Sometimes people ask me what it means when I refer to being on a journey. I get comments that suggest maybe I'm depressed or it’s a midlife crisis or some kind of breaking down.
Like maybe I got stuck in my life and have started running backwards to recapture an infantile exuberance rather than just staying firmly lodged like you’re supposed to.
I’ve been fascinated by psychology and consciousness forever. And I’d been actively 'into personal development' for many years, but I came to realise that much of this was really just building thicker battle armour.
My thinking was “I know who I am and I’m developing that” by adding more of the same like thick layers of lacquer on the surface of a mask.
Collecting tools, tricks and hacks to tighten my grip, to better control the situation, to manipulate my perceptions and those of others.
What I consider my journey for this moment’s purpose is really something of just the last two years that began with getting therapy for anxiety and whatever lay beneath my impulsive/addictive behaviours.
If my misguided ‘personal development’ was all about building thicker armour, psychotherapy was the start of tearing it down.
Adding more skills to my surface image reinforced old certainties about who I was. Piercing the surface and diving in revealed a series of startling discoveries.
The most tangible sense of this is the feeling of doing a complete 180° turn on who I thought I was, and not recoiling in denial. I recall the very instance of this that occurred in therapy.
I had always had a sense that I was a strong personality, impervious to influence and impact. I noted my chameleonic nature as a strength, a kind of grandiose mastery - certainly not a reaction of defence.
I discovered that my personality was more like a mirror of whoever walked in the door. Everything from my values to my vocabulary would shift to reflect who I thought I needed to be to avoid rejection.
Simply put, my journey started the moment I began to truly face and express the parts of myself that I had judged (and may sometimes continue to judge) as unacceptable, unworthy and unfitting.
My initial 180° turns where at the bedrock level of my identity, but the spirit of my regular everyday now includes a playfulness and curiosity around revealing and letting go.
Try this exercise: list things where you react with “yes, but it’s not for me” or “doesn’t work for me” or “doesn’t apply to me” - especially ones that you prescribe to others.
Whereas I used to avoid situations that threatened my narrow self sense, I now seek out experiences with the potential to constructively expand and deepen the level of diversity within myself.
The energy of my journey is one of surrender and letting go, becoming more authentic and learning to love all of myself including the parts that I’ve been afraid to discover, let alone share.