Personal growth is a journey that begins from birth; however it really takes off the moment we become conscious about it. It’s from there we begin the journey up a perceived mountain to our self realization….our inner peace…maybe even enlightenment.
The problem with the mountain metaphor is that it lends itself to the idea that one day we will reach an end, finally succeed and never have to go through discomfort again. When we see personal growth as climbing a mountain, any struggle or new pain feels like a step in the wrong direction, when that’s exactly the opposite. Pain and discomfort are the very signals that we are growing. Personal growth is not movement towards a finite destination, but rather a process we will be on our whole lives long.
Someone once explained personal growth to me like this. He said it’s like your moving up levels. When you reach a new level, often times “stuff is shaken loose.” That stuff causes you to drop, but not to where you came from, you never really go back there.
I heard someone say recently this about physical training, “the real training starts when you stop setting personal records.” Personal growth is like that too. Upswings are exhilarating, but they aren’t nearly as powerful as the times when “stuff gets shaken loose.” The time will come when we have to face something we thought we were long since done with. The time will come when we feel painfully misaligned with our values. This is where the seeds of transformation get planted. We will grow again, and it will be marvelous.
In the specific area of our bodies the perceived pinnacle of personal growth tends to perfect health, an unwavering positive body image, a consistent diet and relationship with food. Our growth in relationship to our bodies is always going to be a work in progress. There is not going to be a time when the stars align and we can stop changing. We will age, what works now might stop working, something new probably will arrive that will challenge the very fabric of our being at some point or another.
I have become known for saying “Once you know, you can’t unknow.” We know that our worth is not tied to our body. We know that in order to feel at peace acceptance is necessary. We know that our happiness isn’t ever going to come with a number. Every step we take now is in that direction, even the ones that feel like the old has returned. Stuff will get shaken loose. Even though it may not feel like it, we have not lost ground. We are simply getting ready for the next big step.