You know the sayings “just be yourself,” and the potentially contradictory one that says “to grow we must stretch ourselves?” Which one is right for you? I think that we might consider intermingling the two of them in some sort of dynamic balance. I’m a Psychologist and a Leadership Coach. I see clients who need soft and gentle nurturing, and I also work with those who are in a space for challenging themselves. Where are you right now?
“Just be yourself” is great advice to keep in mind, as a daily mantra. It’s a close cousin to “being in the moment.” Let our authenticity shine, it will distinguish us and allow us to be better recognized. As a youth, one of my teachers told the class that if we were to be competitive, we would do well to be ourselves because we have the potential to be great as ourselves, but only mediocre as someone else. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love to get recognized. It’s a real ego boost to be sure. And would I like to be great? If we’re anything at all alike, we’ve been making effort in this way all our lives.
Right at this very moment, would you prefer to receive soft, gentle nurturing or are you in a space to be challenged? “To grow we must stretch ourselves” reminds me that when life gets challenging, I can accept the challenge as a hurdle to be surmounted, not as an obstacle that holds me back. The same challenge can also be seen as an opportunity that will assist me to grow, change, and to evolve into a better, more improved version of myself. For as long as we live, we will never reach the pinnacle of life. We’ll always have further to climb. We can always refine who we are becoming, what we do, and how we express ourselves. That is one great gift that life gives all of us.
But if we are looking to receive soft, gentle nurturing right at this very moment, then we need to turn towards the light, as plants turn towards the sunlight. We all have an inner light. I might remind myself that I will care for myself, be my own best friend. I might give myself the time to nap mid-morning if I’m still tired. I might allow myself many luxuries that I personally value or provide meaning to me. I might also turn towards one or more others in my life who make me feel well, loved, or who look forward to spending time with me. Sometimes one of the nicest things I can do for myself is to think and then do for someone else.
Personal growth seems to be an essential component of the human experience and is fundamental to maturity and success, but we have to be ready for it or it will be more difficult than is necessary. Since we don’t seem to be able to avoid growth experiences, what happens when we consider selecting our growth opportunities before they select us. Will we gain power and control of our lives by alternating between these two strategies or cycling through one then the other, at a pace that is comfortable and determined by us?