2016. I spend most of the year traveling, I went on insane trips and adventures, I met incredible people, but I also faced myself big time. Meaning: I was confronted with my fears, my insecurities… the shadow-side of me that I was ignoring. I didn’t want to see it, I didn’t want to face it, I didn’t want to FEEL it. Even though I had traveled so much in my life already, I never faced myself like I did in 2016.
The shadow side. We all have one. The side of us we often refuse to see, because it is to painful. It’s the side of ourselves that is afraid, wounded and ‘imperfect’. The part that we don’t like about ourselves and therefore we often pretend we don’t have a shadow side or we hide it. Why? Because we think it is something bad.
I pretended not to have a shadow side, because I did label it as something bad and therefore I tried to make myself ‘good’. I tried to be perfect and to do everything perfectly. Feeling bad or sad? Not for me, because I am not suppose to feel bad or sad. When I did feel it, I was beating myself up, forced myself to think positive thoughts and ignored the cause of the bad/sad feeling. I wanted everything to be all well and good and on the surface it was. As long as I kept on thinking positive thoughts and kept on moving away from everything that didn’t feel good, I was in heaven.
Now I know that I used my bubble of positive thinking to IGNORE and hide my fears and insecurities and to escape from the world we live in. The believe that I only should feel good and happy all the time. Moving away from everything and everyone that caused negative feelings and discomfort. Moving away from myself. I focused on what I wanted to see in myself and the world, only the positive and pretty side! Ignoring everything else. I did a pretty good job on that, but deep inside I didn’t feel okay with myself. I had detached myself from everything that kept me limited physically, the freedom to go and do whatever I feel like going or doing, but I felt somewhat a prisoner emotionally.
I was in an inner battle, tried to be perfect and to have it all figured out. Afraid to make mistakes, to fail, to be rejected. Afraid to be myself with all my flaws and perfect imperfections. Afraid to have negative emotions and therefore the negative feelings kept on coming up and seemed to grow stronger. I couldn’t get away with positive thinking anymore. I felt insecure, took peoples opinions often as an insult and I felt the need to defend or explain myself, to make myself ‘right’. I fooled myself, the cause of feeling unworthy, insecure and not good enough.
I traveled for a while together with a friend, who I had met before in Hawaii. We went on some extreme and crazy outdoor adventures in California and Arizona. I had the most wonderful time and the most painful time. He was the perfect mirror. I was confronted with ME again and now I couldn’t hide anymore. He learned me to be true to myself, to no longer run away from everything uncomfortable and to look myself, my fears, in the eyes. A complete breakdown followed. There wasn’t much left of the person I thought I was. He trained me in Martial Arts for 2 months (Fighting arts for self-defense, mental and spiritual development). Inner wounds, pain, fears, insecurities and all I was ignoring or wasn’t aware of; it came all to the surface. I felt ashamed, miserable, sad, angry and mad. The 2 toughest and intense months of my life. The paradox is, that I also never had so much fun as I had those months and I never felt so relieved. I wanted to run away almost everyday, but I realized I would run away from myself again, away from my true freedom. To be free, I had to conquer myself.
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek”
– Joseph Campbell
I had to learn to embrace all of myself, to let go of a fake image and everything that I was trying to be/hide/ignore, so I can be my authentic self, just as I am. I had to learn that negative emotion isn’t something to hide from.
The yin and yang. The black and white. The light and dark. Freedom is embracing yourself fully. Even though there is a difference. It doesn’t mean that one is good or bad, right or wrong. WE only make it so, by judging it.
There is nowhere to go to be perfect, because it is right here, in the moment you embrace ALL of yourself. The perfect and the ‘imperfect’. The contrast makes life exciting! How boring would life be without scary moments, without the nervous feeling of doing something new and without making ‘mistakes’. It’s actually necessary for learning, growing and expanding. We wouldn’t even know what it feels like to be happy, if we wouldn’t know what if feels like to be sad or afraid.
I can write a whole book about the time I spend with this weird dude and about all the crazy things we experience together. It’s even worth a movie. J, I am grateful for this time with you and the many lessons we learned, and I am still amazed by your intensity.
“Like any art, Martial Arts is ultimately self knowledge. A punch or kick is not to knock the hell out of the guy in front of you, but to knock the hell out of your ego, your fear, or your hang-ups. Once that is clear, then you can express yourself clearly”
— Bruce Lee