Shifts and Adjustments and Growing Pains

Collage of varius Gray's muscle pictures by Mi...

Collage of varius Gray’s muscle pictures by Mikael Häggström (User:Mikael Häggström) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a recent post I talked about pain as part of a spiritual journey, particularly as to facing inner pain. There’s another big way that pain comes up: from the shifts and transitions that arise when practice or exercise or release, etc. changes you and the many systems with which you are entwined have to accommodate.

It’s probably easiest to understand when it’s physical. I’ve experienced it in a couple of ways. In the early days of getting body work I’d been doing yoga for several years already so my practice was well established and I felt very comfortable in the poses I knew. As the massage therapist unlocked some of the major muscles I found that it completely altered my balance in a lot of poses—it was like re-learning my practice. Every time some of my muscles opened, other muscles had to readjust and while it didn’t hurt, it was the first time I understood that my body really is a system and when one part changes other parts have to accommodate.

More recently I’ve seen the physical shifts in connection with the Bodypatterning work combined with my triggers of release practice. For instance, every time my left hip lets go and moves closer to proper alignment there are shifts across my low back and in my right hip and sometimes in one or both shoulders and sometimes the new placement is painful. It’s generally not too bad and it’s always been easy to work out, but when parts of your body are reorganizing not every arrangement they hit is comfortable.

When you follow a spiritual path there are many ways in which you are likely to change from relaxing to detaching from old issues to developing more compassion and more. Similar to the physical situation, your family relationships and friendships become systems that are organized around all the personality traits and behavioral patterns of their members.

When one member begins to change behaviors and let go of aspects of personality, the shift forces everyone else to readjust. Sometimes other people won’t accommodate you as readily as your right hip accommodates your left. Worst case, a friend of mine wound up divorced and estranged from her children, who thought her new path was crazy. I’ve also seen people who met their authentic selves and became happier and threw it all away in order to keep the status quo with family. More often a long period of discomfort, misunderstandings and shifting behaviors ensues until some new–and usually MUCH better–pattern sets in.

Your own internal equilibrium can also be thrown off as you work through emotions or release a lot of the past. When I went through the Fischer Hoffman process I really threw myself into it, combed through my life and beliefs, did vast amounts of release work, etc. By the end I’d let go of so much I really wasn’t sure who I was any more. The facilitator called this “the void” and advised me to just sit with it and not try to grab onto an identity because I’d probably just reconstruct some part of the past

Over the years some sense of self has emerged but I’ve kept working and letting go and there are some ways in which I’m still wondering who the authentic me is. I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t make me all that uncomfortable. I know some people seem to find it intolerable to be without that strong sense of self but I’ve been okay with it and enjoy watching the process of becoming. Sometimes shifts just mean going through emotional ups and downs or manifest in some other way.

On every level and in every aspect of your life transformation creates miracles but most often it also requires many phases of readjustment that aren’t necessarily easy nor comfortable and sometimes they hurt. When you sign on for the journey you take on the probability that you will experience growing pains like these. Are you ready? Do you have your own stories of readjustment or abandoning growth to avoid the change?

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21 thoughts on “Shifts and Adjustments and Growing Pains

  1. OMG, Leigh, this post could not be more appropriate to my life right now. I will send it to my family, who all think I am crazy right now. Last year I relocated after 30 years living in the same town. In the last month, I have moved my entire household–including dog, cat, home-based business, and memorabilia from raising 3 children–for the second time within 12 months. My relocation has been very positive for me, but nonetheless stressful as I learn how to live in a new place…new stores, new roads, new type of people, new every little detail of my life. While most of that stress was easy, even fun, to deal with, finding housing and relocating all of my possessions, as a single person, has been extremely difficult.

    I understand why my family thinks I am crazy. In some way, the stress of the second relocation caused me to become “unglued.” This word, and your post, capture my experience quite accurately. As every part of my life has shifted, twice now within twelve months–the first time radically, both times with great difficulty–my patterns or internal systems have broken free from the old ways. Since I have experienced a great deal of pain in my life, for me this is good. I am going through a transformation that is wrenching me out of patterns put in place to fend off destructive external stimuli.

    I must add that along the way, I have received repeated confirmation that I am on the right path. For one thing, at each step of the way, exactly the right resource that I have needed has appeared at exactly the right time (this is the way the natural world works, by the way– the pollinators appear exactly when the flowers bloom, etc., etc.) The experience has been difficult and uncomfortable for me, but not exactly painful, because of my awareness that I am doing exactly what I need to be doing to continue to grow.

    Thank you for your post, Leigh, and for giving me the opportunity to put my thoughts about my experience into words.

