Can Personal Growth Be Distinguished From Spiritual Growth?
Every day I experience an opportunity to grow both personally and spiritually. Since I began consciously and mindfully studying and working on my own personal growth, I recognized that it also helped me to grow spiritually.
I still find that it is difficult for me to speak publicly about this to a great extent because so many people, including me, link me with the corporate world where I lived for over 30 years, and these types of conversations are not encouraged. And, I must confess, I still struggle with a deep-seated need to not want people to ridicule me for my beliefs.
I recently sat through an uncomfortable conversation with a friend I admire, and love, as I talked about my experience with Reiki at a charity walk a few weeks ago. My dear friend is a strong Born Again Christian, and while she will listen as I talk, she gets a pained expression on her face. I know it isn’t personal, because she still is my friend. And, I don’t know what thoughts are going through her head, so I am mindful to not make any assumptions. Mostly, however, I must consciously not change my beliefs, and who I am, because of fear that I might be judged lacking.
This summer, I have dedicated myself to living fearlessly. I have intentionally turned up the volume in a variety of areas in my life. In doing so, I have grown tremendously, and I recognize that personal growth and spiritual growth are one and the same.
What does it mean to live fearlessly? For me, it means paying attention to discomfort – this generally means I am resisting a thought or idea: my Monkey Mind is playing games with my head because I am in fear, or a core value is being stepped on and I need to address it (which wraps right back to Monkey Mind and fear). Being mindful of the situations and thoughts that cause discomfort, and working through them to either let it go or take action has been the focus for me over the last five months. These situations can range from
- Answering the call to create the art that I laid aside over 35 years ago when my children were born, and I recognized that there were others who were better than I was.
- Telling new coaching clients that personal growth is also spiritual growth and that is how I approach my coaching practice. And being okay if they decide they need a different coach, happily giving them a list of names.
- It encompasses learning how to tell my sweet spouse that I love him in ways he understands, and give him the space to be who he is rather than who I want him to be. All the while setting boundaries for when who he is, and the behavior that engenders, gets in the way of who I am and my values. For example: Angry outbursts aimed at other drivers while driving down the street when I am in the car.
- Standing up in my church on Sunday morning to give the lesson during morning service.
- Addressing my feelings about my granddaughter being half way across the world, and not being able to see her as often as I would like. And, being grateful for technology that allows us to “Facetime” with her and her parents on a weekly basis.
- Deciding to build a house that will cause us to stretch a bit, in retirement, especially when our country is in turmoil.
Finally, it’s about knowing that I am taking tentative first steps to rebranding my coaching practice from a personal growth and leadership practice to a spiritual growth practice. It’s about letting people know about what I learn daily, and not letting others tell me what I should be doing or how to do it. I don’t think I will totally walk away from leadership coaching – because I believe that without character, and a strong set of core values, you can be a leader, but you may not be one who develops great teams and encourages those around you to be great in their own right.
For me, personal growth and spiritual growth cannot be distinguished one from the other. And, both require me to live my life courageously. I am living in to my goal of eliminating the walls around my box; in fact, I think I will work on getting rid of the box completely.
If this is something you might be interested in, I would love to hear from you. Tell me what you are interested in. Ask me your questions. Share your thoughts.
How are you taking steps to live fearlessly? Let’s share.
Georgia Feiste, President of Collaborative Transitions Coaching, Inc., located in Lincoln, NE, and Phoenix, AZ, is a personal growth and leadership coach, spiritual director, writer, and workshop facilitator. She is also a Usui Reiki Master and EFT practitioner. Her passion is success grounded in purpose and passion, standards of integrity and priorities in life. You can also find Georgia on her website, Collaborative Transitions, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Georgia may also be reached at (402) 304-1902 if you wish to schedule a 30 minute complementary consultation.
It has been quite a while since I last sent out a newsletter; five months to be exact. Life has been happening all around me, and I am finding myself in transition.
Not only have I not sent out newsletters, I have not written many blogs. I have instead been concentrating on my home, my family, and I have spent a great deal of time resurrecting my art skills. In addition, my volunteer work has stepped up at church and in the community. I have also wrapped up my two year stint (as of the end of August) with Southeast Community College providing leadership skill training for faculty and staff.
So, you ask – “What transition? It sounds like you still have a full plate!” This is true, but the serving portions and what feeds me is different than over the last several years.
*The coaching clients coming to me are coming for very different reasons than they were before, and I am paying careful attention to what is happening there.
*In addition, I am volunteer coaching every week at Grounds for Growth for those who are looking for support in that area.
*The time I am taking to practice my art has created a significant improvement in what I am able to accomplish. I am also finding I would rather draw and paint than almost anything else. I can lose myself in the creative process, working almost solely out of my right brain. It is a wonderful experience after a career living in the logical, left side of my brain.
*I have spent a great deal of time since April looking at the possibilities of each day as it unfolds, and choosing to not worry about the future. I have turned up the volume in my life and I’m actively participating and taking action rather than reading and teaching what I have learned.
Okay, you are thinking, but what is the transition? By turning up the volume, I am more successful in sharing what I have learned. People learn best by experiencing what it is you are here to share rather than reading about it.
