3 Common Detours on the Path of Growth

I clearly remember being a young child and seeing a group of high school students and thinking, “I’ll NEVER be that big!”  I couldn’t even picture what I would look like or imagine being able to do the things those kids were doing.

Yet somehow I did grow up. And when I was in high school, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be out of college and working.  Having a career (gasp!).  The thought of having my own children was too bizarre to even think about except in the very abstract realm of “someday”.

And yet, here I am.

Picture a seedling that grows into a stunning maple.  It’s easy to say that that was inevitable.  That it was just following the natural process of growth.

What if YOUR growth is just as inevitable?  What if it’s simply a matter of getting out of the way and allowing it?

So often we want to know how things are going to turn out before we even start down a path.  That’s a sign of not trusting the path and life.  Of not trusting ourselves.

What if it just takes hanging in there and being persistent?

Imagine the seedling has become a sapling and a harsh winter comes.  The wind is strong and bitterly cold.  What if the sapling chose to give up because it all felt too hard?  What if a branch breaks off in a strong wind and the sapling says, “OK, that’s it.  I’m done.  I obviously wasn’t meant to grow more.  I’m just going to stay like this and find a way to be happy with it.”

That would be impossible because growing is what it’s called to do.  And that call is irresistible.

The same is true for you.  You are being called – you are calling yourself – to grow.   To live bigger and to express what’s inside of you. To live the life you were born to live.

There are three common detours that get us off the path of growth.

1.  We try to become something or someone that we’re not.

We see someone who is clear and standing in their power and we think, “Yes!  That’s what I want, too!”  So we do what they do and pattern ourselves after them.

And that’s never going to work.  And because we can never BE them, we always feel like a failure. We try to become our greatest self by becoming THEM.

This would be like a maple tree seeing how big and strong an oak is and trying to become THAT, and then feeling bad about itself because it’s “just” a maple.

That doesn’t help anyone – especially people who love maple syrup and fall colors.  The best thing a maple sapling can do is to be a GREAT maple tree.

The same is true for you.  If you imitate someone else, your unique gifts and beauty go unexpressed and unrealized.  The world is deprived of your equivalent of maple syrup and fall colors.

The BEST thing you can do is to be a great YOU!

2. We resent the process of growth.

We envision an end result where all the pieces are in place and life is running smoothly, and we aren’t satisfied until we’re THERE.

But the truth is, there is no THERE.  There is only HERE.  Right here, right now is your life.  The real key is learning to love yourself and your life in this moment, just as you are.  This is your place of power.  From here, you can create anything in your life.

First, though, you have to be right here, right now.

3. We get discouraged.  We give up just before the breakdown becomes a breakthrough.

This is because we believe that there’s something wrong when we feel stuck.  We judge the process and we judge ourselves.

We tell ourselves things like, “I can’t believe I’m still dealing with this”, “This feels hard and scary”, and “I don’t deserve help”.

Picture that sapling saying, “I don’t deserve this much sunshine, this much rain or soil this rich.”  That would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it?

But we do the same thing.

And we forget that all these feelings and learning curves are temporary, that this isn’t how we’ll always feel or how life will always be.  What keeps us stuck in those times is that we’re not seeing the bigger picture and we let our fears keep us from moving forward.

Just as opening its chrysalis strengthens the butterfly and prepares it to fly, the PROCESS of growing and getting clearer prepares us for LIVING the bigger version of ourselves.

The Sufi poet Rumi said it beautifully.

“Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of a process. It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be so shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for they know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full.”

Sometimes you’ll feel like a crescent moon, a long way from being full.  Have patience with yourself.  The moon does become full.  The dawn does come.

And the crescent moon and night have their own beauty and magic, so appreciate where you are in this moment.

All three of these detours are rooted in fears, like the fear of not being good enough as you are right now.  Or the fear of not deserving a beautiful, abundant, joyous life.

When we let go of our fears and blocks, strength and clarity naturally flow from within us.  As we let go of the constraints and limitations of old beliefs, we free ourselves to grow in ways we never imagined we could.  We become a version of ourselves than we hardly dared dream of.

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