Humans are scared of nothing more than they are of change. Over the past 12 months – probably longer – I have been on a quest to improve myself. I don’t mean self-help book improve myself. I have been on a journey of self discovery and change. It hasn’t been a comfortable experience.
So, you look inside and don’t like what you see
I’ve known for quite sometime that what I feel on the inside is not reflected on the outside. My reactions to external stimuli, my interactions with other people, my default behaviour are all out of sync with what I believe in my core. Discovering such a schism is uncomfortable to say the very least.
Upon further introspection and analysis, my little discovery has explained completely why some people think I’m quite a nice guy and others think I’m a complete asshole. It’s not them, it’s me. I’m glad I worked that one out. But a double-edged sword it is to understand that you are in total control of every aspect of your life. It means I can’t blame anyone but me and it means no external locus of control can take the burden of my mistakes. No, not even God can help me (and I’ve never felt this free).
Experiencing a moment of clear perspective
My moment of clear perspective was one of those last straw kinda things. I meditate semi-regularly, I spend a lot of time in quiet – and sometimes noisy – contemplation; I have been doing this for sometime. Yet, earlier this year in the comfort of some very close friends I spent about 45 minutes under a tree and realised “It’s all good.”
My epiphany was that simple: “It’s all good.”
The wonderful thing is that I’ve known this all along and I’ve been listening to artists sing about it since I was a child.
A child’s rhyme stuck in my head. It said that life is but a dream. I’ve spent so many years in question to find I’ve known this all along. – Tool
I find it truly fascinating that we often know the answers to our deepest, most sacred questions right from the start but are simply too blind or too preoccupied to realise them.
Back in the real world
Perhaps more confronting than the actual epiphany and deciding to make the necessary changes is coming back to the real world and finding that almost everyone else is invested in how they already perceive you. When you change your behaviour you do not conform to what is expected of you and this can cause others some trouble indeed.
You will get quite the shock when you do something from a place of compassion and understanding and still get a hostile response because the person you are interacting with expects you to be hostile.
Then my dad laughed at me
The most confronting and painful event since my little epiphany was enduring my father’s laughter when I tried to explain my new perspective. I readily admit that I have not been the most compassionate, understanding and tolerant man on the planet. Yet, to be laughed at by someone so close is intensely challenging. It took all my self-constraint not to respond with anger and frustration. It also took me about a week to process the event. Here’s what I learned:
- not everyone will understand your new perspective
- most people – even those dearest to you – will not believe you can change
- your previous behaviour has imprinted on everyone around you
- you have to be patient and understanding
- it will hurt a lot more before it gets better.
I still haven’t talked to my dad about this. I don’t think he will get it. Why? His perspective on the world is set and he will not change it. I have to remind myself that I can change myself but I can’t change anyone else.
Prying open my third eye
Understanding yourself makes everything simple.
Through understanding yourself, you understand your interactions with the people and the environment around you. You understand that there is no need to wear a mask of confused and confusing behaviour.
Timothy Leary put it perfected when he said:
Learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable, open-mindedness; chaotic, confused, vulnerability to inform yourself.
It’s all good
What a trip.
These days I am seeing things from a completely new perspective. I like myself more this way. I don’t feel like I’m behaving as people expect. I am getting uncomfortable. I am challenging myself and my environment. I am learning.
I highly recommend it.
It’s all good.
Note: this post was first published in 2011. It has been reviewed and re-published here.