We built our boxes to avoid one thing, and we must change our relationship with that one thing if we want to free ourselves. What is that one thing?
The one thing we seek to avoid
It’s discomfort. How do I avoid discomfort? I numb myself and distract myself . . . this is the epidemic of our times. We seek ways to avoid what feels uncomfortable.
Some people find intimacy uncomfortable. For others it’s conflict. Some people find loneliness unbearable. Some people can endure physical abuse, but not emotional vulnerability.
Whatever caused us discomfort when we were young, we began constructing our boxes, building walls to protect ourselves so that we could avoid certain experiences and feelings. But in doing this we walled off parts of ourselves and now we pay the price.
To read the full story click here. In this short version of the article I am suggesting we are hindering and limiting ourselves when we try to avoid unacknowledged feelings from childhood, saying the things we know we need to say, and avoiding asking for the things we want.
The price we pay
For me, living in my box, the price I paid was pain in my body and physical exhaustion. This was the result of not allowing myself to feel my own sadness. I hardly ever cried. I needed to stay in control, avoid certain feelings and intellectualize my emotions. This caused unnecessary stress in my life, which had additional consequences. I built a box that made me feel safe when I was young, but as a mature man that same box was the cause of my suffering.
The way out was for me to stop doing the things I’d been doing to avoid discomfort. Stop doing the things I’d been doing to numb myself or distract myself.
So instead of avoiding my discomfort, now I go into it so that I can connect more deeply with myself. To do this requires two things.
- First, I proceed with absolutely no judgment whatsoever.
- Second, I proceed with no agenda to fix or resolve what I find.
My purpose is solely to witness my own discomfort, to listen to myself more deeply and lovingly than ever before.
When I deeply listen to myself I hear things that I previously ignored—because I built my box to keep these things out. I hear my deeper truths. And when I hear—or speak—my truths, transformation occurs. Healing takes place. I outgrow my box.
Truth spoken with love always heals
You may be wondering what kind of things you will hear if you create the space in which to listen to yourself. This will vary from person to person. But I have noticed three patterns.
- People recognize things that they need to say, but haven’t said.
- People recognize things that they want to ask for, but haven’t asked for.
- People hear things from the younger parts of themselves that they previously ignored.
The solutions are to say what I need to say, ask for what I want, and acknowledge the younger parts of myself that I have previously ignored. I go into more detail about how to do this in the full length article. The point that I want to make here is that the ways we used to make ourselves feel safe may now be the very ways we limit ourselves.
We are no longer the child who constructed the box. But some part of us remains at the level of consciousness we had when we were that child. If we take the time to recognize, listen to, and value these parts of ourselves we will no longer need to stay in our boxes.