When you need to change yourself, you must face yourself – your inner demons and the brutal reality of your Life.
There’s a beautiful parable I remember reading in Daniel Gottlieb’s ‘Letters to Sam’. Once a man came back home late in the night to find that he had been locked out of his house. His neighbour saw him searching for the key under the streetlight and he too joined the search. Soon several other neighbors joined in the search wanting to help their distressed neighbor. After a while, one of them asked the man where he had last seen the key he was searching for. “Near the front door,” replied the man. The neighbor was puzzled. “Then why are you looking for it down here by the streetlight,” he asked. “Because the light is better here,” came the reply! Gottlieb shares the moral of this parable saying that when we are looking for answers in Life, we intuitively go where the light is better. Because it is convenient to search! But sometimes, says Gottlieb, for real transformation to happen, we must go where it is dark!
To be sure, no one likes to face the truth. The truth always is uncomfortable. Even thinking about it leads to a gnawing feeling arising within, doesn’t it?
Almost a decade ago I had a tobacco habit. For years since my early adulthood I had been chewing tobacco. I tried to give it up many times in those years. But every time I attempted, my resolve would break in few weeks because my mind would insist that I needed that habit, that crutch, to help me deal with the stressful Life I kept. So, I would capitulate and allow the habit to take over. But soon I would start feeling guilty – and depressed – with my inability to quit. Then one day, my doctor told me, that with the way my medical reports were reading, I would not live to be 40! I was 36 then. He held a mirror to me. And for the first time I faced my fear of my death. It was a very scary and, at the same time, awakening moment. I must confess that every time I popped tobacco into my mouth, I would always think of cancer and death. But I would brush aside the thought telling myself that since death was inevitable I would face it whenever it came. Besides, I vainly kidded myself that the habit helped me relax – when in reality it actually made me feel guilty and fearful, every single time that I chewed. But that moment in the doctor’s clinic was different. I clearly understood the import of what he was saying. I knew that if I continued this way, I was sure to die in the next few years, maybe as the doctor had estimated, by the time I was 40! I quit chewing that instant. I did not even heed my mind urging me to pop one last sachet of tobacco as I left the clinic and got into my car to drive back home. I simply quit. Period. When I look back now, I feel that it had been possible to quit – and abstain ever since – only because I had faced what I feared most – the reality about where I was headed with my habit and my lifestyle.
Interestingly, all of us know what’s right for us. We know the futility and the ruinous nature of some of the choices we have made and continue to make. It is our inability to face our realities that keeps us running down the path of escapism. The more we run, the more we live haunted lives. The more we run away from the truth the more we struggle to change, to transform.
It is only when you stop, turn back, and face your inner demons that you will truly transform. When you allow the truth about yourself to hit you, you will wake up to be the change that you wish to see in you – and in your world.