The sad truth behind growth is that there is loss. However, I want to spend some time in this blog walking you through why this is not always a bad thing and how to prepare yourself for it so that you do not fall back into old patterns. What often happens is that people get to this stage where they feel lonely and feel loss, and they immediately regress back to where they were before because it feels safer.
I am going to help you prepare for this pattern so you can keep on growing and not slip back into comfort each time it feels a bit lonely.
Create peace with yourself:
If you were like me and you’d binge drink, eat M&Ms to numb out, drink wine with my friends to distract, or use a phone and scroll excessively – not having those coping mechanisms can be really lonely. It takes a while to develop new ones and develop other ways of being.
It makes complete sense why you would start to feel loss and loneliness on the journey of growth.
Objectively, none of these things are bad in and of themselves. However, the intention behind them is what I had wanted to change. So, when I started focusing on growth, I abruptly took away all these coping mechanisms without any replacement. I also never healed the root of it.
So, first step: Heal yourself and create some peace. When you actually feel the peace, you are likely to not feel as lonely. Then second step: Replace the coping mechanisms with new ones. Don’t just stop and expect your habits to be like – ok, I am game. All or nothing is my middle name. That won’t happen. You will feel loss and go back to the old ones.
You are not being selfish:
People will tell you that you are being selfish when you put up boundaries, start putting distance between you and other people, you start taking care of yourself, start saying no, and stop being a pushover.
That is just the name of the game. However, I want you to take a pause and reflect on the people who may push these boundaries. Are they people who you admire for having good boundaries? Are they people who you think are really peaceful?
Secondly, I want you to remember that all those things are all self-care – but sometimes our growth makes other people uncomfortable.
Self-care is not selfish and you should not feel guilty for it, but we are taught at a young age that the more you do for others, the more worthy you are.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that taking rest and breaks makes us self-indulgent and lazy, which is just not true. Something that may help you stop feeling guilty and start taking care of yourself is to remember that the way you’ve been doing things has not been working up to this point – so, why not try a new route?
The cycle of feeling guilty when we do self care causes us to not do it and continue the cycle towards burnout. Clearly that is not working, and we are not happy and burnout is continuing… If that is not working, what would work?
Start establishing practices and a lot less people will think you are being selfish than you think. I’ve never had anyone say that I’m being selfish for taking care of myself… someone who truly mattered most importantly.
Your needs are more important:
Nobody should care about your business more than you. I’m talking about your personal life, your personal growth, your time off, your self-care. We often put everyone else’s needs above our own and ironically also put their assessment of our practices above our own assessment of our practices. You might be experiencing one of two things or both:
1) You lack balance because you feel like your worth comes from what you do.
2) You work in a job that has a toxic environment and promotes really unhealthy solutions.
For the first bucket, it seems like you may be perpetuating busy-ness for the sake of it because of some perceived value. My retort to you is to answer the question: What good am I to anyone if I am not good to myself?
If you are in the 2nd situation, now is the time to talk to someone in your chain of command who can support you. Have you spoken up about your needs? How has that been received?
One last final point: When we let go of past versions of ourselves, it’s scary and sometimes not always easy. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad move, it just means that growth is not linear. There is a lot of self-acceptance about our past self that has to arise with growth. I believe in you.
A key part of your self-growth journey is also knowing what works and doens’t work for you. A huge tool that I use is knowing my mental fitness score and being able to work through steps to achieve a high mental fitness. Check out the quiz here to learn your mental fitness score.