I was watching a documentary about a woman’s death. The coroner made this statement, “She, by all appearances, had drowned. Things began to change when I began looking deeper.” Ultimately, the coroner determined that the woman’s death was the result of a homicide rather than an accident, but only because he was willing to look deeper. Self-exploration invites you to look deeper into your own being.
Making the decision to look deeper, to refine the search, means you must be willing to be open to where it leads you. Very often it is easier to stay on the surface where things look great but are not always as they appear. You can spend your life above the depth, above what really matters, above the truth of who you are, or you can risk discovering more. Whether you uncover a beautiful self waiting to be awakened, or a demon waiting to be dealt with, the only way to fully develop as a person is to make the decision to scrutinize what lies in the depths. And what you find below the surface will always make you more, even if it is less.
Allow me to elaborate. Turning the microscope inward will show you what lives beneath your behaviors. Human beings have an amazing capacity to live what they are not. You can do kind things and be an unkind person. You can say positive things and be a negative person. Saying and doing are the easy parts. Being is the hard part. So you might discover that there is less to you than you thought, but in that discovery you can awaken and become more. Thus, what you find will make you more, even if it is less!
When you decide to have a look around, to go into the chasm of self, it is normal to actively avoid what you find there, particularly if it is unpleasant. If this occurs, I encourage you to relax and keep going. Whatever you see there might bring you to tears. You might be uncertain where to turn, what to do next, or what any of it means. Relax and be open to what comes.
It is important to note that you might love what you find. You won’t necessarily have skeletons and goblins hiding in the depths. It depends on how much self-work you have done previously and how aware and accepting you are of your own strengths and shortcomings. Carl Jung said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Only when you are willing to enter the unknown, open to what you discover, a part of you will remain undiscovered, unexplored, and unexamined.
Years ago I spoke with a priest and was explaining to him that the harder I worked on spiritual and personal progress, the more I felt I was failing. His response was – and I just love this – “God gives you enough light to know where to put your feet.” I agreed with him but found myself realizing that the same light might show me unpleasant aspects of who I am. So as you come more and more into the light, you might feel as if you are not making progress, because the light will show the undergrowth. Seeing the mess that lies within might make you feel as if you are backsliding. Take heart! This is part of the process.
Once you know what you are made of – all of it, good and bad – you can begin to fully accept you for who you are. You can build your foundation, make some repairs, or add to it. So light your torch and get ready for a journey into darkness, always remembering that you are bringing the light with you.
**PRECAUTIONARY NOTE: Please do not attempt a deeper self-exploration if you have, or believe you have, any mental illness that is not being treated. In cases such as this, you are better to seek professional guidance as you explore the deeper aspects of your life. A thorough look at yourself can open wounds that you don’t even know are there and can take years to heal, particularly if you venture out alone.