“Who looks outside dreams. Who looks within awakes”. CG Jung
Looking within and letting go can be excruciatingly difficult. Not to mention painful.
I am a walking example of someone who struggles to let go, who struggles to release patterns, people, beliefs, mindsets etc which are no longer facilitating or supporting neither my growth nor a healthy state of being and existing for all concerned.
I am not altogether too keen to look within myself and be brutally honest about aspects of me which may be facilitating a less than productive, amazing life. I am grateful beyond words for the life I have, the experiences and opportunities given to me but I am also acutely aware that there are a number of patterns or traits which keep me coming back time and again to the same toxic situations or the same personality types.
I frequently end up feeling frustrated, stuck or shrouded in doubt, uncertainty and unworthiness. So why do I, like so many, find it nigh impossible to release and move on? Why cling with dogged tenacity to something that really isn’t working out for us anymore? It’s as if we’ve given up the belief that we are worthy of the most amazing, loving and compassionate lives and instead traded it all in for mediocrity, ill-treatment and the giving up of our dreams.
The best barometer we have for what’s right for us is our heart.
“Listen to your heart”. “Trust your instinct/intuition”. These and many other similar suggestions and phrases are commonplace and trendy these days but it really is so important that we learn to give space to this companion as we climb the steep mountains of life.
All too often, I walk open hearted (and at times rather naively) into situations with a head full of hopes and a heart full of dreams only to find that the reality is altogether quite different, perhaps that people are not all that they paint themselves to be (are any of us?). I got burnt, again and so retreat to lick my wounds. Old insecurities reared their heads and now I rue with stern consternation that I thought I could be anything other than what I apparently am.
Or is the reality that I found really so very different to what I was expecting? Consciously, maybe so, but unconsciously?
So often I overrule the little nagging voice within that says nooooo(!), and go ahead anyway. Why do different? At least, at one level the outcome is safely predictable no matter how painful. But if I unearth my beating heart that’s been buried over by the cataclysmic avalanche of my previous endeavours to “be a proper grown up” and take heed of what it’s trying to tell me, perhaps, just maybe, I’d finally be able to take stock of past experiences and lessons learnt, then go within and work out why I keep repeating the same incidents/outcomes over and over.
Then to be even more adult, I could honour that trait in me that allows for such outcomes, honour the external teachers that are all those interwoven with the experience, release, move on and so break the cycle.
Sounds so easy, right?
But we are the product of two things; our inherent personality and our experiences up to this moment. So, with dogged determination, I, like so many, cling, like a ruthless little terrier to the experiences which have solidified within us all of our beliefs about ourselves and our perceived worthiness. We allow ourselves to literally become all that the world sees us as, no matter how far removed from the truth our inner realm knows this to be. Like an apocalyptic rider, fear overtakes us at the thought of doing different and shedding the past in order to move fully into the present. So instead we stay stuck, doomed to repeat time and again the same hurt, the same indignations. But at least it’s safe.
No matter how painful.
For we have become a product of the interactions and experiences with this outer world. We have become a product of fear, detachment from the self, and perhaps more importantly detachment from the shadow side of our personality. That part of us which we turn away from, deny and ignore.
We’re taught early on that it’s wrong to harbour jealousy. That it’s wrong to dislike someone. That it’s selfish if we do what’s right for us. Then blown beyond all meaning, we take these beliefs instilled into us and we allow others to take advantage of us, sometimes quite spectacularly so. We allow ourselves to be manipulated, abused, overlooked in our work……the list goes on.
I’m not suggesting that we should all release the inner beast and become selfish, vindictive, steely human beings out for number one, but what I am saying is that it’s OK to feel jealousy or hurt. It’s OK to stand up for ourselves rather than allowing ourselves to be walked all over. It’s what we do with these emotions that matters.
We need to walk the middle way and not cling to a fixed belief that hasn’t been working out for us.
Feel angry? That’s OK. Sit with it, just don’t let it consume you. And certainly don’t do anything hasty when you feel angry. Feel guilty? Look at the root of that emotion. Really go deep into it. Maybe the cause is blindingly obvious; you did something wrong. Well, apologise and own that you got it wrong. Maybe the guilt stems from something deeper – childhood experiences that were heaped onto you but which are not your emotions to own and cling to.
