Why Growth is Hard
The start of 2020 is upon us. So, too, is a time of resolution and promise of change. Sprinkled with hope and a closing door on our last decade, we find ourselves primed for new beginnings, filled with the promise and potential of the next.
Whether physical, mental, or emotional, you may find yourself dreaming up ways to finally coax yourself in to your dream life, the time is now for the real you to come to LIFE. This is it. This is your year.
So, why oh why, with such momentous occasion, do so many of our well laid plans flat line as time rolls on? With a whopping 75% of goals abandoned within 30 days and less than 8% ever actually achieved, the pattern is obvious. So, what's up with that? What happens, between hopeful growth and it's eventual demise?
Well, while the answer may seem multi faceted; unrealistic expectations, lack of motivation or just not being the right time. All signs point to one umbrella: growth is hard.
Oh, you've heard that one before. Of course. But let's expand because specificity is a gift; Growth is hard for the mind. Growth is also hard for the emotions that become attached to the minds difficulty in growth. Both hate discomfort, lack of security and the unknown. Yes, even when you logically know this growth will be good for you.
The brain is a risk assessing pattern making machine
So, how does this work? Well, the brain is a risk assessing pattern making machine and by adulthood has formed much of what it believes to be the crucial foundations of 'safety'. While it continues to scan for new information, processing and sorting by order of priority and threat level. These foundations and this process are crucial to the brain for feeling safe; it's what it knows. You can add to it, but only once it's passed security. Emotions are assigned based on experience as indications of what to and what not to avoid, the nervous systems signalling for behaviours; Anxious? Retreat. Comfortable? Stay.
In growth, we must reach the current limitation of our mental and emotional understanding, and then some. Here's where your brain and body will most likely recognise there's a 'danger zone' in the unknown, and start signalling for you to retreat. Yes, even back to the cosy nook of your former, unsatisfying habits.
Bonus: doing so verifies the proof the brain wanted to create more evidence that you 'just can't' do it. "Best stay put" because better the devil you know.
Overcoming this is not about straight logic
Overcoming this is not about straight logic. Even when you KNOW the goal would be incredible to achieve. The mind would much rather be comfortable than it would be progressive. So, how on earth can we get a handle on it?
Well, I'm glad you asked. It's simple. But not easy. In order to grow, you must expect and be willing to be uncomfortable; mentally, emotionally and physically. By setting the expectation that discomfort is not, in fact, a signal to retreat, you are able to equip yourself with tools, support and resources to sooth the expansion of your growth. Jump those hurdles, dodge those bullets, get that 2020 laser vision (couldn't help myself).
Here are some of the ways you can expect to feel uncomfortable in these areas are the brain tries to coax you back into 'safety':
Mentally: To learn, there needs to be an admittance of not knowing alongside a period of confusion while seeking an answer. This is a vulnerable state for the mind, whose purpose is often found in 'knowing'. You can expect to feel confused, lost, worried and for the mind to throw up historical information by way of "proof" for what will happen when you simply don't know the answer to something academic.
Emotionally: Growth requires us to revisit and recondition our nervous system and have the resilience and patience to expand our emotional intelligence. We will become uncomfortable when facing these areas because they are what shaped our adaptive behaviour in the first place. Expect to feel anxious, tense, challenged, or like there's a brick wall in your chest.
Physically: Presenting panic, restlessness, heartache, or almost any other physical symptom - the body is sending signals to 'Stop - change direction' , and these physical sensations are a way of diverting our behaviour. Imagine you daringly reach out to touch an electric fence for a joke (don't do this pls), an impulse can make your retract your hand even on the expectation of that feeling.
Your body is on your side, but it's information isn't accurate and it's limiting
Having an awareness of these can help immensely, give yourself a head start on what your anatomy is up to. Ultimately, your body is on your side, but it's information isn't accurate and it's limiting, relying only on the past, rather than the possibilities of the future.
If you're keen to arm yourself with the right tool kit for this, you may like to consider the following ways to support you growth and the
Mentally: Find a support or accountability group, a mentor, coach or a therapist. Essentially, someone who knows more than you do on this. Talk to someone outside of your situation to keep it simpler than your thoughts suggest.
Emotionally: Try journalling to begin articulating how your emotions feel. Rather than running from them, practise making yourself feel safe while experiencing the emotion and taking time to acknowledge it.
Physically: Run baths, stay active, stretch, light candles and soothe your senses when you feel uncomfortable, rather than just turning to a 'solution' that may not be beneficial in the long term.
This year, give yourself the best chance for growth by stepping outside your comfort zone and creating an awareness of change that isn't taught in schools. Growth is uncomfortable, but the changes possible are incredible.
Here's to your goals and the most incredible year of your life,
Interested in an accountability group?
For women set on achieving their goals in 2020, Soul Strong starts on January 6th. This online accountability and growth programme creates awareness, education and support dedicated to empowering you on your journey, keeping you on track and feeling inspired. For more information, click here.