I hope you’ve been enjoying this blog series looking at personal growth? This has been a long time forming in my mind and I’m so pleased to have been able to pull these threads together. In the first blog I introduced the topic of personal growth in a separation. In the second blog I gave you some questions to ask yourself to start on this journey, and set out meditation and journaling techniques to help you answer the questions on the deepest level you can. In the last blog I talked more about what personal growth really means and set out the three stages that I see as part of that process.
At the end of each blog series I like to pull the threads together to give you some practical guidance on how to move forward. In November there are 5 Mondays which means you get an extra blog this month so I can go even deeper on this topic which is fantastic. In next week’s blog I will give you 5 key steps to take to help you move forward on your personal growth journey if this is calling you right now (or steps you can take when you feel like the time is right). In this blog I wanted to talk a little bit about the challenges that can come up because I think it’s important you know there will be challenges and you can then be prepared. This is important because having lit the spark of what life could be like towards the middle and the end of this chapter, that starts with your separation, there are days when that spark can feel more like smoke than fire and it doesn’t mean that you were wrong to start on this journey of personal growth, it just means that maybe something has knocked you off centre and it’s a bad day. We all have them.
One of the things that I have seen a lot of on my personal journey of self-development and growth is that when you resolve to do something and set yourself a goal, or decide that you will do something differently going forward this has a habit of triggering resistance somewhere. It might be in you (I’ve said I’m going to go for a promotion at work but something somewhere tells me I’m not good enough), or it might be in other people who suddenly sense that you are on the verge of growth and you can then encounter what look like big bumps in the road to achieving the goal or life you’ve realised that you want. This could be things like:
- You decided you were going to go for a new job or promotion but a problem that keeps cropping up at work has suddenly reared its head in a big way.
- You’ve decided you’re not going to engage with your ex in arguments any more and then your ex does something that you feel you can’t ignore, and you’re being sucked back into an argument again
- You decide to focus on your health more but suddenly find there are obstacles to you doing the exercise or the time for yourself that you had planned
The challenges can be varied but hopefully you get the idea of how they seem like obstacles that immediately stand in the way of where you want to be. The first important thing to recognise is that this is a part of the personal growth and self-development process. This stuff comes up a lot and just recognising that it has come because you’ve made decisions about your future can be useful. Otherwise the tendency is to see it as some sign that you’re not supposed to make the changes you are and that can keep you stuck, send you on a downward spiral, or make you give up on the whole thing. It’s all too easy in the midst of such moments to think that this good stuff wasn’t meant for you anyway, or that you are not worthy of it, or good enough to achieve it (if you’ve been following this blog series then you will know that these thoughts would be good to catch and note in your journal or notebook).
For me this journey of personal growth and self-development is hugely tied up with self-care. In moments when I am not feeling great, or just feeling a bit off or irritable that’s when I need to take more care of myself. Maybe that’s a walk, or it might be an early night, or heck it might be a very large piece of cake but it’s about nourishing myself. This is important for two reasons:
- It lets your self know (i.e the deep and inner part of you) that you are worthy of being taken care of and that is a huge message to be sending yourself when things get tough, and you’re not sure if you will be able to realise the goals and dreams you’ve set yourself.
- It can help to draw a line under the challenge and help you gather yourself to move forward, rather than going down a deep spiral of “this won’t happen” or “I’m not good enough” or “who did I think I was with these fancy dreams”.
If you find that these tests are coming up again and again then it can be useful to try to come out of your own head. If you have been going over lots of different thoughts and ruminating extensively on why these problems keep cropping up, then you’ve possibly tipped over into anxiety and washing machine head and your thought process is not helping you to find any answers. It can help to do something physical because then you have to concentrate on that, and so you move your focus to your body, rather than your head. And yes this can absolutely be a gentle walk or a yoga class and I am not suggesting you have to manage a 10km run in order to be able to go on a personal growth journey. Although who knows where this journey will take you!
It can also help to enlist help. Having someone ask you the right questions to take questioning deeper, or for you to expand the focus beyond the same circle of rumination that you’ve been travelling for a while can be a great asset. Have you ever had that experience where you overthink an issue and then when you talk it through with someone they suggest something, or ask you something, from an angle that you hadn’t considered that just changes your perception completely in an instant? If you have you know how powerful it is. So you could try:
- A coach – this might be a life coach or a divorce coach (if the issues are related to your separation) as they will be able to help you on this journey and to make sense of the washing machine cycle of thoughts going around in your head.
- If you feel you can’t afford coaching right now then you could choose a book by a coach you have seen whose work and approach resonates with you. This can be a way of accessing their help for only a small investment. They often include exercises and questions to ask yourself that can help you to move forward towards your goals.
- Maybe you have a trusted friend or family member who is really good at helping in these situations and gives good insights and helps you to think about things differently? They might be useful to have a coffee with to help you organise, and make better sense of, your thoughts. A little word about friends and family though – please use people that help and make you feel good. Those people that either run you down or tell you you won’t be able to do things are unlikely to help you on this journey. Ditto people that always tell you you’re doing the right thing and back up what you’re saying (even when you have a sneaky doubt that you might be doing something in a way that isn’t working for you).
Hopefully this blog will give you a head start on navigating challenges that come up and mean that you expect them rather than being knocked for six by them. You’ll already have some ideas on how to either miss the bumps or deal with them in your stride. Next week I will share my top 5 tips for starting on your personal growth journey because if you’re ready to think about your future there’s no time to get started like the present.
If you’d like to get more of the tips and guidance offered in the blog directly into your inbox then why not sign up to our free mailing list? You can also join Soulful Separation Support which is a free online community for those going through a separation, where you can get support from others in the same situation as well as professionals working with couples and individuals going through a separation.
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