I had a roaring text debate with one of my roommates last night. This is nothing new. Both being strong-willed, opinionated people, from very different backgrounds, we frequently go back and forth about one topic or another. The topic of last night’s discussion, “Being Pushed to Grow.”
My stance was that not everyone wants to be pushed to grow, and his stance was that he was going to give everyone the opportunity to grow. It moved to religion (always a fun one) to education and back again. It ended like most of our debates ended; we agreed to stop debating.
But it got me thinking. About myself and growth. I’m hungry to grow as a person right now, but that wasn’t who I always was. I used to say I wanted to grow but never did anything about it. I said I wanted to grow because I was surrounded by a culture (the church) where most people are also saying that they want to grow and better their lives. I just went through the motions because that was what everybody else was doing. But usually, when I got together with my friends, we gossiped and ate and gossiped some more.
Then my life crashed down around me, and I focused solely on surviving. I don’t count that period in my life so much as growing as putting back the pieces. Then years later, when I separated from my ex-husband, I realized that I needed to grow and for the first time was hungry for it. It didn’t come instantaneously. I mean, it wasn’t like I told my ex that it was over and BAM! I immediately wanted to grow. Looking back, it came from the people around me. They started pushing me little by little. And before I knew it the hunger was there. (Funny, I just realized that I proved one of my roommate’s points in our discussion. Ugh. I hate being wrong. Haha)
My newest obsession is Tony Robbins. I’ve been reading one of his books, Awaken the Giant Within. My roommate sent that book to me, eight months ago, while I was in Mexico. He said that I really needed to hear the truths in that book. I read the first chapter and couldn’t get into it. He didn’t force me to read it, but he continued to encourage me and dole out advice and truths that he had learned from the book. Then somewhere along the line, I started listening to some of Tony’s seminars and at that moment, everything clicked. And I couldn’t get enough. I was hungry for more. Since then, I’ve listened to countless hours of his seminars and am devouring his book.
Anyway, Tony says that everything we do comes from a need to avoid pain or gain pleasure. People are forced to change when the pain becomes too great that there is no other choice than to move away from it. My pain (and the gentle pushes of my friends), though not a big crashing wave, little by little pushed me to the point that there was no other choice but to move away from it and towards pleasure.
Why do people stay in terrible marriages for so long? Why is it so difficult to lose weight and keep it off? Because the pain doing the opposite is not great enough for someone to do something about it. Giving up ice cream and running four times a week is more painful at this point than it is to stay overweight. Staying in a bad marriage is easier than getting counseling to fix it or getting out and saving yourself.
I’ve learned that the real key is to change and continuously change BEFORE you actually are forced to do so by too much pain. A little pain now is better than a lot of pain later. I’ve chosen to be a vegetarian, as much as I LOVE steak so that I don’t have to deal with the pain of endometriosis later.
The smartest thing I’ve ever done (and I can’t take any credit for it), was building strong relationships with people that not only want me to grow but are willing to do something about it. They pushed with just the right amount of pressure and encouragement at just the right times. Did I make mistakes? Yes, of course. They helped me learn from them. Did I have victories? Yes, of course. They celebrated with me.
There’s a saying that you become like the five people you spend the most time with. I hope that you have chosen your five wisely.