“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” For some time now, this has continued to be one of my favorite quotes.

In the past, when I’ve read an insightful book, participated in an inspiring event or had a timely conversation, the aforementioned quote always came to mind and I was led to think, ‘Oh, the universe is trying to tell me something.’

My perspective has led me to believe that the timeliness of the message would have to be such that the universe has decided it is time for me to receive a certain message.

However, it seems as though I was incorrect in my interpretation. While in my quest to understand all things spiritual, this wouldn’t be the first time that I interpreted something completely incorrectly.

As I’ve now come to understand, it’s not so much that the universe decided it was time to deliver a certain message; it’s that my awareness expanded enough to actually receive the message that was already there.

Each of us is immersed in the optimal environment that is conducive for self-reflection. Our surroundings serve as our own personal “feedback mechanism” which are constantly revealing something to us. However, if we are not ready to see what our environment reflects back to us, it will not be seen.

It is the desire to learn that creates the experience for learning; and when you are ready to learn, then you will learn.

The good thing is “…outer events are a mirror of your psyche,” and when you are ready to see, you will see.

A few weeks ago, I was commissioned to work on a project that required me to work with someone who I (secretly) labeled as being controlling, demanding and moody.

Seeing that self-reflection amidst personal growth is a topic of deep interest to me, I’ve read enough self-help books to concede that every person in your life represents some aspect of yourself.

I’ve also come to understand that when someone is directing harsh behavior towards me, it’s not necessary to take it personally. This is an opportunity to pause and ask myself, “How and to whom do I exhibit this same behavior?”

According to Deepak Chopra, “This kind of reflection is easy to react to and try to fix externally. What is hard to do is take total responsibility for yourself. Most people spend their lives reacting to outer stimuli. So much time and energy is spent at the level of reacting.”

Although I had not exhibited such (controlling, demanding and moody) behavior in a professional setting, (if we’re going to be honest) I have had the tendency to try to control my children (and husband) and demand certain behaviors from them. If they didn’t respond to my liking, well I may have demonstrated a bit of moodiness and frustration.

William Stitt

Within the professional environment, I was ready to acknowledge that this person mirrored behaviors I have exhibited and (hopefully) have lessened.

However, I was not ready to see that my sitting in judgment of him was in fact not a judgment of him, but of myself.

“We all have aspects of ourselves that we want to be separate from.” I was sitting in judgment of the parts of myself I was trying to remain separate from.

If you’re willing to take a deeply thorough and honest look inside, you can recognize aspects of yourself you like to be separate from.

According to Chopra, “They are not difficult to find because we apply emotional labels to them like bad, guilty, shameful, embarrassing, failure,” and in my case, controlling, demanding and moody. “These labels are the actual obstacles of self-judgment the Self chooses to reject, avoid and hide from. These are the parts we judge against.”

When you’re ready you will be presented with “teachers,” or resources, to show you where the next stage of healing needs to occur.

In the sincere desire to grow, I was subconsciously able to draw into my awareness the very person, and experience, to show me exactly what I needed to see about myself.

It wasn’t that “the teacher” was “out there.”

The truth is “the teacher” was always there in my presence. The difference now is that my awareness is fertile and I am ready to see; ready to use this information for something better.

The appearance of “the teacher” is ironically not something that happens outside of us, it is more like we happen to it.

“Unless we overcome self-judgment, we can’t allow life to flow the way it wants to. To feel fulfilled and whole, you must take any moment of self-judgment and turn it around to instead ask, “What feeling do I actually want?””

Truth, which is available to everyone at any time, has to be experienced personally to be validated by you and through you.

At this point, it seems to me that life really is an adventure and each of us is here to seek out and explore the unknown.

In the midst of your internal and external explorations, you can without question open the doors to discover the deepest parts of who you really are.

You can challenge yourself to overcome self-imposed limitations. You can surprise yourself with what it is you are capable of doing in this life. You can get to a place where you can look back later from a different level and observe that you left the world a better place.

Wherever you may find yourself in life, make the time to be an adventure unto yourself and become your own biggest surprise.

And remember, one of the best parts of the journey is knowing that “you don’t need to go looking for the teacher. As soon as you’re ready, the teacher will look for you.”

Originally published at medium.com