“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” Pema Chodron
I like to call the complex of our personal beliefs, soul-level mindsets, patterns of behavior, emotional anchors on past experiences, and anything else we’re looking to let go of “stuff.”
We’re all on this journey of growing our awareness and releasing this stuff. That’s why we do all the things we do for ourselves, that support our personal growth. We might think that’s what we’re on this planet for, to address this stuff.
I was recently bouncing pretty hard on some of the stuff that has continued to reappear in my life over the years. You know, the stuff that I thought I was done with. The stuff that I had worked on, sweated over, cried about, and ultimately thought I had left behind.
It was incredibly frustrating. It was like all of me was yelling, “This again? I’ve already worked on this! I want to be done with it!”
I realized I needed to get a handle not so much on what was coming up, but on my reaction to the idea that certain stuff was coming up AGAIN.
In considering to this, I’ve realized that many of us have a habit of comparing and contrasting – to other people, to what we read about or see in the media, or to how we were in the past. This is part of the Western mindset, this constant sort of competition and assessment based on what is going on around us.
How to Deal with the “Old” Stuff That Continues to Rise to the Surface
While in some parts of life this behavior might be useful, in the area of our personal growth, it’s not.
Here are 3 steps to deal with the “stuff” that continues to re-appear in your life:
1. Recognize it’s a new layer of old stuff, not old layers of old stuff.
We’ve already released those old layers!
Deeply rooted belief systems are complicated, and there are many pieces to them. Their re-emergence doesn’t mean we haven’t achieved any change yet, it means we’ve done ENOUGH work for new layers to show up.
This was really evident to me about 4 years ago when starting a new relationship.
I’d ended a very formative relationship 2 years before that.
I took 50% of the responsibility for it ending, and 100% responsibility for my own, ahem, behavior in the relationship. I decided I wanted to wait a bit before entering into a new one, to really have time to focus on myself, to re-assess what I wanted from that type of connection, and to work on some of my stuff that manifested when I was in a partnership.
And I did. I was single for two years, and really explored past relationships, and the plethora of gunk I had attached to them. It was a really useful time, and I felt like I achieved a lot of awareness and growth in that period.
Then I met a new someone I wanted to pursue a connection with. It was time for the rubber to meet the road.
I was stunned at what was triggered. It was shocking that the stuff I thought I’d worked out was rearing right back up! I remember feeling incredibly disappointed and frustrated.
After the initial disappointment cleared, I sat down to see how I was REALLY feeling. And yes, most of the stuff that was coming up was familiar, but it was also a little different. There was a different sense to it, or my understanding of it was larger, or I took more responsibility for it.
There had definitely been changing, I just didn’t recognize it at first glance due to that attitude of, “I thought I was done with this!”
2. Recognize change HAS occurred.
It might not be huge; it might not be initially obvious; if we’ve done some work, though, then change has occurred.
Take the time to appreciate the small shifts; in time they will develop into larger changes that we can more readily recognize and really appreciate.
3. Start recognizing all the areas in our lives that we “just want to be done” in.
This extends outside of our personal growth path. We can also recognize it in career, relationships, and any area that we set goals in. It can be very subtle, and a bit insidious.
We want to recognize the signs of “I want to be done with this!” because it can block us from progressing; if we hit upon it too many times, it can cause enough of a sense of defeat to knock us off our path, to blur our motivations.
It can also keep us from recognizing the progress and movement we have made. It’s easy to miss the small, significant, incremental changes when we’re feeling discouraged, and we sometimes feel discouraged when we don’t like where we’re at.
This attitude doesn’t support us. It’s fatiguing. It creates a feeling of failure. It tells us we should be somewhere we’re not, and tells us we’re not good enough.
It’s so vitally important for us to acknowledge and accept where we are at, and to remember that it really is the journey, not the destination.
Are there any re-emerging patterns that keep showing up in your life? Do you know why? You can share your insights by joining the conversation in the comment section below 🙂