That place right before growth happens is the hardest. It’s often gripped with fear, self-loathing, and even hopelessness. It can feel like all is lost, but it is in this moment that you are approaching your growth edge. It‘s the place where you get to wake up to the parts of yourself that are not so conscious. It is the place that allows you to be more fully present. It is where healing begins.
These challenging growth edges are an invitation to look compassionately at the choices you’ve made and decide if these ways of coping are still helpful. Your inner critic may tell you that your thoughts or actions were stupid, though it’s important to remember that your choices were actually the wisest thing you could have done with the information you had at the time. Don’t waste energy “shoulding” on the old you because you didn’t have all the valuable information that you have now. There’s no value in beating yourself up. If some aspect of your past behavior didn’t align with your values then you get to choose differently next time. But change doesn’t come from a place of self-loathing. Rather, it comes from a place of love.
These growth edges are opportunities to lead a more authentic life. Each personal challenge requires hard work, patience and diligence— a softening around the edges. It means questioning old ways of doing things. It requires mindfulness, compassion and a childlike curiosity. It requires identifying our emotions in an effort to calm the fight or flight response we feel, and then validating each vulnerable part of us. Be your own best friend. Take into account your biological make up and life experiences.
The pain and discomfort that accompanies these growth edges can feel like this is yours alone to suffer. Depression and anxiety have a way of reinforcing these false beliefs by whispering to us, “Don’t reach out. You won’t be good company until your wholly healed.” Dark thoughts will tell you that you have to fix yourself first and then you can come out to play. However, we are social creatures first and foremost. We need people to help us co-regulate our systems. Don’t allow depression or anxiety to take you further into a downward spiral. Upward progression begins with connection and radical acceptance.
The exciting and though often scary part is that you get to decide what comes next. This honest soul searching is not for the faint of heart, and yet it is how we make meaning of our suffering. This is a critical part of our healing as we are meaning-making creatures. It is how we begin to see injured parts of us as warriors and survivors. It often involves some grieving for what might have been, but ultimately acceptance and compassion for what is, leads to powerful growth— a more solid and whole version of you.