When Shit Gets Hard

There’s a big misconception out there about awareness.

We know that on the journey towards positive change, awareness is the first step. Which makes sense; you can’t deal with something unless you know that it’s there. So awareness is the first step. You’re on your journey. You’re moving closer to being who you want to be.

But the misconception about awareness is that it will make things easier. “I can see clearly now, the rain has gone,” right? The problem with this, is that awareness is actually one of the hardest things in the world.

No one tells you how hard it is to become aware of yourself in a whole new way, at least in my experience. The message I was always given about self-improvement, growth, and change was that awareness is the first point on an “up and to the right” line graph.

So then why does awareness brings such turmoil?

Imagine for a moment, that you live in a dark house. You’ve lived your whole life in this darkness, and it’s all you’ve ever known. You wonder why you’re always stubbing your toes and running into walls, but since it’s all you’ve ever known it’s normal. It’s your version of normal.

And then imagine that, one day, you realize that you can open all of the curtains, and the light from the windows illuminates your house, only to reveal that your house is a total wreck. There’s stuff all over the floors. There are walls in places you didn’t know about. The sink is full of dishes. Nothing has been cleaned and nothing is in its place. You don’t even know how things are supposed to be, you just know that something desperately needs to change.

 Can you imagine the sensory overload that would come from this? What was once your safe space has now been exposed as a harmful place. Can you imagine how overwhelming, even emotional this would be?

This is awareness. That bright light illuminating the dark places you didn’t even realize were dark. And that light, at first, is really harsh.

In those moments, it can be really enticing to just go back to the dark house; to live in a place of ignorance, unaware of what lies behind the curtain. However I think that time of intense, overwhelming awareness is a necessary and vital part of transformation, because in those times you must learn how to navigate through the stuff that lies in front of you.

But even though it’s the necessary beginning of a beautiful journey, it’s still so, so hard.

That being said, I’m learning to take the hard times as a sign. I can look back on my past and see that the times that I was becoming more aware of myself and my surroundings turned out to be the most pivotal, beautiful moments of my life. So now, I know that when shit gets hard, shit’s about to get beautiful.

What I wish for all of us, is that we stop with the notion that “beautiful” and “good” are synonymous with “easy” and “painless”. Some of the most wonderful and necessary parts of life can be the most brutal.  As for me, I’d rather live a life of awareness. I’ll take those moments of harsh light rushing into my dark house. I’ll take those moments of panic when I don’t know how to deal with the mess in front of me, because I know that those moments are teaching me to move more skillfully through my life. 

If your growing awareness becomes so overwhelmingly hard, take it as a sign. It's a sign that you've got some learning to do; some growing to do. But that knowledge and growth are leading you closer to your most authentic self.