What growth really feels like

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We often see the result of personal growth. The challenge completed, the chilled, relaxed and accomplished person on Youtube, Insta or still valid in this age: the television. They may not lie. They may not make it sound easy the journey they’ve been on, but still, we may struggle to related to their experience. We can’t help but think they must be different from us, or we’re different from everyone else. Exceptional, but not in a good way.

The outcome of great personal growth is there for everyone to see. It may be as obvious as the car you now drive or as subtle as a new spring in your step. The pain and the turmoil are sometimes spoken about; for each of us, it is different. Support can make all the difference in the outcome, but ultimately when we put our head on the pillow at night we are alone with our thoughts, demons and doubts. I often felt that knot in my gut, the tightness in my chest like someone was sitting on me and thought, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I do this? Why can’t I find a way out of what I’m feeling? What must I do? Work harder, fight harder?” Nature is not sadistic; pain is present for a reason and the first thing you must do is listen to it. Don’t fight it, but acknowledge it. It’s in your life to tell you something. It so easy to write these words but even as I do I think of the times I have been (and will be again, no doubt) brought low by emotional pain and start by looking inwards to blame myself. This is then mixed with a good dose of ‘it’s all their fault’ i.e looking out at the world and looking to blame my external circumstances. Of course, there may be things I and others have done to put me where I find myself, but these external and internal actions are just actions. They’re fleeting. It’s our perception and the narrative we weave around these circumstances is what we call reality.

So start with the only truth there is; listen to your body, your soul, your gut…whatever you call it. Be still and try to understand what it trying to tell you. You know you best. You want to meditate, sure then meditate. Don’t like the idea of meditation? Just sit still for 5 minutes or 10 minutes. Not with a coffee or a phone or with music on. Just sit, be still and listen to the world around you. Listen to what the pain is trying to tell you. Acknowledge that it’s there and that it’s there for a reason. It’s not something to be chased away, a discomfort you must rid yourself of. It’s here for a reason and job one is to listen to the message. When is it worst? What’s the trigger? Then ask yourself why then, why that? Don’t obsess about it, just listen and observe yourself. What is the pain trying to tell you? What should you stop doing? What should you be doing in its place?

The pain wants you to grow, to be who you really should be, to live the life you’re born to live. When you do, the pain will leave; its job is done. The next time it returns you’ll understand a little bit better, listen a little bit sooner and grow a little bit faster.

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