How to Know if You're Growing as a Person
When it comes to personal development, I play the long game.
Flashes of insight and “Breakthroughs” are great, but they don’t always mean that something significant has shifted, and they’re definitely no guarantee of lasting change.
You feel better for a little bit and then it's back to business as usual.
I don't know anyone who is committed to their own growth who hasn't asked in a moment of self-disappointment and frustration, "Is this even working?"
Trying to change a habit and see yourself relapse time and again.
Trying to stop procrastinating only to fall into another pit of distractification.
Trying to control their emotions to stop feeling so frustrated or angry.
Health problems repeating again and again. Little things constantly going wrong.
We see the effort and intention we're putting in. Then we see the failures despite those efforts and intentions, and it's easy to feel like all of it is just a waste of time.
But the real problem is that you're grading your progress with the wrong metric.
Somewhere in us, we have some magical thinking that says, "I did all the things, and checked all the boxes, so this should be gone for good."
I had a client who was working on anger and she was deeply frustrated with herself because she was still getting angry with her kids, and then getting angry with herself for getting angry.
As we were talking it through, she told me all the things she was doing, and how hard she was trying, and finally said the words..."What am I doing wrong? Why isn't any of this working!"
"It is," I said simply.
She didn't like that answer.
I went on, "A month ago, when you would get angry, how long would you stay angry for?"
"Days. Sometimes weeks," she replied.
"And how long did you stay angry yesterday?"
"Maybe an hour," she said.
"Exactly. And how much time did you reclaim in your life where you don't have to be angry?"
"A lot. Easily days..."
That's the kind of progress we're looking for.
It's really not about never experiencing something ever again. It's about how quickly we recover. That's the metric we want to be using because it respects our own humanity and gives us a much clearer picture of where we're at.
If you would have let your anxiety drive you for weeks until you crashed and burned, and now it's only days, or hours. That's progress. MAJOR progress in fact.
If you used to fall into depression for months on end, and now you are only down for a week, that's huge.
If headaches used to knock you down for days, and now they only last a few hours, you're on the path.
If you used to get sick 3-4 times a year, and now it's only once, amazing!
It doesn't make those moments easier. But it does give us hope to see forward movement, and reinforces our faith to stay the course. And that's the biggest difference between people who radically change their lives and those who keep repeating the same experiences- staying the course...
For me, it's about the smaller, daily things that help me to stay in a healthy happy place. It's about increasing awareness of my own vulnerabilities so I know where to steer clear and keep myself out of trouble. But mostly, it's about a commitment to living a beautiful, happy, healthy life, doing things I love to do with awesome people.
Every step in that direction, no matter how small, is worthwhile.
And before you know it, you'll be living your dream life.
The Mystic Next Door