Some spiritual promises sound lovely, but don’t relieve suffering

Below is an excerpt from “Escape Routes”…. by Pema Chodron (from: Turn Your World Around: Three Steps for Emotional Transformation* course)
My response to the excerpt from this course is explained first, so read on to see how some spiritual promises can often be misconceptions—with good intent—but just DO NOT address HOW to “simply let go of our storylines” and why we remain so stuck in suffering
I started one book by rebutting something that was said by the Dalai Lama, and my editor didn’t know if that was a good idea! Yet I see the cost and delays in real help and real recovery created by promises and practices offered that sound wonderful, but don’t always give us the tools we need to shift. More and more, I am starting to acknowledge in my teachings why they don’t always work to relieve our suffering.
This wise, wonderful writer on Buddhism speaks here of the same polarities we address with my NO-MATTER-WHAT Way (blame/judgement of others and shame/regret/criticism of self), and how the habitual stories developed by our mind as an escape that only digs us in deeper into pain.
I am completely aligned with this concept of escapism, while at the same time wanting to point to the fact that what she suggests in her final paragraph does not always work… there are times we need to go BEYOND MINDFULNESS and proactively reverse those polarities in thought before we can get free.
I was NOT able to just let go of the storylines and be present–no one can when they come with survival-driven force. They grip your insides with PTSD-strength programming that was instituted at a time when your survival truly felt threatened by the anger or neglect of a caretaker.
SO what we do is RE-WIRE those failed attempts to escape our pain, so your mind can no longer believe them. We HARNESS the polarized stories she refers to, but as your direct and often instant PATH TO PEACE and thriving.
And I don’t know if I agree that “what helps, hurts,” either, because the safe holding (in session or group with me, or on paper with The Work of Byron Katie, or Wheel of Self-Forgiveness) ends up feeling GOOD…even while you’re doing it, it doesn’t hurt as much as stuffing or denying the story… the part of you that is terrorized by that story and using those ineffective strategies is RELIEVED when you finally LISTEN to it and go in and FEEL it. In fact, it is the opposite in my mind, that “What Hurts HELPS”–once you know what to do with it! That’s what we are doing here. The Symmetry Principle is about using whatever upsets you as your path out of it, and in every instance with myself and clients, it doesn’t hurt if you follow these very simple steps.
It just occurs to me that my new 90-minute webclass (where I expose 9 spiritual misconceptions and failed promises that will keep you stuck and suffering) goes even further at confronting the promises that are out there in the spiritual space and explaining what you CAN do with those “holdout” places that don’t just “let go” under the promises that sound lovely but don’t always relieve your suffering.
HERE IS THE LINK TO THAT SELF-EMPOWERMENT WEBINAR, and feel free to email me at support@shawnmahshie.com, FOR SOME HELP TURNING AROUND YOUR MIND’S ESCAPE STRATEGIES FOR REAL RELIEF or to chat about how to use my Happiness Hack called “THE BEYOND MINDFULNESS MAP.” I can share it FREE with folks who would like it.
The way OUT is IN! XOXOX
🙂 Shawn


Storyline is a major escape route. We’re not conscious of this, but we are tender, vulnerable human beings, and if somebody says something or something happens it automatically hurts. There’s shenpa instantly because of the look on their face, or the tone of their voice, or the history between you. And so you immediately do the habitual thing.
The habitual thing—speaking and acting out of it—is an escape route. It’s our attempt as a vulnerable tender-hearted human being to get away from that feeling. If I just tell them where they’re wrong, if I just point the finger and put the blame out there, then I’ll feel better.
Well, this is the thing that is so amazing. We do that over and over and over, and it never brings relief. I think it never brings release because it’s like throwing kerosene on the fire. You have this little ember and you say, “Okay let’s just pour some kerosene on.” You know, “Let’s bite someone’s head off.” It’s an escape route. It’s a way of trying to get away from feeling what we’re feeling. And it’s so sad because it doesn’t help and yet it becomes a habitual pattern.
The other major escape route is blaming oneself, repressing, feeling guilt and shame about the fact that one is so easily angered, so easily feels jealousy, so easily beats oneself up. Just repressing. So repressing is equally—strangely—a way to try to get away from feeling what we feel, which is to put the blame on ourself. I suppose they’re both human attempts to get some ground under our feet.
But actually what helps, hurts—and that is to stay present with the feelings, and keep letting the storyline go, and just be present with what it feels like. So what helps hurts, but it also heals.

Leave a Comment