Just like the chore of watering and caring for plants, aiding growth comes with the expectation of work. So inevitably your growth too comes at a cost.
Now when I say cost, I could mean a few things so let me be clear. There is a cost to growing in a sense that you will personally be challenged and may have to relinquish control in areas you desire not too. I also mean that successfully maturing comes at a cost of losing individuals who may not be in that same stage of growth.
In life, I have experienced at least 5 stages that have led me to the final step in my growth process. The process itself I like to refer to as total self-actualization.
But as previously mentioned, before self-actualization is achieved there are 5 very important stages you must conquer.
Now for some there may be a couple more, but I believe these are the most important.
STAGE ONE: Self-Love
I know you're probably over hearing this, but self-love is one of the most important lessons in life. It is the foundation for all healthy relationships. So, I won't spend too much time here, because I speak about self-love every chance I get. But, I will say this, if you are struggling in life, in love or in general, and feel like nothing is working well for you or going right, that's usually a RED FLAG that internally something is disconnected or missing.
Spend the time, doing the work getting to the root of the issue.
That may mean therapy, counsel or facing that fear of nights at home alone. Regardless to what it looks like, all things hard to face would be considered "the cost" you have to pay.
And I understand that facing a fear of loneliness or sharing those intimate thoughts, secrets, etc. for clarity is not what we associate self-love with, but you can't fix what you won't identify as broken. And you can't love something you don't understand...
STAGE TWO: Embrace Solitude
In solitude we discover the voice in our head. In solitude we recognize if that voice is negative or positive.
If negative, that voice could drive us insane, or take us to a place we never wished to confront/visit. Which in turn can force us to discontinue the effort of addressing the issue. Because we all know that the greatest challenge in growth is facing yourself.
This stage is called "embrace solitude" because despite the overwhelming desire to flee from it (solitude), we can't grow, if we don't welcome solitude.
Growth comes in those moments of private self-talk. The objective is to embrace those moments and change the negative tone, into a positive one.
Just telling yourself positive affirmations doesn't mean you've addressed the reason you think negatively to begin with...
STAGE THREE: Self-Acceptance
No surprise here either for most.
After learning to love yourself and confront your insecurities, you must learn to accept every personality deficit and culturally incorrect aspect of your being.
Learn to celebrate the abnormalities. Walk in the honesty of the deficits in your personality, and you will most likely be surprised by how acceptance changes your perception of the world.
The act of acceptance provides us an ability to be objective, understanding and conscious of the responsibility of being considerate of others. That's what this stage teaches us. Not only to accept ourselves, but understand the role acceptance plays in life in general.
The cost/challenge in this stage, is realizing how little you accept about others, and recognizing that for some, those you love the most, accept you least...
STAGE FOUR: Accountability
I think it's always funny how quickly and easily we hold others accountable for their missteps, but fail to do the same for ourselves.
You can't grow if you challenge yourself to be better. That's what holding yourself accountable does.
Personal accountability is the basis of ethical and moral behavior. It helps you tactfully remind others to be accountable by exhibiting your personal accountability.
Being accountable is a constant reminder to do right, versus what feels good. Accountability also reminds us of the importance to maintain balance between selfless and being selfish.
What is the cost?
Well that's easy, the cost is swallowing your pride. Because it's hard to publicly admit that you fell short or should do something better...
STAGE FIVE: Realism
This is the first time I have spoken on this, but realism, according to Google, is defined as the attitude or practice of accepting a situation as it is and being prepared to deal with it accordingly.
When you are capable of being objective and pragmatic, you have elevated your thinking. You no longer see things one sided, you are capable of being in healthy relationships because you can have healthy conversations.
I know some probably assumed that realism referred to being "realistic", and while that can be true, it is easy to get away from what that means, and associate realism as a negative trait. Especially because we later come to understand that everyone's idea of "realistic" doesn't look the same. So I preferred not to suggest that connotation.
The cost of realism is that you are constantly being forced to hear and attempt to understand someone else's prospective. Whether you agree with them or not. You are challenged in this stage to be more conscious of how others see you.
Growth comes at a cost, and the most important price you will pay is loss of comfort.
What I have learned in this process is that being the best version of yourself forces others who refuse to accept that you've changed, or acknowledge that you're better than you once were, to recognize that they may need to work on themselves.
And while individually working on acceptance of self is a goal, the process of growth does not guarantee that you will be accepted by others. That is why self acceptance is so important.
Everyone won't grow at the same rate, but as you achieve these stages you learn to identify individuals in this process who are either capable of accepting you, or incapable.
In the words of the late and great Maya Angelo, "when you know better, you do better".
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