Personal Growth Is Not Linear

Progress is not linear, particularly when you are changing core beliefs.  Sometimes they are like walls we are hitting with a hammer.  We are working and sweating and it seems like nothing is changing.  Then, with the slightest tap, a whole section tumbles and possibility and space opens up in your life where there previously was none.

Personal growth and cultivating happiness is not linear.  It can often come in an epiphany in the most ordinary of moments.

The following is feedback from a course subscriber in Japan.

Dear Gary,

This time, I want to report about my recent progress in the process!  (Sorry, this one is very long!)

During last two weeks, I was keeping in my mind your words in your e-mail “Just practice enjoying your life” & “Pace yourself”, ’cause deep inside, I felt that they contained something very very important to me.  I wondered why I was always struggling with things, but I couldn’t find out how I was creating that state.  (For example, when I’m going to do the Toltec practices which I decided to do everyday, it often takes a long time before I actually start, ’cause I spend much time and energy in resisting, judging, feeling sick or somehow hurried, and worrying too much.  However, once started, it’s really fun for me to do them.)

One afternoon, I was making a long affirmation script for myself, for I wanted one for me.  After writing halfway, words stopped coming up and I felt a little bit tired.  Then, the judging mind started off, like “Complete it right now, otherwise you cannot do other activities planned!!”, “You lack self-control, effort and will!” and “You are failure who cannot do things properly!”, etc.  I felt totally sick, actually got pain in center of my chest, and thought “Why can’t I do things like others do?”, fully in the Victim-mode. Usually, I used to proceed to the next reaction stage, “Rebel-mode”, but this time, I remembered your talk on Session 11, and I asked myself “Who on earth is “Others”??”

Then, I remembered scenes from my childhood, where my parents were severely scolding me and accusing me of being slow, not doing things as they liked, unwilling to help them in their timing and being selfish… “You are stubborn, bad girl, You lack will power, patience and effort etc.”  They were the person who were proud of always being in time, being able to strictly follow their plans and complete things once they decided, no matter how hard time it takes.  And I remembered how sad and worthless I felt those days, almost like I was the worst child in the world who had no ability to do things properly, and then, I realized “I myself are saying completely the same things to myself now!?”  I went totally blank with my mouth wide open.

After a while, I decided to stop writing, went to the kitchen and made coffee, pondering about the matter.  I remembered various scenes from my school days, and saw the process of how I lost trust in myself almost completely.  I was a child who was very uncomfortable in structural settings like schedules or rules.  And here in Japan, according to my observation, it is very important for people to read and follow the “Air” in situations or groups, which seems to be made up with people’s beliefs and expectations on how one should behave in a particular situation.

If someone acts differently, the person usually get accused of being selfish, making waves and destroying the sense of “Harmony” in the group, and sometimes the person get excluded from the group’s sense of “Unity” or ” Circleness?” (This part is very difficult to translate into English!).

Anyway, It was very often that, when just having fun with friends (in most cases, with boys), I somehow succeeded to end up with breaking some rules or supposed atmosphere in situations unintentionally, got severe reprimand for being a bad, selfish child who ignores adult’s advises or being out of “Girls-Should-Behave-Like-This” lines.

I saw that, as I grew older, I got more and more afraid of behaving out of situation and doing “Wrong” things, and even developed the very strong, exaggerated beliefs like “If I enjoy myself, I become alone”, “There is something wrong with me and I cannot see that myself” or “I am the only person on the planet who don’t know how the world works.”  (By the way, I got the reason why I get so tense and tired when I travel abroad – I’m so afraid of being accused of behaving out of the social codes of the countries, which I don’t know!!)  I remembered, in my pre-teen years, how eagerly I made effort to get approved as a good girl, and when my classmates teased me that I was pretending to be good, how I felt like I was a hypocrite…(In those days, I was actually the favorite child of the teachers.)

And in my teenage years, at this time in turn, how I rebelled my teachers and parents in order not to lose friendship of my classmates, or stopped doing things which, in less controlling situations, I loved to do, to maintain my false sense of integrity, ….. , and afterwards when I was alone, how harshly I judged myself for being bad and incapable, and how terribly I worried about being alone in the classroom or not being loved by boys due to my “lack of Femininity”…..

After pondering and remembering like this about an hour, I noticed that I had a feeling like energy pulled, in my belly, towards back to the desk.  This feeling was totally new for me, and I decided to experiment with it.  So, I went back to my desk, sat and added several sentences to the affirmation script. Then, the words stopped coming again, I detached from it, and followed that impulse in my belly, and did next thing like taking care of my cat, then next, to next.  I fully enjoyed cooking dinner, eating and chatting with my husband, without worrying about not having enough time for myself.

After easily going back and forth between my desk and other places in my house, what I found at the end of the day was that, all the things I intended to do or needed to do were completed effortlessly, including my affirmation script!!  And, usually I have the sense of heaviness and tiredness by the end of days, but on that day, my body remained light!  I thought, “Wow, I can function like this!  I don’t need to know in advance how a day takes course.  It may be a very simple thing, “Just follow my natural flow of energy.”  And I didn’t know about this for all my life!!”

However, the next thing I did was missing the feeling of “Accomplishment”.  I recognized how I was addicted to my “I DID IT, in spite of all the obstacles on my way”-stories, and thought about how I attended to my Toltec practices.  Here in Japan, many people (including me!) loves the story concerning learning attitudes like this:  “To truly learn something, one must first be fitted into “Forms” or “Patterns” which have been cultivated by the ancestors for a long time.  And, a limited number of excellent people, who endured the long, hard process of struggling with the “Forms”, can finally grow out of them, achieving the person’s freedom and balance with his potential ability blossomed, as crystallization of his blood, sweat and tears on the way.”  (I think this attitude is frequently seen in areas of martial arts or traditional arts.)  And the attitude of enjoying the process of learning is often regarded as lack of seriousness, concentration or guts.

However, I noticed that it might also be possible for me to first embrace the ability inside me, and to stay relaxed and enjoy the process unfolding in its way, slowly and gradually into full blossom.  And, this one may be much more fun, easier and lighter!!

Even though I often fall back to my old habits and each time I must remind myself of new ways, realizing these things was a huge release for me.  I felt as if one of the thickest and tightest invisible chains around my chest split off into pieces, and actually I feel I’m now breathing easier and deeper than before.  (I have a slight symptom of asthma for recent few years.)  And, it became a bit easier to find out my limiting beliefs and agreements during days.

Thank you very much for your time reading this, and thanks again for your insight and help in your message and the Self Mastery Course. 

Sincerely, Y. F. in Japan

Note: The Recapitulation Series is a specific set of exercises for taking the energy out of past experiences that YF just described