Over the last 10 years, it feels like I have been turned inside out and confronted with many parts of myself that felt small, afraid, inadequate, angry, disconnected and unloveable.
A lot of the time, I honestly did not want to be doing "inner work", I just wanted to feel good within myself and the answers I was getting from mainstream society (to pop another pill, buy more stuff, take a holiday, distract myself with more consumption etc) weren't cutting it anymore.
Even though I complained and resisted a lot along the way, I still kept going on my personal growth path because some part of me just knew I was meant to do big things and that if I searched hard enough I'd hopefully find the relief I was looking for and be able to share it with others.
I kept reading self-help books, I kept showing up to learn and grow through workshops and courses and I kept investing in healing sessions, coaching and mentoring.
Even though it was difficult, I chose to look at all the ways I was avoiding and suppressing my emotional pain; including my addiction to blaming others for my problems and running from uncomfortable feelings through food, shopping, drinking, gossiping and zoning out in front of a screen when "reality" felt like too much.
I realised that the way I was viewing past experiences (like feeling rejected, being let down, betrayed, failing etc) was changing the way I felt about my present life, the people around me and my own self-worth.
I was letting the pain of the past bleed through into my present and future experiences rather than clearing it out and being open to the possibilities of each new moment.
Instead of looking at myself in the mirror and seeing the young woman standing there, I would see all the negative things anyone had ever said about me and all the times I'd ever felt excluded, misunderstood, inadequate and rejected.
Instead of allowing experiences to roll in and out of my life with openness, I'd collect memories and store them in my mental archives; forming beliefs about "how life is" and "how people are" that were often really negative and led me to shut down from opportunities and connection with others.
Only by looking at the objective truth of how I was being in the world was I able to create a new reality for myself. In doing that, I realised my suffering was less about what was happening TO me and more about how I was responding.
The point of personal growth is not to become obsessive about fixing ourselves or preaching to others about how they need to change... inner work is about cleaning the lenses through which we see ourselves and our lives so that we can interact with it all from an empowered, loving, open, strong and compassionate state.
We need to acknowledge the dirt and the darkness that's been building up over time within us and look at how that's impacting our expectations and experience of reality.
And once we see what's there, we can get to work on cleaning those lenses - clearing out each murky behaviour, belief, addiction and way of being that's no longer useful.
Inner work takes time and is a multifaceted process.
We need the tools to trace our pain back to the roots, pull out what we no longer need and let it go, and then create space for new insights, opportunities, experiences, people and learning.
If you are on the path of personal growth, remember that it takes time and the unraveling is where the magic happens.
It may feel chaotic, confusing and slow at times but keep showing up.
There comes a time when you look back and realise how much has shifted and how much lighter and freer you feel.
There was never a single moment where "everything shifted" on my path. It's been a culmination of many, many shifts - some very subtle and some more profound - that has led to where I am today - feeling a whole lot more free and open.
I continue to show up, learn, grow and open more month after month, year after year.
Remember the magic is unfolding now - just by being on the journey.
All you need to do is keep showing up <3