Only we know what resides within us and why we are as we are. But denying parts of ourselves and being what we perceive is right on the basis of our interactions with the external world, well that’s not altogether very healthy.
Extremes of emotion or belief can lead us down all sorts of murky alleyways and cul-de-sacs if we let them. It’s about finding a balance, learning to accept ALL parts of ourselves and coming to terms with what we are willing to invite into our lives and what is no longer relevant.
By holding on to something which really isn’t working out, we land ourselves in the same muddy waters which we have come to know only too well. Same hurt, same frustration, same disappointment, same welling up of emotions and reactions, just different people, different places, different jobs, blah, blah, blah…….
Same denial of responsibility for the unraveling and revealing of the real nature of something.
It’s a bit like being offered a very indulgent biscuit from a fancy tin. They all look delicious, sat there in their allocated spaces. There’s even a helpful little list of what the biscuits actually are on the underside of the tin but it’s OK, we’re a biscuit connoisseur, we don’t need a menu to make our choice from! After all, what is there not to like in a box of biscuits? We make our choice. A delicious looking chocolate biscuit with a chocolate cream center. Full of hopes and anticipation, we invest in our appetite and take a bite when, oh the horror, it wasn’t a chocolate biscuit at all but a coffee flavoured one! We recoil in disappointment, mild outrage and then narcissistic determination to see the biscuit through to the end, god damn it, so we’re going eat it, no mater how unpleasant.
We get burnt. We (hopefully) learnt from the experience and move forwards a little wiser.
And then, one day, we’re offered a seemingly innocent chocolate from a tub of brightly coloured chocolates. They all look tantalizing, wrapped in coloured foil. Our heart says, hang on a minute, we’ve been here before, better check the description of what they all are first but our head overrules and says it’s only a chocolate, look it’ll be fine……trust me……..then, oh the wretchedness as we make our choice, commit to enjoying it, unwrap it in anticipation, bite into it only to find that its a chocolate coated coffee cream! Same outcome yet a different circumstance that bought us to that point of remembering what we had already learnt but chose to ignore after “the incident with the biscuit”.
We overruled the inner voice telling us to check the description first before making our commitment only to blunder straight into another “coffee flavoured incident”. Rather than acknowledge from the biscuit incident that it’s OK to operate a little caution before diving in, we played out the same sense of righteous authority on the subject of confectionery and dove in. Rather than having learnt from and so let go of our perceived sense of expertise in the area of sweet treats (note to self – always read the label), we stuck with what we knew, made an ill-informed decision and rued the result of said choice.
This habit of repeating the same mistakes over and over can have dire consequences, not only on our taste buds (!) but on our sense of self-worth, self-respect, in our trust of others, even in life itself.
By not identifying our patterns and our beliefs about ourselves, we are (almost) doomed to keep making the same inadequate choices, investing in the same personality types when it comes to forming friendships and relationships (no matter how different they may appear in the beginning), doomed to keep repeating an endless round of ill-advised choices. It’s like we hit the replay button and the same tune keeps going round and round and round and round……………..
I am a firm believer that we will repeat, repeat, repeat certain undertakings in our lifetimes for as long as it takes for us to really get something, really understand our part in the process and the responsibilities and roles of us and others in each of our life experiences.
My life is a living, walking. talking example of this.
I am also a believer that one of the key reasons why so many of us struggle to let go and so remain stuck in a seemingly never ending cycle of a destructive merry-go-round is because to break the cycle we must come to terms with ourselves. ALL OF OUR SELF. The good, the bad and the downright messy.
We must truly get to know ourselves, work out why we seem to consistently invite certain traits and personalities, attributes or dead end opportunities to us. What is it that we are firmly refusing to bring our awareness to? What is it in ourselves that we are refusing to acknowledge? Are we afraid of our shadow? That part of us that is ever present, lurking in the background?
Like I mentioned earlier, we must acquaint ourselves with our shadow self. Introduce ourselves, “Hello Edris, I’m Edris” or words to that effect.
It’s easy to point the finger of blame for our mistakes or failures at those external to us. Certainly, our childhood experiences, the communities we grew up in, can go a huge way toward shaping who we become and how we live our lives. Peoples actions towards us can affirm in us what we may already believe of ourselves (no matter how negative this belief of ourselves may be). Jobs that aren’t going anywhere or which offer little by way of satisfaction and fulfillment make us believe that we are not worthy of anything more so we settle for less and less.
