“If you want to choose the pleasure of growth, prepare yourself for some pain.” – Ritu Ghatourey
Do you remember having growing pains when you were young? They weren’t pleasant were they, but who would want to stay the size of a baby? That’s just part of growing up.
However, what most people don’t recognize is that we continue to have growing pains – emotional, mental and spiritual ones – throughout our lives. However, discomfort now becomes our choice – we can avoid it, endure it, or embrace it. It’s no longer automatic.
Since our brains are hardwired to avoid pain, we often choose to avoid discomforts rather than embrace them. As a result, our personal and professional growth can become stunted.
What are some attitudes that people adopt to avoid the discomfort of growing?
- I’m happy where I’m at.
- I want to take it easy.
- I want to be comfortable.
- I don’t want to do that because it makes me uncomfortable.
- It’s too hard.
The trouble with staying in your comfort zone is that you can become self-absorbed, complacent, or easily bored. And if you have a creative nature, you’re going to be miserable.
Learning to be comfortable with discomfort is one of the most important skills you can develop. It’s how you’ll live a full and purposeful life. As Jean Shinoda Bolen said, “When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”
But why is growing emotionally, mentally, or spiritually so uncomfortable? Because it involves taking a risk. Letting go of control. Venturing into the unknown. But that’s okay. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.
When you regularly seek out fresh experiences, you become more creative and emotionally resilient. It makes you stronger and more confident as you see each success and conquer each hurtle. Can’t you look back and remember things that used to make you uncomfortable, but you can now do with ease?
How do you embrace discomfort?
- Develop a craving for something more in your life.
- Resist the pride of perfectionism.
- Be willing to make “mistakes” and see them as learning experiences instead.
- Deliberately seek out things that push your limits.
- Stop avoiding what’s hard.
Oftentimes you have to expand your understanding to overcome obstacles in front of you – understanding yourself, others, or how things work. It challenges your mental skills. But your brain is like a muscle and the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Conversely if you don’t stretch it, it will become flabby.
Make time for continual learning. Try a new language. Take a mindfulness course. Start a new hobby. You can tackle any project you set your mind to. As Calvin Coolidge said, “All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.”
If you make a practice of welcoming discomfort, your comfort zone will expand to include and embrace discomfort as a natural part of living. Then you can have a similar attitude to American writer Jonathan Lethem, “Discomfort is very much part of my master plan.”
Most things seem impossible until you do them. Remember that others have felt just as you do and they were able to push beyond that feeling. So can you.
Sometimes it helps to have someone coach you through a big growth spurt. If that’s where you’re at, I’d love to partner with you so you can more easily embrace discomfort. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
Would you like to turn your personal talents into a business that you love? You can when you discover your genius and build your professional expertise around the things you love to do, working with the kind of people you enjoy. Does this idea appeal to you? Do you wonder if it’s possible for YOU?
I know it is, because that’s exactly what I’ve been able to do. It takes work and effort, but if I can do it, so can you.
“But Maria”, you might say, “I don’t know what my genius is! I don’t have a specialty. I’m too ordinary.” If that’s how you feel, don’t despair. You can become an expert.
Usually the thing that makes developing a professional expertise so overwhelming is that you think you have to know everything about a subject before you can consider yourself an expert. Let me tell you a secret I’ve learned along the way… you don’t need to know everything. You just need to stay three steps ahead of the people you’re serving. And that makes it very doable!
Why three? Our brains seem to more easily grasp things in threes. It forms a pattern that we remember better. Add more to the mix and we become confused. Just think about some common trios: red, white and blue; blood, sweat and tears; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; mind, body, and spirit; A,B,C’s; 1, 2, 3; three blind mice; three little pigs; the three musketeers; and Larry, Curly, and Moe. People who originated these concepts intuitively recognized that three is a powerful number.
This principle of keeping three steps ahead applies to any business you have. Whether you’re providing a service, coaching an individual or leading a large group. Your community will see you as an expert if you teach them something they don’t know, or if you can do something they can’t do. You don’t have to know everything to be an expert.In fact, it’s impossible to know everything. You just need to know more than the person you’re teaching or leading.
Staying three steps ahead puts you in the place where you can do your best work. It keeps you in the sweet spot – not too far ahead that you forget what it’s like at their level; and not too far behind, which is so stressful.
For example, if you’re ten steps ahead, you may forget part of the process and not be able to connect as deeply as they need. On the other hand, If you’re only one step ahead, you probably haven’t integrated your learning enough to have “worked out all the bugs” as the saying goes.
Part of living a healthy life is making sure we’re not staying at the same level personally or professionally. We, as creative humans, are happiest when we’re growing and expanding our knowledge, skills and expertise.
As you expand your professional expertise, you’ll find that there will be things that you outgrow. Over time you’ll weed out what doesn’t bring you joy, and you’ll pinpoint the things that keep you excited and engaged.
