View this post on Instagram
“Your wound is not your fault, but your healing is your responsibility.” ~ Unknown
I remember a time when my ex and I hated each other so much we couldn’t even look at each other.
When he pulled into my driveway to drop off our kids, he would act as if I wasn’t there and stare down at his steering wheel or cell phone.
It was horrible. I can still feel how my stomach would clench into knots and my heart would race so hard I could feel it beating inside my chest, until they were gone.
I had a conversation with someone recently who is struggling with their own ex and found myself in deep compassion for them. There is still so much anger, bitterness, hurt, and the unwillingness to compromise or have any compassion for each other.
Maybe I’m talking about you. Your lack of compassion or animosity toward another person doesn’t have to be an ex-spouse or lover. It can be a friend, a family member, a colleague, or a boss. Someone did something to you and you think they were wrong. They think you did something to them and you were wrong. Regardless of the situation, you don’t speak to each other anymore and maybe even hate each other’s guts.
Ugh, hate. What an ugly word in a world that needs the complete opposite right now.
Listen, truth be told, I had work to do on myself long before the ending of my marriage. I had, in fact, been a lifelong “self-improvement” student. But the crippling pain and heartache of my divorce was really the impetus toward doing the deeper inner work.
Everything I had never dealt with came bubbling to the surface after that divorce—the lack of self-love, the insecurity, the “I’m never enough” story, the tendency I had to bury my head in the sand when I didn’t want to see some truth that would derail me from what I wanted.
Did I mention the f*cking lack of self-love?
I was sick and tired of myself, really. Of being a victim. Of not trusting myself. And when we get sick and tired enough of the pain in our lives is when we become willing to move toward the light.
But walking into the light, desiring a life free of blame, shame, regrets, and choices that continue to hurt us requires the willingness to walk into the darkness first.
Doing deep inner work is not for the faint of heart. If you’re looking to run a short sprint and receive your medal at the end, step away from the starting line, mate, because you’re going to be disappointed to find it doesn’t work like that.
It’s called deep inner work for a reason. If we want things to be different in our life, we need to be willing to work to get there, and it’s going to require some stamina.
Healing and change within ourselves require time. They ask us to look at those broken, uncomfortable, hard-to-see places that we’ve expertly avoided for so long. Think of it as a marathon. It took you a long time to get where you’re at, so it’s going to take a bit of time to get yourself out.
If you’re looking for a quick fix, I’m here to tell you “doing deep inner work” is not the following:
>> A two-hour self-improvement workshop.
>> A couple visits to a therapist before quitting.
>> Talking to a friend, both agreeing you’re the victim, and saying f*ck off to everybody.
>> Looking at your patterns, thinking it’s too hard to break them, and going back to what you’ve always done.
>> Complaining about something or someone repeatedly and refusing to look at your part in it.
>> Expecting to be “done” in a certain amount of time.
>> Not taking responsibility for anything.
>> Waiting for the other person to do their work.
>> Waiting on the other person to admit they were wrong.
>> Waiting, waiting, and waiting.
I’m no different than you. I wanted it to be all of those things.
I complained. I blamed. I stayed stuck in my old bullsh*t stories. I did some healing, and when I hit a roadblock, I screamed, “Why is this happening to me again?”
I didn’t yet understand there was no finish line. That there are always deeper levels we can go to. I didn’t get that it wasn’t a one and done deal, that I would still feel all the uncomfortable feels at times and I needed to use the tools I had to move through it.
What I started to realize was that when those feelings came up or I hit another roadblock, I had a choice to make. I could choose to do one thing differently that I hadn’t done in the past.
Look at my part and have compassion for myself and the other person.
It was really that simple. I put the whipping stick down. You’ll be amazed to find that when you’re so used to beating yourself up for every mistake how much you tend to do that to other people. Become more gentle and loving with yourself, and watch how that carries over to the people in your life, even the ones who hurt you.
Here is what my own journey of deep inner work has looked like:
(This is the path. Yours may be slightly different, but as a healer, I offer what worked for me, what has worked for others, and what I hope will work for you.)
1. Understanding I couldn’t do it alone. I found professionals (therapists, healers, and so on) to support me.
2. Accepting every person and situation in my life as being exactly the way it’s meant to be in this moment for my own growth.
3. Learning what triggers me, where that stems from, and how to own my sh*t instead of projecting it onto others.
4. Taking responsibility for everything in my life and understanding that my choices led me there.
5. Learning and practicing forgiveness and compassion instead of judgement and blame.
6. Saying yes only when I mean it and no when I know something isn’t for my highest good.
7. When I screw up, making amends immediately and having the difficult conversations.
8. Self-love. Self-acceptance. Deep reverence for my process and the process of others.
My ex and I have a great relationship now. He did his work, which looked somewhat different than mine, and yet we ended up in the same place. We know working on ourselves is an ongoing process, and for the sake of our children, we’re committed to being the best version of ourselves we can be for them.
So if you find yourself in that place of knowing—knowing what you need to do yet not knowing where to start—remember you just have to take that first right step. One thing. One choice. Sometimes making the commitment to just show up for yourself is that first step.
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ~ Rumi