I have a friend who often says, “I live in my own mind.” We laugh about the circumstance where it’s one thing and she’s decided a whole story about it that includes all sorts of characters and outcomes that have nothing to do with the actual situation.
I know someone else who has created such a world in his mind that when you disagree with his viewpoint, he feels attacked. He simply cannot tolerate a varying viewpoint and therefore doesn’t have many deep relationships with people who expose him to a differing idea about himself.
I met another person recently and he told a group of people that he always did a certain behavior. I had known him for a couple of months and had never experienced that behavior, in fact had experienced him in quite an opposite way.
So this got me thinking that we all actually “live in our own minds” don’t we? But some of us get negative feedback for our perceptions and actions and we make changes. Some of us can’t tolerate a world that we do not create, but the fact is no one creates their entire world. The thought of changing seems insurmountable. It may be easier just to blame our circumstances. It’s easier to blame God. Not less painful, just easier.
Because examining yourself openly takes guts. And no one can change very effectively without outside feedback. And the world, no matter who you are, always gives you feedback. When you step back a moment, it’s amazing how this process works. You go left and doors are shut. You can keep pounding, but they remain shut. You go right 45 degrees and the doors stay shut. And you think, “I can’t keep going, this isn’t fair!” You keep turning, turning, 10 degrees, 10 more degrees and then a door slightly opens. Not the exact door, but some relief nevertheless. You feel you might be on a good path. And this slight opening can be either an encouragement, or if you don’t keep turning, trying doors, a pitfall. Because you can get stuck with the slightly open door and think, “This is it!” but it’s not. And eventually you have to leave that door to find another door. A more welcoming and open door. When you make enough changes a door finally opens, you feel breath and light and notice a sense of peace.
This is life. This is the process we are meant to go through. Some of us will and some of us won’t. You cannot make others go with you if you want to change and they don’t. You can’t keep others with you if they want to move forward and you don’t. Some people will remain in the hallway ignoring the doors.
What happens when a group discourages a member’s growth? Family, religious groups, or social circles often will unconsciously try and keep everyone in the same place. If one changes it can threaten the others. Sometimes we have to let go of the group. I’ve had to let go of relationships where my friend was kicking the closed door over and over and refused to see another option.
I believe this lesson of growth replays in our life many many times. We lose spouses and friends because of a very normal process of growth. You grieve for those who are not willing to change and grow with you. Perhaps someone has felt the same about you at one time?
For myself however, I must change, I must grow. This summer marks my 10th anniversary of one of my life changes when I started therapy. I walked into her office and said, “I’ll be dead in 10 years if I don’t figure this out.” “This” being my life pounding at closed doors and feeling desperate and completely stuck. I was taking care of everyone and everything except myself.
So 10 years later, I’ve made many personal changes and continue to risk myself to push further. I’m thrilled to report I’m not anywhere near dead. I’m alive and striving towards a richer, happier and more fulfilled life. But I haven’t “arrived” anywhere. And I’m not just surviving now, I moving forward. I see those doors opening for me. I am in a quest for understanding. I am a seeker of love. I am humbled by life lessons provided to me. It is no small thing to be searching for truth. It is no small battle to be willing to be humbled, brought to your knees by the lessons life offers. It is a journey for the brave. Not all who can will take that journey.