Misconceptions around our personal growth can lead us to feel uninspired and self-doubtful about our direction. The hurdles we experience in life are necessary factors in our growth journeys. They strengthen us and foster a sense of resilience. This “keep going no matter what” mindset is beneficial when making challenging decisions like parting ways with people who aren’t following our same personal growth journey.
The heavy burden of tough decision-making will be with us our entire lives, though. But there’s power in choosing ourselves repeatedly because our personal growth is a lifelong process that calls for us to commit to ourselves every day.
Moving Forward Feels a Lot Like Going Backward
Every heartbreak, forgotten dream, unexplainable failure shapes us up to be the people who get to experience the reward of vulnerability. As we travel along our growth journey, there’s a resistance to challenging emotions--a belief that if we are constantly facing hurdles, then we aren’t making progress.
When I realized that personal growth involved countless attempts at learning, unlearning, and relearning, I stopped being so hard on myself. I recognized that every time I tried again, I was growing. Moving forward feels a lot like going backward when progression can include stagnation, humiliation, and even temptation.
We won’t nail it on the head every time. We won’t get every question correct. We will make mistakes, and it will be okay. Owning your journey for what it is, for who you are, allows you to accept the reality of growth. In this reality lies your mistakes, downfalls, and failures--the necessary pieces to your puzzle of life.
I have an interesting connection to failure. Failure, the thing I once feared the most, has been the only experience to build intentionality within me. There is a direct correlation between my failure and the intentionality I lead with every day.
“The reality of growth is that it can highlight your life’s pressure points, causing you to feel like you’re moving backward.”
When you fail, you have a clear understanding of what will not work. Naturally, what follows this understanding? Intention. Intention to find ways to succeed. I credit failure to discovering the intentionality in my life, and you might too. What has failure awarded you?
The reality of growth is that it can highlight your life’s pressure points, causing you to feel like you’re moving backward. For example, you might need to part ways with judgmental friends. This step in your personal growth may be difficult if you resist loneliness, a painful pressure point in your life.
Overall, your resistance to going backward on your personal growth journey can stem from thinking you have to experience life a certain way. Many of us think of growth as a linear process--one that mimics a staircase--taking one step at a time until we reach the top.
The flaw in this process is that we can’t honor the natural backslides our lives are sure to take. Your life looks different than others around you, and there is power in this. Your personal growth will take off when you realize that you can experience life completely different from the limiting norms that persist.
Everybody Can’t Go With You
What hinders most of our growth progress is the need to have others see us as we’ve seen ourselves. To have someone mirror back to us the thoughts we hold about ourselves is essential. The connection we have to our friends and family is something we hold dear, so we naturally consider their perception of us.
The only time this consideration impedes our progress is when we fail to rely on our own judgment to lead us forward. The truth is that only we know the inner workings of our hearts. Our fears. Our desires. When we cease to listen to that inner voice that rules us, we permit someone else to walk our path.
“We know when we’ve outgrown a relationship or friendship in our hearts and minds, but sometimes our legs are the last to go.”
The truth is that not everyone will understand us or our journey, whether they refuse to understand in hopes of controlling you or simply can’t because of their inability to know themselves. Either way, continue to have faith in your destiny.
We know when we’ve outgrown a relationship or friendship in our hearts and minds, but sometimes our legs are the last to go. The reality of our growth is that we are often only waiting on ourselves.
Leaving behind people you thought would stay forever can be challenging. A common hesitation to parting ways with others is the fear of loneliness. Loneliness, for many of us, is a scary, unfamiliar time to be with yourself. The idea perpetuated around us is that loneliness is involuntary isolation, a dark exile into a pit of sadness.
I’ve had the same fears about letting go of people to avoid loneliness. But when I learned the difference between loneliness and solitude, I found it easier to rid myself of those people. Loneliness has negative implications about being detached from others around you. Solitude is a blissful experience that encourages you to become more attached to yourself.
Seeking solitude is crucial to personal growth. There needs to be a safe, familiar place inside yourself to turn into at any moment. Solitude grants you this safe place. By transforming your fear of loneliness into a love for solitude, you can foster a sense of home within yourself--a place where you can grow without anyone’s judgment, a place where you can honor every bit of who you are.
Emotional Weight is Here to Stay
Our potential to grow rests in what we dare to experience. We must constantly make space for fear, pain, regret, anger, and doubt in our lives. And making space simply means that we welcome these emotions to pass through us as easily as they’ve come to us. It can be challenging, but challenges don't mean we’re not progressing, as we’ve learned.
There’s a misunderstanding that these difficult emotions can’t come with us on our journeys, that they’ll hinder our potential or distract us from our goals. The ironic truth is that if we didn’t know these feelings, we couldn't experience the opposite.
Without fear, we wouldn’t know love.
Without suffering, we wouldn’t know happiness.
Without uncertainty, we wouldn’t know confidence.
“Despite how personal it may feel, our traumas, fears, and pains are not exclusively ours.”
Our emotional weight, however heavy it may be, makes us whole. It helps us to live authentically with natural human experiences. The hurdle we must overcome is permitting ourselves to grow with this emotional weight without blaming ourselves.
As we progress through life, there are opportunities to lighten our emotional weight. If we walk honorably on our paths, we find others who will walk alongside us. These people are the ones we can hold tight, connect with on a deep level, and cherish forever. The power and beauty of connecting with others is that we can carry the emotional weight of life together.
Despite how personal it may feel, our traumas, fears, and pains are not exclusively ours. We can reflect on the shared emotional weight between us in hopes of lightening the load. Finding others who can share these things with you is essential to your personal growth because our emotional weight is here to stay.
I hope you can challenge your misconceptions about personal growth. And learn to live an authentic life that requires a faithful commitment to yourself. We can live through life with every fear, every pain, every regret, and still make progress on our journeys.
Once you permit yourself to exist just as you are, you can grow with the understanding that your journey is like no one else’s. Your struggles, victories and everything in between is a powerful culmination of your decision to lead an authentic life.