Marriage and Family Therapist
August 13, 2019
Embracing Discomfort in Growth
In our world, we hear all about the benefits of growth fairly frequently—the benefits of growing physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, or spiritually. We are encouraged as parents to stay on top of the growth of our children, making sure our kids have the best of everything, know everything, and are prepared for life. With growth comes discomfort, and yet we don’t discuss or hear about that part very often. We will occasionally hear about someone’s difficult story to grow into the person they have triumphantly become, but these stories are always told in the past tense. In reality, the entire growth process can be a challenge. Embracing the difficulty can not only make the challenging parts less excruciating but the great moments more amazing!
Self-awareness is the key to passing “GO” in the growth arena of life. We must be aware that there is an issue before we even begin to do something about it. Self-awareness can be an incredibly hard process in and of itself. It represents hiking through the terrain of life, uncovering “ah-ha” moments on the bottom of the rocks along the way. Often, we don’t see them coming. A rock catches our attention so we grab it, only to flip it over and BAM—a life lesson is stuck to the back of it. Once we have this newfound awareness, we are forced to sit with it until we have a deep enough understanding of it and a readiness to do something about it. Sitting with the awareness can change our view on everything. We are now noticing this life lesson and/or how it impacts our lives in so many ways. To embrace this part of your growth would mean having curiosity. Become a detective in your life training to gain an understanding of this newly found clue. The hope in allowing for curiosity is that you’re less likely to shift into any guilt or shame while learning about this new part of you. Your process is just beginning—self-love and care are helpful!
Once you have learned all about your newly found need for growth, you will move into the action phase. This phase usually begins once you’ve gained enough of an understanding to begin to act toward a new beginning and move away from the parts you are ready to leave behind. This can often be just as challenging, if not more challenging, than the self-awareness portion or your growth. This period of time calls for a lot of patience, grace, resilience, and a deeper understanding of why you are doing what you’re doing in the first place. The middle, or gray in-between area of growth, can take time, often far longer than we would like or have realized it would. During this time, there will be a lot of attempts at moving beyond this phase only to learn that it didn’t quite do the trick.
The gray space of growth can often feel like when a child first learns how to ride a bike without training wheels. The training wheels of life have been removed, which now means you must learn how to coast, balance, pedal, and break on your own with the timing that works for you and your safety. It means you will fall several times. These falls may lead to a form of emotional or mental injury, causing you to take breaks as needed. Breaks, falls, and injuries can lead to a lot of frustration, devastation, or the desire to quit completely—the feeling of wanting to put life’s training wheels back on, go back to the way it was, and pretend like none of this ever happened.
It’s incredibly important during this time to have patience with yourself and your process. To not compare yourself and your process to anyone else’s. Your life, growth, and process are your own. Making comparisons will only do more harm than good. No life or experience is the same, therefore our focus should be on caring for ourselves and fostering our growth in the ways we see fit that day. Having at least one great support that you can call during the rough spots can help a lot too! Knowing that someone is in your cheering section believing in you can often be helpful in getting back on that “bike.”
I intentionally titled this post for a reason. My hope is that we can all embrace growth and the entire process of it. To embrace this time would mean having a positive self-narrative about where you are. Reminding yourself that this time is temporary and that your hard work is leading you somewhere much bigger and better than you’ve ever been as an individual. That once you get to your destination, you will appreciate the tears along the way and all the times you fell off, wanting to quit, yet kept going. You will appreciate it because it lead you to a place that can never be taken away and will only offer positivity in its path. I often describe life’s growth like a video game: we must master the challenges of each level before being able to move on to the next. Each level offers its own set of higher difficulty, resulting in many failed attempts before you’re eventually the master of it! So remember, you’re still trying to master this level of the video game. Be patient, be kind, and keep your eyes on the prize!
The final stage of growth is a new beginning! Yes, this stage is usually the easiest to embrace because the newfound growth feels amazing! You have worked so hard, endured so much, and you made it! During this time, it’s important to not automatically look to the future and the next goal. It’s important to embrace where you are and be mindful of all the hard work you had to endure to get here—to relish and celebrate your capabilities and the newfound self that has emerged. Mindfulness in this stage is helpful. It’s helpful in soaking up the full experience, as well as serving as a useful reminder in a time of future growth needs. You will then be able to remind yourself of just how capable you are and how far you’ve come, making the next challenge not as scary.
As humans, we are ever-evolving. Growth will continue to happen whether you’re ready to uncover that rock or not. Embrace it. Embrace the stages, embrace that you are as ready as you’re going to be and you will be thankful you did. Patience, a positive mindset, accepting the challenge, and good support will help. Own your capabilities and buckle up for the ride! You are a powerful human and can do this!
About The Author
Danielle Riele is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice with an office in Roseville, CA. She has worked as a therapist in the area for the last eight years and has been licensed for close to four years. Helping & encouraging people has always been a passion of hers. After becoming a parent several years ago, it pulled on her to make even more of an impact. She is now branching out to do more motivational speaking. This year she created new professional accounts on Facebook & Instagram called @youfingmatter, where she gives daily inspiration and encouragement to live your life in alignment with your worth. Late this year there will be a blog attached where you can find all of this and more!