    🙂 Carol

    • Wow, sounds like massive change — I’m imagining the adjustment process as massive?–good thing the universe tends to send those right people and right circumstances along with the discomfort, huh?

  2. “When you follow a spiritual path there are many ways in which you are likely to change from relaxing to detaching from old issues to developing more compassion and more. Similar to the physical situation, your family relationships and friendships become systems that are organized around all the personality traits and behavioral patterns of their members. When one member begins to change behaviors and let go of aspects of personality, the shift forces everyone else to readjust. Sometimes other people won’t accommodate you as readily as your right hip accommodates your left. Worst case, a friend of mine wound up divorced and estranged from her children, who thought her new path was crazy. I’ve also seen people who met their authentic selves and became happier and threw it all away in order to keep the status quo with family. More often a long period of discomfort, misunderstandings and shifting behaviors ensues until some new–and usually MUCH better–pattern sets in.”…absolutely brilliant…exactly to the red, meaty, beating heart of the issue…change is uncomfortable…for some, barely tolerable, yet the outcome is glorious.

    I have reread this post several times, talked about it with a friend of mine, and now I’m going to reblog it on my site…thank you so much for the wonderful insight, compassion, and empathy you share with your readers.

    Be encouraged!

  3. I’ve often found that the world seems to test me when I’m going through major shifts and transitions. Whatever I’m working on is tested to see if I am really growing. In the past several years, I have been working on letting go of anger and choosing to be more gracious and steady, and make decisions from a place of wisdom rather than just what feels emotionally good to do.
    I had an experience earlier this week where someone embarrassed me and was challenging my right to do certain things that somehow brought up some deeply held sorrow within me. I found myself crying uncontrollably for hours.
    Today, I’m on the other side of the shift, or as you might say releasing the trigger, and can see that I was given the opportunity to release another layer of my need to be right and the desire to make someone “pay” in some way for treating me poorly. Now, I’m feeling proud of myself for not reacting in my normal way, and continuing the journey of personal mastery that requires such tests or moments.
    At these times, I do feel like I’m becoming a new person with a new identiry, and sometimes that can be quite disconcerting. 🙂

  4. This is beautifully written and intelligently expressed. I think the fear of sitting in that transition phase and feeling your real feelings or not knowing who you really are, is enough to scare people back to their old false selves. It’s uncomfortable and it can be painful. The pull to be the old self is like a rip tide, sometimes. When you add the pressure from family and friends, who in their own right, are now feeling anxious over changes that you’re making, well, it’s difficult to say the least. As a counselor I sometimes compare families to a mobile that is delicately balanced – when one piece changes it’s position, the whole thing goes kaplooey.

    I’ve made some huge strides lately in my own life. I feel like I’m in uncharted territory. Like everyone else, I’m a work in progress. I’m responding to life in new ways and cleaning up and getting rid of some unhealthy relationships. Life is too short. I’ve been accommodating family members my whole life without anything coming back in return. It took becoming physically and emotionally depleted for me to learn my lesson. Now I’m moving forward and it feels much lighter.

    Great post!

    • I’ve been fortunate that the toughest parts of the journey have been supported by good friends also on the path who just smile and shrug as we all go through the ups and downs of transformation. Sounds like you have an amazing story to tell. Yes, that depletion thing is a big prod, isn’t it? Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment.

  5. I just simply love how God can bring so many unique people from all over the world and give them a sense of identifying with these intense experiences, they are both subtle and overwhelming at the same time and only God can do that! Amen and Bless you for this post!

  6. Very good insight, Leigh…. I’m a big fan of change, and I live with a lot of physical pain, due to several issues, one of which has been a very active lifestyle, involving several sports, and martial arts. Pain is part of life, and must be accepted before it can be controlled. Add to this the fact that the journey is more important than the destination, and it shows us how to flow with whatever we experience…. I’m glad you’ve come to understand your own relationship with change; it makes life much more comfortable in the long run…. It is also good to remember that we can only feel as much joy as we have felt pain; it is all balanced in the larger picture….. thanks for a very stimulating post…. I’ll be back again to read more of your work….

  7. Stephen was right
    an excellant post….!
    I felt each patagraph from the physical pain to spiritual..
    the changes I have been going through seem to be right on tap
    with hurricane and tornado season….
    I always look for the calm of the storm, but have realized I am the storm whether it be the eye of the storm, the calm before or after
    the changes are my reactions to s many actions swirling these days…
    I enjoyed this very much…you have a wonderful way
    of explaining what my life is at this moment….
    Take Care…
    )0(
    ladybluerose

    • Thanks so much. It’s always so nice to hear when a post speaks to someone. Sounds like your life is challenging at the moment; quite a task to hold the calm while the storm is raging…

  8. Pingback: When the inner voice says stop | Not Just Sassy on the Inside

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