The Secret to Growth

Yesterday, warmth and bright sunshine.

Today, cold and rain.

“I like this! I don’t like that!”

Everything coming and going.

Take what comes and don’t run after what goes.             

–Haju Sunim

My friend, Suzanne, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder several years ago. She usually does quite well, but it’s been a real challenge for her lately.

About three months ago, she started having insomnia and getting irritable, her warning signs that she’s getting sick. Over the past two months her mood swings have settled into depression. As far as her energy goes, she’s working part time right now and reads the rest of the day.

She’s lucky to have a great psychiatrist who’s working closely with her to get her medication right. But until her brain chemistry straightens out, she could remain depressed for quite some time. She just needs to wait.

So how’s she holding up with all this?

“I was pretty angry, especially since it’s been dragging on for so long. But here in the past couple weeks I’ve had a shift. I realized that this is hard, but it’s just hard. It’s not horrible. It’s just hard.

“I know I’ll be stronger on the other side of this. I’m not happy about it, but I’m ok. A couple weeks ago I was not ok. Now I am.”

What is the secret to personal growth? Acceptance. Take what comes. Don’t run after what goes.

Accepting all experience, even the unpleasant parts — that’s mindfulness. What is there to see, to learn? Are there perhaps some gifts here?

If Suzanne fights her situation, she’ll have two problems — her emotional pain and also the suffering caused by resisting. But she gets it that her illness and this current rough patch are opportunities for her growth. When she sees it that way, depression is not a bad thing.

Learning to grow through difficult times starts well before the troubles hit. Reflect today on how precious your growth is to you. Think about how helpful hard times can be. We don’t need to feel victimized by painful experiences. Emotional growth is far more valuable than being comfortable and avoiding pain. If you want to deepen your wisdom and empathy for others, you’ll know that difficulties are a good thing.

If you’re facing some kind of difficulty in your life right now, know that you’re a strong person, even if you don’t feel it. Let this period of your life show you your inner resources of wisdom, peace and balance. We all have these qualities — we just need to realize they’re there and cultivate them.

Try to see this as an opportunity to become a richer person, a more compassionate person. Let this process show you what you need to learn.

Readers: What have you learned from your difficulties? Please share in the comments.

 

 

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