“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”
— Abraham Maslow
The opportunity to grow is always before us. But not everyone takes the chance on an opportunity when it presents itself. When we don’t choose to grow (and growth is a choice), we miss out on important parts of our lives in which we wouldn’t otherwise improve. Nothing grows in isolation. Likewise, people don’t grow alone. Plants need rain and sunshine. And I guess it could be said that people too need pain and pleasure in order to obtain a balance to life that keeps us overcoming and empowered at the same time. We grow in community. In the daily discourse of life — the pains, the problems, and the pleasures — we become a better version of ourselves and create opportunities to fulfill our dreams.
Here are 3 ways we hinder our own growth without even knowing it:
1. We don’t let ourselves follow our dreams and passions.
From the time we are born, there is a certain way we dream of our life turning out. Some people dream of playing professional sports or obtaining a high level job while others dream of becoming world-class travelers or scholarly thinkers. With each decision we make, we make progress on the path to living the life we envision we want to live. But what happens when thoughts of you’re not good enough, smart enough, or worthy enough invade our cognitive spaces? What happens when we begin to doubt our skills, talents, abilities? Well, that’s when we fall off the tracks that lead to the life we want to live.
A large part of growth is being able to make decisions even in the face of harsh realities and negative thoughts. Too often the little voice that tells us who we’re not supposed to be and what we’re not good enough to do gets stuck in our heads and reverberates like an echo. Being realistic in our dreams is important, but every minute we spend wallowing in shame or self doubt only limits us from reaching our full potential. Your dreams will take you places you never imagined so long as you keep believing in them.
2. We allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by life’s pressures.
Life really is largely what we make it out to be. It comes with its own set of pains, heartbreaks, and hold-ups. It also comes with some pleasures, joys, and goodness. Much of life is a journey of overcoming. We all have something we struggle with, some challenge, some moment when everything we’ve ever heard, or known, or done, or are is put to the test. It’s not that these moments won’t come but what we do in this moments that determines who we are and what we’re made of.
It is in these tough spaces too that we can choose to allow ourselves to break down, throw it all in, and become hardened by the rocks life throws our way. There is nothing about choosing to love, choosing to start over, choosing to forgive, or choosing to not let bitterness and frustration rule your heart that is effortless. But when we do it the outcome is beautiful. When we feel overwhelmed by life’s pressures, we tend to blame. But remaining stuck in blame only hinders our growth. We can be said to be growing when the opportunity to blame presents itself but we choose not to take.
3. We don’t let our voices be heard especially when it matters.
Communication is one of the most difficult aspects of life. Yet it is the very thing needed to enjoy a thriving and beneficial relationship in any arena. It is a human desire to belong, to be heard and understood, and to feel respected and appreciated by the people around us. Communication helps us in our journey to be felt, heard, and understood. When we fail to communicate we only keep to ourselves our ideas and thoughts through which we can gain a better perspective if we shared them with others.
Deep connections are invisible. Yet it is the very thing we strive to develop with other people. At the core of who we are, we must be connected to each other. When we fail to speak up, speak out, express our feelings, tell others about our needs, and share our deepest desires, we grow and gain understanding about other people and about who we are. Of course, not everybody will want to listen to you but if you never put forth the effort to communicate, you’ll never know what response you will get.
“Progress always involves risk; you can’t progress to second base and also keep your foot on first.”
— Christie Mason