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Real change is hard, painful, slow and gradual

4 November 2021

Many of us think we do want to change, but actually undergoing the painful process of changing is something we’re very afraid of and resist, despite our best intentions.

It is not for the faint hearted, which is why most people skim the surface and remain essentially the same. A lot of people also think that attending workshops and further training programmes is sufficient and lets them happily tick the box of “personal development”, without actually enduring the suffering necessary to let of the old ways and literally change from within.

However, real change involves often an excruciating cyclical process on an ongoing basis of a type of ‘dying’ or in shamanic terms a ‘dismemberment’, and then coming out of that and into the rebirth process, with all the pain that also involves. The word and notion of Rebirth sounds wonderful but again, it’s actually very hard and very painful. A lot of the time the new “us” simply falls back into the old; the new thing isn’t fully birthed and we revert to type.

As Jung said: “… there is no coming to consciousness without pain.”

The path of healing and change involves a spiralling motion, where we revisit again and again the same issues, patterns, wounds and inner obstacles to growth. If we are really excavating the layers of our psyche and soma then each revisit should take us deeper, down into a darker and more alien place within. And doing that brings up great anxiety and resistance.

Most flee these encounters with the deep self. It is a very scary place, filled with demons and monsters who’ve grown out of the lack of love, attention and proper nurturance from early childhood and compounded by our own inability to truly love and care for ourselves for years. Yet, it is in the darkness that the old can die and the new potential can begin to seed. Doesn’t the seed require the dark quiet of the soil after all to germinate? Away from the glare of the outside world and activity, it quietly takes hold and with the right care eventually sprouts upwards towards the light.

The biggest struggle we have as humans is to not fall back into unconsciousness, yet we do so every day, again, despite our best intentions and desires to be different. It takes great strength of character and a true commitment to your unwounding process to traverse this path. Dismantling psychological defences is hard, gradual work that takes much time and patience with yourself. And therein lies the most effective course to take: patience, self-acceptance and self-love are the keys to walking this path.

Angela Dunning, 4th November 2021

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