The path of self-discovery is such an interesting one, but so personal. Even as I write, I ask myself, “Who am I to tell you?” But then I feel bound to tell you what few have told me. So, let’s have a nice talk about what true self-discovery involves.
How honest are you with yourself?
Some people are major liars to others and themselves. It seemed like they are in a constant state of denial. Much of that can be because of the religious traditions or fear of punishment. It encourages a mask of sorts. The question for you, how honest are you to yourself?
Here is a short quiz.
1. Do you find yourself making pledges, vows, commitments, etc. and not following through?
2. Do people describe you as a person of integrity? If you give your word to do something can people count on you?
3. Do you tell your children to lie to a debt collector or friends you do not want to talk to?
Think seriously about your answers, because part of your healing is in the answers. If you constantly say you are going to do something, and then fail to follow through, you have inwardly said you cannot be trusted. Sometimes the intent may be good, but we all know our mouths can take us further than we want to go with some things.
Your assignment is to write down every instance that you can think of where you gave your word and neglected to keep it. Next, forgive yourself for each situation, especially if you do not think you deserve it. If you need to mend an offense with someone else then do it. The reason you need to do this assignment is because you need to get back to the place where you can trust you. Without realizing it you have worked against yourself. Besides, honesty is the foundation for healing. How can you be honest with someone else when you can’t be honest with yourself? The main benefit you can receive is a richer spiritual life because you do not have anything to hide.
What have you outgrown?
When I was a child I loved Shirley Temple movies. I watched every movie she ever made. Now as an adult, I find her annoying, talented, but annoying. I out grew her. The movies served their purpose. We all go through phases where we like something, like a song, but then when we overplay it what happens? We can’t stand to hear a note of it. So then why do we think that we never outgrow relationships? Why is it so hard for us to let go of relationships that are no longer serving a purpose? I will tell you. People are not movies. There are no feelings involved if I don’t watch a Temple movie; versus if I have to tell someone that it’s time we seek fellowship with others. Further, some of you feel that you have invested years in some people just to come out with a reduced dividend. You want that person to fight to keep that relationship alive, even though you know it is dead.
When do you know you have outgrown a relationship?
You find any excuse to be somewhere else; more hurting than encouraging is taking place; no one is growing in the relationship, and finally, you stop caring. These apply to any relationship. People have too much luggage these days, such that it becomes impossible for anyone else to fit in their life. There are too many wounds, old lovers, and secrets taking up space. How do you compete with a ghost? The best thing anyone could ever tell you is to get out before you destroy each other, or in the end there will be two people who are useless to anyone. As you go on your self-discovery, some of your friends will not want to go and may even grow to resent you. Some will just fade away, but others may try to hurt your journey by belittling you. Much of it is jealousy, but you know that during certain parts of the journey you are particularly vulnerable. And what is said could make the difference between continuing and stopping.
Let me tell you this, you cannot change the game mid-game. What? If you were playing basketball and the other team was winning, could you decide at half time to play a different game? It would not be allowed because it would cause confusion. All relationships have their own set of rules. When you change; you change the game. People are not obligated to follow you on your journey. You can not demand that people start fulfilling your needs that you have discovered you are not having met. The way to deal with this is by adding supportive people to your life; people who will encourage your journey and meet the new needs you have. You can share your needs with the people already in your life, but do not judge them if they cannot or will not meet the need. Also, include the person in your exploration if they are open to it, but make sure you do not compromise your growth by distractions in order to make other people okay with you. Use your common sense.
Be Aware of Warnings
Some people on spiritual or personal development journeys abdicate their intelligence. Let’s get personal. Stay away from house meetings with people who you have never heard of. Run from anything that is deliberately trying to get your money, keep you away from family and friends, and is secret. Women particularly need to be discerning. It is recommended that you attend workshops and retreats with established sponsors. Many of the sponsoring organizations either have their own facilities or they set up the workshop in a good hotel in a central location. The fees are reasonable and the same for all participants. Call before you commit yourself and speak with the staff about the workshop you will be attending. Listen to how they represent the organization. Are all their answers about the cost or the program?Do they think of the leader in a Messiah way? RUN!!!
Drawbacks to Self-Discovery
Self-discovery can be rewarding and life changing, however sometimes the best thing a person can do is to like who they are now. Maybe a little tweaking is not bad, but a life journey of “self” can lead to loneliness and frustration. It can also lead people to cults, which prey on the vulnerable, lost, rejected, and alone.
Everything in life has its checks and balances. Making a year long commitment is great, and particularly useful if there has been a recent loss. If after that year there are other areas to explore then do that, but please give yourself a realistic end-time. The reason that you started the search may not be the reason you keep on the search, so be willing to change direction as needed.
Sometimes the biggest drawback to self-discovery is that people do not know how to discover the good in them. They can see the bad, but overlook the gems. The biggest gem is the willingness to pursue change at all. Most people do not, or only to get a result they need at that moment.
Self-discovery is great when it is done for a limited time for a specific purpose. Learning to live with integrity and an awareness of ones true self is a great journey. It can become a nightmare if the path leads to cultish leaders preying on true seekers. Overlooking the gems within us can lead us on a search for something we already have, but overlook. Time limits are a seekers best friend. Live today as you really are instead of waiting to start living when you have reached perfection, because that day will never come.