Personal growth is fed with pain but bears fruit from love. Both are needed for growth to happen and both are of value. Nobody looks for pain or hardship in their lives but there is no avoiding it either. We can fight against it when it happens or we can welcome it as a catalyst for change. It is pain that so often pushes us to grow and change but it is equally important to keep in mind that love is what allows the fruits to grow. Love is not just love of others but love for ourselves, love of ideas and love of creating realities from our ideals. Having a clear understanding of what we want to create in our lives lets us push towards that goal and adjust course as we get sidetracked; I call it a life statement.
Several years back I was going through a lot of pain and unhappiness. I didn’t know what I wanted from work, from my relationships, or from my life in general. I felt a lack of purpose in my life and was paralyzed with fear of change. This hardship caused me to start to question everything I was doing; so I started to write.
I wrote out all the things in life I was currently doing with work, my relationships, my finances, my health. I listed the things I wanted to achieve in life and what was important to me. I asked myself questions about all of these items both current and future. I asked what was good, what was bad, what the best & worse case scenarios were, what impact these things had on those I love and on myself. I just dumped everything from my thinking onto a page or as it turned out 17 pages!
I then spent a few weeks working through these thoughts and refining them. I took themes and trends in my thinking and brought them together into several paragraphs of a narrative of what I wanted in life. Then I continued to whittle that down into a single paragraph and finally into a single sentence. This is what I came up with; my life statement:
My life is a self-directed, authentic, and social life centered on love, giving and simplicity, which enables a challenging, creative and healthy life full of new experiences and people.
Once I had this statement I knew where I was going in life. I could look at every decision I made and ask myself if it aligned with my life statement. When I left the Middle East it was difficult and a time of great stress. I lost the job I was doing and had an unknown future. What a great opportunity for pushing myself to align better to my life statement! I could look at the options suddenly available to me which weren’t there when I was tied to my job and the story in my head of what I should do and say what do I want to do to show love to myself? What are the actions that will allow me to be closer to my ideal?
This pattern is something I’ve seen in my own life many times. I’ve had meltdowns with relationships which caused me to reevaluate them from the ground up and ask myself if they are really aligned to what I need in life. I have had financial challenges and have had to make decisions about what to do with money to meet my future goals and needs. Throughout everything I face and the hardships which come up I always keep my life statement in mind to ensure I’m headed in the right direction. Even with the statement to guide me I though I fall off track and get distracted and give into my fears, doubts and uncertainties but I always have a guiding star to lead me back to what I truly value. What is important is that I also love myself enough to know that it’s okay to not always be perfect and that in fact my imperfection is part of what makes me who I am.
People often look back and wish they didn’t have mistakes in life. I couldn’t imagine a life without mistakes or problems. I’d never have grown or changed and I’d not be the person I am now. Better than yesterday and striving for a better tomorrow.
What is your purpose? Where are you going in life? Answer this and you will have the direction to move towards and a reason to take action.
You wouldn’t wish hardship on anyone, but when it comes, you would be crazy not to see the huge growth that will come from it.” – Michael Leunig