What does that mean? Why would I want to change my behavior? What does my behavior have to do with anything?
Spiritual healing focuses heavily on emotional healing and shadow work. It focuses on past life trauma and cycle breaking. It focuses on crying it out and re-living the trauma over and over and over again. What I've learned on my own healing is that this does not work. It doesn't fix it. There's a really important reason why this alone doesn't fix it. What is that?
Your behavior is still stuck in coping mechanisms and survival skills. Your mind is still reacting to your daily life like you're still in the old painful scenarios from the past. Neither of these things will allow you to heal if you don't do anything about them.
For this article, we're going to talk specifically about behavior. But if you check out the section on thoughts you will find plenty of information about why your thoughts matter and what you can do to shift them as well.
Let's jump back to childhood for a moment. Your parents and caregivers taught you how to be in the world based on what they liked and didn't like in terms of your behavior. Intentionally or not, they probably used some pretty sketchy methods to get you to change your behavior to something they were comfortable with. You learned through projected pain from your parents how to act and this made sure the coping mechanisms and survival skills were put in place. Not all parents do this maliciously; many parents do it with the intentions of trying to help their children fit into the world better. Does it work? Not usually, but the intention is there regardless.
The truth is you didn't really change you simply adapted. Those adaptations are meant to be temporary though. As a small child these adaptations were necessary. Obviously we need somebody to take care of us when we're little so it makes logical sense as a child to do everything we can to please our parents including changing how we show up in the world.
It's the temporary nature of these adaptations that gets lost on the trip to adulthood. We take those coping mechanisms and survival skills with us and we don't change them. That sets us up on a path that can be rather challenging. We no longer see the old survival skills as something we did to keep our parents happy. We now see them as who we are. We see ourselves as dysfunctional people because our parents saw us that way and told us about it, directly or indirectly, maliciously or not. That means we have some unlearning to do as adults so that we can figure out who we are without the projected pain of other people interfering with us.
I learned to be quiet. I learned to fade into the woodwork. I learned not to make noise. I learned to not make my own choices. I learned to hide how I felt. These were all indirect teachings, mostly from my mother. They were all her pain. They were not maliciously taught to me. Most of them were indirectly taught to me in childhood. Although as a small child, I was very shy and quiet, I quickly grew out of that and the idea of fading into the woodwork no longer fit who I was, but I held onto that way of being anyway.
I wanted a platform. I wanted an audience. I wanted to be up in front. I wanted to be the speaker on the stage. I wanted people to know who I was. My parents thought I was crazy because it wasn't their thing. I thought I had to conform to what they wanted so when they told me to get a government job with benefits I became a teacher because that was as close as I could get to having an audience. Do you want to know what I didn't like about teaching? The captive nature of the audience. I didn't like the fact that the kids had to be there and didn't want to be. I wanted my audience to be voluntary and even when I started teaching computers as an entrepreneur, what I ended up with was clients that needed to learn to use computers to keep their jobs. They weren't a willing audience either.
Now I'm clearly in the self-help field and my followers on social media are willing followers, but I still sometimes wonder if there are more people like me out there. When I started my healing journey it was very much as a means to and end. I had a goal and a plan and I was only doing what was necessary to reach the goal and make the plan happen. Healing wasn't something I was willing to do, it was something I knew I needed to do. That difference matters to me more than I've probably admitted to in the past.
When we're forced into doing things we don't want to do, it doesn't make us very happy. When I started healing, I wasn't particularly happy with the process but I knew that I had to go through it to get to where I wanted to go. I cared enough about the goals that I was willing to make that effort whether I liked it or not. While I can't make anybody do anything, the path I offer my clients isn't an easy one. If the goal isn't powerful enough and the motivation isn't there, relationships with me as a coach will get challenging quickly. I'm here to push you. I try to be honest about that when I talk about how I help people, but I often wonder if I'm being clear enough.
Healing requires a change in behavior because normally it offers a change in patterns and habits. Particularly with spiritual healing we often add in things like journaling, self-reflection, or meditation. We start to pay more attention to ourselves and that's a behavior shift on its own. Personally I added in tarot and journaling, eventually I moved to writing blogs and books on a regular basis as well.
Learning to do all those things required me to shift my behavior just to get started, but then there was more work to do. Getting started is step one. After that you get to figure out all the other little things you do that are going to cause you trouble and then you get to work through those too. When you're not a willing participant on the journey, it's a hard road. You start to question whether you want to be there or not. You start to question whether it's worth it and what you're going to get out of it. I know I certainly asked those questions many times.
I kept going because of the goals that I had. Eventually there was a tipping point in the process. I went from doing this because I thought I had to, to doing this because I wanted to and I couldn't imagine doing anything else. That took a few years and there were many points leading up to that where I questioned whether I was just crazy or not. Let's be honest, I am crazy and that's probably why I stuck to it.
I suppose being a willing participant became important to me because of how much of my life I spent feeling forced to do things I didn't want to do. It's only now as I approach my 48th birthday that I'm finally realizing that what I was feeling wasn't true. My inability to communicate with people effectively was the problem. I defended the problem and then I defended doing the thing I didn't want to do and then blamed everybody else for how I felt and where I ended up. It wasn't other people that needed to change - it was me. It was my behavior that needed to shift. It was how I showed up in relationships that was the problem. I needed to learn that it was okay to have an opinion and say what I wanted. I needed to learn how to work with people differently. That meant I had to do a lot of healing first.
The healing was hard because I didn't see the point. I didn't see the reason for it. I didn't understand why I was changing anything. My healing path was intuitive and more or less blind. Often I was offered something to heal or change and I wouldn't necessarily understand the bigger picture behind that. It would just be a step in front of me that I would have to take. When I look back now I can see the bigger picture. I see the benefit in everything that I've done to heal. Now I'm also better able to see the advantage of what I'm doing in the present moment. That all helps with the motivation and the determination to keep going.
At the beginning my healing path was very internal because I was terrified of changing my behavior and letting people know what I had been doing. Communication was just plain hard in my world. But eventually I realized that I had the power to change my behavior and that it was time to do that. I needed to take the leap and see what happened. It's been a slow crawl, but I've figured it out. When things come up now I work on understanding what's different. It's like doing one of those puzzles where you have 2 pictures in front of you that at a glance look identical, but when you look more closely they are completely different. In my world, that's how things appear. These are the same people and the same relationships I've had for years, but the way I function within those relationships has changed and that's made the relationships change. I have to be aware of how I would have responded before, how I'm responding now, and how the outcome changed because of that new response.
You see you don't have to ask people to change. They are responding to you so the only thing you ever have to do is be aware of yourself and change your own response. We spend a lot of time as a society trying to get other people to change instead of just taking responsibility for ourselves. Imagine what would happen if everybody simply worked on themselves and stopped trying to change others. The world would be a very different place.
These lessons that I'm sharing here have taken me a long time to come to and, truth be told, I'm still being shown some of them. The clarity is still coming through. The more clarity I get the more I share what I learn. My hope is that it helps others to better understand their own lives, their own relationships, and their own struggles so that they can shift things for the better too.