Our friend and colleague, Bill Dean, has long stood for whole and healthy families in his work with troubled teens. Bill has written many insightful and thought-provoking articles that provide opportunities for reflection and new choices. We are thrilled to share one of his articles with you and invite you to commit to finding your true, authentic self again.
How We Became Lost and How to Find Ourselves Again. – Bill Dean
Experience a young child (even if you merely observe) and you will notice that joy, that spontaneity, that totality of being in the present. Of course they do not always express happiness, but even their moments of despair will turn into joyful laughter moments later. All children, if given love and nurturing will demonstrate this. Yet almost all adults have lost the ability to live in this state. Some will justify it by claiming that adults cannot afford to be childish – they have responsibilities and it would be irresponsible to do so. And yet in all my working with people over the last 40+ years the vast majority will admit to wanting to find a way to live that expression of joy. It comes out as: I want to be authentic; I want to be me; I want to love and be loved.
So what happened?
We began to experience PAIN AND PUNISHMENT! Whether from our parents, siblings, other relatives, teachers, religion, or just the world itself, we began to experience pain – mostly in the form of punishment for not being the way we were supposed to be (or being too spontaneous). This turned into beliefs about ourselves that took on the form of “I am not enough – I am not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough.” Or perhaps “I am not worthy, I am stupid, or I am a failure”, etc. We began to believe these lies about ourselves. And then we began to learn how to SURVIVE.
We began to figure out ways to avoid pain and to become acceptable to those from whom we wanted love. As we grew up, those methods of avoiding pain were made part of our subconscious programming so that survival became the driving force of our lives. These survival mechanisms can be simplified into these categories:
- Be in CONTROL. Either through suppressing our feelings or suppressing other’s feelings (Don’t cry or stop crying, or stop laughing or do this, don’t do that and so on). We try to control others through anger, manipulation, intimidation, etc.
- Be RIGHT. Make others wrong; collect evidence to support your rightness and/or another’s wrongness; gather allies to get support about how right you are or how wrong another is.
- Save FACE. Always look good – no matter what. And make sure you do not cause another to lose face.
When survival becomes the driving force that runs our lives, we cannot be authentic nor can we truly love or be loved. We end up trying to be the way someone else wants us to be and we lose ourselves in that struggle.
Then we end up just drifting through life. Waiting for someone to approve of me. Waiting to survive the next disappointment or the next hurtful encounter. Seeking to blame others or myself for how my life turned out. Worried about the future or regretting the past while ignoring the present. Essentially being locked in a prison of our own making.
WHAT CAN BE DONE? WHAT IS THE WAY OUT OF THIS PRISON?
There is a way out; there is a path back to being who we truly are. Here are some steps:
- Decide you want it. In other words make a CHOICE to become who you truly are and be very CLEAR about that choice.
- Be COMMITTED. Not just committed when it is comfortable or convenient; but committed at a level of NO MATTER WHAT. Let no one or anything get in your way from that commitment.
- Take RISKS. Be vulnerable, be open to new ideas, keep on learning, share your true feelings, practice being uncomfortable.
- LET GO OF THE OLD. The old things that you keep to survive and stay safe but don’t really work (and never really have).
- WORK. Change can be hard and perhaps scary, so discipline yourself to constantly do this work. Never stop working.
FINALLY, seek out assistance. You do not have to do this by yourself. Find teachers who can guide you on this pathway to joy.
Whenever a student is willing, a teacher always appears.
“WE ARE ALWAYS GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEEK THE PATH OF TRUE ENLIGHTENMENT, THE PATH OF LIVING AND LEARNING THROUGH JOY AND BEING THE LOVE WE WANT FROM OTHERS, THEN SHARING THAT LOVE.”
Thanks so much Bill for sharing your wisdom and insights with our Source Point Training community!
Our best to you,
Barbara and everyone at Source Point Training