Growth is a process that involves changing your thoughts, habits, viewpoints, and/ or behaviors. It may involve moving forward and accomplishing goals. Changes can be either internally, externally, or a combination. Growth leads to life. Stagnancy is not the opposite of growth- it does not involve going backwards. Stagnancy means no movement and no growth, and this is survival.
Growth and Stagnancy are Hard!
Growth is challenging. It can be overwhelming, stressful and uncomfortable. Sometimes what is familiar is viewed as more comfortable than what is new, even if the familiar is chaotic or hurtful. But let’s be honest- being stagnant is difficult too.
Sometimes being stagnant can create a false sense of safety or comfort. Material things or basic needs are taken care of and some people settle for that, even though they are not content. People may remain stagnate for various reasons, including not knowing how to start making changes, being intimidated by the idea of learning something new or meeting new people, fearful of possible negative aspects of the change or that they won’t succeed, overwhelmed by details of how they will make the change, or feeling they don’t deserve to succeed or start over.
Emotional Mind and Rational Mind
The key to personal growth is thinking with the rational mind rather than the emotional mind. The rational mind is more logical and task oriented. The emotional mind vacillates frequently and there is a lack of consistency because most decisions are based on how you feel in the moment.
Being in recovery, I have experienced a long journey of learning the importance of the emotional and rational mind. When I was in the midst of my addiction most decisions were made with my emotional mind and based on feeling good in the moment. I wanted to make myself numb or happy, and I thought drugs and alcohol were the answer. I tried recovery a couple of times but every time I had an impulse to relapse I thought I needed to act on it. Once I was serious enough about wanting to quit and really learned about addiction, I realized I did not need to act on my impulse everytime I desired drugs or alcohol. I used prayer, the Bible, social supports, exercise, AA,NA , Celebrate Recovery ( a Christian recovery program), church and hobbies to distract myself. As I used these resources, and with the help of God, I no longer desired alcohol or drugs.
Choosing Life Over Survival
After more than 11 years of sobriety, I still need to rely on my rational mind often when PTSD, panic, or feeling overwhelmed are involved. I often want to flee, give up, or quit when something gets difficult. This happens frequently and when discouragement starts to take over I assess my thoughts and emotions, and make a rational plan. This could include building a routine, using coping skills, adding some type of physical activity into my routine, or planning daily, weekly and monthly goals for myself. Breaking down tasks into small parts is a helpful way of moving forward. I also visualize what life will look like once the goal is achieved or the task is complete. All of this builds life and is life giving! They may seem like small insignificant choices, but they are not. They are choices that give the individual, not emotions, control.
My Path to Life
I personally would not have learned the difference between life and survival if it was not for my relationship with Jesus and following my rational mind rather than my emotional mind. I felt like I traded in surviving at some point and started actually experiencing life. There is a difference! Sobriety or abstinence from certain behaviors does not necessarily lead to life, just survival. Life is full of people, places, things, and growth. There are ups and downs, challenges, relationships, and constant opportunities to learn, explore, heal, give, forgive, teach, impact others, and connect.
I had prayed early in my recovery that I would never be stagnate and I could help others in their recovery from addiction and mental health, and I have tried my best to abide by this as opportunities are given. Since becoming a Christian and getting sober over 11 years ago, I have had the opportunity to grow continuously and embrace life. I graduated with my Masters in Social Work, met my husband and got married in less than a year, and had 3 children in under 3 years. I’ve worked a variety of therapy jobs, helped my husband start a real estate investment company, became a landlord, and was a stay at home mom for a period of time. I’ve moved 6 times including once across country with my husband and children to a state I never even visited before moving, I recently became a licensed real estate agent and opened a counseling practice. I’ve met hundreds of people, and have tried many new hobbies and activities. I have learned so much about myself and others and grown from every experience. I’ve also had many heartaches and disappointments but those experiences have helped me change and grow as well.
Each and every person has their own story of recovery and their own way of living and embracing life. My story is not unique. The world is full of individuals who live life to the fullest, despite many obstacles, heartaches and setbacks. People are so resilient and so capable of moving forward despite hardship. You can decide to truly live life just like I did. You can choose your own goals, plan your own steps, and refuse to give in to impulses to relapse or mental health struggles. There are so many opportunities every day to make life worthwhile and not let it pass by, and these choices are within your control.
I’d love to hear about your plans and goals for your life or answer any questions you have. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
#PTSD #trauma #secondarytrauma #panic #relivingmypast #letgoofmypast #emotionalhealing