New Year, New Me…. right?!
“Growth can be painful. Change can be painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong” – Mandy Hale
January, is the start of a new year where we each reach for our pen and paper and begin rushing to come up with resolutions that will accelerate positive changes in our lives. We begin to map out and brainstorm our goals and plans that will lead us to our ‘dream life’. (Well, this was the case for me for many years anyway).
However, to resolve means to find a solution to a problem, and our life is not a problem. To have a concrete ‘life plan’ leaves little room for change that may guide us in a different direction, often towards something greater than our own expectations. Self-growth does not just happen over-night or on January 1st, it is a life-long journey full of leaps forward and stumbles backward.
When I embarked on my journey of self-growth many years ago, it was because I had finally made the decision to stop living solely within my comfort zone. I was exhausted and finished with living the life that I thought society expected of me to live. A life that did not feel authentic. I began reading self-help books and blogs, attending wellness retreats, workshops and journaling. These practices have taught me invaluable life lessons and shaped the positive person that I am today. However, what I was not aware of at the time was that the road to self-discovery and self-growth would be long and sometimes painful and confusing.
It is in our human nature to seek happiness, love, joy and fulfilment. I learnt that the purpose of yoga is to release us of our suffering and that in order to move forward in life, we must develop a non-judgmental self-awareness. “OK, I can do that”, I thought. However, letting go wasn’t that simple. My ego was in the driver’s seat of my journey resulting in many detours and crashes along the way. Ekhart Tolle defines the ego as an illusional sense of self which develops throughout our life. You may be familiar with that voice in your head telling you that you’re not good enough and that you need ‘more’ to make you happy. It is often a judgmental and negative voice.
To me, growing was about feeling better and healthier with each day that passed. I was learning that the self-limiting beliefs and ‘stories’ I had been telling myself were creating a wall between me and my best self. I was having some monumental realizations that were opening me up to a world of new opportunities. However, this did not mean that every day was going to be bigger and better. I would still wake up some days feeling sad for no obvious reason, I would still criticize myself in the mirror and occasionally devour a tub of ice-cream. I later realized that the guilt I felt over eating the ice-cream, was more detrimental to my health than the calories. Accepting and letting go of these experiences brought me much more peace and happiness.
To uncover and understand my authentic self, I had to surrender to vulnerability and face my fears and insecurities. This often meant that sometimes I would feel worse, before I would feel better. Resigning from a job that didn’t fulfil me or moving on from a relationship that no longer served me brought up a lot of negative feelings, yet I always overcame these experiences feeling more empowered and inspired. I began to see that self-growth wasn’t about feeling better than before, it was about understanding who I am free of judgment. I also realized that achieving self-growth did not mean achieving my expectations about who I ‘should’ be and what I ‘should’ be doing. In fact, at this stage in my life, I chose to remove the word ‘should’ from my vocabulary entirely as it wasn’t helping my self-esteem, it just left me feeling as though I wasn’t good enough. I learned that thoughts are just that, thoughts, and thoughts can be changed.
In order to manifest everything we want and to live the life we are worthy of, we must accept and embrace all aspects of ourselves: the light and the dark. It is often through the messy, chaotic and painful challenges in life, in which we learn and begin to understand ourselves the most. To grow, we must be kind to ourselves and accept our struggles for what they are: opportunities to change and move beyond our expectations of how we thought things would turn out.
In every single moment of every single day, we can choose to step forward into growth. We can choose love over fear. We can choose at any time, how we want to show up. So before you begin scribbling down all of the goals you think you want to achieve, I challenge you to find a quiet and peaceful space alone, get out your journal and think even more deeply.
How do you want to feel?
Who are you (beyond your career, relationship status or place of birth etc.)?
What lights up your soul and fills your heart?
When you shift your focus to the person you want to become (the person you already ARE but just don’t yet realize) you’ll begin to manifest intentions that are true to you. And remember, there is no right and wrong or good and bad when it comes to self-growth, each stage is simply a part of your journey. Be kind to yourself beautiful, you’re not alone on this journey.
“Be confused, it’s where you begin to learn new things. Be broken, it’s where you begin to heal. Be frustrated, it’s where you start to make more authentic decisions. Be sad, because if we are brave enough we can hear our heart’s wisdom through it. Be whatever you are right now. No more hiding. You are worthy, always”. – S.C Lourie