The mantras of others become our own.
In time, this becomes our life, our existence and so we become attached to these patterns, these routines, these types. They’re familiar and safe. Sure they may not make us feel fulfilled or particularly good about ourselves but, aspirations? Ooo, careful now, break the mold and who knows what’s around the corner?! Speak up for ourselves, tell that person that their behaviour is not acceptable, apply for that job no matter how different from everything you’ve ever done before? Steady now, there’s danger in such talk.
The great unknown. It’s filled with endless possibility.
Don’t look outside of the self for the answers for that will lead to disappointment. Look outside the self for support, encouragement, genuine observations and advice from those who truly have our backs, but only your heart knows the purpose of your journey, that responsibility lies with you alone.
By getting down to business and taking a good, long hard look at ourselves can we really get to know why we keep clinging to friendships that may not be fulfilling either participant anymore. By looking hard within, we can start to recognise why we keep winding up in temper fueled relationships or uninspired jobs or why we find our free time filled with lack lustre opportunity.
If we do not truly recognise the self nor readily accepts all of our beautiful flaws and insecurities, we cannot ever hope to release their hold over us nor find the courage to let go and move on.
Recognise what patterns you have consistently played out in life. Recognise the mantras you (consciously or otherwise) tell yourself everyday (i.e. I’m not good enough, I’m unworthy, so and so was right – I’m doomed to fail, I’m too fat/too young/too stupid….the list is endless).
Write them down.
Write your life experiences down and see if there are any threads of similarity between them. Look for the core beliefs that keep you clinging and refusing to let go, repeating the same scenarios over and over. Heed the lessons and acknowledge that though they once were, they no longer are.
Also know that IT IS OK TO LET GO AND RELEASE PEOPLE OR SITUATIONS AND TO ASPIRE TO SOMETHING SO MUCH MORE WONDERFUL THAN PERHAPS YOU MAY EVER DARED TO HAVE HOPED FOR.
You are as worthy as every other human being that has ever, presently and will ever walk this wonderful earth.
One of the reasons why I struggle to let go is bound up with an absolute dread and loathing of failure. I procrastinate at best, at worst I sabotage myself; my skills, and any opportunities before ever giving something a chance. When I observe my life up to this point, it is littered with failures. Failed relationships, failed jobs, failed hobbies. Yet I cling to this pattern and cling to this belief that I am a failure.
I forget to look equally at all the positive, wonderful opportunities, people and experiences that I have shared my life with. We learn as much from the good as we do from the challenging.
I also have a very poor sense of self-worth which has been backed up over the years by external behaviour from others. A pattern that, when I begin to observe my life, forms a picture of the actions and choices that got me to this point. I’ve sabotaged jobs, relationships, hobbies. All because I believed I wasn’t good enough, because I believed I wasn’t worthy of success, fulfillment, happiness or the good grace of another persons presence bestowed upon me. I forgot and gave up my own sense of self-worth.
And in so cultivating the garden of negative beliefs and mantras, I invited into my life people or opportunities that affirmed these beliefs about myself in the way they chose to interact with me.
But, me oh my, I refused to let go of these patterns (remember that tenacious little terrier we talked about earlier?) and so I remained stuck in a never ending cycle of naive hope ending in heartache.
That said, some of my greatest agonies have been some of my greatest lessons, would that I now honour them by letting them go.
It’s a false perception that familiarity is safe. It’s a severe undertaking of deceit to oneself by convincing ourselves that persevering with a friendship that makes us feel bad about ourselves is just a phase; that so and so is having a hard time so it’s OK that they stood us up/put us down/manipulated/deceived us etc
Do not allow yourself to be defined by your past. By identifying and associating with what we once were, what we once did, where we used to work, who we once knew, where we lived, we forget to allow ourselves to become present. Staying fixed in the past, sure we may have a better idea of what to expect in the future but we limit the endless possibilities of what may become, for each of us a glorious, most wonderful present.
Start defining yourself by who you are now. Who you wish to become. Do not cling to an identity for you are so much more.
Allow the future to develop into something tangible. Grow into your innate, luminescent identity by breathing through the fear and looking within in order to live more fully outside of the self.