Growth Happens on Many Levels
When we first begin to explore our growth, through therapy for example, it’s often because we have problems to overcome or trauma to heal. Even though we may be feeling anxious, scared, or uncertain, there can be another part of us – that we may or may not be aware of – that is excited by the opportunity to grow. Even at the beginning, growth can be stimulated at different levels of our being.
A common mistake that we make when we’re involved in personal or spiritual development is thinking that growth is linear. We’ll deal with each problem only once, getting ‘better and better’, and leave all of that ‘negative stuff’ behind us. When we seriously engage with our development, we discover that this isn’t true. It can be quite galling to realise that ‘all of this stuff isn’t just going to go away.’
A more helpful image can be to see growth in terms of expansion in different directions. Each time we expand, we enter new territory. But, at the same time, we still encompass the space that we’ve already been occupying. Nothing is lost.
When we’ve completed some successful work to heal a damaged or restricted part of us, we don’t discard it. It’s still contained within our psyche. It may become dormant, but it can also be triggered again. We return to the same issues and work to heal the same parts of us again and again. Although it may feel like we’re ‘getting nowhere,’ each time we work with it will be different. We may have a series of small realisations around an issue and then these may come together to produce a leap in our growth. But even then, we are likely to return to the same issue at a later date, to work with it at a deeper level. Our issues can also become signposts, to remind us of the positive qualities that we want to develop in us. As we continue to work with our need to control, for example, we can get to experience more and more how powerful love is – the thing that we are trying to control and are afraid of losing.
When we have entered new territory and discovered or reclaimed a freer part of us, we may have a tendency to try to hold on to it. We can fear that if we lose our grip on it, we will never find it again. But actually, having discovered it once, it will be easier to access another time. Often, after we expand in our growth, we contract again, as other parts of us that are used to how things have been are thrown and have to regroup. We have to step back and forth between the older, more restricted version of our self and the newer, freer one a number of times before we are ready to claim this freer version of our self more fully.
The ‘point’ or ‘tip’ of growth, where our energy is focused, moves between the levels of our being in a non-linear way. Imagine a bird flitting about a tree from branch to branch, up and down and across. We may be engaged with looking at our beliefs about our self and the world at one time and then switch to dealing with practical matters about how to find a new job the next.
Reaching metaphysical and spiritual levels of our being doesn’t mean that we’re finished with the other levels. We still need to deal with our ego, for example, especially as an unhealthy ego can be so destructive when it’s caught up in our spirituality. Accepting this will make it easier for us to be honest with our self, which after all is at the basis of our growth.
As human beings, we have a vast range, from dark to light, from constricted to free. It can be easier to love the healthy and positive aspects of us, but the damaged and twisted parts of us need to be loved too. This isn’t about colluding with our manipulative behaviours, but having compassion for the fact that we have them. To become a realised person, we need to accept and own the full range of who we are.
Leigh Osborne, copyright October 2019