“Wherever you go, there you are.”

It’s an old adage that gets thrown my way a lot, especially when I start to get that tingle of urge to move again. The idea that no matter where you go, you cannot run away from yourself is a massively hot topic for those of us on the spiritual growth path. Making changes is often a by-product of development… and sometimes, those changes can be massive.

I always believed I was making these decisions from the right place and could back each one up with a list of reasons why it was the most logical choice. But over the last year, as the work I do with myself has gotten to the ‘no more bullshit’ level, I have come to terms with the fact that almost every time I chose what I thought was a move towards something new, it was in fact an act of running from the discomfort I had created for myself.

Sometimes it’s obvious when we are running to or from something. Maybe you were spurned by a bad breakup or are relocating for an amazing new job. But other times (most times, for me) it can be sneaky. We may think we are making a move for all the right reasons, but deep down there is a small, frightened version of us frantically packing a bag. And no matter how far we run, we will eventually end up confronted with ourselves.

I once found myself living in Bali in a house full of surfers, steps from the ocean, and coming completely undone by seeing pictures of something on Facebook that instantly triggered me. In that moment, the things I thought I had gotten far away from were knocking on my front door and moved right in with me… all of their baggage included. Suddenly, I knew I had to leave Bali.

So how can we know when we are running from something or moving towards it?

I’m not sure if we’ll ever really know. What I am sure of though, is that there are no ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ decisions. There are the choices that we make, and then the universe will organize itself around those choices. Every situation can be made into something wonderful or something terrible, depending on how we show up for it and what our intentions are going into it.

For example, I recently decided it was time for me to leave my current home of Italy. I had been thinking about it for a while, but after having recognized my pattern of moving when things get tough, I wanted to be sure I was moving from a place of strength.

After weeks of deliberating in my head (and to every person who had the misfortune of sitting next to me while I tried to figure it out), I decided to take a 24 hour social media detox. I went for a long hike in nature, meditated, and asked the universe for answers. And sure enough, my answers came — very clearly and softly.

It was time to go home.

Within a week I had found an apartment and organized everything to get ready to leave and move back to Montreal. Now I know it sounds crazy. Who leaves Italy for Canada right before winter? I don’t have a logical answer. All I have is the knowledge that this is the next best step for me on life’s journey. And, because I was able to stick it out here through all the uncomfortable parts (and believe me, there were many) I know in my gut that I am not running away from Italy — I am going to Montreal because there is something there for me. I don’t know what yet, and that is okay… because I trust my intuition.

When I moved to Florence two years ago I had no idea why, but now I know its purpose was to be the place where I finally caught up with myself and stopped running.

What I’ve learned through this experience is that when we are faced with a difficult choice, the best thing to do is reflect. Get quiet with yourself, retreat into nature, honor your senses, and stay present and grounded — and then ask. Ask the universe, ask God, ask a tree, ask yourself, and then wait for the answer. It might not come right away, but it will come. It might be a brief little parting of the clouds or it might be a massive game-changer. Either way, you’ll know. And when we act on that knowledge, then we know what we are moving towards.

And if you do decide to run, just maybe wait till spring…

Michelle Lipper spent the first half of her life immersed in the world of acting and entertainment in Canada and LA. Thus far, the second half has taken her all over the world in pursuit of healing, spiritual growth, and the meaning of home. Along the way she rode motorbikes through rainforests in Thailand and Bali, learned to meditate in India, became a kundalini yoga teacher, survived cancer, and adopted the world’s best rescue dog. She has found a way of using her voice in her writing to uniquely communicate and interpret what she has learned into our day-to-day realities. You can follow all her adventures on IG at @lipmich.

In Your Inbox