3 Lifesavers to Soothe Pain and Judgement During Your Spiritual Awakening
We all know what coming of age “should” look like Graduate high school, go to college, get married, take out a mortgage, have 2.6 kids…you know the drill. Most of us succumb to living up to the expectations of our family and the people that we’ve built relationships with, without really examining at all if what we are doing is what we really want for ourselves and our life.
Fast forward a decade or two and what happens? People get depressed. They get anxious. They get frustrated, bored, and discontented with their mediocre life. Unfulfilled by living out the expectations of others and no clue what to do about it.
It’s at this crossroad that our spiritual journey often begins, but it comes with no shortage of challenges. Perhaps the hardest being those you love who judge your spiritual awakening.
Judgement is Born from Dissonance
Why do we do this? Why do we go through so much of our lives unconscious to ourselves? Why do we care so much about fitting in, that we don’t even think about who we really are, or what we really want?
Generally speaking, people are just trying to blend in. To fit in with conventional wisdom so as to avoid feeling uncomfortable or making anyone else feel uncomfortable. This is called Cognitive Dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is described by psychology expert Kendra Cherry as the feelings of discomfort that result when your beliefs run counter to your behaviors or to new information that is presented to you. It’s the discomfort of having two conflicting thoughts and the urge to make that discomfort go away that leads to one of two things:
Doing things the way everyone else does or pissing them off by doing it your way.
The former results in the comfort of feeling accepted by blending into societal norms and culture. The latter results in feeling the discomfort that inevitably comes with personal growth and development.
If you choose door number 2, the conflict that can occur with those around you happens because they are now in a state of cognitive dissonance. You are presenting them with new information that is counter to their own beliefs and behaviors.
To be frank, it can come as quite a shock to your loved ones if everything you’ve ever been is suddenly turned on its ass. Nonetheless, it can be painful when they judge your spiritual awakening. Remember their discontent isn’t personal, even if it’s being projected on to you that way. It’s coming from their deep-rooted psychological desire to not feel uncomfortable – to be like everyone else.
The Downside of Dissonance
Throughout spiritual growth, you will experience the effects of dissonance. Your uncovered beliefs and your new behaviors and way of being will feel deeply empowering and liberating. But your external environment and the people in it will remain exactly as they were before your spiritual growth spurt, leaving you feeling isolated.
To add to that, the people you were once close to might become unbearable to be around. You will feel judged by those you confide in for your new way of thinking. You might feel alienated and wonder how things could change so fast. Did these people ever care about me??
It helps to know where the judgment comes from
Dissonance is psychologically powerful, and we will do almost anything to avoid feeling it. So, when others are judging you and you feel the pain of their rejection, it’s helpful to know they are simply responding to the discomfort of their own cognitive dissonance. For most people, the fastest way to reduce their dissonance is to reject what’s making them uncomfortable. In this case, it just happens to be you and your spiritual awakening.
You see, dissonance is really the fancy word for ego. Our ego’s first goal is to keep us feeling comfortable, therefore maintaining the guise of safety. If people are judging you harshly – even rejecting you – it’s because their ego is running the show. They are unable to accept your differences because they are unaware of their own ego’s attempt at keeping them feeling “safe”.
How to handle it when people judge your spiritual awakening
I notice with many of my clients that once they open the floodgates of who they really are, the people in their life take notice. And it usually isn’t pretty. They begin to get very caught up in, “But so and so doesn’t like me now…” or “She told me I’m being crazy…” or “My best friend stopped talking to me.”
Take a stance for yourself, not what the majority rules to be right.
But here’s the thing I respond to my clients with, and it’s what I want you to remember more than anything:
Is this your life, or theirs?
When they are on their death bed do you think they are thinking of the things you did in life or the things they did?
Your awakening is a beautiful thing, but it will very likely come with some ugly moments. Harsh truth. So how can you handle the major relationship shifts you will almost assuredly experience through exposing the core beliefs about who you really are to others?
At the end of the day, you gotta do you, boo! What do you feel in your heart? What do you leak from your soul? It’s in there, you just need to be brave enough to let it out.
For example, it wasn’t that long ago I remember having an anxiety attack after being on Periscope for 3 minutes. I’m talking sweating like a mofo, voice shaking, perfect hair and makeup, and taking forever to even hit the “live” button.
Those of you that follow me know that I am now completely comfortable on live streams. In fact, I prefer posting videos to my YouTube Channel more than any other type of content. (Also, I generally don’t give AF about hair and make-up anymore.)
When I started, I was scared. I was scared about what people would think about little-old-me having the hutzpah to talk like an expert online. I was scared of judgment, scared of rejection, and especially scared about the people I know seeing me do my thing! That was my cognitive dissonance popping up to say hi.
My engrained belief was that I was not worthy and not smart enough to be speaking publicly. It wasn’t normal in my circles to talk online or to be an ‘expert’ on anything. The new belief that I was coming around to finally honoring was that actually, I was fucking awesome and I should be helping others. I had a choice in how to remove the dissonance: stay the same and reinforce the old belief pattern to keep everyone comfy or go live and align with the fact that I was indeed awesome.
Give yourself (and others) grace.
So, whatever it is; spirituality, changing careers, changing genders, it helps to know and remember why people do the things they do.
The harsh truth that in life there’s always going to be people who don’t like you, who turn their backs on you or flat-out reject you can be quelled with the knowledge that really, we are all wired to avoid feeling like we don’t belong and will do almost anything to eliminate it.
What matters is that you are happy at a soul-level. That you are striving to embody the highest version of yourself. Take it one step at a time. And give yourself my favorite word that I learned for myself a few years back: GRACE.
Allow yourself to change, to start something and decide it’s not for you, to fall flat on your ass, to not make 6-figures in 30 seconds or less, and to look like you walk a runway on your first live stream. Allow what is truly you to emerge with grace, and consider the judgments a sign that you are getting closer to her.
If you need a hand, I’m here to help you navigate this journey and unveil your soul’s longing.