There are a lot things nobody tells you when you're on the spiritual path. You just have to learn them for yourself. Tonight's post is an oldie (but a goodie) about one of those things.
One of my many book ideas, and the one closest to be submitted to a publisher, is called "10 Things The Spiritual Gurus Never Tell You". One of those things is that, for those who are really pushing themselves to grow, it can be a lonely and painful process.
If you're like me, when you first started exploring your spiritual beliefs or personal growth, you were like a doe-eyed kid, thinking you'd be walking a rainbow path filled with unicorns to a place where happiness is more abundant than sunlight. I've been actively pursuing and observing the spiritual and personal paths of growth most of my life now and I can confidently say nobody's happy all the time. I think you become more in balance. You learn to surround yourself with things that fuel you and lift you higher. But no matter how much you stack the deck in your favor, life happens. Things suck. Balance is lost.
Balance is lost, in fact, every time you grow. And you're always growing. You move from one level to the next and you have to find a new balance in the new place.
For the most part, growth is slow and steady. It's manageable. But there are times you might find yourself taking a quantum leap. Let's take complaining as an example. Say the friends you're with right now get together every Friday for drinks and to complain about issues at work and in your life. And let's say this is no longer OK with you. Maybe you tell people you want to focus on more positive things, but they say they're not being negative...they're just shooting off some steam. So you no longer look forward to your Friday night drinks. And one day you don't go. And you decide not to go again. And since the reason everyone gets together on Fridays is because everyone is so busy otherwise, it's not easy to get together with people individually. So you don't see these people that much anymore. And you miss the camaraderie. And you figure they're probably griping about YOU now.
On the one hand, you're feeling the benefits of not having all that negative energy in your life anymore. You're feeling lighter...more "at one" with the universe. You're feeling better about who you are. But you're not part of "the gang" anymore. And meeting a new gang is going slowly. And you feel lonely, even depressed.
One of the things nobody ever tells you is that, if you're really consciously trying to improve yourself, you'll lose a lot of friends. And meet new ones, yes. But in between, it's lonely. And when you draw a line in the sand in your life that says "no more complaining" or whatever, it's hard. Because the part of you that liked to get that stuff off your chest still wants it. You want that part to fade away, though, because it makes you feel bad about your life. And it will fade away. But in between, it's hard. And the whole tamale can be painful as you move from one place to another and try to find your footing.
You know you've done the right thing and LIKE you've done the right thing, but it doesn't always feel good. You miss the comfort and familiarity of the old way and you went and leaped into a new way that isn't quite comfortable yet. Isn't quite familiar. You're like a man without a country for a while until you make this new thing your home. And it will be your home. And you will never look back in regret. But where are the rainbows? Where are the unicorns?
I think if we knew how hard and lonely it can be, we might never push ourselves to grow. Maybe that's why this is something we have to learn for ourselves. Certainly it would be easier in many ways to just quietly conform to the conditions around us...not ruffle any feathers. I mean, some people just never seem to change much and they're good with that. But we're not really that type, are we?
I'm not sure there's a moral to today's entry. Just something they never tell you that you have to learn for yourself. If you're feeling left out and a little lost because you've outgrown friends or situations, it's normal. The same kind of situation happens when maybe you quit drinking. Or you get divorced. With everything gained along the spiritual and/or personal path of growth, something is lost...a piece of who you were is left behind. Trying to stay that person, though, is more painful than the temporary pain of change for people who have committed their lives to a path of growth. So it can hurt. And be sad. But the place you've just moved into is a place of greater freedom and firmer balance than the place before. It's just an adjustment before the benefits roll and everything else becomes a distant memory.