A Little Process for Growth
Growth is change and change causes discomfort but staying stagnant may cause even more pain even though it may feel like comfortable pain. It is a place we know, so we feel okay staying there even though it can be so incredibly painful. Finding ways to respond and work through the discomfort is imperative to growing and changing in ways we want to change or grow. I have noticed a pattern emerge when I’m working through new challenges or the discomfort of change and growth. It is a little process for growth consisting of Curiosity, Courage, and Compassion.
We begin with curiosity. The power of the questions is more important than the answers. The power is in the questions we are asking, so we must be careful with the questions we are asking because the brain automatically starts looking for answers and finding ways that make the answer true. If we are constantly asking, “Why does this always happen to me?” your brain will look for ways to prove why something always happens that way. However, your brain does the same thing when you ask, “What do I need to do to learn and move on from this?” or “What can I do to feel better or differently?” Starting with questions like, How can I..., What would it look like if..., What action can I take to... can help lead us to the growth or change we desire. The questions are the most important part, we don't necessarily need to know the answers right away. They come in time. Keep asking and stay open to the answers. So many times an answer will come to us and we reject it, so notice those little whispers that you want to push away and try to understand how you can accept the answers when they show up. Allow space for new ideas, perspectives, and behaviors. New answers will likely need change and growth.
When we start asking these new questions and we receive answers that are different than what we are used to, we can run into that wall of discomfort, which is where we need to look to our courage. We can dig deep and find the courage to take the action anyway. When the brain has surrendered to fear and the ego and we find ourselves fighting the discomfort of change, it is time to listen for the heart’s whispers to find the courage for change. I find that courage happens in the in between moments. It's that feeling of “I don't want to” and taking the action anyway. It's that millisecond of making a choice and choosing to move toward the action we desire rather than the action or inaction that makes us comfortable.
When we are pushing our boundaries, our minds and protection mechanisms can overreact. Telling us things to keep us safe but that are not in our best interest, or we can get frustrated with ourselves for not being able to accomplish what we set out to. Many of us try to “get tough” on ourselves at this stage, but by practicing compassion instead, we open ourselves up to greater growth. When we are kind to ourselves in our most trying and vulnerable states, we build trust with ourselves and increase our self-love enabling us to grow further and faster. As stated on selfcompassion.org, self-compassion has been shown to correlate with less anxiety, depression, shame, and fear of failure.
When we meet ourselves with kindness in our trying and frustrating times we start to become a voice we can trust. We become a voice that we want to look to when things are uncomfortable, and when we respond with kindness again and again we will move through the process of growth more quickly and feel better about ourselves in the process. When we are trying, we deserve the credit for trying and if we are compassionate with ourselves we are more likely to try again and again.
When these three elements are working together and we can recognize the need for each throughout the process of growth, we can move through the stages more quickly. Compassion is the foundation of it all. If we really want to propel forward, that one is key. Try it out, see if any of this works for you and please let me know what you think!