Growth is a type of change. No change, by definition, means no growth. There can be a disconcerting instability to it at times, especially when, often, we human beings attempt to hold onto external sources of stability… money, a certain look, prestige within a group, material possessions, even (especially?) the labels we have allowed or taken on to define us. We cling to these superfluous external markers and by doing so get banged about, wounded and lost. Letting go (very different from actively “getting rid of” or negating) and finding our own internal guideposts to focus on, frees us from the friction of our own personal growth and experience rubbing up against the expectation, definition and experience of an often loud, busy and demanding external world.
“Who am I?”, “What is important to me?”
In our highly “connected”* society, I find that questions of this nature are increasingly answered with answers both complex and trendy, as though many are answering this question based not on inner observation and knowledge as much as responding to who their peers, latest self-help theory* or trend dictates they are (or should be). We add complexity that somehow makes us feel as though our findings are valid, when actually our desires and needs are fairly simple. And, once answered, there seems to be a desire for the answers to have a permanence or finality that then restricts further questioning or expansion.
But what if we challenged ourselves to actively break our answers down to their prime? Curiously questioning each phrase, each emotion triggered by our response, until we have chipped away all but it’s core? Doing this work privately, internally to stem the possibility of our answers being influenced by outer forces? Then starting the entire process over, much like our breathing… repetitive and life giving.
Think of it this way, your body is separate from your clothing in the same way that “you” are separate from your external attachments be it work, interests, friends, reputation, etc. Each day you choose what to put on. Sometimes with great care; other times without thought. While your clothing preferences can convey something about you to others, go through trends or favorites and differ depending on weather, mood or occasion, they can be removed, washed or gotten rid of when they no longer fit, are threadbare or when you change your preferences. Your body, on the other hand, is something you always “wear”, regardless of how it changes, grows or feels. Your body is the basic component of “you”, embodying (literally) defining physical features as well as the commonalities you share with every other life form on the planet.
The Self, is a purely subjective matter. Depending on whom you ask the Self can be described as a soul, energy, a core set of values, passions and connections or numerous other interpretations. While growth and change happen, you, your “self”, exists whether you have many friends or few; whether you have steady work or not; regardless of if your body is whole or broken, young or old, etc. Someone’s outer circumstances, just like clothing, can often reflect the inner self, and sometimes stimulate growth, but like clothing the inner self continues regardless of the external aspects of life. Through introspection and sussing out the core answers to questions like “Who am I?” or “What brings me joy?” then asking of those answers “Is that true?” or “Why?” and being in honest communication with ourselves can we shift the foundation from the unstable place of a self definition dictated to us by and dependent on outer sources to a simpler inner stability of self awareness, observation and acceptance.