We hear a lot about growth state in mental health and wellness spaces, but how do we define growth?
Some people think of growth as moving toward perfection, but I see it differently.
Growth, especially spiritual growth and consciousness, is about becoming more authentic and accepting life as it is. This is a process with no end. Or rather, growth is a state of being.
What it means to be in a growth state
The growth state is when we intentionally engage in our lives and stretch into consciousness.
Many of us spend a lot of time numbed out, unconscious, and going through the motions in a non-growth state. When we live in this state, we’re stagnant.
Growth is about stretching. Think of a physical growth spurt where the body stretches out. This is a process of adding to, just like spiritual growth.
In spiritual growth, we’re opening to consciousness. However, like physical growth, spiritual growth can sometimes be uncomfortable, so we may seek a more stagnant state because it feels more comfortable.
Growth is being open to revisiting things on an as-needed basis.
Here’s an example of how many of us live in a state of stagnation: Think about a tradition you uphold, (holiday traditions come to mind) or something that you’ve done for a long time. Why do you do those things?
A lot of us answer “Because I’ve always done it this way. That’s how I learned to do it.”
That is a stagnant, unconscious answer. It’s a way of saying there’s only one way of doing things. That it’s permanent. And so we stop noticing whether that practice is useful for us or whether we’d prefer to do it another way.
Growth is ongoing. Change is the only thing that is guaranteed.
When a baby is growing, they’ll go through different stages. They’re in a constant state of growth and change, and just when you think you’ve figured out one stage of your child’s development, they’ll be on to the next one!
As parents, we sometimes try to fit the baby into our idea of what parenting requires. We might want them to take a nap even though they’ve outgrown naps. We might also want them to hurry up and be potty trained! But as parents, we are not in control of that timeline.
The same goes for us as adults. We will go through many different stages in our lives, and we can either be open and curious about each stage or we can try to control our own timeline. We might try to rush it or resist.
One example of that is that when people grow older, they don’t want to accept the physical changes that come with aging. But that change will happen whether we want it or not. You have a choice to adapt to or resist reality. And if you choose resisting reality, you will always, always lose.
Growth looks different for everyone.
One person might become more creative as they grow. Another person might be more open to relationships. Someone else might be more open to taking chances. Wherever we are, our growth is unique to us. Growth is being open to new experiences and incorporating new information.
Adaptation vs Growth: Two ways to respond to change
We are here to adapt and change and grow on an ongoing basis.
But there’s a difference between unconsciously adapting to change and conscious growth. We can unconsciously adapt to things that aren’t in our best interest. Obviously, this is not ideal.
Adaptation is just “getting used” to things.
For example, you might leave some mail on your kitchen table one day, then leave your hat there the next day, and before long, you’ll have a messy table without even realizing how messy it’s gotten.
Abusive relationships often begin this way, with little things that can almost be brushed off, but they gradually escalate into full-blown abuse as the victim and abuser get used to this status quo.
Growth is staying conscious and choosing how to respond
Growth isn’t just getting used to something and living with it. Growth is being open to new information and incorporating it into your life in a way that makes sense for you.
For example, technology has abounded in our modern world. You might unconsciously adapt by being on your phone or computer for 10 hours a day. This will probably not enhance the quality of your life.
Or you could consciously decide to use your phone and computer when it benefits you and limit your screen time so that you have time to connect to nature or yourself or other people.
Often, we don’t realize that we’re unconscious until we’re deep into adaptation, but we can wake up to choose what we want for ourselves and get back on the path of growth.
We can choose growth.
Change is inevitable. We can choose to consciously open, or we can pull the wool over our eyes and let change happen to us.