One relates to the stigma that still exists in society today regarding “having an issue which is translated by many to mean that “you have problems.” Personal growth is coming to grips with the realization that we all have skeletons in the closet that are getting in the way our our happiness and true potential. It is about surfacing these issues and working to change your beliefs and behaviors. Although topics associated with self-help and self-discovery are more prevalent today, they are still not mainstream topics. They are very personal in nature and better shared with those that are on similar paths of discovery. Public disclosure of one’s issues, although in effect what my book is all about, is not easy to do, nor a topic of interest for many. It may be met with appreciation due to your openess and actually prompt further conversation. However, the risk is that other’s judge or otherwise react in a non-supportive manner.
A second factor relates to the value that our society places on image vs. substance. It is the quest to look and appear “normal” in virtually every aspect of our life. It is most pronounced with respect to our appearance and how we should look. However, we are also judged on our acquainances, religious associations, material possessions, beliefs, etc. Personal growth is about setting our cultural conditioning aside as we ponder who and what we are. We become different by nature of our quest, and difference is often a basis for bias and judgement. So we may find that we keep our new thoughts to ourselves unless we are fortunate to find others who share similar views.
This was quite profound for me when I began my spiritual search, even though I did not label it as such. At that time the only words I used to describe what I was feeling was the perverbial “trying to understand the meaning of life.” As I shared new ideas, learnings and perspectives, I realized how threatening or uncomfortable this was with others who had subscribed to a specific belief and was quick to judge.
With each stage of my growth, the more alone I felt. The blessing for me was discovering the Visions of Tomorrow group, which is no longer active. It was made up of others like myself who were opening themselves to new ideas centered around understanding life and death. It was an awesome experience. However at the end of the conference or trip, the loneliness was even more evident since we were now miles apart.
The good news is that there are growing numbers who are pursuing similar searches and thoughts. The challenge is finding these others. One resource is the internet and the growing diversity of meet-up groups or support groups. I am finding periodicals or newsletters in bookstores or health food stores that often include articles and resources available locally.
There is another benefit to the feeling of being alone. In these situations we are confronted with ourselves which provides us with a rich opportunity to delve into more personal matters. Tools such as meditation and journaling are designed to get us more in touch with ourselves and can be practiced while on our own. Another benefit was learning how to become more comfortable with just myself. There is a saying, “when I am by myself, I am not alone.” Over time this meant more to me as I began to define a greater definition and purpose to life. The irony is that in today’s fast pace world, what I now seek and treasure are those alone moments, moments before that I struggled with.
If you are feeling alone, I suggest that you first realize that you are not the only one feeling this way. We all do at times, and particularly when we are experiencing significant struggles. Note that being alone at these times can lead to further depression or seeking some substance to rid yourself of these feelings. I know these feelings. What is most important is that you find a way to take care of yourself, and if that is not possible than to allow others to take care of you. Never consider reaching out for help as a weakness, instead it is a sign of strength. This includes calling 911 as well. We all need crutches at times.