The Dark Side Of Personal Development

There have been so many dark times in my life. I try to push them out of my mind, but they are a part of me.

On the drive home I felt empty. She had just told me that she had feelings for my best friend turned arch-enemy. It was like something out of a T.V. drama, but I couldn’t change the channel. I couldn’t even cry; I was numb and soulless.

That was my rock bottom… or one of them anyway.

Another time I was walking through a shopping mall plaza at 3am, looking up at the night sky and wondering why I kept screwing up everything in my life that was actually stable.

I remember writing in my journal “the reason I need so much ‘love’ and attention is that I need a distraction because I have this void and I’m not doing anything with my life.” But when the love was constant and stable it stopped distracting me, so I would screw it up on purpose.

I had to hit absolute rock bottom every time before I finally changed.

My self-image would shatter, my insides would spill out into every area of my life and I’d have to reform myself from scratch; deciding what to keep and what to throw away.

All growth comes from a dark place. When we are comfortable there is no need to change. It is only when we can no longer survive as the same person that we grow.

There are still parts of my life where I can feel that darkness. This is a part of a journal entry I wrote last week.

“I’ve been lonely recently. I get so much love from people but I think that I haven’t maintained my relationships well enough. A lot of people that I’ve really cared about in the past don’t hang out with me anymore. Maybe that’s natural. I never ask anyone to hang out. It’s gotten to the point where I’m almost afraid to ask people because I don’t want to seem… lonely or desperate or whatever. I need real connection, or at least I want it. The question is, am I open to it? Seriously, I’ve been closed off for so long and I’m so busy trying to make my dreams happen that I don’t have any time.”

In the past, I would have discarded all of those feelings and just kept pushing through. But now I know that it is only through these breakdowns—however big or small—that we grow.

I’ve learned to ask myself the hard questions, explore the dark places in my heart, and allow those feelings to create the growth I need to get closer to my authentic lifeThe life I know I can live if I only face the darkness within myself.

All growth comes from a dark place. All breakthroughs come from breakdowns. All light, was once darkness.

Don’t turn away from the dark parts of your life. Don’t distract yourself with sports, video games, shallow relationships, or material possessions. Don’t numb yourself with alcohol, drugs, or even binge eating.

Explore your feelings, write them out, ask yourself the hard questions, and face your fears. Let the breakdown happen.

I promise that you will find your breakthrough.

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”
-Cynthia Occelli