Changing and growing is a natural occurrence in all aspects of life. Plants do it, animals do it, even rocks do it. If you live on earth, or in-fact anywhere in the universe, you can’t avoid change. It will inevitably happen at some point.
Many people try to outwit change, ignoring it or fighting against it. It can be scary; it is the unknown and so often invokes fear. But sooner or later it will catch up with you and if you resist it you may be left feeling stressed, helpless and exhausted, like fighting against the incoming tide. Best to just go with it.
We come into this world and change begins the moment that egg is fertilised. We grow inside our mother’s bellies, then as babies into toddlers, toddlers into children, children into teenagers and teenagers into adults. Then there seems to be a gap before we physically morph into old age. And nowadays we seem to do everything in our power to prevent that from happening. What many of us forget is that the change that takes place from birth to adulthood is not simply a physical one. We are in a constant state of change as we learn new things daily, growing and changing not only our bodies but our minds and souls too. This is something we don’t really reflect upon when we become an adult and our bodies stop changing so much. Change still comes for us, whether we want it or not.
But not only is change inevitable, it is desired, as with change can come growth. What is the difference between change and growth? By definition change is to alter or become different. Growth is the process of increasing. Not all change is growth but growth cannot happen without change. As the great Albert Einstein said ‘Growth should begin at birth and cease only at death’.
The things we learn in adulthood are designed to help us change and grow. This is imperative. If we do not change and grow we become stagnant, like a pond slowly filling with algae, our bodies, minds and souls become motionless, and that is never a good thing. Imagine a body that doesn’t move, only sits all day, no exercise, no movement – it becomes stiff and sore. The same thing happens to our minds and our souls. If we do not keep exercising them they can seize up and become stale. We want to be like a river, always moving and constantly being filled with new fresh water.
For our bodies this fresh water is in the form of diet, exercise and movement. Our bodies can do amazing things; we only need look at athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Look at the evolution and growth of our human bodies over time, what we can do with them now that we couldn’t do a hundred years ago, even fifty years ago. We have changed and forged them, as we grow and learn more about diet and fitness we know we can sculpt our bodies how we like. We have power over them to choose how we want them to be. It is a choice each of us makes. It is the same with your mind and soul.
Over the past few years we have dramatically increased our understanding about the mind and the way it works. Ancient Greeks began exploring the world of the mind and behaviour, but it’s only recently, with the birth of psychology that we have begun to really take note of its importance. We now know that there are several elements to the mind including the conscious, the subconscious and the ego. We also know that we have power over it and with discoveries such as NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and mindfulness we are realising more and more, the importance of being aware of what goes on in there and being able to influence it. We must not neglect this as we travel through adulthood. Just as we must not neglect our bodies, we must not neglect our minds. We need to constantly be feeding it new information, learning and discovering new things. This could be anything from learning a new skill, reading and gaining knowledge to having a conversation with someone and being open enough to learn from it. We need to become more aware of how important and powerful our minds are and how much power we have over them.
This is especially important today as we move through a period of mental health crisis. More and more of us are suffering from anxiety, depression and stress and we need to know and understand why this is and know that it is changeable and that we don’t have to suffer with it. But it’s not just a simple case of taking a pill or having a few sessions with a therapist to make it better. Just like with the body, a few protein shakes and personal training sessions isn’t going to create a quick, dramatic change. For real results it needs to be a complete lifestyle change. The mind is a complex thing and it is heavily linked to your emotions, so in order to grow, just like the body, you need to put the work in. Just as we have a choice on how we want our body to be, we have a choice of how we want our mind to be. What goes on in there is up to you, and how you shape it with attention and dedication is a choice you make everyday. Just like the body where you have to watch each day what you are putting in it and what you are creating out of it, so it is with the mind. Each day you must be aware of what you are putting inside it in the form of thought and what you are creating out of it in the form of speech. Just like the body, it takes hard work and dedication, but the results are well worth it.
The soul is much less commonly talked about, and arguably the most neglected yet important part of us. There are many who still deny the existence of the soul, although science is slowly waking up to this. The existence and importance of the soul or spirit has been accepted for millennia in many different cultures around the world. In order to change and grow effectively we must grow in all three aspects, body, mind and soul. To grow the soul is principally being open with your heart. It’s learning how to be honest and vulnerable, with yourself and others. It’s learning how to be compassionate and empathetic, kind and caring, being gentle yet strong. It’s learning how to forgive, and ultimately learning how to love. These are things we all need to be continually learning and growing in our capacities. This is arguably the most important growth of all. Learning how to love, ourselves and others, unconditionally is perhaps the greatest challenge we face. But one that is of up-most importance.
Changing and most importantly growing, in these three areas is a life’s work for each of us. As a collective, so far we have done most work on growing the body, with diet and exercise being widely accepted as important. We are now moving into a period where we are taking a closer look at the mental side, and are slowly becoming aware of its importance; however we still have very far to go. Growth of the soul or spirit has the least focus on it at the moment, although this is slowly changing with yoga and meditation becoming more widely known which can help us get in touch with our inner self.
In your personal growth you may decide to focus on one area in particular at one period of time then switch and focus on a different one, or you may wish to focus on two or all three at the same time, changing and growing in each area bit by bit. It doesn’t matter as long as we are growing, however slowly. The importance is to be aware of the need to grow and the dedication to do so.
Each of us is on our own unique path and will have different things we need to work on. As long as we are working on them we are moving forward, bettering ourselves, and that is all we can do. Be proud of the growth you have made and acknowledge it when you see it. Just like we must encourage our children to change and grow we must do so for ourselves, and give ourselves the praise we deserve when we do. We are human, all flawed and all special, each in different ways. We must support each other and ourselves in our growth, forgive when we slip up and acknowledge when we make progress. We are in this together, as individuals and as a collective. If we are all working on ourselves to grow in body, mind and soul then we can all grow as a species, and the only way to go, is up!
Sending you encouragement and support for your growth, wherever you are.