Like many people, I’ve always been a bookworm. Unlike many people, I’ve been a bookworm in a society, and a time, when books were my only source of love and support. Put the pieces together and you’ll easily see how this relationship could go down the wrong path…
Growing up gay in 1990s Cyprus wasn’t ideal. The society was small and judgmental, homosexuals were considered to be criminals and pedophiles, and my perfectionistic personality ensured I did nothing to rock the boat. I played within the rules, strove to be a model son, student, and citizen, and locked every piece of authenticity I’d left so deep in the closet I was practically searching for Narnia.
As the story usually unfolds in these cases there came a time when bottling up my emotions wasn’t working anymore, and the closet I was hiding in just couldn’t take any more weight. As a result, in the most tragic and dramatic way the closet broke down in pieces, and I broke down with it. I was on my knees; hand out, palm open, holding a bunch of pills, and ready to put an end to it all.
And then I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. “Love yourself”, it said. “Accept yourself”, it said.
And so I did, in the only way I knew how: Reading.
Book after book, one spiritual modality after the other, I made the impossible possible. I forgave my bullies, loved my sexuality, effed off the critics, and let my rainbow freak flag fly freely. I felt loved, healed, and empowered, but in reality I was co-dependent. My books were my medicine and the spiritual teachers who wrote them were my heroes. Without them I felt broken and insecure, and just like most addicts I was completely oblivious to it.
It wasn’t until my spiritual journey pushed me to be a teacher for others that I realised what was going on. In particular, my addiction became blatantly obvious at a networking event where I had the chance to mingle with some of my spiritual teacher heroes. I watched me throwing myself onto my all-time favourite, showering him with compliments, trying to impress him, and begging for attention, only to be completely sabotaged and shut down by him.
I felt crushed and heart-broken, which brought my addiction to the surface. I was letting my happiness, worthiness, and sense of self-love be determined by another person’s attention to me. Although I’d done great work nurturing self-love through the years, it wasn’t all coming from me. To some degree, the self-love I felt was rooted to my perception of the person the books I’d read and the spiritual teachers I’d admired helped me become, and continued doing so. I’d turned these spiritual teachers to idols of worthiness and self-love, and I expected them to be there and keep providing that to me.
...Create Your Own Legacy
It became obvious that I had to take some radical action. I knew that by idolising spiritual teachers I was doing a disservice to myself, to my message, and to my students. By needing other teachers’ approval I was disapproving myself, and prevented my message from growing authentically. Concurrently, I emitted a vibration of doubt and uncertainty, which prevented the universe from fully showing up for me and leading me on path to fulfilling my life purpose.
Coming back home from the event that night, I fell on my knees and prayed for guidance. The answer that came through was simple, radical, and incredibly powerful: Detox yourself from other teachers’ message, and let yours shine through.
In the months and years that followed I did just that. I became extremely conscious of the books I chose to read and my relationship to them, the teachers I decided to follow, the talks and workshops I attended, and ensured I spent sufficient time by myself, thinking my own thoughts, feeling my own feelings, writing my own processes, and creating my own legacy.
George Lizos is a Spiritual Life Coach and the author of Be The Guru: A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming Your Own Spiritual Teacher. He runs a successful spiritual blog sharing tools to becoming your own spiritual teacher, and features interviews with leading spiritual experts. To learn more about George visit www.georgelizos.com Connect with George on social media: www.facebook.com/georgelizos, www.instagram.com/georgelizos,