Why Personal Growth Can Be Like Riding a Bus in the Dark

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In the early years of my personal growth there were times I did not know or understand why certain experiences were happening to me.

Though I had good connections with some wise and knowing people, nobody could explain to me the various stages that exist in the personal growth process.

No one could tell me why, after feeling better than I felt for years I began to sabotage myself by moving back into self-destructive behaviours. Why after attending a meditation retreat I returned feeling irritable and angry. Why I had periods where I felt so sad I was on the verge of tears. Was I depressed? Was I mentally unstable?

My doctor was convinced I should be on anti-depressants. My naturopath kept persuading me to buy more vitamins and herbal products. My friends advised me to forget this personal growth stuff and come drink beer with them. There were times on my personal growth curve when I was utterly confused and didn’t know what was happening.

Why did I stay on this path? Because despite the ups and downs, I felt I was getting better.

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I had been a chronic migraine sufferer – a migraine could keep me in bed away from work and company for four straight days – and my migraines were less frequent and certainly less overwhelming. I was a chronic insomniac. My worst case scenario was once going ten nights without a wink of sleep. Now I was sleeping at night more than I had done for years. I used to contract colds and flu six times a year. I was now maybe coming down with a slight cold in the winter months.

As a person I was less reactive, I felt calmer and for the first time in a while, I felt my optimism return.

Some of the National and Provincial parks in Canada grade the difficulties of their hikes as easy, medium, and difficult. The personal growth journey can be a difficult hike. I firmly believe that much of the difficulty is due to the absence of a map.

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I have had the good fortune, since the beginning of my career as a practitioner, to work on thousands of people over the last twenty-five years. This has allowed me to observe the inherent similarities and differences in the personal growth processes, to see the trends and consistencies that emerge over time and to respect the truism that every single individual’s journey is unique – and should be treated as unique.

I came to learn that the personal growth journey could be mapped, that there are distinct stages to the journey that are predictable for everyone who sets foot on the hike. The map, which I call the Path of Integration, allows you to pinpoint where you are in your process and what you can expect to be happening for you.

The map does not and should not predict the time allotted to each of the stages, because time factors vary – and should vary – for each one of us.

Someone may spend ten years working through their resistance stage, while someone else cruises through it in months. Someone else may be dealing with anger or sadness for three years, while for another it lasts only a matter of days.

Why such differentials of time variance? I do not know and I don’t ever expect to know. The question I am asked the most as a teacher and a practitioner is, “How long will this (part of my process) last?” Though I always say “I do not know,” I am able to say, “During this stage of your growth, you can expect to see this or that occur for you.”

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The Path of Integration Map allows me to anticipate behaviours and occurrences for each stage the person is working through.    

Without the knowledge of these stages, personal growth can be like being on a bus traveling through the dark, not really knowing where you’re being taken to, but knowing for sure that you need to be on the bus.

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8 thoughts on “Why Personal Growth Can Be Like Riding a Bus in the Dark

  1. Is this the same, as doors open and wonderful things are happening, then all of sudden they shut, and your world crumbles? You know your gifts, but can not seem to put them in use for others? You have clients that love your work, but can not seem to boost you clientele so you can make a wonderful living?

    Just curious. 🙂

    • Hello Rod,

      Thank you for your comment. This could be a personal question that needs a personal answer. From a personal growth angle what you describe can be typical of the Resistance stage. Resistance is the first stage on the Path to Integration or the Personal Growth Map. Resistance doesn’t like, trust, or allow for change, especially change in the department of self-improvement. Resistance is a very personal process, since everybody’s needs and history require different and individual approaches. However, working with resistance invariably involves negotiation, boundaries, and assurance towards the resistant aspects of ourselves.

      I have written a series of blogs on resistance and defenses. You would need to go back to some of the very first blog posts on this site and look for posts such as The Cost of Listening to the Wrong Advice; The Key to Sustained Personal Change, Growth, Happiness and Success; Are you Getting the Protection You Really Need? Are You in Command of the Direction Your Life is Taking?

      Otherwise, the upcoming course in Qualicum Beach in April will be providing a lot of focus on resistance.

      The question about supporting and sustaining clients is more complex and could very well pertain to resistance too. My experience as a teacher and mentor will always convey that professional success as a practitioner is very much dependent upon receiving ongoing training and mentoring. In working with people and the issues they bring in, a practitioner is always on the front line of their personal growth. Issues will arise for them, and these issues arise because they are needing to be looked at or dealt with. Not dealing with these ongoing issues can, and often does result in the issue themselves taking charge and therefore creating both professional and non-professional limitations for us. I am not saying that this is going on personally for you, but in answering your question, I am citing another common possibility.

