Truly Growing Feels Bipolar
I’ve learned to shut my mouth or curtail what I say about my own growth.
Every time I feel or think, “I did it, I cracked that barrier,” I find myself right back to my lesser behaviors and thoughts. Let me explain.
I deeply struggled during the holidays. The mix of social distancing, starting a new business, financial struggles, lack of fitness, relationship stress, and general harsh self-talk took a significant toll on my mojo. Not to mention I was about four weeks removed from battling Covid.
This was the first time in my 46 yrs that I actually decided that I needed anti-depressants. However, I also realized that I couldn’t take them due to my genetic condition known as MTHFR. Great, one more reason to feel low.
I vividly recall breaking down one morning in early January. Everything seemed too much. The questions raced through my head. Why the hell are you starting another business at age 46, with a family and single income? You are being too risky. Why did you move so far away from your family in Philadelphia? You don’t have family here in Colorado to support you in this effort. Here you go getting fat again; I thought you said you’d be in better shape. Looser. A vacation would be fun, but no, you can’t swing that because you decided to commit to starting a business. Why do you just get a fucking job and stop being a child?
To write this is embarrassing, but it’s honest. It’s genuinely how we grow.
Ryan Holiday coined the phrase, “the obstacle is the way.” It’s the obstacles we face thoughtout our life that either keep us trapped in old actions and behaviors, or show us a path for growth.
That same January morning I picked myself up and decided to hit the treadmill to get the blood pumping. My Audible account has over 200+ books from over a decade of listening, half of which I haven’t heard yet. I randomly chose a book that I stumbled on a year earlier, Kyle Cease’s “Illusion of Money.” I picked that book because of the title, yet the book had very little to do with actual money.
As I ran a few miles, something in the book resonated. It was as if I was spending years trying to assemble a puzzle, and suddenly, that book highlighted the missing piece that I’d been searching for. An epiphany is the best way I could describe it. I haven’t had many of those in my life, but this was undoubtedly one of them.
Instantly my focus shifted from feeling like I was struggling against life to feeling fully embraced and supported by it. Life was talking to me all this time, yet I had earplugs in, unable to hear what it told me. I felt ecstatic and optimistic; the stresses I felt melted away. Lightness and possibility swept over me, and I could see a path forward.
However, this isn’t an uplifting short story; sorry if you were expecting that.
As the months wore on, I slipped every so subtly back to my lesser thoughts and worries. The old voices came back to hunt me. At first, I was able to do the emotional jiujitsu to put them back in their place. Yet as the daily routines pulled me back into old behaviors, I lost that beautiful perspective. I lost the clarity again.
This is why I believe growth feels bipolar.
At least in my experience, growth is an infinite game. We don’t just arrive at a point of clarity and march on. It’s a cyclical process of ups and downs. Perhaps the only truthful pattern I’ve found is that those cycles of breakthrough and reversion become shorter. We gain experience dealing with them, and it’s there that we grow.