|Posted on 14 March, 2016 at 15:10|
I often put quotes on sticky notes and put them in my day-planner when I’m reading. Today I was looking through last year’s planner for some information I needed and I found this one: ”All human beings should try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.” –James Thurber.
What a great description of the process of personal growth and healing. In my counselling practice, I am usually trying to help people discover what effect the past has on their beliefs, choices, and behaviours. Without a good understanding of who we are, we cannot make changes. What are we running from? Identify this and you have taken the first step. What we are “running to” can also be connected to the past. You may be trying to recreate the very thing you are running from. Even if we don’t want to live in the past, it is comfortable and change is hard.
What we run to may be the method we use to dull the pain or cover up the past. It can be an addiction, a career, a relationship, or even our faith. With the exception of an addiction, those things look good, but when they cover something, keeping us so busy we don’t have time to think about it, they become addictions. We all use things to dull the pain of life. No one is exempt. In order to make positive changes in our lives, we need to discover the why. Why are we running? What are we running from? What do we want to hide and what do we want to hide from? As we discover the underlying problems (what we are running from) the thing we are running to, or the things we using to cover or numb our pain the truth can be exposed. These discoveries lead us to the why. Why are we running? Do we need to run, or can stop and face the why?
When I was a little girl, I was terrified of dogs. I always ran from them and they always chased me. It is their nature. I have learned that it is usually (within reason), much more effective to stop, turn, and face the dog. If I talk to the animal calmly, it will settle down. What most dogs want is attention unless they are trying to protect their territory. Obviously you need caution, but when dogs lost their ability to terrify me and I began to understand their nature, my relationship with them changed.
When our relationship with the past changes, our ability to change and grow increases. If the past has the power to determine your thoughts, beliefs, actions or behaviours, you are still controlled by it. It may be time to stop, turn, and face the “dog.” What are you running from? What are you running to? Why are you running? Dig it out, journal it out, talk it out. If you want change, it takes work and you may need help along the way, but don’t be afraid of the process. The end result is worth the journey. Running only makes the problem worse. Stop, gain understanding, then change the relationship. The past will lose its power and you can be free to grow and change apart from it.
For me, change has come through a number of sources. My faith has been an integral part of that process. Seeking God for understanding and wisdom, reading, journaling, talking to trusted friends, and professional counsel have all been tools in my personal journey to healing. No one comes through life unscathed, but those experiences do not have to be the factor that determines our future. What is holding you back and what do you need to do today to begin to face the problem?