Reality check: Are you growing or stagnant?
Posted on January 08 2017
With every new year comes new hopes, dreams, desires and resolutions. The excitement of starting afresh courses through us like adrenaline, promising one thing – change. For most people, the adrenaline will eventually simmer. Old habits, thoughts and doubts ultimately creep back in, offering the comfort of the life we’re used to. Sooner or later, we succumb to the old and the possibility of change remains just that –a possibility.
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
As little children, most of us probably had the experience of having our parents track our growth against a wall at home. For each new inch, another mark was added, followed by a proud smile. As adults, there are things that we believe are obvious signs of growth like graduating from high school, going to college, getting a job, getting married or having kids and while these are all wonderful milestones, they’re not necessarily the best growth quantifiers. I say this because despite many adults going through the aforementioned phases, many are still as confused and miserable as ever.
So, how do we know we’re growing? I believe the answer lies in how much trust we have in Life itself. Life is never going to exist in a straight line, the beauty is in its curves and I find that a true test of growth is how we react and respond to those expected and unexpected curves over time. If we are growing in age and stature but remain the same internally, can we truly claim growth? If we get angry, frustrated and fearful of every life situation at 40 years of age as we did at 19 years of age, can we really claim growth? If every time we encounter a problem, we panic, believing that we’ll never survive it, can we look in the mirror and be proud of who we’ve become?
“I’ve been here before…”
I’ve recently found myself repeating these words. No, I’m not a time traveler but I recognize that certain life challenges do often repeat themselves. They may present in different forms but the core remains the same. If I’ve been there before then I don’t have to go down the same path – I can change and most importantly, I can grow. Choosing the unbeaten path is never easy. You have to battle against fear and doubt but when you dare to venture into the unknown and trust that Life will support you in the process, you can proudly stand up against the measurement wall in your mind and mark another inch above your head.
I’ve often said that I believe that we grow through 3 different stages in this human experience. Thinking, Believing and Knowing. I think I can be great vs. I believe I can be great vs. I know I can be great. When you get to the stage of knowing, you are now working in collaboration with Life instead of trying to fight the flow. Keep in mind that the level of trust that is required to exist in a place of knowing calls for huge growth and that growth doesn’t happen over night nor does is it a walk in the park.
This year, instead of making grand resolutions that may or may not hold up, I’d like to focus on lessons learned. I’ll trust that recognizing the truths in what was will lead to growth in what is. I will constantly remind myself that:
Life comes in seasons.
There’s a time to plant, to nurture and to harvest. No matter how quickly we wish to move things along, we cannot rush Life. It will happen when it happens so don’t bother fighting the flow. You’ll only end up suffering.
There’s always an end.
No matter how miserable, unhappy, afraid or impatient you get about a life situation, it too shall come to an end. Life is flux and constantly in motion, even if we don’t see it. Everything that has a beginning eventually has an end or transforms into something else.
Timing is everything.
We live in a culture where instant gratification has become the norm but I believe that if something is worth having, then it’s worth waiting for. The puzzle is bigger than what we see. Most of the time, all we can comprehend is that there is chaos; there are all these pieces scattered all over and we have no idea how they’ll come together. The thing is however, they will come together. At the right time, what didn’t make sense eventually will. If all else fails, remember that the waiting will also end. This is how Life works after all.