4 Steps to Lasting Personal Growth
Maybe I am naive but I truly believe every person is trying, often very hard, and with their whole heart, to be a better person. We all strive to be wiser, more stable and easygoing, more loving and loved.
After all - our inner wellbeing colors everything right? How we treat our loved ones? perform at work? How present and happy we are in each little moment?
I was pretty desperate for this - I talked to every wise person I knew, I scoured the internet, and was lead to self help books, therapy, medication, affirmations, diet changes, exercises, causes to volunteer for, hobbies, and holistic and supplemental health treatments.
I learned so much - practical tools, self sufficiency - realized the importance of a holistic approach and self care... but, my to do list was HUGE and overwhelming - so once again I found sadness, stress and anxiety.
l felt scared, hopeless.. what do I do now? I'm doing everything! I'm tired of talking about the same BS to a therapist who gives me no tools. I'm sick of "positive thinking".
I was RUNNING, desperately, from anything painful...which turned out to be be percisely the "problem"
1. Take a risk
Reflect back on your life - when did you make the biggest growth spurts?
For me, and for many others, it was during times of great challenges. I hold these memories so sacred - not with altogether pleasantness: there's still pain attached, but there's also appreciation, a sense of empowerment, self assuredness, and pride.
The darkness in our lives inspires us to find the light. Every danger we face, every moment of loss and confusion forces us to adapt and grow.
This doesn't have to be drastic, so what can taking on a risk look like?
2. Face what you like least
What scares you about yourself? others? life? What do you like the least? Try to avoid?
This isn't going to be pleasant - guess what? Those things are never going away.
Life, people, YOU are hard, exhausting, confusing, stupid, cruel, unfair, hateful. Running away from this truth only makes us more heartbroken when we encounter them again. Which we will, over and over.
It is time to accept that life, people, you are whole things encompassing light and dark. You can't have one without the other, and as you learned from reflection in 1, as scary as the darkness can be, it actually creates the most light in our lives.
3. Embrace uncertainty
Have you ever seen the fool card from the tarot?
He's just a dude walking off a cliff and seems to not even realize it. A dog is barking at him and yanking at his leg trying to save him. He's in the middle of nowhere and he has nothing. He's not even looking where he's going - he's looking at a fucking flower.
Yea, this all seems pretty stupid. However, what does life throw at us, no matter how much we worry and scheme? Change. Destruction. Pain. We are all going to fall off cliffs in our lives.
This guy gets it. This is all anyone really can do - enjoy what you have right now. What do you really need to be happy?
I'm not saying let's all trash our stuff and go out into the wilderness because fuck it. But there is not a lot any job, item, relationship, experience, etc can do unless you can be present and appreciative.
So this is more of a suggestion to let go of what you think you need and must do to avoid something you can't avoid- change and danger.
4. Practice acceptance
So basically it all comes down to this - not resignation, giving up, indulging, or liking, but acceptance - recognition that something is existing at this time without shaming, hiding, or trying to beat it away. No matter how ugly.
Acceptance starts from within, so try your best whenever you are feeling upset in any way to say this simple, but powerful, phrase to yourself:
"Even though I feel ____, I love and accept myself and the face that I feel ____"
When someone told me to start doing that I was like, "WTF? I do not love and accept that... or myself"
Pause. Accepting a feeling is not liking, indulging or resigning to a feeling.
See if you can take a deep breath and recognize a part of yourself that does love and accept your feelings and start there.
It isn't easy. It takes practice, but it is a muscle that can grow. Something confusing that you can begin to understand. A challenge that will bring you growth.