Life is a journey. We all have different starting points. Some of us make it all the way to the “end,” but most of us fall short and give up along the way. The following are the 8 steps necessary to get from who you were to who you can be. Enjoy.
You’re a born into certain circumstances.
No one has a choice where and when they were born. We cannot choose our family members or our first neighbors. Some of us are born into extreme wealth and others poverty, while others experience an abundance of love, while others are neglected. These things are chosen for us and tend to shape our adolescent life.
Please notice that I did not use the words fortunate or unfortunate. All outside stimuli are innately neutral. Our reaction creates the negative or positive experience. For example, growing up with wealth and loving parents could lead to a sheltered mundane existence. This person could grow up unmotivated and unable to find joy in anything because they have access to everything. Popular gossip sites like TMZ exist to public shame these individuals. Conversely, a person who grew up in an abusive home and “third world country poor” may have developed a keen appreciation for the fragility of life. This person could be extraordinarily motivated to succeed and to see that others succeed due to his interpretation of past experiences.
You figure out what you’ve been taught to believe doesn’t “feel” right.
In the early stages of your maturity, you go with what you know. For better or worse you follow what you’ve been told and observed as a child. The film Malcolm X portrayed this stage perfectly. When he first was born again as a Muslim, he begin all of his sentences with, “The Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us.” We all have our own influencers – mentor, parent, peer; or what we see on television, hear in music or witness in our environment.
Eventually as we experience more things in life, our opinions and deeply held beliefs begin to fall apart. Depending on your personality this may be the end of your growth. Some people find comfort in the known and refuse to experience life for themselves. The rest of us are tormented by the constant feeling of “this ain’t me.”
You rebel and do the polar opposite.
I like to think of the ex-thug/prostitute turned born-again Christian or same goes for the sheltered urbanite who leaves the big city to live among the native peoples in some far off jungle. This person wants out of their former lifestyle and away from their former friends. He completely immerses himself and his thoughts into this new way of living. In this stage, you are looking for an escape and “as far as possible” still isn’t far enough. Some people find their escape through studying abroad, psychedelic drugs, risky behavior, or avoiding any and all risks whatsoever. The manifestation of the escape depends on who they are and what they’re running away from.
You find that doesn’t work either.
In this step, you learn to see growth as a massive pyramid. If you are on the side of the pyramid that gives you a great view of sunrises, you will envy those with great views of sunsets and vice versa. However, you will eventually learn that you are missing something regardless of which side you are on. This realization is followed by the understanding that your journey to the other side of the pyramid did not help you to climb it. In other words, personal growth does not happen just because you change your environment. You need to elevate yourself through acquiring knowledge and understanding in order to experience growth.
You seek knowledge from the wise.
Once again you feel lost and alone. Possibly even more lost and alone than previously. You know what doesn’t work and are in search of what does. You seek out a guru, a person that seems to have all the answers. If the guru is a person he/she is usually older – since most of us equate age with wisdom. However, the guru could be a book, an activity, or anything that you find motivational. This person, place or thing opens your mind to a better understanding of your place and purpose in life. The guru makes you feel like you are on the path to enlightenment; to joy; to peace. You follow your guru blindly and faithfully.
All is not what it seems.
Your past realizations lead you to this new one. Eventually you realize that you have once again become stagnant in your growth. Although you may have progressed in you worldliness and overall understanding you have once again regressed to the “The Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us” mindset. You are now smart enough to know not to run away and rebel from your teaching so you do the logical and rational thing…
You piece it all together.
You are a combination of your past experiences. You have learned lessons and experienced pain, joy, trials, and triumphs. Every experience has a certain sense of context that you couldn’t see before. You have learned to be indifferent and distant from the extremes. However, this new found emotional intelligence has left you feeling apathetic and disconnected. You see the world as if you are behind a glass… you can’t touch it and it cannot touch you. You feel like you are too neutral.
You find your own truth.
In the final stage of becoming you, you stop looking outward for guidance and understanding. Instead, you begin to truly trust your instincts. You find the good in yourself and are able to sense the good within others. Your apathy is replaced with empathy for all things. You no longer have opinions and beliefs. You simply listen and understand. Life becomes your guru and compassion your guide. Your connection to the abundance of the universe is absolute. You are your true self.