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Overcoming Anxiety and Self-Doubt as a Teacher

[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]

  1. I am as God created me. My performance does not create me (shape my image).

Is my identity fixed by God and therefore unalterable? Or am I an image that is up for grabs, at the mercy of my performance as a teacher? Believing the latter is an expression of the authority problem, in which I resist God’s authority as Creator of my identity.

Practice:

My worth is not established by my teaching.
My worth was established by God. (original version of T4.I.7:1-2)

  1. I am as God created me. The opinions of others do not create me (shape my image).
    Is my identity fixed by God, or am I an image that is at the mercy of the opinions of others?

“A teacher with an authority problem [who has given his pupils authority over his identity] is merely a pupil who refuses to teach others. He wants to maintain himself in a position where he can be misused and misperceived. This makes him resentful of teaching, because of what he insists it has done to him. The only way out of this particular aspect of the desert is still to leave. The way this is left is to release everyone involved, by absolutely refusing to engage in any form of honoring error [validating the misperceptions of others]. (Original dictation, found in what’s now Chapter 3)

You are afraid to teach only because you are afraid of the impression your image of yourself will make on other images. You believe that their approval of your image will exalt it, [but that] your separation anxiety will increase. You also believe that their disapproval of it will lessen the anxiety, but at the cost of depression. (Original dictation, found in what’s now Chapter 4)

Practice:

It is my duty to establish beyond doubt
that I am totally unwilling to side with anyone’s misperceptions of me,
including my own. (based on Helen’s notes)

  1. In speaking, I cannot be embarrassed if I speak from my soul. I can only be embarrassed if I speak from my ego.

Embarrassment is always an expression of egocentricity, an association which has been made before….Both of you have completed the SCT [Sentence Completion Test] stem When I was called on to speak with “I became embarrassed and could not speak.” This should be corrected to “Recognized my Authorship.”

Tell Bill that he cannot be embarrassed by his own words unless he believes he is responsible for them….He can speak from his Soul or from his ego, precisely as he chooses. (Original dictation, found in what’s now Chapter 4)

  1. Being the devoted teacher means realizing that it’s not about my image, it’s about the students learning.

The real basis for doubt about the outcome of any problem that has been given to God’s Teacher for resolution is always self-doubt. And that necessarily implies that trust has been placed in an illusory self, for only such a self can be doubted. This illusion can take many forms. Perhaps there is a fear of weakness and vulnerability. Perhaps there is a fear of failure and shame associated with a sense of inadequacy. Perhaps there is a guilty embarrassment stemming from false humility. The form of the mistake is not important. What is important is only the recognition of a mistake as a mistake.

The mistake is always some form of concern with the self to the exclusion of the patient. It is a failure to recognize him as part of the Self, and thus represents a confusion in identity. Conflict about what you are has entered your mind, and you have become deceived about yourself. And you are deceived about yourself because you have denied the Source of your creation. (M-7.5-6)

Practice:

I am here only to be truly helpful.
I am here to represent Him Who sent me.
I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do, because He Who sent me will direct me.
I am content to be wherever He wishes, knowing He goes there with me.
I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal. (T-2.V.A.18a)

  1. If I refuse to exploit the teaching situation into forms of praise for my ego, I cannot be afraid.

If you will to be a devoted teacher rather than an egocentric one, you will not be afraid. The teaching situation is fearful if it is misused as an ego involvement. If you become afraid, it is because you are using it this way. But the devoted teacher is perceiving the situation as it is, and not as he wills it. He does not see it as dangerous because he is not exploiting it. The ego tries to exploit all situations into forms of praise for itself, to overcome its doubts. (Original dictation, found in what’s now Chapter 4)

Practice: Ask yourself, “Am I trying to exploit this situation into forms of praise for my ego?”
Pause and reflect honestly. Then say,

Only my exploiting of this situation makes it seem dangerous.
I refuse to exploit it, and therefore it is completely safe.

  1. I welcome the mind-change that teaching brings. My desire to avoid teaching is really an attempt to avoid change.
    When we give ideas to students, those ideas are reinforced in us, causing our mind to change. We avoid teaching because we are resisting this change. We unconsciously believe that keeping ourselves in stasis will prove that nothing ever went wrong, that the separation never happened. Accepting the teaching role means getting out of this denial.

Teaching and learning are your greatest strengths now, because you must change your own mind and help others change theirs. It is pointless to refuse to tolerate change or changing because you believe that you can demonstrate by doing so that the separation never occurred. The dreamer who doubts the reality of his dream while he is still dreaming it is not really healing the level-split. You have dreamed of a separated ego, and you have believed in a world which rested upon it. This is very real to you. You cannot undo this by doing nothing and not changing. (Original dictation, found in what’s now Chapter 4)

  1. Jesus chose me and is here teaching with me, lending me his strength. How can I doubt myself?

Your mission is very simple. You are asked to live so as to demonstrate that you are not an ego, and I do not choose God’s channels wrongly….My chosen channels cannot fail, because I will lend them my strength as long as theirs is wanting. (T-4.VI.6)

As He sent me to you, so will I send you to others. But I will go to them with you, so we can teach them union and peace. (original version of T-8.IV.3:10-11)