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Growth Spurts

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment

flowers growing among the ruinsStand back. I’ve got a theory. I won’t be quoting any esteemed researchers on this one; it’s just a blurt from observation.

Over the past few months I’ve met up with or spoken to several women with whom I had been good friends in high school and college, but hadn’t spoken to with any depth for close to twenty years. (Yes, thank you, Facebook.)

We all remarked on how we were able to pick up right where we left off; how hearing each others’ voices and seeing each others’ faces immediately transported us back into the comfort of close relationship. It occurred to me that one reason those bonds are so supple is because they were forged while we were each in the midst of a dramatic growth spurt, a time when we were transitioning, when we were wondering more than knowing: What career should I pursue? What’s it like to be independent of my parents? What is sex all about?

Similarly, going farther back, our childhood relationships with parents and siblings owe some of their intensity to the explicit state of becoming we were in while they formed. Actively engaged in learning and change every day, as children we’re particularly receptive to the feedback we get from others about what’s good about us and what’s bad about us. We’re paying close attention to this incoming data because our success and safety depends upon it, and as a result, the love—and resentments—we share with those individuals throughout our lives are rooted in the very soil of our hearts.

My theory is simply that the sponge-like quality we take on during growth spurts can lead to deeper relationship with other human beings. I’ve also experienced it as a young parent growing alongside other young parents and as a member of a project team growing with my colleagues at work.

So, if you’re feeling a gap in the area of meaningful relationships in your life, you can help test this theory. Choose to be in growth spurt mode! Is that even possible?

I think the answer is yes. It starts with a courageous question: Am I a work in progress, or a done deal? If you’re a work in progress (Hint: If you’re alive, you are) get curious and then intentional about who you want to be. Make time for reflection. Notice what you’re paying attention to and ask yourself whether it’s drawing you forward or holding you back. And most importantly, choose to be with other people who see themselves as works in progress.

I can almost guarantee that you will grow together.

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