By: Kacie Main
Growing pains. The phrase exists for a reason; growth – in all its forms – is painful. If you want to grow your physical strength, you must endure difficult workouts. If you want to grow mentally, you have to exhaust yourself focusing and learning. If you want to grow emotionally, you must take long, hard looks in the mirror – facing your past, present, and future. And if you want to grow spiritually, you must be willing to let go of long held beliefs and dogma and open yourself up to different philosophies.
Why is it all so difficult for us? Why is growth so uncomfortable? It isn’t in nature. Trees grow without needing a spotter. Bees work tirelessly throughout their entire lifespan without taking a stretch break. And sea turtles find their way home with no one pointing them in the right direction. It’s amazing when you stop and take notice of all of it – how nature works in perfect harmony without anyone complaining, quitting, or being too fearful to play their part.
Listen to Justin narrate Kacie's post, “All The Feels,” in Episode 1246 of Optimal Living Daily.
Are you a new listener? Click here to learn more about our podcasts!
We seem to be the only living organism that has an issue with growth. Physical growth we’ve got figured out – maybe a little too much – but we struggle with all the other forms. Perhaps we can blame free will. Unlike nature that operates solely on instinct, we have endless options… and we are aware of them. We can choose to eat fried food instead of fruit, to scroll instead of study, to blame others for our life, and to think our beliefs are the only ones that matter.
But the ironic thing is, amid all our options – for better or worse – we have become rigid, stuck in our ways, and too afraid to branch out.
As humans, our brains are masters at pattern recognition. Our patterns create habits and all those habit loops define a lovely little comfort zone that we prefer to stay in. From how we spend our time to how we think and brush our teeth, our brains live happily in a mapped-out world of familiarity.
The irony continues, as we desperately hold onto our rigidity, citing free will as our justification.
It’s my life.
It’s my decision.
It’s my time to spend however I want.
This is all true. But we have turned our greatest gift into a defense mechanism. Yet the only one we are truly defending against is ourselves.
In a world of endless options, we have chosen only a handful and built our life around them. We live within their confines and fight to keep them close – from how we think and what we believe to how we act and what we pursue.
And oftentimes when we do get the urge to opt for a new option, the fear of the unknown has us running back to our well-worn patterns. Over time, the patterns get deeper and the habits get harder to break.
Before we know it, we are so settled into our comfort zone that we have no desire to step outside. We have lost sight of the endless options. And growth becomes painful.
So, what do we do? How do we loosen our grip on our handful of choices and open ourselves up to all the possibilities around us?
As with most of life’s greatest things, it’s a process. Just as your muscles won’t go from tight to flexible after one yoga class, your entire being won’t go from rigid and habitual to fluid and open after breaking one pattern.
But we can slowly relax our grip and chip away at our habits one decision at a time. We can get free will back on our side by choosing to change our choices. Start small – brush your teeth with the opposite hand, pick up a book instead of your phone, or objectively research an opposing belief.
The more space we put between us and all our patterns… the more we look around at all the options… the more room we have to expand – our mind, our heart, and our abilities.
If you loosen your grip on life you can let your growth unfold.
At 32 years old, Kacie didn't sit down to write her book — it jumped out of her at perhaps the worst, best, most confusing, and most liberating time of her life!
You can find out more about Kacie and her book, “I Gave Up Men For Lent,” at her website, KacieMain.com