There’s an interesting phenomena that happens when you hit a rock bottom of sorts, you open yourself up to new thinking, new experiences, and new ways of living a conscious life that can totally transform your life, if you let it.
In 2012, I took a dive into the self-help, empowerment, wellness world when in a particularly low period of my life. Everything that I relied on to be happy externally was falling away faster than I could recover and I was left feeling frustrated, confused, and needing help.
Upon entering this wellness, empowerment space, I felt like I finally landed in a place where I fit, where I could learn to be better, and where I could truly be myself. I very rapidly became a bit self-help obsessed, I was always wanting to learn more, and went to as many workshops and retreats as I possibly could, in hopes of becoming the best version of myself.
In the years since, I’ve experienced great relief from pain, eye opening personal breakthroughs, internal shifts, and truly feel at home now, but it’s within myself. Just like with anything else in the world, I have also experienced the down side, the disappointment, and the frustrations. I went through a period not too long ago, where I felt like I was rebelling a bit against the community that I for so long called home. I again, felt frustrated, confused, and uncertain. Shouldn’t it all have been different by now, after all this time?
In my experience thus far, I’ve noticed that there are common misconceptions or falsehoods that are easily adopted as truth in this industry, and that sometimes, the work that we are doing to be “better” can make us feel even worse. I share these misconceptions that I have experienced so far on my journey, in hopes of shedding light, not creating conflict or attack. Life’s journey is not always an easy one to maneuver, and so, my wish for this week’s blog is to shed a bit of light on a path that I have come to know very well.
Misconception #1: Living a spiritually conscious life means that life gets easier.
When I started on my own path: I started meditating, doing yoga daily, and cleaned up my diet. I foolishly assumed back then, that by simply being conscious and aware of how I was living my life, I had finally found the key to unlock the door to a world of complete happiness, always. Frustration ensued, naturally, because life didn’t necessarily get easier, and I thought that meant there was something wrong with me (more on that in #2). The truth is, life doesn’t get easier or less traumatic, or less stressful, but the tools that we practice on a daily basis help us to navigate daily life, empower us, and give us a strong sense of confidence.
We never really know what life will throw at us in any given day, however, when we cultivate a strong foundation from within (which I believe can be achieved through daily practices like meditation, journaling, mindfulness, as well as therapy/counseling) we can weather storms with a sense of grace, ease, and even peace.
Misconception #2: If something isn’t working for you, something is wrong with you.
Have you ever had moments in your practice, where you feel like you are “doing everything right” and still feel like you’re not making the progress you would like to see? This was one of the most difficult misconceptions I had to grapple with, as I am a very visual and tangible person when it comes to wanting to see results. For a period of time I felt great frustration when I would compare my spiritual path to those around me. I felt like I couldn’t manifest like my friends, I felt like I wasn’t as “enlightened” as some, I even thought that there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t access psychic powers, and those of the like. We are presented with so much opportunity and examples of possibility in the self-help arena, and thus we often think that our experiences have to match those who are teaching us.
In reality, I believe that we all evolve and learn and grow in our own time, and in our own ways. There’s no blueprint for being spiritually conscious, and just like with everything else, it’s futile to compare our journey to someone else’s. It’s a huge relief to release the pressure that we have to fit in, produce, create, and achieve great success in our spiritual lives for it to have meaning at all. Whatever it is you are doing to be your best self, is valid and enough.
Misconception #3: To live a positive life, I must always have positive thoughts.
I’ve seen the meme “Positive Mind, Positive Vibes, Positive Life” enough to know that this is a mindset that’s running rampant in the empowerment community. In fact, I probably posted this sentiment on social media years ago. While I absolutely do believe that mindset, the thoughts we think every minute, and our ability to choose and skillfully maneuver through our thoughts will produce and create a life that is pleasing and meaningful to us, there is a caveat here that often gets overlooked. Yes, positivity and a positive mindset is helpful and beneficial, so long as it doesn’t keep us from doing the deep work of feeling our feelings, and working through old wounds and hurts that we deem “negative” and therefore bad.
I remember for a moment in time I didn’t want to think about the difficulties I was experiencing because they were “too negative” and I feared that moments spent dwelling on such a problem would only perpetuate it. Thus, spiritually bypassing (or overlooking an issue for the sake of positive) all together. As I mentioned in #1, even when we are living a mindful and conscious life, we will experience difficulty, and as emotional human beings, it’s crucial to allow ourselves to take the time to process what life is putting in our paths, or if applicable, what life put in our past. It does not serve anyone to ignore reality for the sake of creating your ideal future.
Remember that there is benefit to be in the mud sometimes, the mud teaches us lessons, gives us strength, and provides great knowledge for our lives. We must remember not to linger there. Don’t be afraid of difficulty or hardship, value and grow from it.
Misconception #4: It is always beneficial to take the advice of a teacher I admire.
Blindly following the advice of a teacher or a mentor can often times do more harm than good, at least from my own experiences. In the self-help world, there tends to be an inclination to place teachers and mentors (and sometimes gurus) up on a pedestal, in the belief that they always know better than we do as students. I have fallen into this relationship with some of my teachers, where I lost my own sense of discernment for the sake of pleasing someone else, or for fitting into the mold that was being cast. I have changed my diet because of a teacher, I have changed my social life because of a mentor, and I have changed my lifestyle to fit someone else’s ideals. While none of these purported changes were bad so to speak, they didn’t suit me. There’s a disempowerment that takes place when we blindly give up our power to a teacher, mentor, or guru. While the knowledge that they have and share is important, necessary, valuable, and meaningful, it’s equally as crucial for us as “the bosses of our own lives” to take in the information, live with it for a while, and then decide how we will implement it into our own lives.
Misconception #5: Offering love and light is enough to change the world.
Perhaps one of the more frustrating aspects of the empowerment industry is it’s often deafening silence when it comes to world events, social justice, or speaking out on things that matter to us. Too often, this industry teaches that when we solely focus on ourselves, better ourselves, the world will naturally change. And while I do believe this to be true, we must be ourselves what we wish to see in the world, it’s only a piece of the world peace pie.
Yes, we must do our own inner work to achieve inner peace, happiness, and well-being, and in doing so, we become fully capable and prepared to do the work that we came to this lifetime to do. This “doing our work” will look differently for everyone, but make no mistake we all matter, we are all needed to be fully living in our own purposes and passions, especially now.
If we do the inner work, just to keep it to ourselves, and not put ourselves out there, in whatever form feels best for you, to take action and make real change, we are doing the world a great disservice. We are all needed in this moment, at this period of time, to truly use our talents, voices, and power, to create the world we wish to see, and I believe this requires inner work, spoken truth, and outer action.
I hope what I have shared here, about these misconceptions I have learned on my life’s path will in some way help you on your journey, wherever you may be. This is not a comprehensive list, it is my beginning, and there may be much more that can be said on all of these topics, so I would love to keep this conversation going, by hearing your thoughts and experiences, so if you’re feeling moved share them in the comments below!
Wishing you all a beautiful week,
Michelle is Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life's Creative Director and resident writer. She has a degree in Journalism from Indiana University and is also a certified holistic health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and registered yoga teacher with trainings with Anuttara Yoga Shala and Strala Yoga. Michelle has a deep desire to help people find happiness in all areas of their lives, and truly believes the Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life movement will bring lasting change to the world. Michelle splits her time between Florida and New York City and loves connecting with people from all over the world. If you'd like to contact her, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org