Photo: Hassan Saleh

It’s six in the morning and I barely got a wink’s worth of sleep. Insomnia’s a close friend by now, but tonight, my ol’ chum was getting a little too close for comfort.

This is despite the many precautions I’ve laid out the night before — chamomile tea, no screens two hours before bedtime, a light stretch, a cold room.

Well all that’s out the window now, and to make things worse, I have a long day ahead of me, the very reason I’d made all that preparations in the first place.

But then something weird happened. I’d steeled myself for what was about to come, and accepted it as something beyond my control. I couldn’t do anything about the circumstances, but I could still choose how I wanted to go about the day.

And as soon as I went into acceptance mode, a surge of strength washed over me, and not only did I complete all my tasks for the day, but I also got twice the amount of work done than I normally would have.

Beyond understanding

The event above would be one of the few times I’d connect with my higher self, and whenever this happens, it’d be as if someone else is pulling the reins. An alter-ego would rise from the depths of my soul and say “I got this.” In its presence, I become wittier and less self-conscious, almost as if I’ve just dosed on some NZT-48 from the movie Limitless.

Now, the negative self-talk that constantly plagues my mind makes it hard for me to do mundane activities, such as going out for groceries or attending a wedding. Before even getting dressed, I’ll have relived each possible outcome a thousand times over. What usually ends up happening is me picking the worst-case scenario, then defaulting on the task.

There’ll be too many people, I’d think. There’ll be long queues and shit, and no one likes queues. Oh, you haven’t had a haircut in months too, shouldn’t you do that first? But you’ll need to drive all the way to the hairdresser’s and it’s rush hour, so…

I’ve forgone so many events not because I was actually tired, but because I was tired of thinking I’d be tired.

So you best believe that if my higher self ever shows up, it’d be getting mundane shit done such as having my passport renewed or taking the car for a wash.

And if you see ‘meet a client’ written right next to ‘accompany Len to Ikea’ and ‘clean the house’ on my to-do list, then you best believe that I didn’t face that day on my own accord.

Friends with benefits

Of course, I’d love it if my higher self would go on and end world hunger or solve poverty, but I guess it knows I can’t help the world if I don’t first work on myself.

The weird thing about all of this is that, the more I determine what I want in life, and the harder I strive to achieve them, the more my higher self makes an appearance. This being feels like a guardian angel of sorts, one that draws energy from hard work that’s performed with a true heart (an important distinction, as it hates half-assed work based on anecdotal evidence).

I’ve also found that it shies away from pleasure and evil. So if I choose to polish off a bottle of vodka or procrastinate the entire day, I know that my higher self will be frowning from the deep recesses in my mind, even though it doesn’t make it obvious.

Fortunately, I’ve forced myself into building good habits lately, and through this practice, I’ve kinda built a little rapport with it. I’ve begun noticing my self talk, feeling the difference between my ego and my higher self. And you know what? I actually think that’s God inside of me.

The God inside us

It has to be. Why else would that voice only whisper good things and guide me into carrying out noble tasks? It’s never once insulted me, or asked me to kick someone’s ass. It only appears when I choose to do the right things, and it refuses to surface whenever I partake in the traditional definitions of sin (gluttony, greed, the like).

And if that’s the case, then we all have God inside of us, constantly steering us onto the right path. We just need to learn to listen to it. For some, it’s that little pang of regret we feel after chowing on that double cheeseburger. For others, it’s the whisper of a word that precedes a eureka moment. Perhaps it speaks to you in dreams. And it’s almost definitely that gut feeling you chose to ignore, which turned out to be a catastrophic decision.

Once you learn to filter out these messages from the other crap running about in your monkey mind, you’ll learn to differentiate between your higher self and your ego. And if you continue carrying out its advice, despite your feelings — I mean, some days it’s hard to even wake up early, am I right — you’ll find that it’s easier to know your place in the universe.

All this sounds a bit woo woo, I know. I’m a skeptic, and I’m not very religious either. In fact, I was born a Catholic, but I’ve not set foot in a church for some 20 years now.

God-loving infidel

The other day, my aunt begged me to go to church so that I wouldn’t fall from grace in God’s eyes. I get that all the time. I’m probably seen as a heretic by my extended family members by now.

The thing is, God probably doesn’t want me to pay my respects in a building made by men. He probably doesn’t care if I know my Our Fathers, or if I’d fasted before communion.

What he’d probably want me to do is to be the best person I can be, to constantly strive to do good, to always help a fellow man.

He’d probably want me to love others, do no harm, and to only choose to do the right thing, even when no one’s watching. Especially when no one’s watching.

And if we all choose to listen to the God within us, we wouldn’t have to fear death, fight meaningless wars, or hate others who are different from us.

Finding the voice

Just because I haven’t been to Sunday service in two decades doesn’t mean I’m not working on my relationship with God. In fact, I could argue that I’ve let him into my heart more than the church-goers who revert to being drunks and road bullies once the sermon’s over.

Don’t let me tell you how to approach your own spirituality though. I’m still trying to figure my own shit out too.

But perhaps we’ve been approaching our relationship with God the wrong way. We keep praying, reaching out, asking for advice, signs. Maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe what we actually need to do is to just listen.

Stuart is a Malaysian-based writer who’s left travel writing for the world of fiction. His first novel is set to be published in 2021. www.stuartdanker.com

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