      I hope this helps, Rod. Thank you reading my blog and for your contribution. Pietro

  2. Yes, I have felt like that too at different points in my growth. There are times when I feel like I “have got it!”, then times when I seem to be stuck on a plateau with no ability to move off it, and times when I think I haven’t made any progress at all and have forgotten the lessons I have learned. Sometimes I feel angry and sulky and wonder if I am ever going to move forward again. At other times I feel like I am sailing again! It can be confusing but I don’t give up when I am stuck as I know the good times will be there again soon. Thanks for sharing your personal journey with us, Pietro.

  3. The fun part about riding the bus in the dark happens when I start noticing the journey itself instead of focussing on the destination. That’s the hard part for me. The map idea is a nice one for allowing me to trust I am going in the right direction so I can maybe stop fretting about whether I am lost or will end up somewhere else. For me the doubt about where I am heading is the biggest deterrent stopping me from living the experience. I can be so ‘there’ for others in appreciating their process but when it comes to mine, I move immediately to thinking I’ve lost my way.
    It makes me think of my now so trusty navigator on my phone. I can’t believe how much it has transformed my travel experience. I love that I can sit back, relax, and even take in the sights when I know that little voice will tell me it’s time to turn instead of having to fumble with maps and search desperately for road signs. I think I’m ‘on’ to something. Maybe we could create a Map App to consciousness!!
    All joking aside, as an early childhood educator, I am familiar with developmental stages and know that they are truly helpful in supporting parents (myself included) to live through the different stages their child is experiencing knowing that many of the behaviours that seem worrisome in the moment are just part of the process and not cause for alarm. At one point, there was a belief that these developmental stages were limited to childhood. We certainly have turned that belief upside down!
    Thanks for reminding me of this ‘lens’ for looking at my process. I think many of my teachings, including yours Pietro, have provided me with a deeper understanding of some of the stages on this journey. Love the idea of a map and would love to learn more about your thinking on this ……
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Hello Liz, thank you for commenting on the blog.

      You make an excellent and important point, that one of the biggest deterrents in the personal growth process is overly focussing on the goal. This is a good and important reminder for us all.

      I believe that one of the key benefits personal growth provides is a comfort with uncertainty. Uncertainty is one of the few constants in life and one people struggle against most. Focus on the goal can serve to bypass the lessons on uncertainty.

      As for your expressed desire to learn more about the Map: I will be covering certain aspects of the Map in upcoming blog posts, however it is a topic that needs to be built upon and therefore is outside the literal capacity of a blog post. I believe my book spends around 100 pages on developing the Map and its application to our everyday lives. I’m going to have to refer you to my book – A Return to Consciousness – when it comes out – or the next the Path to Authenticity Programs. I am thinking – and only considering at this point – a future program somewhere on the Mexico coast where the Map will be explored in detail as well as glorious sunshine.

      Thank you for your comment, Liz and for reading my blog. I wish you well, Pietro

    • Thanks for your question, Monica.

      I will be including excerpts over the next few weeks that refer to the stages within the Path of Integration or the Personal Growth Map. Unfortunately, the blog is too limited a medium too delve into it as deeply as I would like. There are around 100 pages devoted to the five stages of the personal growth journey in my book including why these stages exist, how one stage leads to the next, what happens on the borders between the stages, and what to expect within each of the stages, and how they translate into lifestyle change.

      I guess some things have to be left to the book.

      Inevitably whenever I refer to the book I receive a question asking when will my book, A Return to Consciousness, be published?

      Over the last months my publicist, Dan Perpeluk, and I have been posting excerpts from the book on the book blog. Publishers these days look for proof of readership prior to publication. The initial hope and intention in creating this blog page, along with the desire to have stimulate interest and conversations on personal growth, was to draw sufficient proof of readership and therefore convince publishers that it would be in their interests to publish the book.

      As of this week we are receiving over 70,000 visits to my book blogs. And this figure is steadily rising. We are anticipating over 300,000 readers to the book blog over this next month of March.

      Next stop, the publishers…

  4. Robin Maynard-Dobbs

    yes, I like the aspect of focusing on the journey and not the goal. And in addition, having a map to follow that helps you to know that there is a destination worth going for and that someone has trod the path before you and it is safe. I find that there are many personal variations that come up so not everyone’s journey follows the same path, there may be room for detours or way trails.

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