We spend our childhoods studying. Studying our parents, our siblings, our peers. We observe how they behave and we see what gets them more connection or less connection and we emulate what we see and experience. We decide there’s a right way to be and a wrong way to be and everything that we make wrong we hide. We decide hurt is bad and laugh is good and so we try to laugh more. We try to not feel the parts of us who hurt, because we want to stay safe, and we decided hurting wasn’t safe.
We make decisions about ourselves long before we know anything about who we are.
By the time we’re adults we know what being an adult is supposed to look like. We make an effort to look good, like we’ve got it all figured out, and in our desire to do it right, we effort change without deconstructing the foundational belief systems that got us there in the first place. We decide one day that we’re no longer going to pick our nose or pee in the shower because that’s not what grown ups do. We become who we think we should’ve been based on our perceptions of reality from our childhood. We become over-achievers. Workaholics. Romantics. We become control freaks, enablers, high-functioning codependents. We have our shit together and we aim toward success.
And eventually, usually after we’ve spent a good deal of time chasing after it, we start asking ourselves: What is success, really? We start to wonder if we’re actually happy. We start to wonder if what we know as happy is actually in fact, happy.
From here it begins to unravel. We buy our first self-help book. We attempt to self-sooth, to heal in isolation. We try to inspire our way out of our truth with success stories printed on book pages. We begin to intellectually understand why we do what we do. We read stories of people way worse off that we are, and we feel better. For a while.
We study the words in the book. The stories, what they say, how they behave, and we see what gets them more connection or less connection and we emulate what we see and experience. We decide that there is a right way to be and a wrong way to be and everything that we make wrong we hide. We decide hurt is bad and laugh is good and so we try to laugh more. We try to not feel the part of us who hurts, because we want to stay safe, and we decided hurting wasn’t safe. But at least now we understand why.
And then we get into real life and we realise it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. That repeating the words verbatim from the page doesn’t make the hurt go away, doesn’t make connection appear, doesn’t get rid of the lonely, or the attachment, or the control.
We feel out of control.
And so we sign up for an immersive personal development course. We see people who look happy and we wonder if they know something we don’t, and we listen to their stories and in total disbelief we hear the same ones as ours. We feel like we belong and we feel understood, and we feel better. For a while.
We start to study the people in these courses. The stories, what they say, how they talk and behave, and we see what gets them more connection or less connection and we emulate what we see and experience. We decide that there is a right way to be and a wrong way to be and everything that we make wrong we hide. We decide this time that hurt is good and laugh is lazy and so we try to hurt more. We try to hide our joy because we want to stay safe, and we decide happiness is actually the thing that isn’t safe. We think being fucked up means we’re doing the work, and we want to be doing the work.
And then we get into real life and we realise it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. That repeating the words other people say and behaving the way we see the people we want to emulate behave doesn’t work, doesn’t make the connection appear, doesn’t get rid of the lonely, or the attachment or the control.
We feel even more out of control.
Noticing a pattern yet?
Healing and personal growth isn’t about acquiring tools and skills and concepts that will set you free so that you’ll wake up tomorrow and stop repeating the same shit over and over again.
Healing and personal growth is about you. It’s about knowing who you are and how you show up in the world. It’s about figuring out what you want. It’s about how powerful you already are. It’s about understanding how you think, what you believe, and how that impacts your perspective of reality. It’s about understanding how you react when you’re triggered, and where you do or don’t have boundaries and what boundaries actually are, because they’re not what you think they are. It’s about starting a relationship with yourself. Your intuition. Your desire. Your soul. The god that exists in each of you.
This is our path. Our path is to get conditioned, to be initiated into humanism, over and over and over again so that once that pattern repeats itself enough times we then have a compelling enough reason to do the work to discover the divinity that is in us. That’s always been in us.
Humans learn and transform experientially. To attempt change outside human connection perpetuates the very things that had us go to the self help books to begin with. We are trying to master a skill in order to keep up with appearances. It’s like a get rich quick scheme for the mind. This is why we are all here. Together.
There is no such thing as a get rich quick scheme. Get rich quick schemes don’t work. You can’t transform without doing the work in connection with other people just like you can’t cure cancer by eliminating the symptoms in your garage with a joint.
Doing the work is not about being like anyone else. Doing the work is about knowing yourself wholly. It’s about being willing and being vulnerable. It’s understanding where right and wrong and bad and good are words that are no longer serving you, so that you can finally be yourself.
The mind is a deep and mysterious place that we have only just begun to understand. But what I know is that the only way out is through. Through the darkness. Through the messy. Through the anger and the insanity. Through the grief. Through it all in connection with other people who have been there before. Who know what that sort of work takes because they’ve done it. People who can hold space and reflect your brilliance back to you, even when that brilliance is a sobbing pile of shit laying in the fetal position in a bed, paralysed by the truth you are finally, finally ready to hear.
Because those moments matter way more than the ones where we go out into the world and we pretend we are happy when we know we aren’t. They matter more than trying to follow the rules of a book or saying the right thing verbatim to get a desired result or trying to live someone else’s life out of fear of living our own life. Our own unique life that we each came here to live. Because those moments are your truth. Anger, grief, sadness, paralysis, darkness. Not only are those all a part of you, it’s where all of your brilliance lies. That’s where you find true joy. That's where you find yourself.