“A secret about the fascinating law of growth is this: there are no straight lines in your growth. People often picture progress as a straight road upon which all humanity must walk. But there is no such thing as a straight line of development anywhere in the universe. Everything moves through twists and turns and cycles, both in time and in space. The oldest universal symbol, for instance, is a circle.”
Catherine Ponder’s brilliant discussion about the natural, universal, twisted paths of growth in her book Open Your Mind to Receive helped me to breathe a sigh of relief many a time when I forget that change is happening, even when I can’t see it, as long as I keep doing the work that works.
It’s sort of like dieting: I see so many people who are working out and changing their diets and the scale doesn’t seem to budge… then, boom, several extra pounds seems to vanish. In the plateaus, though, in any cycle, endeavor or anything, it’s tempting to quit.
That’s why today we’re going to talk about relaxing more when you’re in a spiral of growth!
You know, there’s a sort of mythology presented that when you embark on a path to betterment that every day, bounties of rewards will fall at your feet, you’ll be soaring like heroes in the motivational videos crossing finish lines and sitting in gratitude meditating in the sun the rest of the time.
Right? I mean, that’s for sure what’s been promised when you raise your life vibration, work out rigorously in cool ways like rolling on foam or doing special Cross Fit secret workouts. That’s the vibe that’s being presented. Handstands on a cove, food that looks like art and a life that is perfectly lit and always smiling.
There’s all of that.
Then there’s every moment of every day of those people’s lives.
When they don’t want to get out of bed, have a cold, lost money on a bad investment, dated the very wrong guy or girl, got really mad, cried all day, said they didn’t care about gratitude, went days without sleep… and had all of life happen.
That’s the truth. You might not hear about it on every podcast, see it on Instagram or read it in motivating books… but it’s the truth.
Growth isn’t a straight line and no one has everything figured out, no matter what image is presented. The thing I admire most in the people I deeply admire is their ability to navigate the curves and spirals of growth and change without quitting on their dreams. That’s the example that I emulate, even when I freak out, spend a day hiding from the world in a Korean salt spa or can’t write a single world for a stretch of a week: keep moving forward and don’t quit.
So, let’s start here: Please don’t wake up every day wondering when you’re going to be in this awesome place where everything is 100% figured out, because you’ll wake up every day upset about something mythological. This mindset is utter and complete damnation, about as futile as being mad at yourself because you don’t look like a Photoshopped photo, when the person in the photo doesn’t look like that, either!
Don’t freak out when it seems like you’re not making progress. I can relate this well to the ideas I learned when I started practicing Buddhism. There are conspicuous benefits (the ones you instantly see) and inconspicuous benefits (the ones you don’t see for a long time). When I learned this I thought, 16 years ago, “hm, I kinda don’t care about what I can’t see… I just want results.” As it turns out, it was the stuff I couldn’t see changing – that was changing as I consistently did the work- that ultimately saved me in so many ways from my own self-destruction.
If you’re doing the work, the results will come and the more patient I am, the faster they seem to arrive.
Make the most of the quiet times. When I have a really full plate, I sometimes think back to the days when I had a day job and would take long walks at lunch and spend days in leisure. Yes, I still do that now, but it’s far more rare than the days when my bills were paid by someone else and my schedule was 9am-6pm. I’m glad I took the time during that time to develop the blog, start the YouTube and worked with more clients for free honing my skills and process than I would have ever had the luxury to do.
That said, every day during those quiet days, I would complain that I wanted to have big progress and things felt so slow in coming and I couldn’t wait to be out on my own… !
You can make the most of your own quiet times where it feel like “not too much ” is happening. Catherine Ponder suggests you dive into self-development. I like to stay happy and aim happier, catch up on sleep, see friends, see art and watch films… and do it all without guilt. This is such a rush, sort of like taking off from school to watch soap operas all day as a kid!
Don’t quit on yourself. I know it can be tempting to want to walk away from the fitness classes, the new way of living, the new practice that you enjoy that you know feels good if the jackpot of benefits doesn’t arrive fast enough… but it can take years before people read a blog regularly (or it can take days!) it can be next month that you see progress, it can be tomorrow that your first video gets views…
Just don’t quit on yourself. It’s totally tempting. My friends who are internet zillionaires each got tempted to quit monthly! Instead, they decided to enjoy the process more, even when the rewards aren’t yet 100% fully presented yet.
It’s not about struggle and sacrifice, but patience and practice are everything as far as I’m concerned!
Keep on going!
In many ways I keep on going, with the rewards not clear, but in may ways I’m so glad I took the spiral path and kept spiraling because so many of my dreams came true in this spiral…! And I know- believe- have seen- have faith that if they all haven’t arrived yet, yours are coming if you keep going!
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Thank you, Dana! This is exactly what I needed to read right now. ?
Took a lot of notes and added them to my spiritual planner. Great inspiration.
Thank you so much for this reality-check, Dana. It’s so refreshing and encouraging to hear someone I admire and look to for guidance acknowledge that even great lives will continue to have not-so-great times. I suppose it seems strange, but it helps give me the strength to keep trying to make the life I want. 🙂