The Gold Lies Within Me
As an introvert, I face many challenges. I am shy, I am quiet, reserved, and I often close myself off. At social engagements, I often find myself on the outside looking in, meaning I observe more than I participate. Taking steps to put myself in an unfamiliar environment can be difficult for me especially in a room full of strangers. Encouraging myself to learn and to try new things often provokes anxiety and self-doubt among other various emotions.
I work very hard to not allow my introversion to control of my life. On a daily basis, I challenge myself to take an uncomfortable step into the unknown and face my fears.
With each new step I take, I make a new discovery about myself.
I cherish the little nuggets of gold that have appeared on this journey. This gold that I find are pieces of myself that have been tucked away hidden deep inside me, they are the Real Me.
In order to find these parts of me, I have had to learn to trust my intuition and listen to the deep subconscious voice that I have habitually ignored for years. This process is often unnerving and often causes my anxiety to spike. My initial response is the classical threat response of Fight, Flight, Freeze. Not being much of a fighter, I often choose to fly or freezing.
Contrary to what I’ve always thought about the pain and wounds of my past, what I have found over the years is that the golden nuggets I’m searching for lie within and under the very wounds I have been trying to ignore my whole life.
The 13th-Century Persian poet and Islamic Scholar, Rumi, is attributed with having said, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
The more I dig into my wounds and trauma, the more I understand what he meant. Running away from the wounds only allows them to control me and hold me down. The wounds stop me from being Me and hold me back from my true potential.
“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.”
― Sigmund Freud
I belong to a men’s support organization called The Mankind Project (aka MKP). They are an organization that encourages men to be accountable for their actions. MKP supports men in their ability to contribute to the world in a healthy, mature way and encourages them to live with integrity.
When I participated in their weekend-long New Warrior Training Adventure back in 2008, that was the beginning of my awakening and my journey into finding out who I am and what I want in my life. Since then I have grown and become a better, more well-rounded individual.
After that weekend, I began to regularly meet with a group of men in my area who had also gone through the weekend. At these meetings, we try to look at our emotions and try to find out what they are telling us about situations in our lives. We look at our shadows which are those parts of us that we hide, deny, repress or project onto other people.
Shadows have a way of making us behave in ways that we would rather not act but we can’t seem to help it and we don’t know why.
Like blowing off a friend who you promised to meet with for coffee or making snap judgments about people or not completing a project for a client on time. We come up with all kinds of excuses not to do these things, i.e. I’ll do it later, there’s time still, maybe tomorrow. There are a lot of different ways that the suppressed parts of ourselves come out in unintended ways.
Sometimes we see our shadows reflected in other people. They show up in other peoples’ habits and actions that we often find make us feel uncomfortable or angry or anxious.
When we see these things that are within us, come out in other people, we are seeing our own shadows projected upon them. It’s always easier to look at these people with anger, dislike or even hatred when we see ourselves reflected in them and it’s always easier to blame all our troubles on them instead of ourselves. In MKP we say, if you spot it you got it.
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
~Bene Gesserit Litany, Dune
I don’t mind being an introvert. I like being at home where I know I can be myself and recharge my batteries when necessary. I can lay low and recover from a difficult day and most of all it’s my safe space to reflect on who I am and what I want next in my life.
But, instead of fearing my past traumas and wounds and trying to get away from them by using my introversion as an excuse, I have found that facing them has helped me understand myself and why I am the way I am.
It has also helped me move forward in my goal of being the best Me I can be. I have learned that I may be an introvert but I don’t have to be afraid of the world outside or fear trying new things.
Moving toward the discomfort is how we learn and grow. I know, for myself, getting outside my comfort zone and facing my fears is how I let the light in and become a brighter more whole person in the process.