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.
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.
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.”
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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