I have certain personality traits that make me a difficult person. These are things that people have been complaining about from my earliest memories, so it's not that I am unaware of them, and I even recognize how they make me difficult for other people to deal with.
I've been actively fighting these particular traits and trying to change them for most of my life. That inner battle against these parts of myself has intensified through the years, but it's not making much difference.
In fact, the harder I fight, the stronger these traits seem to become.
They grow in size, energy, and power with each battle to suppress them. Pushing these traits into the darkness of my shadow feeds and nurtures them, even as it continues to twist them into more challenging forms. New tentacles appear to slip ever further into my world and my relationships.
It doesn't help that these undesirable traits are usually triggered when I am stressed, unhappy, or in pain. And, of course, all of the beating up of myself increased the frequency which with I was stressed, unhappy, or in pain from self-induced trauma. So the more I tried to change, the more these traits surfaced.
Something had triggered this same old battle the other day, and I found myself in the usual place of lecturing myself about my need to change and trying to imagine new ways of interacting and being in the world that would emerge once these unwanted traits were fully excised from my life.
My customary self-flagellation was well underway as I mentally reviewed all of the ways that these traits have caused problems for me and for my relationships over the years. I need to change this about myself to be the person I want to be!!
And at that moment, a quiet little voice from somewhere deep inside spoke up:
What if you don't?
This stopped my berating screed in its tracks. Huh?
No, really. What if you don't need to change? What if this is just who you are, and you are ok just like you are?
What if you don't need to change?
I'd never considered that possibility before, but at the very thought of it, something loosened inside me.
I began to imagine a life where I wasn't pouring so much energy into trying to be someone I wasn't in order to better fit what others wanted me to be, and I felt this little sprout of hope begin to unfurl deep in my being.
My mind, of course, tried to argue back. If I don't change this, I'll continue to be difficult, and people won't like me!
With that one syllable of freedom, the little sprout of hope unfurled a little more and began to whisper of visions of a life lived at peace with who I am.
The enticing thought of peace so snared my imagination that even my mind began to open to the possibility.
If I stop fighting this, I'll still be difficult. I'm used to that. Accepting it would just mean that I am who I am, so I'm no longer failing by no meeting expectations that I be someone different.
I can stop fighting. I can stop the self-flagellation. I can stop feeling like a failure. I can stop worrying about whether other people like me.
Can you imagine the energy this will free up to do other things?
The sprout of hope unfurled even farther and spread its leaves out to bask in the sun of this idea. I could feel it waving in a gentle breeze of peace.
It may be that allowing these difficult traits of mine to come out of my shadow will turn them into gifts when they are no longer being fed and malformed by the darkness.
Or maybe not. Maybe I am just a difficult person.
Maybe that's ok.
That mysterious quiet little voice agreed:
You are enough just as you are.
Difficult is just a label. You can let it go now.
Tears flowed at that. I sighed with the relief of a lifted burden I didn't even know I was carrying.
And hope continued to grow.
So I declared a truce with this difficultness of mine and took a deep breath in of peace. The first one I've known in a very long time.
What trait of yours have you always labeled as too difficult? What parts of your personality do you fight and try to suppress into the shadows? What parts of yourself do you try to change or to cut off?
What if you don't need to change a thing?
You are enough. Just as you are.