last week, we feel we must eliminate any potential for danger before we can be truly free.

I find the issue of risk in our physical world similar to the idea of our shadow self in the spiritual world.

In our spiritual journeys, at some point, we are forced to become aware of and familiar with those parts of our soul, which we try to disown as “not me.” This is often described as our shadow self.

If our shadow self remains unconscious, it makes our spiritual journey even more perilous. If our shadow self remains both unconscious and unexplored, we invariably project our shadow stuff onto others (like our partners, parents, siblings, etc.)

We need to remember: our souls do not flourish just in the light, but also in the territory of grief, loss, anger, terror, depression, betrayal and all other so-called negative facets of human experience. Just ask anyone who has experienced a break up, lost someone to an early death or felt the pain of betrayal.

Risk operates very much like our shadow self. It’s the depiction of the negative side of the human experience and, like the shadow self, if you try to avoid it, it will consume enormous amounts of personal energy.

When individuals, societies or nations try to avoid facing risk in the physical world, we end up projecting it, agonizing about it and trading our independence to the world of anxiety and avoidance.

We in the U.S. experienced this as a nation after 9/11. We all wanted to be safer and reduce the risk of terrorism, so we allowed our leaders to pass the Patriot Act. But the price we paid for this perceived safety was to our individual freedoms (pat downs by TSA; aggressive, overstepping law enforcement actions, etc.).

Those of us who have in the past retreated from dealing with risk and/or our shadow self may find ourselves overwhelmed in the presence of risk; for risk is nothing if not coming face-to-face with the darker/shadow side of the human experience.

Malidoma Somé , a shaman from the Dagara Tribe of West Africa, frequently speaks of “trouble” as the tool of soul to draw us into the darkness for the purpose of being re-made by it.

Mike Meade alluded to the same tool when he said,

“When the times go dark, we have a chance to learn the world again.”

Our Soul wants us to be in the “drama” of life—which means risk, because it causes us to go inward to the resources of the soul. Being with the risk in your life is the first step toward using the tool of “trouble.”

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Ted and I would love to hear what you think. Please share your thoughts in a comment below.

photo credit: boat from mikebaird via photopin cc and wikipedia

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