Don’t try to hang on to something just because it’s familiar or you’re afraid of trying something new, or you think you owe it to the people in your community. If you’ve outgrown it, be assured there’s someone else out there who can step in and fill that place.Keep yourself in your sweet spot of being three steps ahead and you’ll feel comfortable enough while still feeling challenged. That’s what keeps life exciting and fresh.
So what is it you love doing, or that you do easily? If you’d like help identifying or stepping into your professional expertise more fully, feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Let me guide and support you as you explore your options.
“He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.” ~ James Allen
We don’t often think about this, but if you make a choice, you also make a sacrifice consciously or unconsciously.
For example: You give up work time to read a book. You invest in your education rather than taking a vacation. You may even purchase shoes instead of food. In each case you sacrifice something to get something you value more.
Each sacrifice, each choice brings you closer to, or takes you further away from, the amazing lifestyle you desire. To get it, you must pay the price of success.
What will excellence cost you? Focused action, hard choices and consistent follow through. You have to become what some might view as “obsessed’ with getting results.
How do you pay the price of success? It could be money. It could be physical effort. It might even be your health if you’re not careful. But your greatest asset is your TIME. Once you spend a second of it, you can’t get it back. It’s in limited supply, so spend it wisely.
However, success isn’t solely guaranteed by how much time you put into an endeavor. Perhaps you’ve heard that “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.” Malcolm Gladwell posed this rule in his book, “Outliers.” It gives you the impression that you have to put in a vast amount of time and deliberate practice to achieve excellence. (Deliberate practice means pushing your skill set as much as you can.)
But I don’t think that time and deliberate practice are the entire equation for success.
Excellence doesn’t just take time and practice. Your heart, soul and mind must be involved as you find and fulfill your purpose in life. If you aren’t good at an endeavor or you’re doing it just because someone else expects it, no amount of time and practice is going to make you great at it.
When you’re firmly convinced of your purpose, you’re more than willing to make sacrifices to fulfill it, because it fills you with joy and brings out the best in you. Some women have achieved excellence by being wonderful wives and mothers. While the world in general doesn’t give them the recognition they deserve, I think they’re awesome! Others achieve excellence in their chosen profession. That’s awesome too!
Personally, I’ve found my purpose by being the best daughter, wife, friend and coach that I can be. I love assisting women to achieve their purpose whatever that might be. Will this be enough for my lifetime? Time will tell. We all have the freedom to rewrite our lives any time we want.
One thing I do know is that you don’t get anywhere without some level of sacrifice.
On the other hand, be careful about the price you’re willing to pay for success. You don’t ever want to trade your reputation, ethics or integrity for a quick gain. It’s not worth it.
Giving up on your dreams is not a good option either. It exacts a high price in regrets and unhappiness. Don’t quit because you can’t figure out what to do next. If you want it enough, you’ll find a way.
Granted, it is human nature to default to what we’re used to, what’s in our comfort zone. However, growth depends on discomfort. Creativity isn’t sparked in a circle of comfort. It’s sparked by challenge, by needing to think outside the box, by deadlines, by stress, by what’s called, “Optimal Anxiety”. To achieve greatness, you have to push yourself.
Yes, we live in a world that loves instant gratification. But there are no shortcuts to excellence. It’s so satisfying to take your time and do it right. It will cost you, but it’s worth it.
Would you like to ensure you’re spending your time and energy on the right thing for you, right now? Then please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). It pays to explore new ideas and paths that can help you get closer to what makes YOU feel like a success.
“To confront a person with his own shadow is to show him his own light”. ~ Carl Jung
Have you given away your power?
Perhaps it started years ago… Many times when we’re young and go through a crisis – caused by divorce, death, illness, or abuse – we never have the room to explores and process all of the emotional polarities that come along with these experiences.
As a kid, you think you have to be mature. You have to show your parents, teachers and friends that you’re fine, that you can handle it… But what you’re really doing is learning to suppress or disown your real self.
As a child trying to protect yourself, you put on a persona. The problem is that persona lives on and you may stop yourself from saying things you want to say; you hide your emotions or your pretend to feel something that you don’t. You show the world a censored version of yourself.
In time, we can bury our authentic self so deeply that we actually lose sight of who we really are. The persona you put on as a child, or Shadow Self, is still there under the surface causing havoc. (Read my previous blog post that explains your Shadow Self.)
To accept your true self you have to identify, acknowledge and own the repressed parts (the good, the bad and the ugly) you may have been denying for years. Consciously integrating your shadow self allows you to reclaim the power you once gave away. It enables you to recognize your uniqueness and the gifts you have. The ultimate result? Total self-acceptance brings inner peace.
This process isn’t easy. To reclaim your disowned parts recognize that…
- You can’t bypass your past experiences and the unfelt emotions.
- You can’t get rid of emotions like you can’t get rid of energy. They can only be transformed (emotions = energy in motion).
- You must bring adult witnessing, compassion and understanding to those young parts to foster healing.
- You prolong the disattunement (lack of harmony) that you experienced while growing up by failing to attune to your emotional needs in adulthood.
