Knowledge is an amazing thing.
So are flashes of insight.
New realizations as well.
But they are all mental concepts. Understanding something is not the same thing as really truly knowing it. And it is most certainly not the same thing as feeling it.
Knowing that you should love yourself is something completely different from actually feeling love for yourself. And even though the coaching that I do is more theoretical than practical, the real magic happens between sessions when my clients go out into the real world and actually experience the things that we have been talking about.
Because there is not much in this world that will convince of things more strongly than your own experiences. It is how we learn and make sense of the world. If something keeps happening we start to believe that is the truth of how things work – even if that’s not necessarily true.
If people in your past (parents, friends, lovers, crushes, exes) have punished you for being emotional, not respected your boundaries or disrespected your opinions, it is reasonable that this is what you will expect from new people as well – even though the bad behavior from your past says nothing about the future.
And what I’ve found is that new experiences can heal us. We can talk all we want about our issues and how to fix them, but actually experiencing what we long for – be it respect, someone’s full presence and attention, words of kindness or something else – will change and heal us in irrefutable ways.
We cannot argue with our experiences in the same way that we can argue with our thoughts or ideas.
Usually it feels really scary to challenge the patterns of old bad experiences, and my suggestion is to do it in very very small steps that feel challenging but not super scary. If your fear is around saying no, don’t start with your boss or a parent, start by saying “no thanks” when asked if you want a receipt when you go shopping.
If your fear is around meeting new people, maybe don’t walk up to the hottest stranger in the room to strike up a conversation, start by just looking people in general in the eyes for a second or two.
The beautiful thing about this is that every time you take one of these small steps your old pattern will break and the positive feedback you get from your new experiences will encourage you to try more new things. Eventually your entire world will change for the better.