Looking Back With A Pained Expression

Anyone who tells you that the path to self-actualization is an easy one has never walked it. Along the way, we meet - head on! - the skeletons in our personal closets, and the process of coming to terms with our past and al that it brought into our lives is a long and solitary one. It's such a dark and lonely space that many people give up the journey, deciding that the "present moment self" - as imperfect as it may be! - will just have to suffice in this lifetime.

It's easy to understand why this phase of the journey to the self is such a difficult one: we don't want to see for ourselves, in our own mind's eye, what our choices in this lifetime have driven us to do other people. It's hard for us to accept the fact that we have been selfish, or resentful, or spiteful in our relationships. It's even harder for us to see - with a clarity we've never known before - where we have deliberately manipulated our lives so that we have control over the people and the situations and the events within it.

It's far from easy to admit that we are not the positive, smiling, loving persona that we have always thought ourselves to be, and then we reach the point on our path at which we must stop and honestly evaluate how we have related to other people before we can take the next growth step forward, we may decide that we have come far enough and leave the path to self-awareness in favor of a different path that sheds a more positive light on the question of who we are and the world we have created for ourselves.

If we don't leave the path or change our direction, we may simply "idle our engine" where we are, hoping that is we wait long enough, the direction the path is taking will change and we will be able to proceed without ever having to acknowledge the person we used to be and the way we used to live our lives. We can spend years taking detour after detour hoping to avoid the unpleasant panorama of our past.

One of the reasons we work so diligently at avoiding this phase of our journey is because we don't want to feel bad. We don't look forward to experiencing the regret and the remorse that usually comes with hindsight, and we hate the thought of how different our lives would be if only we'd known then that we know now. If we allow our inner understanding to guide us through this phase of the journey, then our hesitation subsides as we realize that we aren't going back in order to make ourselves feel bad; we're going back to confirm for ourselves that we have grown in the meantime.

We're going back for a second look, a second opinion based on our realization that we're more aware, now, of who we are and why we do the things we do than we used to be and see things in a completely different way from the way we saw them when they were happening to us. We're ready, at this point in our lives to look back at our lives objectively enough to see - for ourselves - what was really at play in any particular situation, where the people involved were really coming from, and how to outcome might have been different if everyone involved had been working from a position of universal love and acceptance.

Spending weeks, moths or even years of our lives regretting past actions or past choices is investing time and energy into situations long done with instead of focusing into the positive potential of the present moment. We can't change the past; we can't undo the influence we've had on other people's thoughts, other people's feelings, and other people's lives.

No amount of remorse on our part can undo our invisible influence on others. What we CAN change is the future, and the way we change it - the way we put ourselves in a position to look back with pleasure instead of with pain - is by learning from our earlier experiences and making a commitment - both to ourselves and to the people we care about - to be aware enough of who we are and how we are affecting the people in our lives to choose to make that effect a more positive one.

This step in our journey requires that we open the door to our personal closet and loose the skeletons we try so very hard to hide from others. We see ourselves as perfectly balanced, with strengths and weaknesses equally contributing to the whole of our being. We understand, at last, that if we didn't have weaknesses, we'd never be vulnerable to the learning experiences that life offers us, and we'd have no need for the strengths with which we learn and grow. We respect our right to be "less than perfect" in any given moment, and realize that others have always "cut us some slack" in our mutual imperfection.

We don't need to hide the less-than-positive traits within ourselves anymore, since anyone who is a part of our lives saw us as less than perfect long ago. Without our "secret selves" placing limitations on our relationships, we can truly share again. we can openly acknowledge our past weaknesses: we can talk about hopes for a stronger tomorrow. We can take courage from the love and acceptance that has always been there from others for who we really are, and use that courage to take the next step down the path to self-actualization.

If we're not willing to admit that we have ever made a mistake, ever reacted inappropriately, ever deliberately hurt someone, then we can't possibly admit that we need to change, or that we need other people's help in doing so. Our future can only bring us more of the self-defeating behavior patterns that we've already experienced and refused to grow from, and hindsight can become a very painful line of vision.

Lois Grant-Holland is a Life Path Focus Counselor offering Life Path Focus Sessions, Karmic Astrology Charts, Channeled Guidance, Intuitive Readings and Classes and Workshops to spiritual seekers on all positive paths, and is the site facilitator at The A.N.S.W.E.R. - (The Seeker's Resource Guide to Alternative, New Thought, Spiritual Growth, Wellness and Enlightenment Resources.) You can visit her website at http://www.loisgrantholland.com

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