Emotional growth is often described in exponential terms—an easy-to-approach process reinforced by attitudes emphasizing willpower and mental fortitude. Yet, this ideal lacks on so many levels. A more apt image is that of the cartoonish treasure maps from our childhood, a topsy-turvy, looping mess of dotted lines lacking any directional convenience or understanding. “X marks the spot,” but rarely does the journey reflect the simplicity of this statement.
It’s generally simple to identify ways to induce physical growth—eat more and grow muscle—but finding effective strategies to mimic this same level of growth emotionally is far more complex. In actuality, emotional growth is a nuanced and ongoing process. Forcing it isn’t easy, nor can it be achieved within a convenient time frame. Contrary to what social media presents, those displays of growth and success are only snapshots within a person’s life. We don’t get the whole picture, leading us to view growth in an easy and approachable way.
The unacknowledged reality is that growth means the terrifying possibility of confronting the very issues that cause us hurt or pain. We resultantly find comfort in complacency, not realizing how limiting this can be towards our potential to experience a fulfilling life.
But there is a solution. Driving our emotional growth does wonders for us and is an aspect worth maintaining. Through emotional growth comes the possibility of higher motivation, enhanced brain development, greater comfort taking risks, lower stress levels, and greater performance.
A particular mindset is required to invite emotional growth, so consider cultivating this mindset through the following practices.
5 Ways to Invite Emotional Growth
1. Practice Mindfulness. When conscious of our surroundings and internal feelings, we are likely to approach stressful situations with an incredible sense of clarity. Think of mindfulness as the few tangible things you can incorporate into your daily life that’ll nudge you towards growth. Doing meditation, yoga, or experiencing nature are wonderful ways to practice mindfulness.
2. Prioritize Your Goals. Goal setting can be done in a number of ways and is an effective way to facilitate growth. Goals differentiate from desires and momentary intentions because serious thought, emotion, and effort is being put towards making that goal a reality.
Consider writing down your goals using the SMART method. Goals should be written in a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound way. Here’s an example: To become an editor at a reputable publishing house or publication by 2030. Writing your goal puts a physical effort towards whatever you’re trying to achieve. There is power in this action, so practice it when you can!
3. Foster Grit. Author and scholar Angela Duckworth describes people with grit having a perseverance and passion for achieving long-term goals. Having the drive to reach your goals is an important characteristic to have when expanding your growth. People with grit acknowledge that learning is not a fixed ability. Having the stamina to pursue your goals in an understanding way is a crucial aspect to apply when looking for growth.
4. Praise and Reward Effort. It’s instinct to focus on the negative aspects of a situation that doesn’t work in our favor, but this limits our ability to grow. Use failures as a learning opportunity to gain understanding on how to approach a future situation in an appropriately reactive way.
5. Challenge Yourself. Obstacles are tough, but it never hurts to try. Apply for that job, take on that hobby, and go that extra mile. Any doubts or hesitations are just assumptions not founded in reality.
Growth is daunting, scary, and understandably so. It means confronting past experiences and the worst perceptions of ourselves, but once we’re able to move past this state of mind, the benefits are astounding.
These strategies only scrape the surface of ways a person may consider bringing emotional growth into their life but are nonetheless important. Encouraging and, most importantly, embracing growth is a matter of adjusting our perspectives to view it in a positive light. Through proper emotional growth and fostering the right mindset with the tips above, we prioritize our ability to change, learn and develop.
About the Author:
Aaron Talledo is currently pursuing his BA in English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He finds inspiration from literature, music, and film and expresses creativity through writing. In his free time, Aaron enjoys fitness, meditation, and video games.