“All meaningful and lasting change starts on the inside and works its way out.” ~Anon
My life has been a journey of self-discovery—at times a very bumpy journey. I spent most of my life feeling angry with people and hurt because the way they treated me.
People would not always do what I expected of them, and this disappointed me. I used fear to get them to comply with my demands.
One day, my baby girl looked at me and said, “Dad, you don’t have to shout at me to make me love you.” My heart nearly exploded, and it was then I knew my life had to change.
One morning while driving to work I found myself sobbing and just felt so deeply sad. I couldn’t figure out why I felt this way; I just did. Then I realized I was fighting the world and pushing people away.
I was a terrible husband, friend, and family man. I was only concerned about myself, and I thought my life was a mess because of other people.
I started looking within at the role I was playing in my relationships and discovered some fundamental truths.
I was a blamer and never took responsibility. This was my end and my new beginning.
My life and my relationships needed to change. And I realized I had to make these changes. I needed to start taking responsibility for myself and my behaviors and I needed to stop trying to force others to change.
I needed to love and accept myself. I had spent a great deal of my life pushing people away because I did not love myself. I discovered that I would only allow people to love me to the extent that I loved myself.
I knew I had to be vulnerable and open to help or I would not grow or get out of this sad life I had created for myself.
The “how” and “when” were critical, because I had spent ten years avoiding therapy. I knew I had serious childhood issues to deal with, and it was much less painful to just avoid them.
Who I was at that moment was a result of everything I had experienced. I discovered that I was using this as my tool to blame others. One of my favorite sayings was “Well, that’s just who I am.”
Who I became was up to me and was defined by the choices I made in each and every moment. I could change. I eventually took the dive and engaged with a therapist.
I started talking about all my childhood issues; the sexual, physical, and emotional abuse I suffered. I came to understand that I had been neglected as a child and suffered from abandonment. The more I spoke and listened, the more I realized this seemed insurmountable.
I needed to share with others. I remember how my wife sat crying when I told her. My best friend was so angry for me. I knew how loved I was and that I had been preventing these people from loving me deeply.
I confronted my mother and father and wanted to know why. I walked away with more questions than answers. But I knew making them wrong would not help me.
I needed to forgive them and myself if I wanted to move forward. I told myself they were doing the best they could with what they knew at the time.
I have dealt and always will deal with my past. It has shaped me into who I am. I now needed to create my future by changing how I showed up in relationships.
I started listening to spiritual audio. I listened to Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Louise Hay, and others like them. I listened to their podcasts again and again. I listened for the one gem I could incorporate into my life. This was an important part of my journey.
I openly spoke about my past with my close friends and my wife. I shared, I cried, and I grew.
I opened up and allowed myself to feel. I challenged my beliefs that held me trapped in “the way it is.” It was a very freeing experience.
I remember my mom saying “cowboys don’t cry,” and this stopped me from expressing my emotions. I finally allowed myself to feel and cry, and I was not ashamed of it. My heart was capable of so much love, but it needed to let go of so much hurt.
Today I am a much happier person. I have reached a place where I can say, “I love you, Stephen,” and I believe it. This has allowed me to connect with other people and let them into my heart. I feel free in my life and am not limited by my past.
My journey to discovering my beauty inside allowed me to love myself. I removed and am still removing the self-imposed barriers that allow my beautiful light to shine. I changed myself and no longer have the drive to change others.
If we can all just realize that we are responsible for our lives and that we are capable of creating such amazing relationships that give our lives meaning, then we won’t have to accept the mediocrity we have been living.
We have the power to change our lives; we do not have the power to change others.
When we take this approach, our world is better for it.
“Never over-estimate your power to change others, because you can’t. Never under-estimate your power to change yourself, because you can.” ~Wayne Dyer
Photo by vinni123