I have a passion for rapid personal growth. Since most of us transform our lives relatively slowly (if at all), there’s a real benefit to knowing how to make transformations quickly. Since we have a limited time on Earth then it serves us to know how to optimize our lives. This doesn’t mean that it’s in our best interests to always be pushing ourselves to be faster, better, and more. That’s not what I’m suggesting. What I am suggesting is that if life is our schoolroom, how can we make the most effective use of that experience? How can we allow life to serve us as fully as possible?
One way is to “force the issue.” Or to phrase it differently: We can enter into situations in which a learning experience with growth is the inevitable, eventual, and guaranteed outcome of a particular experience. We could go into those situations both willingly and unwillingly. For example, we experience this during times of extreme duress when our preferred outer-world options are limited or even eliminated. It could come in the form of being fired from work, the death of a loved one or a relationship that ends, an unexpectedly severe and debilitating illness, or any other number of unwanted yet extreme situations.
These “force” us to choose either a path of growth or a path of destruction. We’ll learn from both directions. That’s inevitable. It’s eventual. And growth is a guaranteed outcome. It may not be growth as we think of it in a “positive” sense. Destruction might cause us to go into a place so dark that whatever we learn is pushed down into our subconscious. Still, learning happens through every experience. The more extreme the experience, the more severe it is, the greater the growth.
Ideally as we live a more conscious life, the path of destruction fades away and growth comes to the forefront. Rather than curl up into a ball and wait for the metaphorical pounding to stop, we can stand up and step forward. This is not easy. It takes a lot of courage, willpower, and strength. It takes dedication to your growth. And it is incredibly rewarding.
On the other hand, what if you don’t have to wait for life to hand you those situations? What if you could create them yourselves?
You can. One way is to limit your options. This is a way to “force the issue” in your daily life. Here’s a few examples…
Eating healthier: Throw away all your unhealthy food. Buy healthy food.
Breaking an addiction: Get rid of what you’re addicted to. Lock it up. Hide it. Do anything you can to make it incredibly difficult to access.
Starting a new business: Quit your job.
Getting some rest and relaxation: Tell your employer (and anybody else necessary) you’re taking a day or few off.
Need a Vacation: Pay for as much non-refundable costs in advance as you can.
Now to be clear, I’m not advocating you do any of those things. Especially not all at once! I’m only listing them as examples as to how limiting your options “forces” you to grow. When you limit options, it creates an inner discomfort that must be reconciled. There’s a tension within that must be released or suppressed. Suppression forces the learning into the subconscious (like the “destructive” examples above). On the other hand, releasing the tension is what causes the growth.
For example, if you are trying to eat healthier then you’ll feel a tension between wanting to go out and find unhealthy food to eat instead of eating what you have. Pay attention to that tension. It could become so extreme that you ignore your healthy food and go out to eat some “Soul Food.” Or perhaps you’re trying to break a chocolate addiction, so you locked all your chocolate into a box and intentionally forgot the combination to open it. Then you decide to drive to the store at midnight and buy the first chocolate bar you see. Or you could go the other route: Actually take the non-refundable vacation and get rest and relaxation.
The outcome is actually not all that important. Whether you break the addiction, take the vacation, or eat healthier… it’s largely irrelevant. What’s relevant is that you remain conscious and present while you’re going through that experience. For example, you might not like who you become as you rampage through the online food directory looking for the greasiest unhealthy food you can find. You might not like how out of control you feel. And what if your car breaks down on the way?
All those outer challenges will give you an important inner reference. Specifically, how far are you willing to go to remain comfortable? To what will you go to to maintain your old life? To get what it is that you’ve intentionally deprived yourself of?
When you “force the issue” what you’re really doing is exploring how deeply ingrained something is in your psyche. The more effort you are willing to put forth to “get” whatever it is you’ve limited from yourself, the more inner growth you’ll need to support the changes you want to make. Being present and aware of this tension is what creates the growth. When the tension remains subconscious, outer growth doesn’t manifest in your life. So the awareness you bring to the tension is a way that whatever was subconscious becomes conscious. Then you know you are -choosing- the path you take of your own free will.
It’s helpful to start with something small. Perhaps make sure that on Fridays you are always going out to eat lunch with coworkers you know who only eat healthy food. Wherever you go, you know you’ll be “Forced” to eat food that’s better for your body. Then as you get comfortable with the small changes, you can work up to bigger ones.
I recall how I “forced” the issue to stop drinking caffeine. First, I replaced all my soda intake with Sprite. Then years later, I replaced Sprite with Water and Milk. Now I drink a good amount of water each and every day. My water bottle goes with me wherever I go. It didn’t start that way though. It started by making sure I got rid of caffeinated drinks that I liked. No access. By extension, I “forced” the change I wanted to experience in my life.
Find something in your life you’d like to change. Start small. Give “forcing the issue” a try. And See what you discover…
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