By Bridget Belden | Contributor
SPRING 2023 ISSUE
Photos credit courtesy of OmniaPiel
I have a confession to make: I am a junkie. To be clear, my drug of choice is not a drug at all — it happens to be personal growth. I started more than 20 years ago, and once I opened that Pandora's box, I haven’t been able to stop. And the funny thing? I am learning more about myself now at the age of 57 than I ever have.
The thing about the growth journey is that there is no finish line. You will never hear anyone say “That’s it! My work here is complete. I know everything I need to know about myself and life in general.” (And if you do? Run for the hills!)
It doesn’t work like that. Just as you start peeling back the layers, you discover new things about yourself. And it makes sense, right? We are living, breathing, evolving beings. Life is not static, and neither are we. As our life circumstances change, we adapt. Or not.
So, what’s so great about personal growth? For me, it is key to creating a life you love. Simply look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for a clue.
Yes, we must meet the basics for our physiological (shelter, food, water) and safety (personal security, resources, health) needs. But what happens beyond that? It isn’t until you start to ascend the higher tiers of the pyramid that you get a glimpse of what it truly means to live.
Achieving your full potential through self-actualization — and discovering true meaning in your life — is where the magic happens. The highest tier is where purpose and passion and joy live. It’s where you start living your life instead of your life living you.
But how do you do that? Where do you start?
It all starts with one person: you.
If that makes your palms start to sweat a little bit, read on. That means we’re on the right track!
Maybe at this point you are asking yourself, “If this is so great, why isn’t everyone happily living their best life?” The answer is because initiating this type of growth isn’t easy. Oftentimes, as it did for me, it comes from a major life transition or existential crisis. And let’s face it — those by their very nature aren’t a day at the beach.
This journey takes courage in the face of the fear and resistance that will inevitably arise. That’s the only way you are going to get out of your comfort zone (the lower portion of Maslow’s hierarchy where basic needs are met‚ to start your ascent to something greater.
Fear and resistance are persistent and the masters of disguise. They may manifest as that little voice that says, “Aren’t you being selfish taking this time for you?” Or the doubt you feel after your friend rolled her eyes when you told her about signing up for that painting class.
Don’t let fear stop you. While it may keep you safe when you’re in an unfamiliar city, for example, when it comes to personal growth, safe equals stuck.
For those of you who are just getting started, these tips may be helpful as you begin your journey.
Practice self-inquiry. It’s a big part of discovering who you are and what’s important to you. Schedule 10 to 30 minutes a day for quiet reflection time. This can be on your morning walk (no AirPods!) or sitting with your coffee in your backyard. Ask yourself some of the following questions: What do I like to do? What am I passionate about? What do I want my life to feel like? Then record everything that comes up — don’t edit! Write it down in your journal or use voice notes on your phone.
Adopt a growth mindset. Think about your life from a place of possibility. Forget about what you know — or think you know — about who you are and what you are capable of.
Get curious. Over time, you may start to notice a picture forming from your inquiry practice. Maybe you feel the pull of something creative or that you really want to make an impact in the world. Pull that thread — what type of art are you drawn to? Are there classes close by you can sign up for? What charitable causes light you up or make you emotional? Then start researching ways to scratch that itch.
Pay attention. When you’re out in the world, start noticing what you are drawn to. What excites you. What scares you just a little bit. Then lean in.
Commit to yourself. Set boundaries by choosing to spend time with those who support your quest for growth. Avoid the naysayers. Oftentimes, they may be resistant because your journey brings up their own desire for creating a life they love and the fear that comes along with it.
This process isn’t always easy, but nothing worth having is. It can be incredibly rewarding and inspiring as well as difficult and painful. But that’s the point. Truly living is about feeling it all.
I can honestly say that I look at my life as “before” and “after.” My life today since I embarked on this journey is better than I could have ever imagined all those years ago, and the best part? It just keeps getting better and better. It’s never too early or too late to start. So, what are you waiting for? Your life is waiting for you!
Bridget Belden is an empowerment coach for moms and the founder of Being Magenta. She has created a complimentary 45-minute Pathway to Purpose breakthrough session to support those embarking on their own journey of personal growth. bridgetbelden.com | IG: @beingmagenta