The Pattern of Personal Growth

Have you ever noticed how your greatest moments of personal growth occur?

There’s a pattern to it, I’m convinced.

First, a challenge. A challenging life circumstance or situation. Something comes at us sideways when we least expect it. A loss. Break up. Health problem. We don’t feel equipped to handle it, yet somehow we do. We’re faced with an obstacle and we pull through.

But we haven’t grown yet.

Next comes vulnerability. We share our experience of this challenge with another person. In all of our raw honesty, we open ourself up to another. We share in our weaknesses and by doing so, we experience vulnerability.

Then we reflect. Only after a difficult challenge and shared vulnerability, can we pause to really reflect about what exactly we’ve just been through. What we’ve grown through. How we’ve grown. And in our reflection, finally, our great moment of personal growth arrives. Clothed in compassion and humility. Void of all judgment. An “Aha” moment.

Challenge. Vulnerability. Reflection. In that order.

I believe that all of our greatest personal growth experiences follow this pattern.

Always Do Your Best

It’s a guiding life principle with which we’re all familiar: Always do your best.

Of course, your best is a fluid concept. It will be different, for example, after a sleepless night than when you wake up refreshed and energized. The idea is to do your best every day, no matter the quality of it.

But this seems a somewhat daunting task, doesn’t it? I mean, to always do your best feels like an awful lot of pressure.

What if we starting looking at our life through the lens of moments, rather than days?

In this case, we need only do our best in this very moment. Now that doesn’t seem too hard, does it?

If we can commit to doing our best in this moment, that act alone will inherently put us in the best place for the next moment. And on it goes…

Hard to Love

Stay away from people who make you feel you’re hard to love.

Surround yourself with people who remind you just how lovable you really are.

I Must Say…

I must say, as a blogger

…if following advice were half as easy as giving it, this world would be a much better place.

Mk. That’s all. 🙂

Do I have to Grow Up?

peter pan

I don’t know why so many people say, “Do I have to grow up?”
Perhaps it was Peter Pan, inspiring us all to be children forever.

And I agree with Peter Pan that we should all strive to have the hearts of children, no matter how old we become. The child’s innocence, honesty, openness, curiosity, wonder…they’re all things we shouldn’t let the years steal from us.

But added years and increasing miles doesn’t result in decreased value.
We’re not like cars. We’re living beings!

For that which is alive, growth is a wonderful blessing.
Think about it. Each year things seem to clarify a bit more. Each year we grow stronger and stronger, more sure of ourselves and our Maker.

What’s not to love about growing up? About growing at all, in fact?

Hawaii Adventure: Lessons from Traveling with a Stranger

hawaii

It takes a certain kind of person to agree to travel with a virtual stranger, into unknown territory, for an unknown period of time. A rebellious soul; fearless, faithful, and perhaps a bit crazy.

That was Mason and I when we agreed to travel together to Hawaii, island hop, and explore the unknown.

All in all we wound up spending around 100 hours together.

To spend 100 hours straight with another person can be challenging no matter how long you’ve known one another.

We didn’t know for certain where we’d sleep on any given night; unsure of how we’d get there, or even where we were going.

Our 100 hours together was characterized by uncertainty and vulnerability.

The defining characteristics of any moment worth living.

You learn a lot about a person in 100 hours. But you learn even more about yourself.

See, when you’re traveling with a stranger, you can’t afford to worry about whether or not they like you. You’re stuck together regardless, and you’re only option is to be yourself.

It’s not like most initial meetings, where you tip toe around one another for an undetermined amount of time in what I call the “Getting Comfortable dance”. It’s not like that at all.

The only dance you’re doing is your very own, to a song that comes directly from your heart, to the very drum that makes yours beat.

You come to appreciate the differences, the things that make us unique as individuals and also the imperfections, which define and unite us as human beings.

When you’re traveling with a stranger, of course, you hope that the other person’s moves will be in rhythm with your own.

Sometimes they are. Sometimes they’re not.

But at the end of 100 hours, you come to learn that it doesn’t really matter anyway…

What matters most is that you stepped onto the dance floor at all.

Because when you only have 100 years to live, you have to know your own steps so good, and trust your own rhythm so much, that it will one day be unmistakable and undeniable when you find that person who sways the way you do.

The Key to Choosing and Establishing Healthy Relationships: “You Train People How to Treat You”

I’ve always been fascinated by the phrase, “You train people how to treat you.” While I understand it’s base concept (people will do to you what you allow), I’ve always wished for someone to delve deeper into this topic and to really hash out the details of it with me.

Today, that’s what I’m going to do for you, after having an epiphany about the subject last night while playing with my dog. (Dogs are great examples of the base line of emotions and thought processes from which we operate, by the way… 🙂

For such complicated subject matter, it’s really quite simple.

Reward behavior that you like and don’t reward behavior that you don’t like it. 

Got it? Good.

Just kidding… I told you I would dive deeper…

  1. Reward behavior that you like. Reward it with what I call “The Three A’s”: attention, affection, and appreciation.
  2. Behavior that you don’t like, don’t reward. I.e. Don’t pay any particular attention to it. This goes for negative or positive attention. The key here is no attention at all. Just let it lie and see how the other person responds. Perhaps, they’ll bring it up on their own volition.
  3. If the behavior which you don’t like continues despite your lack of reward, then distance yourself. Remember, you’re not trying to prove to this person that you’re lovable. You already know this to be true and so do they, as they’ve clearly chosen to spend their time with you. Instead, your main goal early on is to determine whether or not this person is worthy of your heart.  I can assure you, you won’t be able to change them.

The reason this is key early on, is because everyone puts their best foot forward in the beginning. And if behavior that you don’t like is happening in the beginning, it’s likely to continue later on as things progress. And don’t fool yourself, honey, you can’t change people.

So to break it down…

Observe the other person’s behavior, provide feedback (i.e. reward vs no reward), and then make your choice from a rational place (before said place becomes too muddled by emotions).

That’s it! Wham!

Keep these things in mind and surely you’ll be on your way to making wiser relationship choices in no time!

Stand Your Sacred Ground

There is something deeply spiritual about standing your ground; not getting small in order to make other people feel comfortable, or throwing up defenses in order to protect ourselves.

There is something sacred about honoring our truth. When faced with vulnerable situations, I try to remind myself of this: “Don’t shrink. And don’t puff up. Stand your sacred ground.”

Let Love Know You’re There (A Poem)

We cultivate love when we allow
our most vulnerable selves to be seen and known.
Love is not something that we give or get;
it is something that we nurture and grow.

Withholding of affection,
disrespect, betrayal and blame
damage the roots from which love grows
and hurt the place from which it came.

Love can only survive these injuries
if they’re acknowledged, healed, and rare.
So put down your ego, put in the work,
and let love know you’re there.

Fix your problems by forgetting they’re problems

We fix our problems by forgetting that they’re problems and reminding ourselves that they’re actually gifts.