Growth can sneak up on you.
Life presents plenty of lessons for us, and as we learn them, we develop.
But growth doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual path we take. So that means you may not even notice how far you’ve come.
Here are some things you may not realize are down to the fact you’re growing as a person…
1) Questioning yourself and your life
One of the biggest hallmarks of growth can come as a real surprise.
We sometimes assume that as you grow your life will magically come together and you’ll suddenly have all the answers.
But that is rarely the case. In fact, quite the opposite.
The real truth is that growth can be messy.
You may find yourself asking some big questions. You probably have plenty of doubts too.
Growth involves asking important questions about yourself and your life. But the growth lies in the asking.
In my younger years, I used to think I had the world figured out fairly well. As I got older, I saw I wasn’t as wise as I’d led myself to believe.
But that was when the real growth started.
When we hide in self-assurance, we’re usually hiding in ignorance too.
The more you question, often the more aware you are.
2) Becoming more aware of your reactions
Essentially, the more conscious you are of your emotional and thought processes, the more self-awareness you have.
And that is a transformative ingredient when it comes to growth.
It allows you to step back and understand yourself on a whole other level.
When armed with a greater knowledge of how you tick, you get to choose more wisely.
You can decide which thoughts serve you and which are dragging you down.
You can keep a hold of powerful emotions that threaten to carry you away.
Paying better attention to what you feel and how you think will lead to a better relationship with not only yourself but also others.
3) Dropping certain people and connections
It can feel sad to lose someone from your life. But chances are, you’ve simply outgrown them.
If you have kept the exact same friendship circle since you were in grade school, then you’re either very lucky or you’ve not really changed.
Because most of us find that as we mature, we grow out of certain connections.
That’s not to say we’re too good for them. But we take different paths in life. And sometimes they lead in very different directions.
Once upon a time, you may have put up with shitty behavior from so-called friends or lovers.
But as your boundaries firmed up and your self-worth grew, you no longer do.
Part of it is about learning to like what is good for us. And as we’ll see next, that takes discipline.
4) Waving goodbye to self-destructive habits
A lot of what we feel like defines us in life isn’t us at all.
It’s been passed down to us from our caregivers, our peers, and the communities and society we live in.
Some of it’s good, but some of it is destructive.
We often don’t question it, because it’s always just been there, in the background silently pulling our strings.
It can show up as negative self-talk, false beliefs about ourselves, or unhealthy behavior.
For example, let’s say you always used to go for the bad boys. You didn’t even know why, they were just “your type”.
But all the things we do that we know deep down aren’t good for us have a subtle yet deep-rooted cause.
If you have managed to swap bad habits and replace them with better ones, you’ve shown not only growth but a whole lot of self-restraint.
5) Shifting your tastes and preferences
It so often happens naturally as time passes.
We no longer enjoy the things that we once did. In their place, new interests develop.
Perhaps you used to love to go out partying every night of the week. Yet these days, you much prefer to enjoy a glass of red curled up on the couch.
Or maybe once upon a time, you dreamed of settling down and becoming a parent. But somewhere along the line, you decided that you’d much rather see the world and have a different sort of adventure.
It’s not how your vision changes that signifies growth, it’s the fact that it has changed.
It shows your experiences along the way have shaped you in new ways. You are like the valley which becomes molded by the running river of life experience.
6) Getting knocked down, and getting back up again
Of course, whether we like it or not, life always delivers us both highs and lows.
But amongst the struggles of the lows, we don’t always appreciate the gift we are being given:
It’s called resilience, and sadly it’s hard-earned.
We only hone this skill through sustaining some knocks in life.
Every single bad day that you shake off is a testament to it. Every rough patch that you make it out of is a sign that you are becoming tougher.
Breakups, traumatic events, disappointments, and rejections undoubtedly suck.
We’re not always going to be able to find the silver lining or put a positive spin on the bad things that happen.
Yet surviving and coming out stronger is always something to be proud of.
7) Learning to say no without any guilt
It’s such a simple two-letter word, but one plenty of us struggle with:
That may be:
“No thanks, I’d rather not.”
“No thanks, that doesn’t work for me.”
No thanks, I appreciate the offer, but I’m too busy.”
It’s natural to worry about how we’ll be perceived when we turn people and things down in life.
This is why it’s a good indication of internal growth when you discover the art of turning people down effortlessly.
Because despite what some people believe, doing what is right for you is a sign of healthy self-esteem and not selfishness.
8) Doing what’s best for you
Many of us find that when we’re teens, we’re far more likely to go along with the crowd.
Often for the reasons we discussed above. We can fear the rejection of those around us.
But it can be a very slippery slope if we never grow out of our people-pleasing ways.
Because if we’re not careful, we can end up shaping our lives based on what everyone else thinks, rather than us.
Neglecting your own desires, opinions, and ideas is a recipe for living a life of regret.
We’re all unique. So what gives your life the most meaning and fulfillment is going to be very individual.
When you can unashamedly live your life for YOU and nobody else, you have clearly grown a lot.
9) Wanting to contribute to the world
This is where it may get confusing.
Growing as a person often involves a seemingly contradictory mix of:
- Living your life for you
- Living your life to serve others
The truth is that you can still walk your own path, whilst wanting to help and care for others too.
It’s easy to get swept away in chasing fools’ gold. We look to external rewards of money and materialistic stuff to make us happy.
But the buzz never really lasts long. Plus, that self-centered pursuit can leave us feeling very empty in the long run.
You may look back and realize your life has shifted.
Rather than actively pursuing your own goals for self-interest you look at how you can offer your skills, help, and kindness to the world in a desire to give back.
10) Stepping up and taking responsibility
Nobody can grow when they are waiting for someone else to do the hard work for them.
That may be the hand they’ve been dealt. It could be certain people who have let them down or done them wrong.
There is no denying some people have it harder than others. It’s also clear that things that happen to us can hold us back.
But fundamentally, that doesn’t change the fact that:
Your growth is always down to you.
- Hold your hands up to mistakes
- Want (and strive) to do better in the future
- Hold yourself accountable for your own feelings and actions
… that requires a lot of growth.