Be Light and Healthy

Growth Spurts

Posted on: April 3, 2011

“Growth is an erratic forward movement: two steps forward, one step back. Remember that and be very gentle with yourself.  Julia Cameron

A couple of days before spring officially began in the Northeast, it appeared that winter was over.  Nature took several steps forward as temperatures edged toward 70 degrees, and the colorful croci spurted through the dark earth teasing us with spring’s arrival.  As spring officially began she took a step backward when the warmth retreated and temperatures repeatedly dipped below freezing.  She gently began moving forward again once temperatures resumed their climb, and more plants sprouted upon the land.  Subsequently, April’s arrival was heralded with a rare winter snowstorm in the Northeast.  Nature blanketed the landscape with snow serving as a reminder to have patience and trust that spring will arrive when she’s ready.  Against a backdrop of white, the croci patiently waited for the return of the sun’s golden warmth to melt the last remnants of winter’s essence.  Like us, nature takes two steps forward then one step back as she progresses to her next stage of growth. 

Like nature, it is natural for us to take two steps forward then one step back as we evolve.  Though equipped  with the best of  intentions,  it’s likely that there will be moments when we take a step backward as we advance in the direction of our dreams.  The path of personal growth is never a straight line.  By not expecting perfection from ourselves, we are better able to learn from our backward steps.  When we choose to pursue our own personal development, we may be cruising along thinking things are going great and suddenly hit a bump in the road.  Sometimes the interruption in our progress is a result of circumstances beyond our control; other times we unpredictably falter.  When a backslide occurs, we have two choices.  We can embrace it as an opportunity to learn or we can punish ourselves.  We are not perfect and accepting and acknowledging our mistakes provides us with an opportunity to learn from them and move on.  If we resist accepting them, we end up dwelling on them and creating negative energy that blocks us from moving forward or sends us backwards. 

Embracing an interruption in our progress as an opportunity to learn can help unlock our inner wisdom and lead us to further growth.  If we take the time to compassionately contemplate what can be learned from the situation and determine why our progress was halted, we can develop strategies that will assist us further advance toward our goals.  Conversely, if we spend time and energy mentally beating ourselves up for an indiscretion, we may talk ourselves into permanently retreating backwards to our old behaviors.  Our greatest lessons and most profound growth are often the result of adversities encountered on our paths. 

The process of evolving causes us to experience many different emotions including happiness, excitement, fear, and anxiousness.   Think back to your childhood and remember the awkward, uncomfortable feelings as you transitioned through different stages of your young life.  We may be excitedly anticipating the results of the small changes we’re incorporating into our lives but run out of patience as we wait to see and reap the benefits.  We stop trusting the inner wisdom of our hearts and start listening to our minds.  Often, this occurs right before we are about to have a growth spurt or reach a pivotal point and is prompted by the uncomfortable feelings we experience as we are about to breakthrough to a new way of life.  The voices in our heads fear they’re losing control of the situation as we follow the longings of our hearts.  Intent on keeping us stuck in our mundane yet comfortable existence, they respond with malice goading us to relinquish the progress that we’ve made.  Though the goal being pursued will ultimately enrich your life, it is normal to fear changes and new experiences.  Be patient with yourself as you adapt to your new lifestyle and gain confidence.

When improvements in our eating or exercise habits have been made, one indiscretion can cause us to abandon our progress fueling the chastising voices in our heads.  When we concentrate on a misstep and perceive it as a failure, our negative thoughts strengthen our insecurities.  Focusing our attention on judgmental thoughts distracts us from listening to our bodies.  Our bodies are always trying to maintain balance and keep us healthy.  If you’ve overeaten or eaten something unhealthy and proceed to mentally abuse yourself, you will miss the physiological messages your body is trying to convey.  If instead you gently turn inward and listen to your body, you will feel the affect the food is having on you in the form of sleepiness, bloatedness, sluggishness, lethargy, anxiety, or queasiness.  When you don’t sleep well or wake up in the morning feeling lousy, pause for a moment and think about what you fed your body the day before.  Once you realize how food makes you feel, think about what small changes you could try to avoid the situation in the future.  In addition, recognizing the foods and activities that leave you feeling great and full of energy will provide you with valuable information regarding your body’s needs.   Learning to listen to the messages your body sends will naturally facilitate you transition to a healthier lifestyle and keep you moving forward. 

When I was transitioning to a new, healthy lifestyle, there were days when I would stray off track.  For instance, going to a party in the evening could throw me off.  I’d try to eat less during the day and end up famished by the time I got to the event, which would sometimes cause me to make unwise choices.  When it happened, I was kind to myself and reflected about why it happened and what new behaviors I could experiment with to keep me on track.  I eventually changed my behavior and typically eat an apple or other healthy snack prior to attending an event where I will be eating.  It satisfies any pangs of hunger I’m experiencing and keeps me level-headed enabling me to pause and make sensible choices. 

Unexpected health challenges can also serve as the impetus to a backward slide.  Being diagnosed with an unforeseen health condition can be scary and send your life in an unforeseen direction; however, it can also serve as the motivation to re-assess your lifestyle and make healthy improvements.  In some instances better health can be attained in the long run by accepting the situation and perceiving it as an opportunity meant to take your life in a new direction.     

I invite you to be gentle and kind to yourself and look at a step backward in a positive manner.  The path to personal growth may be erratic as backward steps occur and present opportunities to enhance your growth.  By accepting and learning from your missteps, you will create positive energy that will put you back on track and strengthen your resolve to continue moving forward in the direction of your healthy goals.  In addition, I invite you to forward this blog to your friends and sign up for weekly e-mail updates at www.belightandhealthy.com to get informed and inspired to Be Light and Healthy.  When you sign up, you will receive an e-mail requesting you confirm your subscription.  After you confirm, you will begin receiving weekly updates.

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