What to Do with Your Moment of Clarity

That moment you know everything is different. That instant when you realize the truth and can’t go back to the time before you knew it. That second when a flash of insight hits you—profound and shocking and sometimes delightful.

But what if it’s not delightful? What if it’s horrible. What if the Truth—not the regular truth you tell to other people but the Truth you tell to yourself—is that you’ll never be okay going along in the same way you’ve been living or working or relating or loving? What if the Truth is a total shift in who you are?

Then what?

The Burst

You feel overwhelmed, scared, tempted to stick your head back in the sand of denial, distraction, or ignorance.

But once you know a thing, you can’t unknow it. Once you look at a Truth within, you can’t unsee it. Once you admit a scene into the vault of memory, it remains to permanently alter your perception on the present as well as the past.

If you admit to yourself that you hate your job, that you’re stifled in your relationships, that you aren’t honoring your experience or intuition or desires, that you were really hurt and have never said anything, that you love in a certain way and not in another, that you can’t conform to your community’s way any longer, or that you just need to say something loudly for the whole world to hear—it’s exhilarating and painful all at once.

This process might be sudden or gradual, but most of us have what we’d call a moment of clarity—a burst of awareness.

The burst is like an explosion in the side of a mountain. The mountain has been there for as long as you can remember. It’s part of the landscape of your life. And it was supposed to be unmovable. Now, a bomb has gone off and blown a hole in the side.

The Shock Waves

Following an explosion, there are shock waves. Think of it like breath. After every expansion, there is a contraction. You’re buffeted out and in. Out and in.

After you burst into a new awareness, there is a contraction. As you pull back in, breathe, look around, you feel stunned.

How could this have happened? How could you not see it coming? Or why did it take so long? And what are you going to do with this mess?

If your moment of clarity was painful, a horrifying numbness sets in. As if to protect yourself, you pull back all your feelings, living sort of outside of your body, staring at the wreckage that is your new reality.

The Excavation

When there’s a mess, you have two choices. You can clean it up or you can sit in it. [Tweet that!]

You see, moments of clarity don’t always lead to positive, mountain-moving change. Some people sit down right in the middle of the wreckage and stop. The horror of the explosion or the shock of awareness or the fear of impending change cripples them. They allow it to seize them and freeze them to the spot, hoping against hope that if they don’t move, nothing else will go wrong.

But we know the truth, don’t we? Not moving just leads to decline, decay, and despair. We all know people who have sat down after they’ve been forced to look at their Truth and refused to get up again. Rather than setting them free to live more fully or more authentically, the moment of clarity served as the death knell to their hope. They curled up at the foot of that damaged mountain and hid—for good.

You aren’t that person. So shake off your shock and let’s keep moving. Let’s clean up.

Now that there’s a hole in the mountain, you might as well see what’s inside.

A slow digging process begins when you decide to chip away at the ideas surrounding your Truth. You choose to tunnel inward and shine a light on the beliefs, memories, and feelings that have for so long remained in the darkest part of you.

So here’s the bad news: That mountain is forever scarred and will never be whole again. You’ll never be able to look at this the same way.

But here’s the good news: Tunneling inward will reveal beauty and value inside you that otherwise would have forever lain hidden.

This excavation process is slow and painful. Sometimes, it seems to have no reward. There are aftershocks—moments when you see a bit more or feel another tremor.  

This is where the deepest grief sets in because the shock and anger wear off and you enter the sadness of it all. You wish you could go back to the time before all this work, even though you were sicker or lonelier or less you. You feel a deep sense of loss for the person you were and the reality you once believed and the relationship illusions you once accepted as fact.

This excavation process is two steps forward and one back. There is a temptation to stop working, digging, growing. And you might pause here and there before picking up your tools again to work in a new way.

The Mining

Just when you’re not sure why you’re doing all this digging and emotional heavy-lifting, you see a glimmer. Something different about yourself, your attitude, your outlook, your actions.

Someone else notices that you seem calmer, happier, freer. You do something you’ve never done just because you feel like it—and it’s effortless. You change how you do your hair or what you wear. You sing to yourself. You smile more. You pray.

These changes are the gems you’re pulling up from the darkest parts of you. It seems incongruous. How could that darkness or pain or struggle serve to create joy in you?

These glimmers of hope empower and encourage you. This is where you start to really own what’s happening to you. This is where you start to tell people you love that this change isn’t just about realizing something big, but about becoming someone big.

You carry these tokens of your excavation out to show the people in your life.

This is what I’ve been doing.

This is who I’m becoming.

This is what I’ve been through.

This is where I’m headed.

As you speak about it, you feel empowered, scared, and sometimes regretful. Should you be sharing this? Are you ready for feedback? For the light to shine on what’s inside?

The Treasure

When you’re ready, you haul the whole thing out into the light. Why hide it?

You realize that blowing a hole in the side of that mountain was one of the best things you’ve ever done.

You’re braver than you were before the burst. Stronger. Deeper. Wiser.

And you have a responsibility to do something with that treasure. So you carry it out, package it up, polish it, and show it off. You find the lessons that others can relate to, and you learn to tell the stories in a way that inspires and instructs.

Are you ready to show others the treasure of wisdom, self-love, confidence, and hope that you found inside? It’s time to do something greater now that you are greater.

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