Running away from our problems is tempting. We may think that if we change jobs, move away from our parents’ controlling influence, or find a more caring partner that our problems will resolve themselves. Yet once we do move on, we notice that similar issues have cropped up again. Why? It’s like Confucius said, “Remember, no matter where you go, there you are.”
It’s much easier to point the finger at someone else, finding someone to blame for our circumstances instead of looking at what we did to get ourselves in our current situation. I know, because that’s what I used to do. If, over time, you start wondering if unpleasant situations are due to you or to the people you’re attracting in your life, it’s almost certainly you.
There was time when I tried to control almost everything in my life; not only events and activities, but also the people I would spend time with. They’d see the movies I wanted to see, eat at the restaurants I recommended, and even cancel their plans when I suggested it. But when they started to branch out and show some independence, I would get bored in the relationship and move on.
Breaking the pattern that my relationships were following meant confronting the underlying cause: fear. After some deep soul searching and plenty of self-awareness, I realized I was afraid of not being accepted for who I was, afraid that if I wasn’t right about a situation I wouldn’t be liked, and afraid that if I wasn’t the smartest kid on the block (and trust me I wasn’t) I wouldn’t be worthy of a friendship. I judged myself with these harsh beliefs, and learned later that my friends did not share these perceptions.
In order to work through tough emotions we have to do the hard work of processing them, slowly and with time. I started by giving myself permission to heal. Then I sat with the discomfort, admitting that I was feeling uncomfortable, admitting that my actions hurt someone else even though that was not my intention. While it was initially hard to face my fears and insecurities, I would remind myself that it was OK—that these difficult feelings would pass.
Once I committed to the process, the length of time I sat with those uncomfortable feelings became shorter and shorter until eventually the unpleasant emotions didn’t bother me at all. I also practiced mindful meditation to help me get out of my head and into my heart, which I found was waiting, lovingly, to take care of me.
I’ve changed my outlook and behavior in many ways. I can feel gratitude in almost every situation instead of trying to control everything. I also know we can’t run from our situations or ourselves. We have to embrace our negative emotions and experiences and understand them before we can transform our lives into something better.
Now I’m happy that everywhere I go, there I am. What about you?