April 18, 2017

When Personal Development becomes an Excuse.

I process my ass off.

Even writing this post feels a bit scary, because it’s putting everything out in the open. I won’t be able to hide it within myself and keep it as my little go-to secret.

It’s out there, exposed for everybody to see.

Simply put, processing is working through a combination of sensations, feelings, and thoughts to gain deeper clarity into myself. For example, I’ll spot a pattern. Then I will start wondering how that pattern creates a particular situation and how it plays out in other areas of my life.

I’ll also process my interactions with others. When someone says something, I’ll start analyzing their words. What did they mean? Was there something hiding beneath?

I consider myself to be a master at processing. I can process, process, and process a bit more.

Has it been beneficial? Yes, I would certainly say so.

Processing has helped me spot deep patterns and untangle myself from childhood abuse, healing me of so many deep scars.

My ability to process, go in depth, analyze, and continue processing has helped me get to the core of deep imbalances and issues within myself. It has helped me develop a deeper self-awareness of my body, my emotions, and my thoughts. It has also showed me a lot of interesting patterns in my relationships.

However, processing has also killed a lot of momentum and fun in my life and relationships. It sucked out all creativity and passion. The whole “processing-my-ass-off” thing has often left me feeling depleted, dry, and frustrated. I’ve felt like letting out a big, internal scream: “Arghhhh!”

You see, I longed for co-creativity in my relationships, yet when I was given the opportunity, I kept going back to creating processing time. I’d say things like, “Let’s talk about our imbalances and work on those,” or “Why did you say that? What did you really mean?” or “Let’s fix something, let’s process a bit.”

Round and round it would go. Things became incredibly heavy—and I had no fun in the processing process.

I was getting stuck with overly processing everything.

The truth is, processing is comfortable for me. It allows me to hide. I can criticize myself and those around me, while really just staying stuck. I can spin and grab my own tail and play the powerless card.

The irony of over-processing is that it creates more problems. We end up digging a deeper and deeper hole.

I ultimately realized that personal development and healing had become a sleeping pill for me. I used it to distract myself from my true purpose. I was not focusing on getting my talents and creativity to blossom, nor was I walking my unique path and living with intention. Instead, I was digging a hole for myself and my relationships by focusing on all the small, petty details that went wrong.

It was painful. I felt extremely stuck, and I often experienced overwhelming sadness and resentment toward myself and others.

My path forward and out of that “processing-my-ass-off” mode involved being really honest with myself. As I sat down and breathed deeply, I realized that I was unconsciously committed to spinning in circles—dealing with issues, then processing, dealing with issues, then processing, and so on. This gave me a sense of accomplishment that I was getting somewhere, even though in reality, I wasn’t moving at all.

More importantly, it kept me distracted from feeling how scared I was when it came to interacting and being full-on engaged in the world.

One honest realization led to the next, and I began to see that I had been ignoring my deepest wants and talents. Because I wasn’t acknowledging them, I wasn’t expressing them either, which made me unable to build a successful life with them.

I began asking myself questions like:

What do I really want out of my life?

How am I going to focus my life-force energy? 

What are my unique wants, pleasures, and talents?

What I am avoiding facing or admitting?

What do I want to create?

How do I want to contribute to others?

Am I willing to commit to expressing myself and my deepest creativity?

As I answered these questions from a deep place within myself, I naturally came up with ideas for how to move on from the healing phase of processing into the expression phase of action.

It was a scary and liberating experience.

One part of me felt high, strong, and alive again. Another felt scared and shaky. I embraced both parts and kept going, one step at a time.

I started by taking leadership over my wants and desires on a daily basis. I made sure that I filled myself up, that I nurtured myself.

Next, I focused on getting out into the world—interacting with others and experiencing their lives, challenges, and perspectives. This helped me broaden my horizons and get out of my own spin. The more I interacted, the more I started feeling and seeing my own value.

I then began focusing on how I could best contribute and serve others with my natural talents and passions. I started teaching classes again, taking in new clients, inviting friends over, shooting videos, writing more blog posts and newsletters that shared my perspective, and attending events.

It wasn’t always easy to go out into the world and reveal myself, but it sure paid off. The inner peace and joy that came with it is indescribable.

I learned that as long as I was leading with my strengths and focusing on sharing my strongest talents, I felt confident and safe. If I tried to be someone I wasn’t or to do something I wasn’t passionate about— often in an attempt to prove something—I would feel insecure and scared. In these moments, I noticed my urge to hide, process, and withdraw from being fully present.

What sprung forth from all of these experiences was a deeper sense of self. I experienced my sensations and feelings more authentically, I discovered my expression on a deeper level, and started taking leadership for my desires and my creativity. I experienced a deeper zest for life and a pleasurable thirst to flow with it.

As I moved from “processing and healing” into “expression and contribution,” my personal sense of purpose unfolded. I feel passionate about my life, my business, my friends, and my family. My dancing has improved. I feel more grounded within myself and in the world. I know where I’m going and why.

None of these realizations had come to me during my processing-healing phase, no matter how hard I tried.

Now, I laugh more, I interact, I love, I open up like a blooming flower. I feel that the world has become a playground. I experience and gain wisdom. I integrate. I’ve updated my self-image and as a result, I sense my own value. I co-create in my relationships.

I feel more creative, spontaneous, and alive.

That said, it’s not that I don’t have ups and downs—I do. But now there is an underlying happiness even when times are hard because I have come into greater self-awareness by allowing myself to live.

I still process, but I do so deliberately. I make sure to bring the clarity I gain from processing into my reality, so I actually get to harvest the fruits of it and experience real transformation.

In hindsight, I’ve learned that processing can quickly develop an ungrounded reality, as most processing happens through examining emotions and thoughts. What I mean is that we’ll see deep patterns, we’ll come to understand the dynamics behind them (or at least think we understand), and we’ll feel like we are moving and changing and growing.

Yet, in reality, we’ve only discovered some things about ourselves or our relationships. We aren’t really transforming, because transformation requires action.

It is still great to bring consciousness to the unconscious, yet true transformation doesn’t happen until we actually do something different in our bodies and everyday life, in our physical reality.

Do we know what we want in our lives?

Are we owning our wants and desires?

Do we feel like we are leading our lives? 

Are we expressing ourselves in pleasurable ways?

If you are looking to transform an area of your life, or to experience an even bigger breakthrough, I invite you to dive within yourself and take an honest inventory. Let yourself be inspired by all the questions above, and go as deep into your core as you can. Ask for help or support if you can’t hear the essence of your own voice clearly.

It’s right within you, waiting to be heard.



Author: Nomi Correli
Image: Author’s own, New 1lluminiati/Flickr
Editor: Callie Rushton

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