Many years ago my girlfriend at the time introduced a new idea into our ongoing argument about why our relationship wasn’t working.
She got it from a former roommate of mine. They had been exploring her side of the argument – which was, of course, that it was all my fault – when he offered this corroborating insight:
“Well you know…he is in therapy.”
To her, this helped explain a lot. I agreed, but for completely different reasons. And that conversation has stayed with me to this day.
I have a decades-long habit of collecting stories and examples that connect me to the actual experience of a spiritual principle or concept. They seem to choose me.
I’ll just notice one day, “That’s a moment in my life that sticks with me because it reminds me what it feels like to…
… violate my own honor.”
… trust inner guidance even though it seemed illogical.”
… detach from my ego and observe it throwing a tantrum.”
Otherwise things can get too conceptual or theoretical.
So what did this story connect me to? The conundrum of the Growth-Oriented Person.
Let’s quickly define what I mean by “Growth-Oriented”.
Real growth involves going into the unknown, having the willingness to turn into a completely different person, and letting go of all the parts of you and your life that no longer apply to this new self.
The ego is attracted to the idea of a bigger better self, but what that really means is it wants the best version of what it already is. It seeks to stay in the known and feel in control while maximizing its assets.
The ego wants to fulfill its idea of itself and then focus on maintaining this achievement. It sees everything that thwarts this as a problem or a failure.
This is at odds with the spirit’s priorities, which propel us toward mystery, discovery, and transformation.
A growth oriented person, therefore, will have to get used to the idea that, as they follow the winding and peculiar path of their spirit, they will often seem to others to be doing it wrong.
That is what my earlier story eventually came to illustrate for me. My life wasn’t unmanageable. I wasn’t struggling any more than they were.
But, unlike them, I had chosen to work on myself. I was treating the obstacles and injuries I had encountered as opportunities. I was pursuing the potential for growth that my spirit had disguised as pain and confusion…and bad relationships.
They were showing me that as a person who prioritized growth, I would need to be willing to risk being seen as broken, weak, unstable.
My choice – to acknowledge the need for healing and try to shed light on the parts of me that were out of alignment or not fully formed – was threatening to them.
As long as the ego is dedicated to managing change on its own terms and reinforcing its illusion of control (aka, not trusting the Divine), it is bound to attack or reject the promptings of the spirit.
That experience still serves as a reminder that we must be careful not to use the need for other people’s understanding and support as an impediment to following that uncomfortable, inconvenient, irrational interior voice that asks us to forge our unique path.
Their objections should be seen as unsurprising and, in many cases, validation that you are on the right track.
Those voices can be expected when you appear to be surrendering status, exposing vulnerability, choosing to be a beginner, changing your mind, dramatically altering course, or uncertain of an outcome.
The path to authentic power inevitably collides with the ego’s need to project a mirage of authority.
At the time I found it utterly galling that two people who needed therapy WAY more than I did were holding my growth against me.
But now I see it as a predictable outcome for anyone who chooses to trust, to risk, to “not know,” and to continually work to turn into more and more of who they truly are.
This is the kind of spiritual terrain I help my clients navigate. Just hit reply if you’d like to learn more about that.
And, if you would like to see more on these kinds of topics, you can join my Facebook group Your Spiritual Adventure.