By Robin Elliott
“You are not doing anything wrong by hoping for something better.”
One of the inevitabilities of growth is that things don’t fit anymore. With change comes a feeling of discontentment and being ‘out of sorts’. Circumstances and habits that have served us perfectly well start to rankle. Just like an ill fitting piece of clothing, we find that the life situation we wear no longer suits or brings out our best qualities.
And yet what is at the root of the discontent about growth? Why does growth illicit agitation and anxiety?
My colleague helped me see it. She had ably climbed the corporate ladder in the same organisation for 10 years and was wondering at her unrest in a job that she had previously loved. As we talked, she came to the conclusion that she had in fact outgrown the job and it was time to move on.
But after arriving at this understanding, she was no less agitated. She was feeling disloyal, she was feeling, paradoxically, as though she had failed, she was worried about what was next. She was a mixed bag of emotions, until she casually said to me ‘you know, I’m not doing anything wrong by hoping for something better.’
And there it was — the misplaced feeling of duty and obligation that ties us to situations and people way past their use date. Once you’ve outgrown a situation you literally can’t go back. You can’t squeeze something bigger into something smaller. You can’t constrict all the new found parts of yourself back into an old form, because they want something else, something more appropriate.
Growing ‘up’ implies just that, a forward or vertical progression, rather than a backward step or an adherence to the status quo. Growing up means invariably that we grow out, as we move beyond a situation and seek new experiences and environments that allow our newly realised skills and talents their rightful expression.
Things don’t end, they complete. Following a stage of life through to its own natural outcome allows us to negotiate life passages with less resistance and ultimately more success. The biggest challenge we face is learning to let go and move with the flow. Easier said than done, but here are 3 tips to help you get there.
1. Label Your Growth.
Take your mind back to when you first entered the situation, whether that be a job or relationship, and see how you have grown from the experience. How are you different? Are you more confident, do you have more technical expertise, do you cope better with difference and communicate more effectively? Conduct your personal stocktake and consciously examine and label your growth, because in the words of Helen Keller “life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”
Brain research shows that the senses did not evolve in isolation of each other but actually work together to perceive our world. When multiple senses are stimulated simultaneously the brain works better. Integrating change, making those newly realised aspects of self functional, is assisted if we engage all the senses. That includes examining your mental programming and re-patterning your self-talk. It involves giving physical form to new beliefs by verbalising them to a friend or coach or writing them down. We can also integrate change by doing seemingly unrelated activities such as walking, sleeping or watching a movie, actions that allow the mind to rest while other parts of our being have expression.
The key is to be aware that integration is taking place, and have the intent to embody and embrace the growth into a unified whole.
Move on. Make a conscious decision to leave what you are inhabiting, whether that be a behaviour or an actual situation, and take action. Action will come naturally and be easier once you have integrated the growth, but take action you must. Pick up the phone, write the email, contact the interviewer; whatever step you can take today to create momentum and move in your desired direction is what you need to do. Commit.
And know, you are not doing anything wrong by hoping for something better, you are just answering the call to a more fulfilling life.
Robin Elliott. First published on www.quickbites.co