Have you ever noticed how things (situations, emotions, dysfunctions…) seem to get worse before they get better? It’s as though we are asked to really dig deep, excavate, explore its grubbiest, grimiest depths, face it head on, accept every last wart, reach breaking point, before we can truly know what we are dealing with and how to remedy it.
Take a simple and physical example: your home. It’s a mess. It has been piling up for days while you sit, at first oblivious, and eventually paralysed, looking at it, wondering where on earth to start. Until the day you can bear it no more, you roll up your sleeves, put on some music and attack.
It’s the same thing with our emotions, isn’t it? Or, better put, our emotional dysfunctions: reactions that have served us in good stead over many years are suddenly not only no longer helpful but downright damaging and inappropriate. But it isn’t, generally speaking, like a light-switch. We don’t spot it in a quiet moment, flick the switch and fix it there and then. Usually, like the house, it builds up, gets worse, begins to cause real, almost tangible, often desperate problems in our daily lives and relationships until we are forced to sit up, take notice, examine, accept responsibility and begin to implement change.
It isn’t always easy. In fact, generally it is enormously difficult. Because the very first thing we need to pack away as a blockage to our development is pride. Pride causes us to cast about for external causes, to try to blame anyone or anything rather than accept our own failings or weaknesses. And with pride’s departure, the next thing we must allow to take centre stage is vulnerability, coupled with humility, neither of which are served by pride. Or mistrust for that matter. We need to bite the bullet and accept our part in the drama, take responsibility for learned responses that once served us faithfully in the survival of our daily and difficult lives, but that we can now see and accept as inappropriate and unhealthy. From the earliest moment of childhood we are learning how to be with those around us. And for many years those people are just one small group, wherein our responses are fashioned to ensure our survival by meeting their needs, tastes, morals, rules and… sometimes… dysfunctions. The time comes in adulthood to bring those responses out into the light and examine them properly. They can be so compulsive, so deep-rooted, so hidden from our own view, that the hardest part of all is often admitting them to ourselves. But if we truly want to fix ourselves, to change, to learn to have healthy, equal, unconditionally loving adult relationships, it is vitally important that we do learn to examine the deepest parts of ourselves. The first step, therefore, is radical honesty with ourselves. It stands to reason that if you can pull the wool over your own eyes, pulling it over anyone else’s is a breeze!
And after this we need trust. We need to trust that those nearest and dearest to us will protect us in our vulnerability, love us through our transformation, and support us through the difficulties that change and evolution invariably throw up.
This, in turn, has its requisite conditions: we need to choose to surround ourselves with people worthy of our trust. It can only be a two-way street. If trust is one-way, it can only lead right out of the relationship and over the horizon.
So choose your fellow-travellers wisely. And don’t be afraid to say no. Look after yourself as you would one of your own children. Why would you be any less worthy of love or protection than they?
And that is a whole new line of thinking, isn’t it? Let me leave it with you:
Why would you be any less worthy of love or protection than your own children?