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Stepping Out of the Shadows/[Re]Connecting With
Your Life's Journey

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Stepping Out of the Shadows

By Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.

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The First Step of the Longest March

Do not look back in anger, or forward in fear, but around in awareness.
-James Thurber

We had been working together long enough for me to  know exactly how she would react to what I had to say to her. That’s what was so intriguing about the therapist-client relationship we had developed. No matter what pearls of wisdom I tried to offer her, she would always just roll her eyes as she looked at me and say, “Whatever!”

Well, she was having a particularly difficult week in what had been a particularly difficult six months. Through all the ups and downs that we had gone through together, I don’t think that I had ever seen her quite as agitated as she was on this particular day.

Her face had turned crimson red from the anger and futility consuming her. She couldn’t spit her words out fast enough, seemingly trying to exorcise the pain that had enveloped her life.

She was feeling like her life had hit a dead end from which she would never recover as she looked at me and howled, “When is this all going to end for me?!”

I considered her question carefully, knowing full well what the answer was, knowing all too well what her response to my answer would be.

I was carefully measuring what my response should be when I decided to just go for broke and lay on her what I considered to be the solution that each and everyone of us must discover for ourselves.

So, I steeled myself for her reaction as I said, “All of this will change when you make certain shifts in the relationship you have with yourself, the relationship you have with the people in your life, and the relationship you have with your spiritual power.”

I held my breath waiting for the inevitable rolling of her eyes, the utterance of her dismissive, “Whatever!”

She thought about what I had to say for a moment, all the while looking at me as if I were crazy. Finally she snarled at me, “Oh, that’s just great! That should only take me about forty years!”

I looked right back at her and responded, “You may be right. When are you going to get started?”

With that said, her face kind of softened as the faintest of smiles began to form in each corner of her mouth. She thought about my challenge for a moment, finally saying, “All right, Steve, let’s rock and roll. My way sure as hell ain’t working, let’s give something else a shot.”

As a clinical psychologist, I work with people everyday  who are searching for the means to create those very shifts in their lives, shifts in their relationships with themselves and the people who matter most, shifts that enable them to step out of the shadows and [re]connect with their life’s journey.

You may recognize the feelings we experience when we become disconnected from our path. Confusion, chronic anger, hopelessness, emptiness, despair, boredom, alienation from ourselves and others. But no matter how we ultimately go about the search, we all are searching for one thing and one thing only--the path that will lead us out of the shadows, the path by which we can become whole and integrated.

The aim of that search is simply to reveal to ourselves two things: the essence of who we are and what path to follow in order to express that essence in our day-to-day life. This search arises out of the different choices we make as we chart a direction, a direction that fills our lives with either purpose or emptiness.

We all recognize the emptiness that paralyzes us as we make those choices that disconnect us from the path of our life’s journey. You recognize the ways your being lost and disconnected appears in your life, don’t you?

We may feel stuck in our professional lives. Perhaps our jobs have become merely a means to an end. An end that provides us with economic survival, but not an end that honors the essence of what our abilities and interests are.

We may feel no sense of involvement, no sense of being connected to our community. Perhaps we feel isolated and alienated from the world in which we live.

We may feel stuck in our relationships with our family and friends. Perhaps we become lost in our relationships, overwhelmed by what our relationships take from us but don’t return in kind.

Or it may be that we’ve never become grounded with a long-lasting relationship with our spiritual power. A relationship that provides us with guidance and direction for the purpose from which we live our lives.

Finally, it may be that we’ve become estranged from ourselves. Perhaps the relationship we have with ourselves limits our ability to live in the world in a way that nurtures our growth and leaves us feeling safe with other people.

Whatever the reasons for being disconnected from our life’s journey, we all have within ourselves the means to discover the path that will lead us out of the darkness to a place of light.

You see, we all hold the answers within ourselves to the questions that we confront on a daily basis. We possess the wisdom to guide ourselves, in however an imperfect way we create, to the destiny we all are seeking to connect with. Each and everyone of us possess the courage necessary to heal our wounds and grow from the pain that any process of healing involves.

Make no mistake about this. The path that leads us out of the shadows is a richly rewarding experience.

Creating a life that is rich with the love and support of those who matter the most to us is a reward like no other you can imagine.

Creating a life that is an expression of who you genuinely are is the most uplifting gift you can give to yourself.

Creating a life that is closely connected to a spiritual power provides a sense of stability and strength that will guide you through the roughest storms you can imagine.

Creating a life that is built upon the bedrock of a loving nurturing relationship with yourself will enable you to attract the kind of people in your life that will mirror your own self-acceptance rather than tear you down.

No matter how much training we’ve received to believe differently, I know that it can happen for us all. Yet, we will all experience much pain and discomfort as we wrestle with letting go of our old ways. We will experience much fear as we search for new ways of acting and thinking that will keep us connected to our new path.

Yet, the outcome of our struggle and triumphs, the outcome of our pain and healing, the outcome of our letting go will be our emergence from the shadows as we begin to [re]connect with our life’s journey. A journey that will fill our lives with abundance, the abundance of self-love, receiving love and caring from others, and the freedom to express ourselves in ways that honor who we are.



Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at drfrisch@aliveandwellnews.com  or at
(847) 604-3290.

Recover from 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. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.


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