We can remain on the circumference of our lives for quite a long time. So long, that it starts feeling like the only “life” available. What is the circumference of our life? In my opinion it is the false self, the person society has formed us to be, the inauthentic self. It’s our anger, control, insecurities, anxiety, entitlement, pride, self-hatred, perfectionism, and the lists goes on. These are just a few of the titles we put on ourselves. We might wear them because we are conforming to societal beliefs. Or we wear them because it has been instilled in us by our grandparents, parents, caregivers, peers, or teachers for years. However they might have been obtained, it is these negative beliefs about who we are that we must replace.
In my book Healing The Wounded Child Within, Dr. Allen Berger provided me with an excerpt “On Understanding the True Self.” In it he included a statement from Dr. Karen Horney. “You need not, and in fact cannot, teach an acorn to grow into an oak tree, but when given a chance, its intrinsic potentialities will develop.” Just like the acorn that is genetically programmed to become a unique oak tree, we are programmed to become our true self.
An acorn can only reach its true potential when it grows in an environment and climate that is nurturing. The environment must provide the proper amount of sunlight and water. The soil must contain all the proper nutrients. When all of these conditions are met, then and only then the acorn will become that which God intended it to be; a beautiful grand oak tree. However, during its development if exposed to harsh conditions before it is well rooted and matured, it will fall short of ever achieving its full potential.
According to Dr. Allen Berger, the conditions for successful human development are highly similar. We as humans need shelter, food, and water. We need to feel secure, loved, and nurtured. We need to be seen and celebrated. We need to be fed spiritually and emotionally. We need to be protected from trauma and abuses. We also need a certain amount of healthy friction with others. We need to have obtainable expectations put on us.
When these conditions are met, we will then be able to develop an inner security and knowing of who God has intended us to be. When these conditions are met, we will be enabled to take responsibility for our own actions and feelings. We will be able to express ourselves according to who God intended us to be without any of the false labels attached to us. Unfortunately, this rarely happens.
There are a variety of reason we do not grow to be the person God intended us to be. The most prevalent of these reasons stems from our unresolved childhood trauma or ACE’s, which can stunt our development. It is important to understand that there are several types of trauma that can affect our lives in various ways. Below is a partial list of traumas that may occur in one’s life:
· Abuse of any kind
· Death of a pet
· Death of a loved one (sibling, parent, grandparent, guardian)
· Being in or witnessing a horrific car accident
· Witnessing a murder
· Spiritual Trauma
As a result of any one or more of these traumas our development becomes distorted. We can become people pleasers. We sacrifice our own happiness to make others happy, all in the hope of feeling as though we belong. In hope of being loved and accepted.
Another factor that possibly keeps us living on the circumference of our life is the fact that we end up living out the dreams of the people that came before us. The outside dreams started with our grandparents and trickles down through our parents. Even schools and religion play a part in teaching us how to dream.
The dreams of society and my parents were already forming their idea of me even before I was born. According to Miguel Ruiz, our grandparents raised our parents according to society’s dreams during our grandparents’ generation. Our parents then raised us according to the dreams of their generation, and so on. The laws, rules, beliefs, and social events of our society combine to form an aggregate social dream, which is then passed on from generation to generation. The dreams may change a little over the decades, but the idea that success is equivalent to the degree to which we conform to the social dream remains the same.
For the most part, children simply agree with the dream of their parents without asking any questions. As we fall deeper and deeper into the trance of the social dream, it becomes ever more difficult to become authentic. We learn not to think for ourselves, but to accept the “truths” that are passed on from generation to generation. As a child, I didn’t even know I had a choice. I accepted the “truths” my stepfather and mother passed on to me, even down to the smallest details. In doing so, I gave up the biggest dreams of my life.
For myself, I had been told either verbally or in a nonverbal way that I was worthless. That I would never amount to anything. I was even called “Satan” himself by my mother and the list goes on. I had been told these things on such a consistent basis that I eventually began believing them. Even though I have been extremely successful in life, owning a successful business, having a beautiful & loving wife, beautiful home, nice cars and enjoying all the pleasures of life, I never really knew who I was. I never knew the Randy God intended me to be. I was living on the circumference of my life.
It was only when I entered into recovery and sought out a power greater than myself that I realized I was living on the circumference of my life. It was only when I turned my life and will over to the care of the one and only God in Heaven that I was able to start shedding my false beliefs. Beliefs such as I had to be perfect, I was useless, less than, unlovable, not enough, better than, dirty, tainted, *an alcoholic, and so on. It was only when I found God that I started realizing that I do not have to be perfect. That I am useful, enough (not more or less than), lovable, and a child of the most high God. I am far from being where God wants me to be, but farther away from who I once thought I was.
In my opinion the transformation from our false self to the person we were born to be is the most important part, yet the hardest part, of long-term recovery. In today’s world of instant gratification via pushing a button, taking a pill or having a drink, people tend to not want to do the hard work to become the person they were born to be. They want to be fixed now! When one has a lifetime of behaviors and beliefs to change, it won’t happen overnight. In fact, it will take as long if not longer to replace a lifetime of negative beliefs and behaviors with our new beliefs and behaviors. Change is a process and how long it takes depends on us engaging and believing who God says we are and accepting it as the absolute truth in our lives and applying to all our circumstances.
*Dr Gabor Mate questioned why it is we label ourselves with such negative statements such as; I am an alcoholic, addict, etc…when in fact that is not who we are, but what we struggled with. Why can’t we identify as; My name is ________________ and I struggle with_____________. In Celebrate Recovery this is exactly how we identify. The fact is, we are all children of God and we all struggle with something. Don’t get me wrong, yes, I am a child of God, even at that, I know I can never drink or use again. I know that in the deepest depths of my heart. If I ever do drink again, my life will be over, figuratively and literally.
 Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs (The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2013) pg. 14
 Karen Horney, Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle Toward Self-Realization (New York: W. W. Norton, 1950), p. 17.
 Horney, Neurosis and Human Growth; Abraham Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being (New York: Van Nostrand,)