Here’s the thing about spiritual awakening and personal development – not everyone is going to like it. Not everyone is going to understand. Not everyone is going to accept, approve, or even believe the new you that begins to emerge as the last masks fall off and you strip that cloak of fear away.
This might sound counter-intuitive. It might be tempting to think that bettering yourself automatically means bettering your relationships with others – but this isn’t always how it plays out.
Sometimes the people who are a great energetic match at one stage can become a detriment in another, and the same can be true the other way around. Sometimes growing up will weaken one relationship even as it’s strengthening another; and part of the process is learning to accept and allow that.
After all, people can only understand from whatever level they’re at. They can only see as far as their perception will allow. They can only accept in you what they’ve accepted within themselves, and can only understand in you that which they understand within themselves.
If someone isn’t comfortable with change, your evolution can become their trigger. If someone is still held back by the fears you’ve conquered, your freedom can become their trigger. If someone is still rigidly clinging to half-truths, your new awareness can become their trigger. Even if you don’t mean it to be so.
As you learn how to embrace uncertainty and dance in the unknown, as you walk through your fear and celebrate the changes you’ve made, you become a living display of the endless potential and the wildly free and flexible nature of the human spirit – a display that can frighten those who prefer being tucked under a blanket of constancy, complacency, certainty, and comfort.
Sometimes people express that discomfort by trying to diminish, deny, or somehow distort the changes that triggered them – the changes they see in you. When this happens, it’s up to you to show them love and let it go. It’s up to you to remember that this journey isn’t about proving anything to anyone and that you don’t need their acceptance to continue on.
For the most part, people don’t do this out of malice. They do it out of a subconscious urge to make things normal again, to keep you in a shape they’re comfortable with, to cling to the you that they used to know.
To those who haven’t yet began that long journey inside themselves, change can be downright terrifying and the words different and dangerous are synonymous. Although your changes may be for the better, they can still be perceived as frightening. Though you may be revealing a truer version of yourself, the difference may still seem scary.
This isn’t a reason to judge others – for we’ve all been at precisely that level at some point in our soul’s journey – but neither is it a reason to distract yourself from your own development by trying to explain or defend yourself.
When your own evolution leads to whispers and rumors, when it causes certain people to pull back or to criticize, remember that it is not your job to defend your path but to walk it. It’s not your job to explain things to others but to unravel them within yourself.
When old friends or distant relatives tell you that this isn’t the real you, remember that they may have spent years only seeing the mask that you once depended on. To them, this isn’t the real you. To them, the mask was real and what’s now emerging from behind it is a trigger. It’s triggering their own exploration of perception and reality; it’s triggering their own inner journey.
Remember that it’s not your job to convince them that this is the real you but to continue stripping those layers away and let your truth speak for itself. Remember that, although this process has been a very long and difficult one, it can appear to those on the outside as a sudden, drastic, and even unbelievable transformation.
I’m not saying this is easy. I’m not denying that it can really hurt when, rather than being celebrated, your growth is criticized or questioned. You’ve spent years, or perhaps even decades, learning and growing through trial and error. You took a few steps and stumbled. You learned to walk and stumbled. You started to run and stumbled. The journey has been a series of starts and stops, steps and staggers. It’s taken a great deal of courage, of painful honesty, humility, perseverance, and faith – but the truth is, most people didn’t see even a small fraction of all that work.
Most people didn’t see all of the nights that you stayed awake crying, praying, questioning, and seeking answers. They couldn’t hear the whispers of your heart as it urged you to face, process, and transform your fears and your pains. They didn’t see you spending early mornings and late nights in meditation, reading books, exploring your emotions, getting to know your soul, dismantling beliefs, opening your heart. They don’t know how long you practiced controlling your thoughts; and they didn’t read the endless invisible pages upon which you wrote and re-wrote your new story.
They didn’t have the benefit of adjusting slowly and steadily to the new you that was being born. To them, it may have been quite surprising and a little bit confusing when you spontaneously emerged from your cocoon and presented your newly formed wings. To them, it may seem too sudden to accept. Too immense to handle. Too extraordinary to believe.
And that’s okay. They don’t have to understand. They don’t have to accept or even believe the changes you’ve made. And you don’t have to care. This journey is yours and yours alone. Sure, we all crave companionship. We all need support; but if the support system you’ve come to depend on begins to naturally crumble, you have to let go and trust that a new and better one is already in the making.
Just continue to focus on your growth. Continue to put in the work, even if others can’t see it. Continue climbing even if no one is waiting at the top to cheer you on.
Do for them what they can’t yet do for you. Let them be what they are. Accept and allow them to experience the stage they’re currently in without clinging to an ideal that you once held. Be the change you want to see. Go with the natural flow of your transformation and allow them to flow with theirs – they don’t have to accept you for you to accept them; and they don’t have to understand your path for you to keep walking it.
©2017 Cristen Rodgers
Image by Jozef Klopacka
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