October 27, 2009
For quite some time I’ve had a self righteous judgment that most people in our culture are way too shallow. I find myself regularly annoyed at what I consider to be a lack of depth around me – in the media, in politics, in business, in my industry, and even in my family and many of my personal relationships. As is often the case with most of our self righteous opinions, however, this judgment (as has become crystal clear to me recently) is really all about me and my own lack of depth, not about everyone else.
I’ve noticed that while I might “talk a good game” about going deep, I really have quite a bit of fear and resistance to it. Real depth often seems hard, scary, time consuming, challenging, messy, uncomfortable, embarrassing, intense, negative, painful, vulnerable, and more. It’s much easier for me to stay busy, keep things on the surface, and pretend to live my life with a real sense of depth, than it is for me to actually go deep myself.
I remember years ago when my counselor Chris said to me, “Mike, all of your power in life is trapped inside of your pain. In order to retrieve your power, you’re going to have to confront and heal your own pain. Everyone has pain; most people simply aren’t willing to deal with it or don’t know how to heal it.”
While the wisdom and truth of Chris’ words resonated with me back then, and even more so today, I find myself often avoiding my pain, covering it up, and pretending that “it’s no big deal.” Can you relate?
However, think of the power, freedom, and liberation we experience when we actually do go deep, get real, and address our own pain. While it’s usually scary and difficult at first, we’re almost always glad that we did. And, as I’ve been learning more and more these days, if we truly want to live a life of authenticity and fulfillment, we can’t run and hide from our pain – we have to face it. As some deep pain in my own life (and from my past) has been showing up lately, instead of judging it as “bad” (which is what I usually do), I’m choosing to see it as an opportunity to go deeper, to heal, and to grow (even though it doesn’t feel so good).
When we think about the most important aspects of our lives, and the most significant people around us, having a real sense of depth and truth is what most of us want. Living our lives, having relationships, and doing our work in a way that has real meaning and value to us won’t happen on the surface, it takes place at a very deep level.
While many of us crave an expanded level of depth and authenticity in our lives, work, and relationships – it’s not always easy for us to create. Our culture doesn’t often encourage depth, we each have our own versions of fear and resistance to it, and in some cases we simply aren’t willing or interested in going there or doing what it takes to keep things real.
However, most of the people I know and work with, including myself, long for enhanced strength and an empowering environment that encourages them to go deep.
Here are a few things you can do to expand your capacity for depth:
– Tell the Truth – Be honest about your own willingness, ability, or difficulty with going deep. It may be something you long for, but resist. You may avoid doing and saying things at certain levels. You may not be all that interested in going any deeper right now in your life. You may be totally comfortable with depth and simply looking for ways to go even deeper. Or, you may be some combination of these things or others. Whatever the case may be for you at this point in your life and evolution, as with many things – by telling the truth to yourself and others about where you are, you can start from an authentic place and begin to deepen your experience (if that is what you choose to do).
– Find People to Support You – Search out and attract people into you life who can help you deepen your journey. For many people, like me, going deep can be scary, vulnerable, and challenging. It often helps to have people around you who you trust and you know will hang in there with you. Whether it’s a coach, counselor, friend, mentor, family member, support group, spouse, or anyone else – we all need encouragement, feedback, witnessing, support, and even challenging and pushing to go deeper in our lives and with our growth. One of the biggest paradoxes of personal growth is that while it’s always about our own personal journey and evolution, so often we can’t do it as effectively or as deeply without the help of other people.
– Surrender – Let go and trust! Being able to surrender is an essential aspect of life, growth, and depth. Surrendering is a big one for me and is something I continue to both struggle with and learn about each and every day. When we try to control everything (and everyone) in our lives, we limit our ability to grow and our capacity for depth and authenticity. Trust, which is fundamental to this process, is a real leap of faith that is important for us to take as we expand our ability to go deep and live our lives the way we truly want. When we surrender to the journey, mystery, and magic of life – we allow ourselves to learn, grow, and deepen in new and exciting ways that we didn’t even realize were possible.
Going deep is not always the easiest thing for us to do in life, but it’s what most of us truly want at some level. When we’re willing to tell the truth, get support, and surrender to life in an empowering way – we tap into a place of deep authenticity and in so doing can liberate ourselves from struggle, suffering, and avoidance.
Where in your life and relationships can you go deeper? Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more below.