Epiphanies, those moments of absolute clarity where we experience knowing viscerally, capture our attention like nothing else. Yet in the moment the feeling can almost seem unreal or surreal—“Is this really happening?” we ask ourselves rhetorically. These moments are few and far between and we wonder how it just happened. Of course there is no answer to that question because a variety of experiences converge over time that contribute to the new found awareness. We savor these moments, yet on the heels of this new awareness we ask, “Now what?”
Are we supposed to do something new?
Is everything immediately “fixed” in our lives?
Are we forever changed?
The answer to the first question is no. Nothing new is required because whatever you’ve been doing to get to this point is exactly what you need to continue doing. The difference is that now you are more keenly aware. You are better informed about yourself and have a deeper connection to your own experience. These phrases can sound slippery but to the person experiencing the epiphany they have clarity and meaning.
The answer to question two is also no. Everything is not immediately fixed. With the new awareness, however, comes more freedom of choice, the opportunity to be more grounded and flexible in making decisions about your own behavior. In a sense this means being in better control of yourself—experiencing your feelings more clearly and making decisions with more available options. Of course, those options were always there, you realize, but somehow you could not avail yourself of them. Now you can.
The answer to question three is yes, but here there is a paradox. Although an internal shift has occurred and you feel different in some way, you actually are more yourself, or perhaps another way to say it is that you are more connected to yourself. In that connection you are changed but are still more or less the same. As I said, a paradox.
Change is always tricky. When we experience growth in ourselves we feel more at home, and that seems like not changing. Yet as we grow, of course we change, not into a different person, but the person we know on a deeper level. It is the epiphany that opens the doorway to that deeper level and knowing.
Finally, with the epiphany comes responsibility—the responsibility to follow through on our new awareness and understanding. The epiphany doesn’t fix everything, as I’ve said, but it does increase our choices and we must continue to make good choices for ourselves. This isn’t easy. In fact it may be just as hard as before the epiphany, but now we can make decisions with greater inner resources to draw on.