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“Working on yourself” is not the same as healing, nor is it necessarily actually healing you.
When we see ourselves as something we always need to “work on,” we leave out spaciousness for our organic, unique soul’s evolution that is more in rhythm with the natural cycles of life.
When we are disconnected from the natural world of the psyche, we force what cannot be forced by trying to work on or fix things that are likely a part of our essential nature because we are trying to fit into a mold determined by a society separated from its own essential nature.
Our souls are mapped out by the stars; there is a rhythm to the movements and lessons of our life. There’s a timing to when things fall into place or begin to make more sense.
Trying to fix ourselves to try to “get” what we didn’t get when we needed it creates more suffering.
I say this a lot to my clients who arrive to me after having done “so much work on themselves” and find that things still aren’t working, that there is still a deep pain or sadness or codependency. Or, they still don’t have the success or their beloved or the joy and inner sense of freedom they thought they “should” have by now.
Instead, they find loads of shame at having done so much work and still not feeling like they are getting it right. Whatever “it” is.
I have felt the same way.
I spent so much time in therapy, accepting others’ theories about me, doing the “work” in order to get the dangling carrot, excavating my shadows, and constantly scanning my internal terrain to figure out what needed to be tweaked.
I became energetically paranoid because I bought lies about my worth being tied to something not natural to me, that if I was “off,” no one would want me.
I became addicted to working on myself, and I can see now that there was a deep subconscious fantasy of some perfected internal world where I’d finally have all the things I never got to have before in my life.
If I did enough work in my inner world, I’d get to have all the things being sold to me in the external world.
It didn’t work. All it did was drive me deeper into a feeling of separation from love.
In fact, it made me feel worse about myself.
It was exhausting because the shadow is as infinite as our light and we cannot heal our way out of having a shadow or wounded bits or things we aren’t always aware of.
My intense pursuit of personal work was another form of self-abuse—another way I was attacking myself, making myself wrong, and trying to fix myself. I’d become emotionally hypervigilant about my inner world, and it kept me from really understanding myself or having an awareness of the consciousness of trauma I was living inside of.
Perfectionism is a thief employed by the Death Mother. She keeps us stuck in perpetuity of self-improvement that someone else is profiting off of.
It was Einstein who said we cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. I believe that this is true in our approach to our own sanity, inner lives, and soul health as well.
There are things we cannot master until the time is right, in the same way it takes time for the pearl and diamond to form. It’s a delicate process of becoming that aligns us with the innate aliveness of existence that propels us in the direction we are meant to go.
The protestant work ethic has seeped into our attitude of the “work” we feel we must do on our inner selves to arrive at some form of outward acceptability in a society that has us so over acculturated, our souls live with our exiled selves rather than as our familiars in this form of our human experience.
We’ve been conditioned to dehumanize ourselves by constantly working on ourselves.
I watch this so much in my own psyche and with clients who have complex trauma; it’s a way we start to reenact the trauma we experience as children. The way we are conditioned about how to be rather than to be who we are.
Perhaps all this “work” on ourselves is a way we are trying to stay safe by being the right way in an abusive culture.
It doesn’t help that capitalism has co-opted spirituality to the point where we are sold “ideal” versions of what is spiritual and what is not, what emotions are appropriate and what are not; our fear of death and grief seeps into self-help where we are trying to help our way out of being human.
Some of our ways of “healing” actually support the pain of suffering rather than the pain of healing—which entirely makes sense since some aspects of psychology were actually built on a solid bedrock of gaslighting.
I stopped “working” on myself after I hit rock-bottom.
I didn’t want to analyze myself anymore. I didn’t want to be treated as somehow inferior for not being able to adjust to a toxic world, for being in touch with my pain. I didn’t want to attend another retreat that promised me I’d get all the tools I would need to make 100k in five months. I didn’t want to take inventory of all my shortcomings because I was generally more aware of my shortcomings than my positive qualities.
I had dragged myself to nature every day for a year—then the next year, and the year after that. And, so on.
Nature taught me how to heal myself. Not by fixing myself or diagnosing my particular brand of suffering, not by working on some negative belief that is blocking me from making more money—what she taught me was how to grieve.
“Working” on ourselves until we are happy is not living.
Evolving is living, and growth comes from evolving—when we partner with the earth in the co-creation of our life.
Grieving is healing.
It frees us to live with a brave heart.
Grief is the pain of healing that releases the stronghold of the pain of suffering for all that never was, never will be, or has come to pass.
Perhaps the thing you are “working” on is a part of you that is longing to grieve instead.