Evolving. It hurts, man. We creep forward and through, barely knowing which end is up, wriggling forth on hope and tears. Hope that we will figure it out. Hope that we will do better. Hope that we aren't totally off our rockers. Hope that change will pay off in results, success, happiness. These personal evolutions are covered with bruised egos, scar tissue from the shedding of used up identities and the red smack of truth. Ouch. But.
That creep forward is eight hundred billion times better than the lies we tell ourselves to stay small. That inching forward, that snail's pace of personal growth is infinitesimally grander than staying stuck because it's just too hard to move.
YES. It is hard to move. But it's not too hard. It's not too anything. It's necessary. It's not inevitable, but living any degree of happiness requires it. And to do this, we've got to stop lying. We've got to come face to face with some of our biggest, baddest demons. Running to the hills won't stop the truth from setting up shop. Denying as a means of communicating won't blend away facts from figments. We stay small because we're scared, but not because we're small.
If we're really going to move forward, if we believe personal evolution is the threshold of our happiness, then we've got to stop telling these lies:
1. My career defines who I am.
Maybe you don't have access to my mama, so I'm going to give you a glimpse of her greatness right now. She said to me last night, "Courtney you are far beyond what you do. I am proud of what you do because I am proud of who you are and you bring that person to everything you do, regardless of what it is." My mom helped me understand that we define ourselves everywhere, not just at our jobs, or marriages, or friendships. We bring ourselves to everything we touch. We own our definition.
2. It's too late.
Are you dead? Then I guess it's not too late. Is it harder later in the game? Probably. Does that make it "too" late? Nope, that only makes it harder. But hard isn't the same as impossible and we've got to stop thinking that working hard to attain something greater than ourselves means we've missed the boat. Talent, skill and luck are nothing compared to showing up, no matter what time it is.
3. I'm alone.
Here's some honesty you didn't ask for: I have felt this a lot lately. It's not particularly sexy or spiritual to feel "alone" - to me, I feel whiny and pathetic. But it doesn't change the fact that I felt alone. The key here is feeling it is not the same as being it. Being alone often has to do with communicating. Are you articulating your isolation? Are you admitting to at least one person you feel deserted, abandoned, given up on? If we truly don't want to feel alone, we have to give others the opportunity to show up for us by telling the truth.
4. Moving on is a failure.
No my friends, moving on is a relief. A load off. Enlightenment. Happiness. Spiritual abundance. Moving on is the most sacred thing we can do as we transform ourselves. It's the ability to detach, let go, free fall into authenticity. Friendships, careers, matters of the heart - letting go of these things takes courage and a huge amount of compassion for yourself. Moving on is a major breakthrough.
5. Everyone's out to get me.
It's so easy to put our own self-doubt and our own self-hatred in the hands of other human beings instead owning our fear. It's so convenient to not face our depletion of self-worth and instead look at how much others just bring us down, down, down. It's so simple to sabotage ourselves and set up others as the culprits instead of acknowledging our own soul-crushing violence. It's easy, convenient and simple, but facts are facts. No one is out to get us as much as we are out to get ourselves.
6. Not knowing the answer means I'm stupid.
When I'm in conversation with someone whose opinion I really value, I often find them slow to speak. They consider. They breathe. They ingest before they add to the conversation. Hustling our way to an answer means we skip over important details and obvious truths. Slowing down and thinking gets you closer to what's real. And reality is an intelligent place to be.
7. That's just the way I am.
You may be stuck. You may be depressed. You may be confused. But those feelings are not who you are. You are immeasurable contradictions, revelations, wonder and beautiful imperfection. You are both wounded and healed. You are both bound and free. You are never just one thing, the more you attach yourself to just one thing, the more you cast a shadow on your whole, beautiful being.
What lies have you been telling yourself to stay small?
photo via Craig Hanson Photography