Growth is difficult. Long term, life-changing growth is even harder. It can be tough to see in the day to day how anything is even changing and to see the fruits of all the hard work you are putting in. Something that I have always liked to have my clients do when they are in the thick of it and having a hard time seeing how far they have come is to ask them–this time last year, would you have been able to do this? The answer is always a reminder of how far they have come and it helps put the disappointments of a workout that feels weak or being in a plateau (which is a totally normal part of the process!) in perspective.
Recently, I have realized that I need to take this same approach with my personal and emotional growth. When going though difficult things, it can be easy to slide into thinking “why is this affecting me so much?” “why can other people seem to handle things better than me?” and on and on. Cutting that comparison game short, I have started to ask myself–how would Sarah from last year have handled this? How about Sarah from five or ten years ago?
In doing this, I have realized that I have grown and changed a lot. Things that would have crippled me in the past no longer have that control in my life. I’m learning to set loving and firm boundaries. I’m learning to love every part of myself and that includes the parts that get messy and depressed and anxious.Those parts of me are also what allow me to feel love and hope and joy so deeply. They allow me to be an empathetic and caring friend. They are ugly and beautiful and they are ME.
There are some serious growing pains that go along with this type of growth. It has shown me that some people liked when I didn’t have boundaries and was willing to empty my own cup to keep theirs full. I have had to adjust to realizing that not everyone has my best interest at heart. I have had to, and continue to have to, accept that not everyone will love or like me, but I have to like me. I deserve to be my authentic self and everyone around me deserves to decide if that works for them or not (and either answer is okay!). Not everything in this world is about me, but my own life certainly is and I need to pause and reflect on the growth that has gotten me to a point where I am finally truly and authentically me.
I hope that, whatever growing pains you are going through right now, you are able to take a deep breath, take a step back, and recognize that the pain means its working. Without the discomfort, there is no growth and you deserve to grow into the best, most fulfilled version of yourself possible. And hopefully, with time, you might just look back and be able to say, “wow, look how far I’ve come.”