It could be difficult, challenging and uncomfortable. But it also serves as an opportunity to learn and grow, if you’re willing to be open.
If you’re a regular reader then growth points is a term you’ll have seen me use every now and then in posts such as Bravery and uncontrollable outcomes, Day 183, It’s okay to be you and Unexpected and interesting.
However, I recently realised that I’ve never really explained the term or idea in great detail. I made the term up for myself and to be honest it’s just an alternative to the word challenge. However, the focus is on growth and overcoming rather than the difficulty of the situation.
When you face a situation that perhaps in the moment you wish wasn’t happening, it’s easy to just think that ‘it’s the most terrible thing in the world’. You then might find yourself getting caught in a downward spiral of unhelpful thoughts that leave you feeling stuck.
That mindset or perspective that you find yourself in never leads to growth. You have to find a way to get through it and see things differently.
I think the getting through it part is most challenging because it can be easy to stay stuck. A moment of sadness can turn into hours or days of wallowing.
One thing that helps is to be very conscious in how you think about the situations that come up in your life instead if just getting caught up. Acknowledge it as a challenging situation rather than blowing it out of proportion and allowing one situation to become your entire life.
And from that perspective you can begin to think about how you can grow from it. The great thing is that once you grow from it, you can now take that lesson forward with you for as long as it serves you well. Then next time something happens you can fall back that all that you’ve previously experienced, learnt and grown from.
When it’s just you yourself and you, how do you live?
How do you spend your time? And the times when you feel most like yourself, what are you doing?
For me it’s journaling, walking in green spaces, listening to my favourite music (The jezabels, Funkadelic/Parliament and The Stone Roses), creating with my hands, getting lost in a good book, writing blog posts and just writing in general.
In the midst of life, these things can be easy to forget and sometimes we go so far as to even forget ourselves. Then we end up feeling lost and unsure of what to do next.
We often feel most like ourselves when we return to childhood things. Things we did when we were young without a care in the world. You weren’t focused on competing or what other people would think, you were simply just being you.
When it comes to making decisions you might find yourself paralysed, stagnant and making no progress in life because you’re scared of making the wrong choice.
Weeks, months or even years can go by and when you look back on your life you’ll find that very little has changed. It could be about work, friends, family, romantic relationships, your home, how you spend your time, that thing you didn’t start or your appearance.
Perhaps you’re worried that leaving a job and trying something new will be something you’ll regret and so you stay in your current job even though you’re unhappy. You’re worried that leaving might be the wrong choice.
Maybe what you do next won’t work out so you’ll have to go back to a similar role that you used to work in, maybe your new career path pays less or maybe something else unideal will happen.
However, I think that if you yearn for change then maybe making the ‘wrong choice’ is the best choice. Mistakes and failures are opportunities for learning and growth. But taking the chance to try something new may also lead to greater happiness and fulfillment which I think is enough to make the risk worth while.
I recently had an unanticipated situation occur, in fact I’d describe it as unideal. At first I found myself focusing on the situation, all that had occurred and how it had led me to feel.
But the more I got thinking about it, the more I found myself zooming out and thinking about this situation in the grand scheme of life and death.
Doing so allowed me to pick up on other things happening in the different areas of my life.
Sometimes it takes an unideal situation for us to become aware of the aspects of our life that require some care and attention. I think that my choice of word is so important here. It’s easy to fall into an unhelpful mindset of thinking everything is a mess. The reality is that sometimes things happen just to remind us to stay on track, pay more attention to ourselves and to take better care of ourselves.
Sometimes it helps to take a few steps back and return to the way things were. We often perceive this to be a negative thing as though we have regressed. However, it might actually be the case that the way you used to do things was much better.
So often we search for better or new because we don’t know what’s out there. And so we turn away from what we know and venture out to see what else is on offer. Sometimes we find other great options or ways of doing things but other times we end longing for what once was.
It’s normal to want to explore and try new things but perhaps you’ll ending up finding that the way things were is exactly how you want them to be.
Often when we feel stuck or stagnant in life it’s because we aren’t doing the thing that we know we should be doing.
We’re living in a particular place when that we’ve now outgrown, we’re going to places out of habit doing things that we once enjoyed even though we’re no longer having fun or we’re eating things that don’t make us feel good even when we know better.
Often when we’re in these situations we’re unable to see what the issue is or what may be worth changing. It’s also much easier to complain about how you feel than it is to take active steps to make your life better. You might be bored, unfulfilled and feel empty yet you do nothing about it and sometimes that’s because you haven’t even figured out what needs to change.
Sometimes you have to accept that your best isn’t good enough. Perhaps you’re losing clients, not meeting targets or not making enough to meet your basic needs like food and shelter.
But other times the case is that you aren’t actually offering your best, you’re giving half-heartedly.
This often happens when we don’t actually believe in ourselves. We give in a bare minimum sort of way and then tell ourselves that it’s not working out because we’re not good enough.
It’s really just an excuse for fear of trying and fear of failing. But it’s okay, in fact it’s probably a good thing to admit that you’re afraid because once you do, you can work through it and get past it.
It can be incredibly frustrating when you find yourself falling behind and struggling to keep up.
You end up feeling like there’s something wrong with you and you might even begin to question yourself in order to figure out why you can’t keep up.
And sometimes it leads to wondering whether you’re good enough or wondering if you should quit.
In these moments, think it’s useful to offer yourself a little bit of kindness. If you can’t keep up, berating yourself won’t help or make it any easier to catch up.
Perhaps it would be much more useful to offer yourself some kindness instead.
We grow up carrying around certain beliefs, ideas and perspectives. We have things that we tell ourselves we wouldn’t do. It could be anything from playing sports to wearing false nails, hiring a cleaner to watching stand up comedy.
These aspects help shape the kind of people we end up becoming.
However, sometimes we reach a crossing where we want to explore other aspects of ourselves without the limitations we had previously used to form our identities.
Perhaps you now want to try something that conflicts with the ideas or beliefs of your past.
It could be something that appears small to others yet for you this change almost feels like a betrayal. It means you’re no longer the person you thought you were/would be.
It’s especially difficult when you start becoming or experimenting with things that you associate with the kind of person you used to judge and make negative assumptions about.
I think it could be said that there are 2 types of limbo.
The first is where you’re caught between 2 options and do nothing. Instead of taking action and making a choice, you end up freezing instead. In this case it may result in life forcing your hand and you end up having to go with
The second is a much broader type of limbo. It’s when you’re caught between 2 options and instead of doing nothing you pick both. This results in being what Ziglar would call ‘a wondering generality’ or what is perhaps more common and referred to as a Jack of all trades, master of none. Sometimes, we think we can find a way around choosing by committing to 2 things but deep down we know that we only have the capacity fully focus on one thing at a time.
And whether you choose to do nothing or you attempt to choose both, either way you’re not making any real progress. That’s the problem with limbo.