What comes to mind when you read the term ‘growing pains’? Do images of youth appear in your mind? The days of making mistakes, suffering the consequences and then learning what not to do, both inside and outside of the home? Maybe you were not easily accepted by peers and had no one to talk to about it, felt lonely, and had to figure it out on your own? Maybe ‘growing pains’ reminds you of adolescence or of young adulthood, when you had your heart broken for the first time? Or when you broke someone else’s heart, and you realized how influential your actions can be on others? Somehow, visions of ‘growing pains’ do typically connect back to earlier times in life.
Through our trials and errors, our growth and our pain, we begin searching for our own personal happiness while working out how to balance that with the happiness of our family, peer group, religious beliefs and our community. At some point we stop physically growing, and interestingly enough, at that point we have little to no tolerance for our ‘growing pains’ anymore. No one can suggest that the ‘growing pains’ of youth were always welcome or enjoyable, nor that they were always dealt with in a way that was supportive and conducive to our ideal mastery of each of our stages of development, but they came along with the territory of growing up, and there wasn’t much choice in the matter.
As adults, when things get bumpy or we get stuck, our inner voice may begin to criticize. Some part of you may ask, “ Why am I having such a hard time with this? This should be easy for me! Why am I so mad/upset/nervous/overwhelmed? Why can’t I motivate? I must be lazy! Why can’t I speak up for myself? Why can’t I confront my boss/co-worker/mother/father/partner/friend/sister/brother and let them know how I feel about this situation? What is wrong with me? People must think I am a complainer/negative person/Debbie downer/a drag to be around. Why can’t I make a decision? Why aren’t I where my friends are? What is wrong with me? You may feel melancholy but not know why, or panicky but not understand why. Can you tolerate these feelings, even just for a moment, instead of trying to move away from them?
What if you see the feelings that you are experiencing as messages that your body is trying to communicate to you? Maybe your body is telling you something important when you are feeling anxious, overwhelmed or upset. Are you willing to listen to your body? Can you begin to consider what it would be like to tolerate the pain it feels in order to become curious about the message? Are you willing to consider being open to your continuous growth even if it includes painful feelings? If it weren’t for our body communicating with us, how could we know that something needs to change?
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