How to Grow Emotionally
By Julie Burns Higgins
Certain events or comments can be a catalyst for some soul-searching, and there is nothing wrong with recognizing that you need a mild “tune up” with regard to your emotional functioning. Everyone carries some “baggage” that rears its ugly head at inopportune moments. In fact, recognizing that you may need to change is a leap toward emotional growth. Being honest with yourself about the fact that you need to make some changes can lead to greater decision-making, increased expectations about who you want to be, and liberation from that which no longer fits. If this seems difficult, don’t worry – we’ll take it one step at a time.
First, you need to understand why it might be challenging to be truly honest with yourself. We know that, to a certain degree, denial can be a helpful coping mechanism, as it “gives your mind the opportunity to unconsciously absorb shocking or distressing information at a pace that won’t send you into a psychological tailspin” (“Denial: When it helps, when it hurts” mayoclinic.org). However, denial can be comfortable long after it is no longer productive. Fortunately, our minds and bodies let us know when we aren’t functioning optimally. We often experience a type of discomfort known as “cognitive dissonance” when we try to hold on to a belief that we know to be untrue, and physical symptoms such as headaches and upset stomachs sometimes put us on notice that we have to work on our psyche. These feelings, although uncomfortable, are your body’s way of telling you that not only are you ready to move forward in your acceptance of truth, you really need to do so. Learn to pay attention, and even welcome, when your heart, head and body signal that you need to make changes.
Choosing to become aware of the things you need to change is healthy. And it is important – because everything you do is a choice, doing nothing is a choice as well. When we recognize that we are not victims of circumstance, that instead we are the product of our choices, a world of opportunities opens up for us. Opportunities to learn and grow and flourish. Learn to understand that and take responsibility for your actions and inactions. As you do so, you can more readily acknowledge your mistakes. Taking ownership of your behaviors gives you more control over your life.
As you take responsibility for your words and actions, you will make better decisions about who you want to be. By recognizing your own humanity, you will treat others with more empathy. Your higher level of self-respect will cause you to be more kind and courteous to others. You will find that you are becoming “the change that you wish to see in the world.” (Mahatma Gandhi).
This higher sense of personal responsibility will naturally lead you to a greater sense of responsibility toward yourself. You will come to understand your own value. This will lead to an appropriate intolerance of others who fail to value you as they should. You will recognize the importance of removing toxic people from your life. You will limit your exposure to that which does not contribute to your growth or reflect who you choose to be. You will have begun a lifelong journey of self-care.
Hopefully, having these steps laid out in this manner will help you realize that you are fully capable of evolving. So go ahead, start embracing self-awareness so that you begin to recognize signs that you need to change – you will find that the benefits of making better choices and having a stronger sense of personal responsibility give you the freedom to let go of that which used to hold you back. Embracing emotional growth is a conscious decision that you will always be glad to have made.
As a life coach, I help people find, within themselves, the power to change their lives.
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“Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free.” – Eckhart Tolle
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