Are you ready to make room for your younger self? Integration is the healing process of identifying, acknowledging, embracing unprocessed emotions from childhood.
This process involves embracing both sides of your emotional polarities. What does this mean? You can’t have confidence without insecurity; humility without arrogance; compliance without rebellion; tenderness without hardness.
As you read these emotional polarities (opposites), did you judge one emotion as good and one as bad? Is it hard to acknowledge that you possess some of them?
In these polarities, neither emotion is right or wrong, good or bad. They just are. And we need to acknowledge that we possess them without judgment.
I’m not advocating that you unleash your emotions on others without restraint. I am saying it’s important to mindfully acknowledge how you feel, reclaim your feelings, process those feelings, and then express them in productive, non-destructive ways.
It can be very telling when you feel inordinately irritated when you see such qualities in others. Often this is triggered because you’ve disowned this quality within yourself. Ask yourself:
- Why does this aspect of a polarity bother me?
- How do I hold its counterpoint?
- Why do I view it this way?
- When did I start to disown this in myself?
- Was it because of what someone said or something I experienced?
- What was the context then?
- What is the context now?
- What will happen when I acknowledge this disowned polarity in myself?
It’s a fact of life that emotional polarities exist within all of us. Bringing them to the surface and acknowledging them enables you to free energy that you can productively use in your personal growth. This is so much better than continuing to feel irritated when you see it in yourself or others.
You can become resilient, successful and capable despite your difficult or traumatic past experiences. I’d love to partner with you on your journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“We tend to think that vulnerability is associated with weakness, but there’s a kind of robust vulnerability that can create a certain form of strength and presence too.” ~ David Whyte
Do you have secrets you’ve never shared with anyone? Perhaps something that happened to you as a child? Maybe it’s simply a feeling that is so raw you’re too uncomfortable to share it with anyone?
All of us have secrets we hide from others and perhaps even from ourselves. (Carl Jung called this our Shadow Self.) We hide what we dislike about ourselves or feel is unacceptable because we want to feel safe, respected or accepted. If we reveal how we really feel deep inside, we’re afraid we’ll be rejected.
When do you develop this Shadow Self? And how does it undermine your life, your relationships and your sense of purpose?
Your Shadow Self is usually developed in your childhood. Maybe your parents or teachers taught you what they’d been taught – “don’t cry, pull yourself up by your booth straps, put on a smile, be strong.” You got the message that it’s good to bottle up or choke back your emotions. Overtime you came to view certain emotions and qualities as “bad” so they must be hidden when you feel them.
It’s a lie.
Denying your emotions actually makes you weak, needy and more vulnerable to life events. Sadly, most of us walk around cut off from our body – the vessel for our emotional experiences – and live our lives from our thinking mind only. This makes us incomplete.
While working with hundreds of clients, I’ve discovered that there’s usually a pattern underlying current challenges. At some point in our past, most of us thought we had to leave behind or abandon our younger self to survive and become an adult.
But that Shadow Self is still there under the surface. Often it shows up as unresolved issues, limiting beliefs or unchallenged “truths” along your journey to adulthood. The associated emotions may disastrously resurface as anxiety, depression, or illness.
When this happens our reflex is to push our Shadow Self back, to get rid of it or deny it. It feels foreign, scary and confusing to acknowledge your past hurt, sadness, grief, or loss. You want to just forget it and keep it in the shadows.
How can dredging up the past possibly bring you closer to healing?
It’s common to imagine that embracing your disowned emotions will devastate you and interfere with your ability to be a functional adult. Yet the truth is that you’re not operating at full capacity when you’re not connected with those parts you have disowned. You are literally missing parts of yourself.
As a child, we have a coping mechanism; we develop adaptive skills to keep the disowned ones hidden. For example when you disown vulnerability you might:
- Develop an inner perfectionist to avoid feeling “less than” when making mistakes.
- Develop a tough exterior, becoming overly self-reliant and independent so you’re not disappointed and hurt by others.
- Develop a need to take care of everyone else because no one is taking care of you.
Yet the truth about vulnerability is that it can be empowering if we develop what David Whyte, my favorite poet, calls “robust vulnerability.” This seemingly counter-intuitive concept is to allow vulnerability into your life so that it strengthens you from the inside.
Do you see how these adaptive skills can keep you from realizing your wholeness and true self? Your Shadow Self keeps you from letting your light, your true brilliance, shine. And when you’re always trying to hide who you are, you won’t have the energy to forge close, rich relationships. (In reality, you’re not hiding it very well either.)
The good news is that you can become whole again! You can learn to welcome, deeply hear, understand, and value everything about yourself, even the disowned parts of your Shadow Self. Then you can integrate them back into who you are and how you express yourself.
For some this can be quite challenging and frightening to do alone. I’d love to support you on your journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
Isn’t it time to “see and embrace the elephant in the room” and finally take the steps to feel whole and in harmony with who you’re meant to be?