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.
I think one of the main reasons that old habits are hard to break is because we’re used to them. When you’ve been doing something for a long time whether it’s beneficial to your life or not, it can be difficult to just let it go.
Even if you know it’s not good for you, you get sucked into the feeling of familiarity and allow the habit to continue.
But, what if you forced yourself to change, what if you made a choice to do something different and uncomfortable? Doing that allows you to open yourself to the possibility of a new life where you do thing that align with the kind of person that you want to be, rather than contradict it.
Overcoming a habit that is hard to break is joyous because you know it wasn’t easy but you did it anyway.
It is so important to be willing to let things go.
Often in order to make room for the new we have to rid our lives of all that does not serve us. But even when we know what we need to do, we end up hesitating and putting off what needs to be done.
And in doing so we delay the new. Then we wonder why our lives aren’t changing or why good things arent happening.
The reason we end up holding on instead of letting go is because we’re scared to be without. We’d rather the comfort of what we know (even if it doesn’t benefit us) than have nothing whilst we wait for change to come.
That mindset comes from a place of lack and I think the best way to overcome that is to force yourself to be uncomfortable. Let go of the things that you no longer need in your life. It may be difficult to trust that better things will follow but the least can you for yourself is to stop holding on to all the that you no longer need in your life.
When we have negative experiences associated with certain events we tend to avoid those experiences moving forward. I think that’s a totally normal reaction because of course you don’t want to keep having bad experiences.
However, what can end up happening is that you limit yourself in the future. You avoid things that will help you grow and develop as a person.
Let’s say growing up you had a bad experience with public speaking. You didn’t feel confident, stumbled over your words, forgot what you wanted you say and ended up feeling really embarrassed. Based on that experience you decided that you’d never do public speaking again. You now associate it with feeling uncomfortable and you don’t think it’s something you could ever be good at so you actively avoid it.
It’s gotten to the point that now just the thought of speaking in public is enough to fill you with anxiety.
A whole decade could have passed by yet you’re still deeply impacted by the feelings associated with a past memory.
In this situation, I think the only way to overcome it is to do the thing that scares you. Of course it might not go swimmingly but being embarrassed or forgetting your words isn’t the worst possible thing that could happen you . It’s not good but it could be so much worse. I think changing the way you think about a situation not turning out perfectly is so important.
Focus on just being able to do it and get through it without all the extra pressure of being perfect. Try, try and try again even if it means feeling a bit uncomfortable and being a little awkward.
In time, you go from associating public speaking with being fear and embarrassment to it being a way to express yourself.
Doing this allows you to eventually rewrite the memory associated with that experience.
After a difficult or challenging life experience whether mental or physical, you end up in a recovery period.
For example, imagine you fall off your bike and break your leg. Your recovery period would be the cast and crutches but eventually you’re walking again. Another example is a breakup, it could take a few weeks or even months to emotionally recover from a relationship ending.
The recovery net is where you end up when you’re not willing to let go of the comfort/safety of being in recovery.
If we go back to the bike story. Imagine, you’re at the point where your leg has healed and you no longer need the crutches but you can’t seem to let them go.
You’re physically ready to ride again but you keep making excuses because you need them when the truth is you’re scared without them. You’re scared of falling.
And with a relationship ending your recovery net might be never committing to one person so that when one situation ends you’ll always have someone else.
The recovery net is the method that we use to protect ourselves from things that brought us some form of harm/pain. Not because we’re in any danger but because the idea of the potential danger scares us so much that we aren’t really ready to make the true leap and risk being hurt again.
One of the best lessons to have learnt this year is how to make the best of challenging circumstances.
I’d be highly surprised to find that there is anyone who reads this blog that has not been affected by the pandemic.
People have lost their jobs, had family and friends pass, experienced financial difficulties, had holidays postponed, struggled to cope because they’re living alone, missed moments with the people they care about, had plans cancelled and so much more.
It’s easy to end up feeling as though life can be nothing more than bleak but it’s important to remember the joys of life.
No matter what is going on if you only focus on the ‘bad bits’ it will consume your whole outlook until you can’t see past it.
Of course you can’t ignore what is going on in the world but you can make time for things that bring you joy and make you feel good.
The idea of always saying the first thing that comes to mind is great in some ways. However, it doesn’t work well in every situation.
If you’re someone that excessively analyses everything you say before you say it, practicing to say what comes to mind could be a great way to combat your anxieties.
But if you’re someone that is quick to react and easily enraged, taking time before you speak could save you a lot of hassle.
It’s useful to look at certain aspects of yourself and think about what works well and what doesn’t. The result of that self-reflection might make you realise that you need to think more about what you say or think less.
Life is full of stuff.
Stuff we get caught up in because we think it matters.
Social media expectations of the way that things should be.
But at the end of the day all that stuff is often a distraction from what really matters.
And so you have to learn to overcome it. No matter how important it might seem to uphold these expectations, it’ll rarely make you happier.
In fact, more often than not it just makes you miserable because it leaves little room for you to be yourself.
So often we rely on being confident before we do something without knowing how we’ll get there or how it will feel.
But when it comes to overcoming a lack of confidence, it only takes a willingness to be outside of your comfort zone long enough to get more comfortable.
One day you’ll have the confidence to do whatever it is without the nerves. Then, maybe after a few months you’ll find yourself volunteering to do the thing that once scared you.
Taking space is something we’re often reluctant to do.
It could be space from a person, a habit or even just social media.
For me the purpose of space is to gain clarity.
It’s difficult to get that when you’re in the situation which is why it is necessary to remove yourself.
At first you always miss the thing that you’re taking space from because you’re so used to it being part of your day to day life but then you feel refreshed and wonder why you clung to that thing so much in the first place. Then after that comes the sense of knowing that without this thing in your life you’ll still be totally fine.
I don’t think we always anticipate that that last realisation will come which is why we can be reluctant to give things up.
I think we quite often think the opposite which is that we’ll feel as though we can’t live without the thing or come to crave it even more than before.
It could be something like snacking on sugary foods, a person you believe yourself to be so totally in love with or maybe it’s Instagram.
Whatever it is in your life, don’t be too afraid to take space from it.
You might even find that you no longer want the thing in your life and if that’s the case, be willing to let it go.
Not everything is meant to last.