Growth is a painful and necessary process.
I’ve been reading a lot more lately and I’m pretty sure it’s because of the cooler weather and sparkly lights everywhere that have got me in a cozier mood. For me, there is nothing like curling up with a book and a hot cup of tea or coffee and enjoying the silence and the ambiance of tree lights.
During this time, I’ve also been reflecting on the year and what I want my 2018 to look like. A few years ago, I got really serious about setting intentions and following through with most of them. Up until a few months ago, I was setting my intentions with excitement, confidence, and faith that what I was seeking was waiting for me. There was a reason why I was seeking these specific things. My “why’s” were very close to my heart and my purpose.
In the past few months, I’ve had some MAJOR life adjustments as I said goodbye to a full-time, secure therapist job that I loved. I dove in head first into the world of BEING MY OWN BOSS! This is what I truly needed and I expected some struggle, some grief, some adjustment time, and some ups and downs, but I really had no idea how much being my own boss would wake me and shake me and help me grow.
Anxiety. Becoming my own boss has given me the freedom to have a more flexible schedule in working with my clients, has given me time for self-care, and time to grow as a person, in my relationships, and as a therapist. But it’s also brought on more anxiety than I could have ever expected. As I’ve been doing some more reading and self-reflection, I’ve realized that the ENERGY behind my intentions and goal-setting the past few months has been the energy of lack, fear, and “I’m never going to make this work.” Totally different than the energy I had before I solely became my own #bosslady. When I was transitioning from full-time job safety to full-time business owner in private practice, I was feeling abundant. It was a lot easier to feel that way when I knew what to expect at least from one job. Now I’m reminded that things aren’t always certain but trusting the process is necessary.
I’m learning that when I’m noticing those old patterns of “you’ll never make it work”, “you’ll never have all you need”, “what you have will be taken away from you”, I get to use the adult part of myself to help connect to those fearful parts of myself. The adult part of me gets to compassionately (and sometimes sternly) sit with those younger, anxious parts of me that don’t know how this is going to play out. Even as I write this and risk being vulnerable, I wonder “is this getting to be too long?”, “Does anyone actually even care what I have to say?”, “Will my perceived babbling actually resonate with anyone?” But the best part is that I have the adult part of myself who can drive this train of life, not my little anxious parts. Young ones shouldn’t be driving big vehicles anyway; that could be disastrous!
Many times in therapy (or in life in general), people find it really difficult to trust the process of their growth. They live with fear that they will be stunted forever. That they will be alone and stuck for the rest of their lives. What usually helps people become unstuck is when they begin to be a little gentler with their anxiety. When they notice it, create relationship with it, and help guide it along, rather than shoving it away, trying their very best to keep it hidden. They bring their anxiety along for the ride without always letting it take the reigns. And when anxiety does take the reigns, it can become a little easier each time to bounce back.
One thing I’ve been reading lately is Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols. Swiss Jungian psychologist, Marie Louise von Franz contributes to a portion of the book in a section called “The Process of Individuation”. Part of the individuation process is a life-long process of being aware of all parts of the Self and creating relationship with and allowing for integration of all parts of the Self (even the scarier ones!)
Von Franz writes:
“The seed of a mountain pine contains the whole future tree in a latent form; but each seed falls at a certain time onto a particular place, in which there are a number of special factors, such as the quality of soil and the stones, the slope of the land, and its exposure to sun and wind. The latent totality of the pine in the seed reacts to these circumstances by avoiding the stones and inclining toward the sun, with the result that the tree’s growth is shaped. Thus an individual pine slowly comes into existence, constituting the fulfillment of its totality, its emergence into the realm of reality. Without the living tree, the image of the pine is only a possibility or an abstract idea. Again, the realization of this uniqueness in the individual man (and woman!) is the goal of the process of individuation.” (Man and His Symbols, p. 163).
Nature’s process goes with the flow. It naturally grows toward the sun because the sun is warm, provides light and guidance, and supports the natural habitat in it’s growth. We human beings forget our nature sometimes and work so hard at fighting against it. I invite you to join me in reconnecting with our nature and trusting that growth can happen when we dive in with an open heart and trust in the unfolding.
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