Personal growth is not for the faint of heart. It requires courage, tenacity, vulnerability, and a willingness to admit we are less than perfect. Because of this, I see people every day who choose to wander through life blissfully ignorant of themselves. It’s just easier. Life is tough enough without having to confront the issues we’ve woven into our personal story.
But, for some of us, we need truth. We need answers. Sometimes it’s a behavior or a habit that keeps popping up and impacting your success or your relationships. Yet, when you try to change, you can’t quite see the pattern or the bias that causes this thing to manifest itself.
If we are truly open to discovering the “why”, to living a life of authenticity, the answers to your questions will always find their way to you. But be warned – the answers are rarely what you expected them to be.
Here is an example from my own life. It is very personal, so I ask that you be gentle.
I’ve always had a habit of falling in love with the wrong people: people who are gay, or attached, or damaged, or simply uninterested in me. All through high school, I fell for guys who only considered me a friend, and I wondered why I wasn’t good enough, or pretty enough, or skinny enough to be loved.
As an adult, a similar pattern emerged. I found myself falling for people who could not, or would not, love me back. When I did find love, it was to people who needed me in a certain way, people who I saw as needing fixing. By focusing on them, I didn’t have to focus on myself. I had no idea that I was using care-taking as a way to avoid my truth.
A few weeks ago, I went through a painful break-up. It was the wakeup call I needed to start examining myself. I threw myself open and asked for answers. I just didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes. And then, I waited. When I least expected it, BAM!
My answer came in the form of a friend. He unknowingly handed me the key to unlocking this secret. It happened in a moment of deep pain, and I was starting to play out my typical pattern again. But, unbeknownst to me, something clicked into place and the wheels started turning.
As the minutes and hours passed, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was different. A voice told me to step back and take a closer look at my motives during that exchange.
If you’ve ever had a bolt of lightning strike your brain, it’s a lot like those Bugs Bunny cartoons. You freeze, wide-eyed, blink a few times, and then cascade into a million confused little pieces. But, like a phoenix, when you rise from the ashes, you are reborn with a new knowing. Your truth is suddenly inside of you.
So what did I discover as I rose? Every unrequited crush, every failed infatuation suddenly became crystal clear. I purposely fell for unattainable people because they were safe.
They perpetuated the myth I’d written for myself that no one could find me attractive, that I wasn’t worthy of love. Worse, this pattern gave me the perfect excuse to lock myself inside an emotional fortress and avoid rejection.
I never had to be vulnerable and scared. I never had to face true heartbreak. I selected safe relationships – relationships that only existed in my head, or relationships with an imbalance of power where I was always in control.
It was in this moment that I learned you could break your own heart.
When you ask for truth and finally receive it, it will knock you on your ass with a solid thud. You think you’re ready for it, but you probably aren’t. It takes the wind out of you.
Awakening to the root cause of an unhealthy pattern hurts. But, it also feels right. It feels good to finally have a “why”. It’s like a festering wound that’s finally been cleaned – it hurt like hell getting the infection out, and it will need time to heal and grow healthy again, but that moment of finally being free of what was making you so sick gives you a new lightness that can’t be described.
When those truths emerge, it’s so easy to judge yourself, to talk yourself into a place of shame or regret. Instead, I challenge you (and me) to step into this knowing with a kind heart. Be gentle with yourself. You’ve been doing the best you can with what you had. And now, you have a new tool to wield as you trudge along on your beautifully unique journey through life.
In fact, being open to a personal truth is one of the scariest, bravest things a person can do. You’re pulling your head out of the sand and into a world filled with light. It just takes a little while for your eyes to adjust. The hardest thing of all is listening for your answer, wondering when it will come. Once it finally does, it’s time to breathe, reflect, adjust, and grow.
What truth have you been avoiding? What have you recently learned that shocked you? And what is your path to healing?
It may be scary, but I offer you my hand, dear friend. Because none of us should go it alone. Living authentically takes guts. Let’s support each other and rock this together.