If you are like most people, you’d prefer happiness over unhappiness. You probably know and accept that life cannot always dish out platefuls of sweet cherry pie with whipped cream or provide a sunlit dappled green field filled with daisies in which to skip through. Being human comes with challenges, failures, adversity as well as joy, peace and life satisfaction. Let’s say you, like myself, consider yourself a work in progress and believe you can never stop learning; in fact you seek to improve yourself as you can for the sake of your emotional and relationship health.
Your intentions are good. But something still isn’t working. What the heck is going on?
Here are 3 ways you might be sabotaging your growth:
You are not living authentically: Perhaps people see you as someone who has it all together, has wisdom, makes great choices and “presents” in a healthy way. But in reality your life does not reflect this consistently. You might abuse substances. Your family might experience you differently than your social mask reflects to the world. You might even be angry inside. The more in alignment between what the world sees and how you think, feel and act, the more real growth can occur.
You put too much pressure on yourself for change: Improvement, change and new learnings occur on a continuum. They ebb and flow. You might fall down, have to get up and dust yourself off. Things totally out of your control (like the choices or behavior of another) might become obstacles. Too much frustration around where you “should” be rather than you actually are can negatively influence your process. The more you can let go of the idea that there’s an end point the more flexible you’ll be in accepting what is – and being ok with that.
You have unresolved trauma: Remember that trauma can be obvious and not so obvious. And what is threatening to one may not have been processed as such by the next. Don’t underestimate the importance of working through old wounds to give your brain a fighting chance of reacting from a place of security, calm and reason. Positive thoughts, taking in the good and a gratitude practice will all help to work against your brain’s wiring and those are all good places to start. But it’s not enough. Get real and go deep for more than just a band-aid approach.
After observing some of my mentors over time, I’ve learned that there is great potential for change in what you put your focus on. Qualities like flexibility, mindfulness, compassion for self, adaptability and courage are some of the elements of forward movement through life in a way that is the most rewarding. Things change. Things are hard. Things are not fair. But the payoff for continued effort in your growth is priceless even if it does not necessarily happen at the pacing you would hope for.
Acknowledge the obstacles, find a solution (more personal work, therapy) and keep on the path!
“The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its suffering. … The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. … Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one. ” – Goldie Hawn