We all do it. At some time or other despite our best intentions, we eat food we know will make us miserable, drink more than we intended, lash out at those we love most or succumb to our own negative self-talk. We know exactly what is good for us, yet we struggle to consistently incorporate healthy habits into our lives. It is a part of being human, albeit a frustrating part. In my own journey to wellness and healing, patterns have emerged. Anytime I began to move toward success, I would self-sabotage. I have taken the very tools that were meant to bring healing and wholeness and whack myself over the head with them. Despite the frustration of these seemingly backward steps, I have learned a few things.
There is always a lesson to learn. Every time I stumble, I take a close look at what’s going on in my life. Am I facing something outside of my comfort zone? Am I neglecting my own self care? Am I deviating from my own path to please others? In every instance, I gain a little more clarity and learn more about loving myself. My self-compassion grows and it becomes easier to see the beauty of my scars.
My empathy for others increases. When I face myself in the mirror after a stumble, I become less judgmental of others who struggle. We each have our own battles and demons, and what is easy for one may be a challenge for another. None of us gets it right every time. Learning grace for myself in the face of failure encourages my compassion for others.
Sharing my failure makes me stronger. Vulnerability has never come easy for me. For most of my life I felt I had to keep up a façade, a false sense of perfection, to hide behind a mask. It was a shield that served me for a time, but became crippling to my personal growth later on. Having learned this behavior in childhood, I was in my late 30s before I began to understand the benefits of allowing others to see behind the mask when I struggle. I have learned I am not alone. Instead, I make this journey with fellow travelers. As we share our stories, we allow light in. We allow healing. I’ve also learned that allowing others to help me when I’m down gives them the opportunity to use their gifts, to shine their own light.
Growth is gradual. As much as I want to rush this process, I know healing will come in its own time. I am learning patience with myself as I explore the parts within me that have been hidden for so long. I have begun to realize that the most painful parts of my past have given me compassion, understanding and growth I wouldn’t have gained otherwise. In doing so, I learn a bit more about finding grateful in every part of this life.