Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
A few years back my husband and I were having a picnic dinner together. My daughter was spending the week with her grandparents and we had settled into a week of parenting-free days and evening dates. I was sharing, from a deeply honest and vulnerable place, that I was disappointed to notice I was still yelling in times of frustration. My "outside voice" refused to stay outside! My husband looked at me with great compassion and great honesty and said, "Honey, you're a yeller."
"No!" I sobbed as he called me up to face this part of me. Softly, three more times, he replied to each of my denials, "Honey, you're a yeller."
I knew then my work was to accept this as true. I also knew that only in accepting it, could I have any hope of shifting it. I wanted so badly to be on the other side of the work, to jump over it, go around it, tunnel under it--anything but go through it. But I surrendered to the work and spent the next month peering deep within to uncover fully my "inner yeller," to welcome her and hold her with love and compassion.
If you can bear in peace the trial of being displeasing to yourself,
you offer a sweet shelter to Jesus.
-St. Therese of Lisieux
Honesty is essential in any growth process. We must be willing to look at those moments when we are less than pleased with ourselves and our lives honestly. Any true inquiry can only yield useful outcomes when it is undertaken with a passion for Truth. This can be very difficult when we find ourselves trapped in the stories of our lives—particularly the ones that have been “on stage” and “thrilling audiences” for years. These may be stories we tell about others or stories we tell about ourselves.
But, as many with 12-step backgrounds know, there comes a time when the pain is too great to continue in the old ways. The road to transformation starts with admitting to and owning the behavior we find displeasing. And crucially, to hold ourselves gently and compassionately in that process. Only then will we have the courage to admit that even though the old ways don’t work anymore, we seem unable to make a change.
How many times have you heard people, and possibly yourself say, “I can change any time I want to?” This is, in effect, true. But we first must accept where we are without shame and self-recrimination. My willingness to be honest with myself, to clearly see my shortcomings, and to love myself anyway was and continues to be the heart of my practice. Change comes slowly through awareness and compassion.
No matter how long we have been on the path, even after years of therapy or recovery, years of studying spiritual principles, years of prayer and meditation, we may arrive at a place where we can honestly say, “There is more work to be done.” This may be disheartening at first, but consider how unappealing the scenery on the journey of life would become if we never again had any peaks and valleys to wander through. You may be thinking, “Peaks are fine, it’s the valleys I hate.” In is a physical impossibility to have peaks without valleys—only miles and miles of flatness. Each new peak, each new valley offers us greater and greater understanding as we open even more to the Truth of our being—to our utter magnificence.
Here's a summary of how you might enter into this practice:
- Start small - have the courage to be honest with yourself about one thing you might hate to admit.
- Next, allow yourself to look at it long and hard so it no longer feels scary. Take as many days as you need. It may still feel ugly, but hopefully not scary.
- Next, hold it gently, with compassion, even if it is ugly. Welcome it like an old friend. Don't resist the fact that it exists.
- Finally, let it know it has a spot on the bus, but it doesn't get the driver's seat.
After doing this, along with some Q Process worksheets, I found that I was more resourceful and better able to choose whether or not to "use my outside voice" during times of extreme frustration. That's the paradox - by accepting my limitation with compassion and grace, it had less of a hold on me, and I found my journey heading back up to the summit.
If you are ready to for a more structured approach to stretch yourself toward new heights, The Q Process™ can give you a step-by-step path toward the summit. When approached with honesty and earnestness, deep insights can be revealed and new behaviors can take hold in as few as 21-days.