The beauty of the transition is that I don’t know yet where I’m headed! I’m sitting here laughing even as I write this. I don’t know! And, it’s okay. But, I know that I have entered into the transitional process.
I am allowing myself to experience ‘endings’ without fear. I’m allowing myself to feel vulnerable, and a little out of control. This is not who I have been in the past. I have had an almost pathological need to be in control (one reason why I was as successful in my job as I was).
I am allowing grief, and sometimes anger, to flow through me at each ending, and I’ve taken the next step in my awareness practice to observe the emotion and the reasons for it, and let it go. I am choosing to live strongly in my top two strengths: 1) seeing the potential of what is in front of me, and 2) connectedness – a strong sense that everything happens for a reason.
Every day I ask myself several questions: 1) Who am I; 2) What is real about this experience, and what is based on my perceptions: 3) What is my life about in this moment, or today; and 4) What is my place in the world today. The answers to those questions change over time, especially when you are in the midst of transition (substitute the word “change” if you wish).
I am feeling a shift in my internal experiences. I know that my explorations of the written word have contributed to this. My dear friend and mentor coach, Jennifer Anderson, who taught me how to coach myself as well as others, continues to encourage me. I have a true circle of friends who don’t hesitate to call me on my shit, and love me unconditionally. And, I recognize that I co-create my life from wherever I am. It is like a dance: sometimes I lead, and sometimes I follow.
Right now, I am content. Life is fabulous. I will try to write more often – and I’ll keep you updated on where I’m headed – one right step at a time!
Who Are You?
I am reading, or perhaps a better way to describe it would be studying, a book called The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. It is probably one of the best books I’ve read that helps explains the Buddhist concept of Monkey Mind – what we in the West call “worry” or in psychological terms “ego”.
Singer calls it your Inner Roommate. It is the voice inside your head that is constantly chattering about anything and everything. It argues with itself, and it invents scenarios out of nothing that cause you to second guess yourself and talks you out of doing what it is that you know you want to be doing. He goes on to say that it is a shield we have created to protect ourselves from perceived dangers based on things we have been told, and the culture we have been raised in.
I sometimes wonder when we begin to develop this type of behavior. Very brief research on my part tells me that it begins to develop in the first 12 months of life in very primitive form. I would imagine it isn’t a voice that we hear, but visual impulses we imagine since our verbal skills are not strong at that point. And for those of us that often think in pictures, this shouldn’t be surprising.
The question, as suggested by the title – Who Am I? – is asked multiple times throughout the book. Am I that chatterbox that can literally drive you nuts? Am I really the sum of my experiences, my training, and my culture? Who am I, really?
And, because I love looking at all sides of things, and asking enlightened leaders to do the same throughout our coaching experience, I am intrigued by the answer suggested within the Untethered Soul. It is worth exploring.
Consider this: I am not my experiences, my training, and my culture. These are lessons I have learned, and they are what drive my Inner Roommate. They are what I often base my decisions on, especially when my roomie – let me call her Minerva – gets started. I am the observer. And, I sit in silence, watching and listening to the chatter, and what is going on around me. I am not the outside world, and I am not my emotions. I am Spirit, and I am always there regardless of circumstances – watching – this is the seat of consciousness. The Buddhists call this Self, The Hindu call it Atman, Judeo-Christians call it the Soul.
If you take the time to follow this concept through to the implications it has on how you respond to the world around you, it pushes you to think differently.
If you are not your experiences, training and culture, then you must question the “rules” you have agreed to as you have grown to adulthood. Your inner roommate, your Minerva, will use those “rules” to badger you, to argue with you. She will make you indecisive and confused. Your observer, your Spirit, already knows whether that “rule” is right for you – whether it fits who you are. When you detach from the “rules” and consider who you are, the indecision and confusion goes away.
If you are not the outside world, nor your emotions, you can remove yourself from the effects of what occurs around you, and how they make you feel, and ask what it is within you that makes you feel that way, and if it is truth. You can watch with detachment and determine if you wish to participate in the activities of the outside world.
This process of always going back to the seat of consciousness as you make decisions regarding your next steps, interact with your team at work or family at home, or deal with the grief of losing a loved one is a major key in creating the peace you are looking for. It removes the drama that may have plagued you throughout your life.
The benefits are numerous.
- You simplify your life. The thousands of “rules” you have tried to live by crumble to maybe five or six.
- Your relationships improve. You become more open, genuine, and real. People are drawn to you.
- You become more creative and flexible in your thought processes because you aren’t filtering everything through what others have told you is possible. You begin to step over the walls of your box.
- It is easier to let things go and to release them, thereby freeing you to grow.
- You become a better leader – and follower.
I ask you, then, who are you?
What “rules” would you like to dismiss?
Georgia Feiste, President of Collaborative Transitions Coaching, Inc., located in Lincoln, NE, and Phoenix, AZ, is a personal growth and leadership coach, writer, and workshop facilitator. She is also a Usui Reiki Master and EFT practitioner. Her passion is success grounded in purpose and passion, standards of integrity and priorities in life. You can also find Georgia on her website, Collaborative Transitions, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Georgia may also be reached at (402) 304-1902 if you wish to schedule a 30 minute complementary consultation.
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