We like to think that we can separate off a portion of ourselves - acknowledge on some level that it's broken and damaged so segregate it from the rest of ourselves - and then hope that we can carry on. Our desire is to prevent those around us from getting hurt, but the situation is a bit like someone trying to walk through a china shop wearing their hiking backpack with lots of things tied on to the outside of the bag - at some point, they're going to turn too quickly or fail to check their margins and they'll end up hitting something and it'll smash to the ground.
Change - movement - growth - these things don't happen by sitting still, and they don't happen overnight, either. Like any athlete will tell you, it's the small things, done intentionally over long periods of time that create the biggest gains and improvements. So if transformation is our goal, we will need to set aside a season of life to focus on it. This might involve carving out time for a daily journalling session, a weekly coaching session or some other regular discipline. We will almost invariably have to develop some new skills to take you to a new place - and becoming a learner can be a difficult and uncomfortable posture for many people. We will likely have to cultivate new voices in our lives to coach us to these new places - and it might even mean setting aside some of the old voices from before, or at the very least, downgrading their input into our lives for a little while. These investments can seem like a lot when we first get started, but if you're on the right path you will invariably see some early gains to help bolster your confidence and expand your hope and motivation. The time and investment required for change to occur means that it's not going to happen accidentally or incidentally - at least, not in any very significant ways.
In our world of media hype and multi-level marketing - of promises and pitches and promotions - I'm pretty cautious about the idea of touting anything. And yet... What would be the point of doing all of this work of honesty if it didn't change anything? What would be the point of doing all of this work of connection if we still felt just as lonely and isolated and afraid as when we first started? Personally, I can't see myself signing up for that kind of system. You see, I like the idea of making a difference. I like the idea that it will matter whether or not I show up. I like the idea that at the end of the day my presence or my participation or my engagement or my choices or my vulnerability will have the capacity to leave the people around me less afraid and more powered by love.
And the prevailing responses in all of these cases is either to become defensive or to grovel in guilt or wallow in shame. The problem with all three of these responses, is that all of them create big emotions that we then use to distance ourselves from the pain of the one we've hurt. If our emotions are big enough to take up the whole room, we don't have to see the emotions of the person who is suffering. They are actually just different forms of self-protection.