The one question I would ask at a trans consciousness raising group is this:
“Since your emergence, which of your former beliefs have you discovered that you were wrong about?”
To create change first you have to create doubt. Doubt lets you question your assumptions and expectations, your beliefs and your dogma in a way that helps clear the old, defensive and obstructive ideas away to make room for new and more effective understandings.
There is no room for growth or transformation without first dismantling what is currently occupying the mental space you need to create new.
For many people, this removal is the hardest part of the process.
We didn’t fill our brain just casually. We took on board what our family, our community and our teachers gave us, knowing those bits would connect us to them.
We built defenses that let us hide the parts of us that we believed were sick, ugly, indulgent and offensive. We did this to appear to fit in, to be who others expected us to be rather than showing what they seemed to disdain.
Because we are tied to our beliefs for good reasons, knowing that they let us connect with others who also hold those beliefs or that they protect us from looking weird and being a target, we don’t want to let go.
Instead, we try to compromise, holding onto the new without letting go of the old.
This compromise seems a lovely idea until push meets shove and we become trapped in the contradictions and twists between our old, comfortable binary habits and our need to be free from those assumptions and become new. What starts as compromise can become “Block/Punch,” an attempt to be everything to everyone, to avoid loss rather than to find a way to win.
For me, it is people on a journey who I connect with, those who want to discover and claim new knowledge, new visions and new possibilities. I want travellers rather than tourists, those who want to be exposed to different and be forever changed, living a hero’s journey.
One way I can identify these people is just by having them talk about where they let go of the old to claim something better. Just imagining that you are still the same, unpurged and holding onto what you always held does not make room for open, vulnerable connection with the future.
For fundamentalists who really need to believe that things were always this way, admitting transformation and change is very hard. They would rather just purge any contradictory history rather than engaging the process of doubt that underlay the change which occurred.
You cannot change until you can first humbly say “I was wrong.” Being explicit on what you held and needed to let go of, even if those ideas, beliefs and positions were dear to you at the time, lets you see where change is still needed.
I know that this is hard for people. I know many of them would rather just sweep the contradictions between then and now under the table, believing that denial makes change easier to swallow.
I believe that it instead makes change harder to consolidate and harder to build upon. Instead of having a solid foundation to continue we have a trunk load of old stuff that can come up at any time, twisting us about and toppling us over. Those buried beliefs become sore spots that we have to defend and rationalize, twisting our own growth to avoid their tenderness, armouring ourselves to keep them hidden.
There is a reason that the tradition in recovery involves first admitting your truth, acknowledging yourself as an alcoholic, for example. Without that base of truth you can’t do the work that needs to be done, admitting powerlessness and stinking thinking before finding new, better and more wholesome ways to be in the world.
Opening your eyes, seeing beyond former blindness, is the way to own your own growth, your own transformation, your own rebirth.
Since your emergence, which of your former beliefs have you discovered that you were wrong about? What comforting notions have you had to let go of so that you can move forward?
How did you engage loss so that you can become new?