I hear this question a lot:
"I've been working on myself for so long... why am I feeling the same old ways and doing the same old things?"
Many of us have been in a personal healing process for long enough to have discovered that we only have the power to work with our own ‘stuff’. We can’t change others, so we begin to focus on improving ourselves.
We look inward and reflect on our experiences and on feedback we’ve gotten from others. We explore different lenses to look at ourselves, our personality type, our attachment type, our love language, etc… At first this is so helpful and eye opening. We begin to understand ourselves in a new way. We get accustomed to looking at ourselves instead of blaming others.
Often, once we’ve figured out how we fit in these categories, we are encouraged to change our behavior, or to ask others to change their behavior to better suit our needs. This can be supportive and helpful for a while. But we usually hit a point where it doesn’t feel like we are really getting there.
For example, you may learn you fit into the category of ambivalent attachment and you have a tendency to cling to people and fear they will leave you. So you try not to cling. And it creates a tremendous amount of tension in your being. And a lot of times you can’t do it and you cling anyway and then feel like a failure…
Or maybe you tend to lose your temper with your kids or your spouse… and you’ve tried to stop doing that and it just keeps happening… and you feel like a terrible person…
Or maybe you get stuck in a place where you just can’t seem to keep any momentum, you get lost in distraction and you can’t get things done. You write lists and push yourself but seem to end up in the same stuck place…even after all the work you’ve done with this pattern…
If you’ve had this kind of experience where you’ve tried to change your behavior and failed, again and again, I’m here to tell you that you are not a failure.
Changing your behavior is not how healing happens.
Changing our behavior may helps us cope a little better or even a lot better, but it rarely leads to true healing. And it takes a tremendous amount of energy to keep up.
In the coming weeks, I’m going to be writing about how real, lasting healing does happen. The kind that naturally changes our behavior without an effort of will.
And on March 23 I’m giving a public talk about it called How We Heal.