Stepping Stones for Growth
As we move through our lives, we have all sorts of experiences that can be opportunities for personal growth. How we go through them and our perspective about them can offer the chance to learn something and move forward, which can have a profound effect on our overall well-being.
Being human automatically comes with joys and struggles, ups and downs, feelings, thoughts, emotions and intuitions. We have a broad spectrum of positive and negative experiences that inform the decisions we make and impact how we live our lives. Going through these experiences is a big part of what life is all about and it's how we shape our understanding of our ourselves and the world, even if we're not aware that's what's happening at the time. Hindsight is 20/20, right? We often understand something much later when we're looking back on certain events and circumstances. Many of us tend to focus on the negative parts of life, constantly looking to "fix our problems". It's not that our problems aren't real, there are real things to figure out all the time that are important and deserve our attention. Sometimes we put our mind to them, work at them for a bit and figure out a solution and continue on our way. Other times, we get stuck for one reason or another and find ourselves dealing with the same problems over and over or not being able to figure something out for a very long time. One of the reasons we get stuck like this is that patterns build up over time as we go through our lives, that at one time or another were vital to our survival. It's possible that we don't actually need them anymore the way we did before, and becoming aware of how they serve us or no longer serve us is a hugely important step in getting unstuck from those tough spots where problems seem impossible to solve. When we see our problems as opportunities for growth, a new awareness and perspective can emerge, giving us a chance to step back and ask ourselves what we might learn from them and what the Universe might be trying to help us figure out.
It's not just negative experiences that offer possibility to shift our perspective and find self-awareness. Often when things are going well and we decide to step out into the world in a bigger way than we have before, in a direction that we know is the next step for us, or one that challenges our perceived limitations of ourselves, we may experience a backlash of negative feelings, thoughts, voices, fears or hesitations that have kept us where we're at, and have been the reason we didn't or couldn't push past those limits previously . Learning to see these moments as opportunities for growth is like building a muscle. The more we practice it with care and balance, the better we will get at recognizing those hurdles as gifts to help us expand who we are and move through those negative pieces to a renewed perspective. Becoming aware of the difference between how something feels, what our intuition is, and what our perspective is, is important in discerning how to proceed. We might need to 'power through' in order to see that a very strong feeling really doesn't hold the oomph we thought it did, or we might need to take our time, and just stay the course as things unfold. Whatever we decide, staying connected to the idea that an opportunity is available to us can provide us with the balanced perspective we need to keep us on track.
When other people are involved in our problems and difficulties, we can very easily want to blame them. This is completely understandable, as there are many situations in which it can feel like if someone else would just act differently or do something differently, then our problem wouldn't be so bad or would easily be solved. And, maybe it's even true in some way for some circumstances. The important part here is that when we blame someone else for how we feel about something, we are giving up our own power. Another person may seem to be causing a problem for us or making it worse, but it's totally up to us how we react to it and how we perceive it. If we can see it as an opportunity, we may find that we get to build a new muscle. Maybe we learn how to negotiate better. Maybe we see a different point of view that we weren't open to before. Or, maybe we realize that we need to remove ourselves from the situation altogether rather than continue to be upset or controlled by it. When we do our best not to place blame, there is a much bigger range of possibility and solutions to choose from.
Take some time this week to look back on some experiences you've had, positive or negative, and see what lessons were learned from them. Did you form new perspectives or understand yourself better because of them? Is there a problem you're currently trying to solve? Consider viewing it as an opportunity, using it as a stepping stone for your own personal growth and see if any new solutions or perceptions present themselves to you.
photo credit: Sam Barber