The Pain of Going Back

Sometimes as you grow and change, you have these moments where you shift back into your former self.

  • Maybe you go home and get into the same fight you’ve been having with our father for the last 20 years.
  • Maybe you find yourself at an event with people you don’t know that well and all of a sudden feel awkward and isolated all over again.
  • Or maybe you take on a task that’s hard and you’re suddenly spun by your old fears of failure and embarrassment.

These kinds of experiences can make you question your growth and doubt that you’ve really changed. But that’s simply not the case. In fact, what I’ve found is that these flashback moments are one of the most powerful indications of deep growth you will ever experience.

Let me explain:

The Analogy of Small Shoes

Let’s think of your capacity for awareness and growth like a pair of feet.

Back when you started your business or professional life, your instincts were weak and soft, kind of like a baby’s feet. As you learned to stand, your bones got stronger and your muscles developed. As you made mistakes and dealt with challenges your calluses grew to protect you and strengthen the places that were weak.

Before long, you were able to walk around on a pair of fully developed feet, with strong bones and muscles. And, of course, you wore shoes that matched these feet.

Then something happened. You found yourself back in a former part of your life. You noticed yourself walking and acting like you did long ago when your feet were small and soft, all while wearing shoes ten sizes too small.

Just imagine how that might feel, shoving your big grown feet into tiny shoes, the discomfort, the restriction, and the pain that would cause. What is that discomfort really telling you? Does it mean your feet are weak? Or that you don’t know how to walk? No, it means that these shoes don’t belong to you anymore.

This is what it’s like to step back into your old patterns or beliefs after you’ve grown out of them. It hurts because you’ve moved beyond this place and trying to walk in your old shoes hurts like hell. It’s easy to imagine this means you suck in some way, but in reality, this is telling you that you’re stronger than you realize and you’ve grown more than you thought you had.

So the next time you feel yourself slip into these old ways of being and it hurts, don’t make it a problem. Don’t turn it into some story about how everything is hopeless. Instead, see it for what it is: a beautiful indication of how you’ve grown and a testament to how you’ll never go back to the way things were before.tweet this

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