We often associate personal growth and transformation with bliss, pleasure and expansion. However, the path of transformation is not formed of only pleasant experiences, but also with challenges and difficulties, including less than pleasant states and feelings.
Growth could be compared to the process of shedding a skin – we transcend the old patterns and self identities. This process of liberation from the limits and conditioning where we shed and let go of who we thought we were, old beliefs, attitudes and ways of being is not always pleasant. There might be times when we are confronted with inner conflicts and challenges that aim to keep us at the previous level of development.
The Transitional Phase
The transitional phase is marked by being able to observe and experience who we were whilst being aware of the new that is coming our way. The reason it's the most important phase of transformation is because we are faced with the choice: we can either fall back onto what is familiar and comfortable, but not necessarily right; or we can let that comfort go and embrace the new position and version of ourselves which might be anxiety provoking since we only just began learning the new way of being.
Being aware of this important phase of growth is a key moving away from feeling stuck in between stages of development.
In essence, the experience of the transition between stages of development can feel as a cognitive dissonance since both – the old and the new beliefs, attitudes and ways of being are present in our awareness. I doubt that this experience will feel harmonious since the new stage is usually a refinement and correction of who we were, which will essentially create a conflict.
Our ability to withstand this conflict without making any hasty decisions enables us transcend it and move towards the new version of ourselves. This process has been called the Transcendent Function.
It is important to understand and acknowledge that we might experience pain, anxiety and grief as a result of our growth. We are essentially letting go of everything that is familiar to us and we are being thrown into the unknown. Anyone is rarely prepared for this experience – and that is the whole point. If the path was clear and only pleasant and enjoyable, we would rarely learn anything new. It is precisely these experiences that we find challenging that are crucial to our growth as they push us outside our comfort zone, knock us out of our inner place of security. However, we must be willing to face them and acknowledge the difficulties – otherwise we will end up feeling stuck in life.
Tips on How to Move Forward
In order to pass these darker moments of growth, we not only need to be patient, but also pay attention to every single action we are taking (or not taking). Because we are transcending the conditioned patterns our being has been embedded in, if we don't pay attention to what we are thinking and what actions we are taking, we are bound to fall back into unconsciousness and preconditioned patterns of acting.
Our mind might try to trick us by showing us that what we are doing is wrong, pointless or too difficult. It is therefore important to simply observe the process without identifying with every single thought and emotion we are having. By assuming the outsider's perspective, we are reinforcing our ability to make conscious choices. Regardless of how intense our emotions and thoughts might be, our persistence and determination to observe ourselves without identifying with what is happening in our minds will enable us to detach ourselves from old patterns of being.
I'm not going to sugar coat this process – the more you are determined to move forward and detach yourself from the old patterns, the more your mind will start acting out. It is simply because when we are leaving our old self behind, we are triggering our own fear of death. Therefore, it is only natural that our instinct for self-preservation will kick in and try to stop us from moving forward.
Apart from remaining mindful of our mental and physical processes, self-care and kindness can help us to remedy the stress and anxiety our organism might experience. There is no time scale for this process, nobody is going to punish us for taking our time, and making self-care our priority is not a sign of weakness. In my opinion, the ideal self-care routine which can help us with the process of growth and dealing with the feeling of being stuck should include:
- emotional processing and healing
- supportive and healthy relationships
- embracing solitude
- grounding exercises (e.g. mindfulness, meditation, exercise, walking, staying in the present moment)
- correct diet (eating what is right for our bodies)
- creativity & self-expression
Personal transformation is a beautiful process and a gift from universe. No matter how pleasant or unpleasant it might seem, opening ourselves up to this process and accepting the path of growth and transformation we are all on can help us to move forward in life.