A child fears failure when failures repeatedly are met with unpleasant parental reactions. The painful scolding burns inadequacy into their young minds. The child doesn’t simply face the disappointment of failing but must process the message they are a failure. Many of these children emerge into adulthood scarred and scared; failure is unacceptable. The underlying current of inadequacy carries deep fears. The adult-child’s tainted interpretation sparks undue fear for the unpredictablness of new experiences because of the looming disaster of possible failure. These underlying feelings, unless appropriately addressed, may forever stunt growth.
A tender rose bud, not yet blooming, is not diseased. The bud is in the process of becoming. We also are in the process of becoming; a bud waiting to bloom; no matter what the beginning and the present, the future remains to be determined.
Growth is painful; but also pleasant. The broken soul’s sensitivities jump at correction, igniting defensiveness, and fear. The slightest reminders of imperfection seem unbearable and worthy of attack. We can work to make the world kinder, adjusting to the sensitivities; but a greater work is accomplished inside the souls of the injured. The challenge is directing compassion inward, embracing who we are in the present. Until the broken soul can do so, outside forces, no matter how kind, will always be threatening.
Maybe the earlier comparison with a rose bud is inadequate; perhaps we consider the rose bush. A rose bush is not composed of a single bud but an array of flowers in various stages of blooming. We have some character traits in full bloom, and others struggling to form. The rose bud has its own beauty. Within the bud is the grand potential of color and intoxicating fragrance. We don’t carelessly clip the forming buds because of current lack. Instead, we make room for the bloom. We find areas to prune, eliminating unproductive branches and withering flowers, directing nourishment to the young tender buds.
Growth requires tender care—not carelessly tearing undesirable parts from the whole. But gentle, careful, and loving hands thoughtfully trim, nourish and care for the soul. Many lost souls need guidance in this task, raised in the critical and harsh world of derogatory words, they have adopted these patterns internally, becoming self-damaging critics.
The work of change requires practice, persistence and patience. The task isn’t easy; often too demanding for those seeking a quick fix and easy escapes from their pasts. When we undertake the work with false expectations of a magical transformation, discouragement accompanies collisions with reality.
We can embrace changes with kindness, identifying weakness with curiosity, understanding, and persistence. Growth can be an exciting process—not to be feared but embraced. Yet when approached with childhood fears, change intimidates; self-enlightenment is avoided, not embraced. In these circumstances, the past keeps replaying the childhood dramas, we avoid pain by skillfully burying weaknesses, hiding our true selves from others and self.
We can escape these chains; we must. We must practice soothing the emotional disruptions that damage realistic views of experience. This often requires outside assistance. But with proper guidance, and growing humility, we progress, escaping the damaging sensitivities preventing wisdom. The beauties of life begin to unfold in us, opening to bright blooms. We will forever carry our imperfections and the accompanying fears but with them we hold hope and with hope we enjoy growth.