The choice of growth

I saw this post on tumblr that said something along the lines of, there is a shift that happens in the type of growth in adulthood compared to childhood. In childhood, you grow essentially out of force: you move up different grades, you go through puberty, your body and environment changes. Whereas in adulthood, growth no longer becomes something you are required to do, but something you choose to do. And you have to choose in increasingly uncomfortable ways. I think that’s so true and I’ve definitely found myself at a crossroads very often, wondering if the chapter in my life or things that I’m going through are even worth unpacking.

Spoiler alert: It always is

The result of not unpacking what is going on in your life is really not worth it. I’ve learned in life things don’t disappear when you don’t think about it, they just move to different areas. I’ve made so many mistakes because I chose to not take time to think about my life, or learn the lesson of the necessity of recognizing any negative patterns the first time it comes around. Life is so cyclic and has such an ironic way of slapping you in the face with your own hand. I think the biggest ‘aha’ moment for me was the realization that the question isn’t whether or not we have patterns in response to things, but what those patterns are. All humans are habitual. Even if you don’t think you have any negative habits, it’s always great to check in. Have you seen this chart on cognitive distortions?

Identifying Cognitive Distortions using Deep Learning | by Jeannie Huang |  Medium

I love when they also have these charts that include replacement behaviours (CBT for the win!) “Blame pie” stands a lot out to me right now:

“Then one day I just can’t get out of bed”

Have you ever heard the theory that emotions are stored in different parts of our body? It’s usually in reference to trauma but I really think it’s the same for smaller things too. The things that matter to us, like our ambitions, a relationship with a friend/family member, or a passion. When something goes wrong or it stops and it isn’t dealt with, the void they make doesn’t go away, it goes somewhere else. There is a build up. For me it’s always the same: I think it piles up deep within my chest. I walk around not really present, almost dizzy. I only consuming content that distracts me from life, I don’t want to hear anything serious. I feel a lack of control, I let life happen for me, I’m not making any decisions. After a while life becomes unliveable. And then one day I just can’t out of bed. I become so low, that the pain of addressing whatever mess I created inside me, becomes less than the weight of carrying it around. I completely understand people when they say they disassociate or numb themselves. Sometimes it’s too much to bear, and the days can seem so endless.

Sometimes it’s for the better

But sometimes a bad situation could be for the better. I was reading a theory called the Region beta paradox, which basically states that people in worse off situations end up fine faster than those in “okay” situations. The example used is a biker. If a biker needs to go somewhere one mile away, they would probably use their bike. But if the destination is two, three, or four miles away, they would probably forgo their bike and take a car instead. So technically, the biker would reach the farther destination faster than the closer one (due to the speed of the car). So similarly, sometimes we could be in an “okay” situation, job, relationship, we know we want to leave, but we wouldn’t feel pressure to get up, there wouldn’t be any urgency. Whereas a person in really bad situation, a crappy job, or abusive relationship, there is no way they can distract or comfort themselves. Life is applying pressure and they are more likely to find a faster way out.

So I really try to remind myself when it gets hard, that this actually might be good for me. We don’t know what environment we need to be in to be successful. Avoiding addressing anything that’s going on in my life due to uncomfortable feelings or pain, I think, could be the reason why I’m not where I want to be. More often than not, a beautiful destination is preceded by overcoming prolonged hardship and pain.

I’ll always be trying

All in all, I’m a firm believer that growth is a choice, and the catalyst is usually something painful. Life will lob you opportunities and situations that tell you about yourself, tell you what you need to improve on, and what you are capable of, but it won’t do anything more than that. It’s up to us to sit and decipher and decode what each chapter in our lives are for, and what we need to do moving forward. We are free to reject this, but that will only reduce potential of what you could be, and ultimately live an existence that is drowning in emptiness. I’ve made a commitment to myself that as long as I’m alive I will always check in with myself, and even if it takes me a while, I will accept whatever is in the mirror and go from there. There are things I want to achieve, and I’ll always be trying.

But it’s more than just achieving things. I saw this quote that says, “Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and yet they pass themselves without wondering.” We are just as complex, striking, and cosmic as the things we marvel at. It would be such a shame to leave this life without uncovering all the layers of ourselves.

Let me know what you think! Is growth a choice? Have you found it easy to recognize negative patterns you may have been doing? Is all pain meaningful? Feel free to comment or message me on my tumblr!

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