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Growth is Quite Painful

When was the last time you were in a season of growth? It may have been a time of great change. Or a time after you had an energy release from letting go of something or someone. Or it could even have been timed with an actual season like spring, when many people feel new energy and inspiration. Think back to that most recent season of growth and remember how invigorating it was…initially! Yes, growth begins with excitement and joy and then it often gets painful very fast, which is why most of us give up surrendering to stagnation or returning to the norm where life is less painful.

I am at such a crossroads right now. I began this year with inspiring creative bursts, joy rooted in possibilities, and forward momentum and now, well, now it is all threatening to crash down around me because fear is getting in my way.

Fear is once again rising up its old ugly head and it actually looks pretty beautiful at the moment. Fear is whispering, “It’s okay to give up because really, what can your one small voice do?” Fear is wondering, “Is your message valuable?” Fear is inviting, “Remember how comfortable life was before you launched all these new ideas?”

Fear isn’t entirely wrong. There is some truth in what fear is saying. Yes, one small voice can’t change an entire culture and yes, my message isn’t valuable to everyone and yes, I was in a nice cozy, comfortable space prior to this season of growth. However, fear is missing one gigantic BIG BUT!

BUT, if I don’t press into the pain of personal and professional growth, I will be less than my authentic self.

You see, growth is an opportunity to refine the gift we are meant to give the world. That gift is most freely given when we are the truest form of ourselves. It is most easily recognized and received when it comes from a deep authenticity. Authenticity is aligning our inner world with our outer world. It is speaking our truth, even when it is difficult and painful. Authenticity is a willingness to show up bravely because we will be seen.

I am pushing through the pain right now and you can too. There are two ways that I make painful growth more manageable. One, I go slowly. Too often when we hit painful stretches, we stomp the gas pedal to the floor. The image I use for myself is I put my head down and run as fast as I can through the pain. The only problem with this approach is we miss the journey in the process of escaping the pain. Pain doesn’t mean to hurt us. Pain is a logical repercussion of growth. When a child’s body grows, s/he sometimes experiences pain from teeth breaking through and bones growing longer. Pain is inevitable and it is trying to point us towards where we need to pay attention. When we pay attention to what pain is pointing out, we will learn about ourselves, our process, and become stronger more resilient people along the way.

The second way I manage painful growth is to move the pain from inside to outside of me. This is what I mean by that. Many of us, in attempting to rush through the pain, end up pushing it down deep inside ourselves. This story never has a good ending! Pushing pain deep within causes it to fester and burst forth at the lease opportune times, such as an outburst with co-workers, impatience with our children, or picking a fight with our spouse. It just doesn’t work to push pain down. Instead, we need to let pain out in healthy ways. I journal and go for long walks during the painful parts of growth. I call a good friend and ask to talk through the pain because a lot of times pain is confusion that needs clarity. I dim the lights, light a candle, and get cozy with God by pouring out all my emotions to Him, which is amazingly cleansing and freeing. Honoring pain by moving slowly through it, honors the growth process. The world needs everyone’s voice and message because each of us hold a piece of the truth. We can’t reach the whole truth without each other. We need each other to walk through the seasons of growth and we need the results of each other’s seasons of growth.

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