You deserve more credit for your growth than you often give yourself
You are magnificent even in your own unfolding. You are always growing beyond who you were yesterday — even on the days when you feel like you’re not.
Taking a morning stroll and seeing the trees radiantly blooming in the warmth of the spring’s sun rays can be a great reminder of our own growth. It’s not always linear. It often feels clumsy, disorganized, and sometimes sporadic. But if we step back far enough, we can see how we’re growing even on the days when we don’t seem to be moving much.
“You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously.” — Sophia Bush.
Mother Nature provides a few reminders for us that can help us remain compassionate with ourselves during our personal growth process:
IT ALL DEPENDS ON PERSPECTIVE
If you look at a fig tree today and in two days from now, it won’t look like much has happened. Look at it today and then in two months and you will see progress. The same applies to you. Perhaps you’ve had a day or two of not feeling like you’re moving in the right direction. Perhaps you had a tough week and haven’t taken as many steps towards your vision as you would’ve liked. All of that is part of the process.
The fig tree doesn’t have to constantly push itself to grow. Growth happens incrementally. One ray of sunshine, one small change at a time.
Zoom out on your life. Look at how much you’ve grown over time. In hindsight, your growth becomes much easier to see. Are you better than you were five years ago? Are you stronger than you were last year? Undoubtedly, you are, even if you don’t give yourself the credit.
2. YOU CAN’T HELP BUT GROW
Even if there are times in our lives when we feel like we’re being “unproductive” from an outside perspective, our internal growth is often hard to see. There is always something blossoming within — as a society, we just haven’t yet found a way to value that inner growth.
The moments when we find ourselves feeling lost, unclear, or downright lazy are all part of the process. Through experiencing what we don’t want, our vision for what we do want in life becomes clearer. Our fuel tank of motivation fills up every time the clarity of our vision sharpens. And sometimes that takes cloudy days when we have to clear away the mud first.
You grow through experience. Every insight, every mistake, and every triumph in your life adds to your wisdom. Since you can’t help but experience new things in every moment, you can’t help but grow, just as the trees can’t help but blossom.
Yes, certain experiences may provide a faster route to growth, but nevertheless they all give you life lessons that aid you as you move forward.
3. REMAINING FLEXIBLE ALLOWS YOU TO ADAPT TO CHANGES
The fig tree doesn’t wake up thinking “today I will soak up exactly X liters of water.” It just happens. And if it doesn’t happen today, it will happen another day.
Having an idea of where we want to go is important for our own peace of mind. Our brains like to know that we are heading in a certain direction. But our daily experience reveals that we can never predict exactly how our plans will turn out — even to the day or an hour — and that is perfectly ok.
When we don’t force what doesn’t come naturally, it opens us to receiving life’s delightful surprises. The thing with our own vision and expectations is that they are still limited by our minds. Our brains can only think in terms of what we already know — either through past experience or conceptual knowledge. We literally can’t imagine the possibilities for how our lives could unfold. So the next best thing we can do is create a vision in our minds to follow and then adjust course as needed.
Being flexible and kind to ourselves can be a way for us to open up to receiving more good than we can imagine.
4. TRUSTING LIFE IS THE WAY TO INNER PEACE
Our resistance to what is currently happening (within us or out there) is the main source of our mental discomfort.
The fig tree may not be sure whether it will receive rain today or in a week — but in the meantime it allows life to unfold as it will.
In the same way, you are doing the best you know how to do in each moment. You have a vision of who you want to be, of how you want life to express itself through you in this lifetime. But when the rain comes, or your expectations aren’t met — even if they are your own — you can bring peace to your mind by trusting in a greater unfolding. You can resolve your brain’s discomfort by reminding yourself that this obstacle is part of the process.
5. THE LENS THROUGH WHICH YOU LOOK AT YOURSELF IS THE LENS THROUGH WHICH YOU SEE LIFE
You infuse life with meaning, not the other way around. Your perception about whether you are fulfilled and content is the main thing separating you from a life that feels purposeful and meaningful.
You are only a few thoughts away from being at peace with the pace of your own growth. Let those thoughts be ones of compassion, patience, and excitement.
Compassion for yourself for doing what you instinctively know is right in the moment — even if that may not match up to your brain’s or society’s definition of productivity.
Patience with yourself based on the understanding that life has its own growth cycle. Patience based on the knowledge that whatever you were doing on this day five years ago, things have always unfolded in just the right manner to get you to this moment. This moment where you are alive, breathing, and aware.
Excitement about all of the growth that inevitably awaits in your own unfolding.