Why change is hard and how we can power through 

"The lotus flower blooms from the darkest and thickest mud."  

- Buddist Proverb

In the same way that physical growth causes growing pains in childhood, personal development can cause psychological and emotional discomfort in adulthood. 

The discomfort caused by thinking outside of our usual patterns can create cognitive dissonance when long-held perspectives are challenged.

Even if we sometimes try to avoid it, emotional distress is a personal development necessity. 

Similar to the way your bones ached as a little girl during a growth spurt, psychological pain is just part of the process when we are growing intellectually and emotionally. 

When we talk about personal growth, we are referring to expansion, blossoming, and transformation. 

Transformation can be challenging because it requires making a significant change around our behaviors, attitudes, values, relationships, and self-image. 

I don't think it's a stretch to say that personal growth is hard. 

Beginning a growth journey – and staying committed to it – requires stepping out of your comfort zone and making sacrifices. 

That means letting go of old thinking, attitudes, behaviors, and perhaps even relationships that may be toxic and obstructive. It also means keeping your commitments to yourself, being consistent, and holding yourself accountable. 

That's a long list and not always an easy one to stick with. 

In my own experience, my personal growth journey has meant shedding so much of what held me back for years. And, once I was able to let go of those things – thoughts, core beliefs, misguided values – I was able to evolve to the next level of myself. And, I keep doing it over and over again. 

So how can we power through? How can we get through the painful parts of personal growth and blossom into the women we are striving to be? 

There are things you can do to walk through the discomfort of personal growth and level up your self-image and your life.

Meet your pain and discomfort where it's at; just say, "Bring it."

Perhaps personal growth for you means adapting to a healthier lifestyle, meeting a professional goal, or maybe even letting go of a toxic relationship. 

There will be some struggle involved in achieving these things. Likewise, there will be some emotional discomfort in letting go of old, limiting beliefs - in honestly facing up to the thoughts and long-held credences that need to be discarded. 

Personal development often means excising some of the most fundamental parts of ourselves. 

It's an unfortunate but undeniable fact that we live in a culture where pain and discomfort are seen as something to be avoided at all costs. 

Many women grew up with these values instilled into them from childhood. They may not see anything wrong with pushing negative emotions away or beating themselves up about having bleak feelings about certain things.

In their minds, living well means feeling well most of the time and avoiding painful experiences whenever possible.

In other words: Feeling bad is bad. 

It is essential to recognize that fear, gloom, discomfort, and pain can be catalysts for growth and learning.

Of course, negative emotions are unpleasant; they make us feel afraid, stuck, restless, uncomfortable, and out of control. 

It’s essential that we avoid toxic positivity. When we can surrender and meet the discomfort of personal growth head-on, facing its reality, we can then walk through it and get to the other side. 

That's when the magic happens. 

Own your painful part, then set it aside and move forward.

In situations where there is any difficulty or pain, it's often natural to focus on circumstances or the behavior of others.

Such a focus can be temporarily helpful. It can energize you, bring insight into your priorities, and help you see what you'd like to change in your life. 

However, there is also a high cost. Fixating on harms – real or imagined – done to you by life or the folks around you tends to exacerbate the situation, making the issue bigger and bringing about, or doubling down on the drama. 

Ask yourself: 

  • What is my part in this situation? 
  • How are my thoughts, feelings, and actions creating this? 
  • What can I do differently? 
  • What can I do today to make changes?

When you take responsibility for what is happening in your life, you become a volunteer, which is so much more powerful than being a victim. 

That's when you can start to grow in the direction you desire. 

Will it be uncomfortable? You bet. 

Will it be worth it? I guarantee it. 

Step outside your proverbial comfort zone.

A willingness to take risks by stepping outside your comfort zone is the path to growth. But many of us are afraid – and, fear is painful.  

In truth, the "comfort zone" isn't about being comfortable at all; it's more akin to living a safe life where you don't have any risk – or pain!

Are you willing to trade away the opportunity for growth because that scared part of yourself is holding you back?

Many of us are in so much fear of failure that we'd prefer to do nothing rather than aim at going for our dreams.

And, guess what staying stuck leads to. You guessed it - even more pain. 

Most highly successful people failed plenty before they succeeded. Remember, failure is inevitable - you simply need to use it wisely. 

Taking tiny steps outside that zone is okay- just so long as you take them. 

Just do it - no matter what.

"When you want something so badly, you just do it. You don't think about how hard it's going to be." -Lisa Vidal

Getting "it" done can be a pretty big ask when you're feeling unmotivated, in fear of failure, overwhelmed, or when that naysayer in your head just won't pipe down. 

Resistance can plague you. Even seemingly small tasks can seem downright impossible at times – they can become, as M. Molly Backes called it on Twitter in 2018 – the "impossible task." The phrase describes how it feels when a task seems impossible to do, no matter how easy it should theoretically be.

Here are a few tips and tricks for just getting it done - no matter what it is and no matter what you're feeling. 

  • Break it down into smaller tasks if you can
  • Reward yourself when it's done
  • Ask for support
  • Remind yourself how powerful you are and that you can power through
  • Be gentle with yourself when or if you don't quite make it
  • Keep your eye on the prize

Feeling overwhelmed by "it" can be demoralizing, depressing, and painful. And, when we can just do it, no matter what, the mental, emotional, and even physical rewards can be extraordinary. 

Personal development means commitment and hard work. It sometimes means powering through painful feelings of inadequacy, fear, and the discomfort of doing something new or outside our purview. 

And, when we walk through the pain and discomfort, we can get unstuck and out of the shadows, into a space where we can blossom and thrive.  


The Self-Image Manifesto

You’re Invited To Live An Extraordinary Life!