Why are so many people comfortable in misery? Why do so few want to do anything about it?

I was watching “The Oprah Winfrey Show” today with Goldie Hawn.  The show was about happiness and the lack of it amongst the vast majority of people.  The show also talked about things people could do to increase their level of happiness.  When the show ended, I found myself thinking, “Why is it so hard to be happy?”

Most people who know me, know that I am a strong advocate for self-development and personal healing.  I have been working on my own personal development off and on since I was fourteen years old.  I’ve experimented with a lot of different techniques, life coaches, books, meditations and organizations to try to make some real sense out of who the hell I was and this construct I was born into.

A year ago, following some very tragic experiences, I became 100% committed to healing myself and breaking any cycles of self-destruction or sabotage in my life.  One thing I did not realize was happening is, when you commit to a path of healing and self discovery, some people may unconsciously put you on a pedestal.  My father, who is a master facilitator and the founder of Aafante, a group that is dedicated to helping people of color face and heal from the wounds of oppression, is all too familiar with this.  As a matter of fact, it was witnessing how some people saw him, that provided me the insight I needed when certain people begin to look at me in a similar way.  If One is not careful, their ego can drink this type of attention up and use it to define them.

For those who actually have more awareness, they can at most be flattered, but keep it in its place.  The reason is, when a person puts you on a pedestal, it almost removes your “humanness”.  Suddenly, you can never have a bad day, be insecure or unsure of yourself, express vulnerability or reach out for support because you are supposed to have all of the answers.

My personal experience was that some of my well-meaning friends assumed that since I was having a rough time last year, that the work I was doing must not have been “working.”  They viewed it as some magical pill that once it’s done, that all of my problems should be solved.  The guy I was going through a very painful break up with at the time even lashed out at me and said, “If you are doing all this work, why don’t I see a difference?”  Initially, I didn’t know how to answer this question, when I shared it with my father, he responded, “You don’t do your work him. You do it for you.”  I also realized that when people are emotionally hijacked, it is very hard for them to see the light in anybody else, especially someone they have chosen to demonize to justify their own behaviors.

I really begin to doubt myself or my progress for a while, because the trenches of the pain was still so deep.  Was I doing all of this for nothing?  After all of these years of learning these different processes, how the human psyche works, why was I still struggling with simply being able to be happy?

I talked to my mentor and my father about this and they both virtually said the same thing, “This thing is measured in millimeters.”   Which means every time I release some painful part of my past or heal a wound, a slither is added back to my wholeness.  It doesn’t sound like a lot, but believe me, it is and it adds up if One does it consistently.

The mistake that most people make when getting any form of psychological help is not sticking with it.  For people to lose weight, they have to stay consistent with their diet and exercise plan, personal self-healing is no different.  The second mistake many people make when doing their “work” is to try to intellectually understand what is happening with them.  They believe that if they could just figure it out, then all will be solved.  Well, I think we all know why the stock market crashed in 2008, it still doesn’t change how it affected most of the western population.  Much of this “figuring it out” comes from fear because many time people believe that Pandora’s Box will be opened if they actually dived into the pain that they are experiencing.  Ironically, what people are afraid will happen, is usually already happening in some form or another.

The same is true for doing psychological work.  “You can’t talk your way out of what you have lived your way into” is something my father has said for years or as my mother phrases it, “You didn’t get this way overnight, you’re not going to change it overnight.”  And the more I do my work, the more I understand those statements.

Once I accepted that I was not perfect and did not have to be perfect, doing “the work” actually got a lot easier.  When people try to put me up on that pedestal of perfection, I quickly remind them that I human as well.  I honor my talents, gifts and insight, but my commitment to personal healing does not make a martyr or guru.  It does, however, make my tolerance for bullshit, vampires and toxicity pretty low.  Last year, when that same former mate and I were trying to decide if we were going to reconcile or let it go, in agony I shouted out, “We can make this work if we get some help.”   His response?  “Fuck help!  We need to help our muthafuckin’ selves!”   As if that had worked out so well up until that point.  And that statement knocked the remaining wind out of me.  I knew then that I could not coexist with somebody who chose to live a destructive life and whose condition of staying connected with me was by shitting on me and violating my boundaries.  When I shared my former mate’s response with my mentor, he responded, “Well, what more do you need to know?”

And right then, that’s when I knew the work I had been so aggressively doing was paying off.  Because had my former mate made that same comment a year prior to that, I probably would have tried to justify it and his behavior in my head so I wouldn’t have to face the obvious.  Or try to force him to change. However, this time, in spite of the pain, the rage, the disbelief at the level of betrayal and the insensitive arrogance and attacks that followed, I knew that, that was not a path I wanted to be on.   And at that point, I had to say to myself, “Damn the consequences.”

This evidence of the “work” working has shown up in many other areas of my life too and I while I know I have a long way to go, what a long way I have come.  So know that your personal healing is about you, nobody else.  If you do it, do it for yourself and don’t let anyone dictate where you are supposed to be in your level of growth, especially if they aren’t doing anything to better themselves.  Please share this with anyone who you think can use it.

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