There have been so many times in my life when no matter what I seemed to do, no new growth appeared. I would feel stuck, stuck in a rut, stunted. For whatever blessed reason though, there's something inside me that has always felt compelled to stay with it... to commit to my own personal growth journey.
Frankly, it's pretty darn hard to make change - especially if you want immediate results. And who doesn't want immediate results? Yes, me too! But just as the pine tree grows - but you don't always notice it until years later - so do we grow. Under the right conditions.
My own growth journey led me to get a master's in counseling so I could learn more, heal more and share more. I had also been moved by Scott Peck's Book "The Road Less Traveled," and I wanted to help others and write more. Do you know how many years ago that was? It was in the early 1990's. Yikes!
Sometimes it takes me a long time to grow - it seems. But I am growing. In my therapy practice, people often come seeking new growth. All my personal pain, dry seasons, rainy seasons, ups and downs have now created the spaciousness so I can sit with others and help them create the conditions for their new growth. As you grow, you can create this for others too!
Here are three personal growth tips I've found to be helpful. I hope they help you too:
1) Environment: Frankly this is a tough one - potentially. Often we just seem to be in a certain environment and stuck there. On a morning walk with my dad and Archie the dog, I noticed the amazing growth on large Norfolk pine trees. "Wow!" I marveled and had to take a photo. Then after walking up the drive to get the paper together and back, I saw another pine tree in a different location with minimal new growth. "Why does this tree have less growth?" I asked my dad. "All I can think of is location," he answered. In my own life, I increasingly feel this to be true. There are some places where my nervous system seems calmer, where my mind feels clearer, and things flow. It's hard for a pine tree to move to new conditions, but as human beings we can refine this. Whether it's where you work or live, places you go... tune in to the best environment for you.
2) Nourishment: What feeds you? It's not likely you will grow if you aren't being nourished. As I've radically improved my diet over the past two weeks, my nervous system feels calmer, my eyesight better and my thoughts clearer. Good heavens! Why did I not commit to this earlier in life? Well, because I love sugar and carbs. But sometimes what seems good in the immediate moment does not end up feeling so good after all. I also love good company. Being with uplifted and positive people is its own nourishment. I love being with friends who are committed to their own unique journey - no jealousy and only mutual support and admiration. Healthy food and healthy friends = the food of growth.
3) Timing: For quite some time, I could never have seen the new growth coming on the Norfolk pine tree... or in my own life. Even when we choose better environments and nourishment, it doesn't mean we immediately blossom and unicorns and rainbows appear! It can be a season or many seasons before we feel the growth spurt. This is where "Belief" is so important and knowing people who have travelled the road before you and can remind you that even when it seems impossible > if you keep it up... what you seek is seeking you (thank you Rumi).
Seeking personal growth does NOT mean there is something "wrong" with you today. Striving to be better/different can be exhausting. A tree is a tree and beautiful period. The same is true for you. Where you are is the place to start. Your mind-body right now is the result of your choices and other influences and blame, regret and other not-so-happy thoughts won't help you even one teeny tiny bit. Instead, look around for signs of growth - especially in nature. Know that you are meant to blossom - to fully be the only YOU that you can be... precious, unique, loved, love. The more we are aware of all the growth we've already done, we can also use that knowledge as the confidence and foundation to keep it up! Grow as only you can grow :)
Photo: New growth on a Norfolk pine, with dad and Archie on a morning walk.