photo: Leonid Mamchenkov on flickr

We’ve all seen it. A co-worker gets sick and wonders what she “did wrong” to cause the illness. A friend loses his job and blames it on his “lack consciousness.” A family member gets dumped by her boyfriend and beats herself up for not being a good enough “love magnet.”

They’re all victims of that most vicious and insidious of syndromes: The New Age Virus. 

That’s right, my Goofball friends, Dr. Z is back! And I’m here to tell you about a new disease that, if left unchecked, can wreak havoc in your life.

It can happen to anyone, at any time. You start to adopt the idea that consciousness is creative. You begin to understand the powerful influence of your thoughts.

The next thing you know, you’re holding yourself accountable for every last detail of your life. If something is wrong, it’s all your fault.

photo: Sarah G. on flickr

Before long, your entire life is a horror movie, directed by you. What started out as a groovy, la-la philosophy has mutated into a sophisticated and divinely-ordained way to beat yourself up. Pretty soon, this self-abusive mindset has spread to every area of your life.

And that’s why we call it a Virus.

What’s a Goofball to do?

Well, first of all, I’m not going to let any of us off the hook entirely. I still believe that consciousness is creative. I believe that consciousness is creative because it’s been my experience that this is so.

That said, there’s a huge difference between blame and responsibility. When all is said and done, this difference comes down to one factor: the ego.

Here in the Land of the Goofballs, we have a groovier, goofier title for the ego: The elf. (If you haven’t already read about this particular take on the ego, you can read about it here.)

The elf is basically the ego with pointy shoes and an impish grin. It’s a softer, gentler approach to this aspect of ourselves.  

In terms of the New Age Virus, the elf is what we call the carrier. Our little elf homes in on whatever’s gone “wrong” in our lives and uses it as a flogging stick to terrorize ourselves. And if you’ve ever seen an elf with a flogging stick, it’s not a pretty picture. Believe me.

The tricky part is that there’s an element of truth to the elf’s terrorizing ways. The New Age Virus, like any virus, is only feeding on what’s already there.

Case in point: I recently got sick. And not just a short, little jaunt into sickness. I was sick for weeks. First I got a cold. Then it turned into a cough. Then the cough went away, and I was left with fatigue. Days and days and days of fatigue.

photo: Erich Ferdinand on flickr

In the past, I would have used this as an opportunity to beat myself up. I would have handed over the flogging stick to my little elf and let her have at it.

While my elf was pounding me with the stick, she would have bombarded me with questions. Questions like: What did you do to cause this? What dark and deep thoughts are lurking in your consciousness? Why can’t you get it together?

After the questions were over, the elf would have thrown in some statements as well. Shiny gems like: You suck. You’re a loser. You never do anything right.

In the case of my recent illness, however, I did not allow it to degenerate into a New Age Virus. Instead, I was gentle with myself. I allowed myself to rest. At least, most of the time. I did get a little impatient that it was taking so long to get better. But I allowed myself to be gentle with my impatience, and slowly but surely, I started to improve.

What is important to note is that, in the midst of all this rest and renewal, some messages of guidance emerged. These messages were not from the elf self. She had only blaming and flogging in mind.

Instead, these messages were from a deeper part of me: My wisdom. My intuitive side. My Self.

This is what I was told: You need to slow down. You’ve been spending all your time keeping busy and doing chores. You need more quiet time. If you don’t allow this for yourself, your body will take it for you. This isn’t a form of punishment. It’s part of a natural cycle. A cycle of activity and rest. Oh, and by the way: I love you. You deserve all good things. Including rest.

photo: Kevin Poh on flickr

It was a message of instruction, not of flogging. It was a message that left me in a better place, not a battered one. And it was a message that will help me avoid getting sick in the future.

And that’s the difference between blame and responsibility.

The antidote to the New Age Virus is a strong and solid relationship with the Self. There are all kinds of ways to cultivate this relationship: prayer, meditation, chanting, time in nature or spiritual community. When this relationship is strong, you can listen to the deeper messages embedded in your experiences, messages that have nothing to do with blame.

photo: longtrekhome on flickr

Sometimes the messages involve changing your thoughts. Sometimes they involve changing your habits or your surroundings. And sometimes the messages simply tell you to wait in the Mystery for more to be revealed.

If you, instead, allow the elf to be in charge, the messages are more likely to leave you battered. More likely to leave you a prime candidate for a Virus of the New Age variety.

The Self loves. The elf judges.

It’s as simple – and as complicated – as that.

Of course, all of us spiritual types are potentially going to catch a little New Age Virus from time to time. Even the most “evolved” among us. As always, Love is the answer.

photo: Julie McLeod on flickr

We can learn to love our elf. We can learn to love ourselves enough to slow down and listen to the guidance within. And we can allow this atmosphere of gentleness and acceptance to lead us to the truth behind all of our experiences.

And that, my friends, is how we stay Virus-free!

When have you been prey to the New Age Virus? And how did you cure yourself?

P.S. There’s a complication to the New Age Virus. A related syndrome that’s even more troublesome and maddening. Read about it here!

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