Grow through it.
Life can really throw the shit sometimes. There are situations I’ve been through and that I’ve seen friends and loved ones go through, that scream NOT FAIR. Tragic accidents, devastating diagnoses, extreme financial windfalls. If you haven’t been through something like this, I guarantee you know someone who has or maybe, heaven forbid, it’s still coming for you. Ok, before this becomes the most depressing blog ever, I will get to the point. When you find yourself facedown, what do you do? Do you lie there still and unmoving, frozen, waiting for the storm to pass? Do you get up and flaunt your mud-stained clothes, happy to be the victim so you can take sympathy from anyone who looks your way? Or do you turn your face to the sun, even while lying there defeated, and gauge how you will grow through it?
At different times in my life I have certainly done all three. I have also, once or twice, been known to rely on the good ole Midwestern “I’m fine” attitude in the midst of crisis. Once or twice. It’s ok to accept you are most definitely not fine. It is also ok to freeze, temporarily. I personally do not love the victim option. It’s not attractive on me or anyone else for that matter. And I for one, do not accept sympathy very well. So how do we rise above the temptation to take a crap situation and crumble, and instead cultivate in ourselves the confidence to not only get to the light, but prosper doing it?
Looking back on times when I did not grow well, I can pinpoint one obvious (well it is now) flaw. I was not honest. It wasn’t just that I told other people I was fine. Even worse, I continually told myself I was fine. I said it so many times I was forced to believe it. This was not intentional and I’m sure at the time was protective, but it certainly was not therapeutic in any way. My lack of transparency to myself was often why I stayed frozen. I would think, “if you don’t know what to do, do nothing.” Except I was fooling myself, because “doing nothing” is actually doing something. The choice to do nothing is an action, or inaction, and does have consequences. When I finally chose to be vulnerable and accept my truth, growth came quickly.
I also had zero boundaries for myself. Instead of protecting myself during times of trouble, I would allow more things to pile on. In my weakness, I would take on other people’s drama, say yes to things I didn’t want to say yes to, and lower my standards completely. I’m sure you can imagine, this did not make circumstances better. When I realized my worth and the sacrifices I was making (my family was making) because I was not willing to set limits, I began to realize the value of non-negotiables. There were, and are things and people that do not get a ticket to this show. They are not allowed in because the quality of my life, and the lives of the little people I am responsible for, take top priority. Period.
Growth takes practice. We build and then rebuild and then rebuild again. We become more skillful at being more truthful and exposed. We accept that boundaries are ok and even necessary. We realize growing does not happen in a vacuum. Think of all the elements involved in making a plant grow – soil, a seed, water, sunshine. We can and should accept help along the way. Growth does not have to be entirely personal. We are allowed to say, “I don’t know,” “I am not ok,” or “I need you.” There is no “self-help,” there is just help, for ourselves and for others. Growth can be ugly, it can be complicated, it can be graceful (this is never how I’ve done it unfortunately, but I HAVE seen it done!). So, get up how you must – crawl to your knees, push yourself up, grab an open hand. Just stand, take a deep breath, face the sun, and grow.