By Dr. Steve
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Which Way to
The great thing in this world is not so much where we
but in what direction we are moving.
-Oliver Wendell Holmes
Our path is illuminated when we focus on becoming more of who we are rather
than continually trying to become who we are not.
is no getting past this tip. Yet sadly, we all can look back on parts of our life where we
have invested our emotions, our time, and our money trying to desperately escape the
inescapable. We are who we are. To pursue a path that promises to transform us into what
we are not is sheer folly.
fact, the more we violate this principle, the more we try to stop ourselves from being who
we are, we only wind up super-charging our lifes energy with the very
characteristics we do not want.
I see this all the time in my Relationship Bridge Building groups. Alvin is a good example
of how this happens. Alvin desperately wants to be viewed as kind, earnest, sincere, well
intentioned. He is very wary of upsetting anybody, not wanting to risk being disliked. He
hides how angry he is, how judgmental he is about most of the people in the group. To each
group members face, he tells them how much he cares for them, but his behavior
appears to be anything but caring. He is often withdrawn, emotionally unavailable. Alvin
is quick to offer a word of kindness when he is challenged to participate more, to give
more of himself.
the group members are never satisfied with his words. He is often experienced by the group
members as patronizing, insincere, withdrawn, and unavailable. And this confounds Alvin to
no end. Afterall, doesnt he always say the right thing, doesnt he always do
the right thing, doesnt he always hide how angry and judgmental he can be?
seemingly to no avail. The lesson Alvin needs to learn is both simple and frightening at
the same time. Become more of who you are rather than creating someone who you are not.
to say but how do we exercise it?
Focus on two things: attitude and action.
attitude? Accept where you are. Accept the simple fact that we are growing;
afterall, our journey is a process of transformation. We are where we are in our lives
today, but that doesnt have to stay that way forever. Its always tempting to
compare ourselves to others, defining ourselves solely by what we are not because we
focus on what we believe others to be. Unfortunately, this is a formula for pain, a
formula for chasing an ever elusive way of being.
knows the shame he brings to himself every time he belittles himself for lacking what he
believes others have but he is so sorely lacking. He focuses on the fact that he
isnt kind enough, patient enough, forgiving enough, smart enough, slim enough, perky
enough. Enough. Enough. Enough. Ralph seldom thinks about what he is, because he is always
focused on what he is not enough of.
has limited his job opportunities, the opportunities to be in loving relationships, he has
even passed up opportunities to live in exotic places where he would much rather live. The
reason why? He never believed he was enough. But Ralph is slowly learning that he can
accept where he is at today, that this acceptance does not condemn him to remain that way
has learned to trust that he will grow in his own time and his own way without the need to
condemn himself for what he is not. If you asked Ralph, he would tell you that it
isnt easy, this idea of accepting where he is at, but he also realizes that the
universe will provide him with the opportunities he needs to grow, and those are really
the only worthwhile lessons to experience.
action? Let go of the judgments we hold against ourselves. There is nothing that
pushes us further away from who we are than the judgments we hold against ourselves. We
recognize all those things about who and what we are that we judge, that we dislike. Is
despise too strong a word? We recognize all the ways we have of covering up, glossing
over, disconnecting as a means of honoring those judgments.
go of our judgments is the path to stepping out of the shadows. Its the means by
which we accept where we are in our lifes journey. Its the path we all walk in
order to claim who we are rather than deride ourselves for what we are not.
a hard lesson to absorb. For we all want personal growth. We all long for the freedom that
comes along with a better understanding of how to better live life. In order to enjoy such
freedom we only need to exorcise ourselves from a myth that binds us. We cannot will
ourselves to a different life. We cannot push our way to a different life.
is only one lesson for us all to embrace. Dont judge yourself for not being anything
more than who you already are. The energy you invest in who you are today will forge the
path for who you are to become in the tomorrows of your life.
chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your
children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs
free. Learn how
to in Dr. Frischs, Psy.D. Recovery book series.