“To heal a wound, you need to stop touching it.” ~Unknown
I’ve always been an overachiever. In sixth grade, I spent weeks memorizing over five pages of the poem “Horatius at the Bridge” for extra credit, even though I already had an A in the class.
When I started therapy in my mid-twenties to deal with depression and panic attacks, I turned my overachieving tactics to self-improvement. I spent hours journaling, going to meetings, talking to mentors, reading books, and beating myself up when I fell into old habits.
I always worried: Was I doing it right? Was I making enough progress? Would I feel better, find enlightenment, or be a better person in the end?
That’s when I began to notice a pattern that surprised me.
I found that when I first had an insight, discovered a tool, or began a new practice, I got very excited. It worked wonders for me and I could feel a sense of growth and expansion.
I’d begin to try harder to generate more insights and discover more tools. But as I redoubled my efforts and worked harder at healing, I’d begin to feel anxious, self-critical, and depleted. The harder I tried, the less enlightened I felt.
At some point I’d give up. I’d let go of trying to become the next Buddha and accept the fact that I was just going t…