I have found the below three qualities to be essential to my own growth and that touching on these have helped clients create a container for their own healing.
I could just as easily call this first one "Belief" or "Surrender". To heal, first we need to be open to it. We might need to acknowledge that the way we have been doing things is too painful to continue, is no longer working, and is not getting us the results that we are hoping for. “We cannot change a problem with the same consciousness used to create it*”. Often this comes at a time when we have reached a breaking point in the stress that we’ve accumulated, resisting, avoiding, or fighting, and we finally surrender. Surrender may come in a wave of grief or an awareness of deep exhaustion brought on by using so much energy, but there’s also relief. We see that we don’t need to fight or resist our lives. Surrender creates a space, an openness for new information and inspiration to come in. Sometimes we can do much of this work on our own by setting aside time for quiet reflection and allowing a deep turning inwards. At other times, we need the help of someone else, a good friend, a therapist or a specialist to help us uncover a different way of seeing and doing.
It’s important that we believe that change can happen. I’m not talking about magical thinking or manifesting something with our minds, but a grounded trust that if we do something differently, we will get a different result. Change is possible.
Creating something different takes effort. When we change our patterns, we act in different and more spacious ways then we have in the past. Change requires going against deeply engrained habits and conditioning. This is challenging because what is habitual is often underneath our awareness, unknown to us until we are able to see it. We don’t notice it because it’s the way we’ve always done it and we don’t yet have anything else to compare it to. To change our patterns requires commitment, patience, and effort as we acquire the skills to recognize our conditioning. Once we see it, we can choose to shift it, which paradoxically comes with being able to sit with it with kind attention.
Kindness is often the missing component when we are desiring change. Most often, we haven’t been kind to our self, especially that inner voice that no one hears but us. We might have mistakenly believed that effort means beating ourselves up, saying cruel things to ourselves in an effort to motivate. Or maybe we think we should know all the answers and so we stay isolated and stuck, or that we would be weak if we ask for help.
Kindness reminds us that we are human. To change and heal means we might have to bring attention to our past and the way it’s shaped our present, this takes compassion and kindness.
*This is one of my favourite quotes, it’s attributed to Albert Einstein but it’s likely that he didn’t actually say it. I still love it!