Measuring what matters in personal growth and healing

Posted by Kenetha Stanton on

a person's feet in orange shoes climbing a blue staircase
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Kintsugi living focuses on healing and personal growth, but these are not easy things to quantify, and that makes them challenging to measure to see how we are doing.

I tend to be very good at keeping my eye on my goals in these areas, but that means that every assessment of my current status shows up in terms of a deficit compared to where I want to be.

That makes it easy for me to get discouraged, especially when I've missed my own high standards for where I think I "should be" in that growth path. (Given that I have very strong perfectionist tendencies, I find myself in this boat rather frequently.)

In my business, however, I've noticed that I go about things in the completely opposite direction. I do have very clear goals for growth and where I want to be in terms of sales and net income, and I can see how I am doing relative to those goals, but that's not the measurement I tend to focus on.

My focus is constantly on the comparison to how the business doing now compared to how to how it was doing this time a year ago. My key measurement is always on the growth (or lack thereof) year over year.

It keeps my motivated on moving closer to my goals without beating myself up for the fact that I haven't arrived yet at where I need to be.

It would do me so much good to use a similar measurement style when assessing my progress in the realm of healing and personal growth.

Last week, someone made a comment about "progress not perfection" in reference to their own healing and self-growth, and that phrase has stuck with me.

For all the good that can come from focusing on my long-term goals for who I want to become and the ways I want to grow and heal, that focus as a means of measuring growth leads me straight into assessing myself in terms of perfection every time.

When I think in terms of progress, though, that shifts my focus backwards into assessing my growth from where I started out on the journey instead of where I'm heading. And that changes everything.

For example, in a recent situation where I experienced a public attack that felt unfair and unjustified, I became overly defensive (again) and obsessed about what this person about me.

When I consider my response in terms of where I want to be, I feel like a failure. I really want to learn to not be so triggered my other people's judgment of me. I want to learn how to not allow their judgment of me trigger my own vicious self-judgment cycle. I want to lower my level of defensiveness in the face of criticism (whether I think it is justified or not).

I failed on all of those levels. I got majorly triggered (again). I went deep into defensiveness and self-judgment. I still haven't gotten anywhere close to nonreactive space I want to inhabit.

If I shift that view to look backward, on the other hand, my assessment is quite different.

Yes, I got triggered, but I did at least recognize the trigger and managed to keep my subsequent reaction smaller and shorter than it once would have been. Yes, there are still unhealed places inside of me that got re-activated, but they were much quieter echoes than the fury of pain that would have erupted in the past.

Yes, I got defensive, but I was able to vent most of that defensiveness privately with only myself as witness instead of the defensive explosion that would once have happened. I still got swamped with a big wave of self-judgment, but I got my feet back under me and kept moving forward faster than ever.

Overall, my unwanted reaction was smaller and shorter-lived than it would have been before I started focusing on this, and I bounced back a whole lot faster.

I may not be where I want to be yet, but it's clear that I've made huge progress. That assessment encourages me and helps me keep working toward my goals.

Comparing myself only to the perfection of where I want to be did the opposite. That just made me want to give up and drown in self-judgment and condemnation.

Knowing where we want to go matters a lot for setting our direction and making our goals in the realm of personal growth and healing. It tells us what to focus on and where we might need help. What it doesn't do is make a good measuring stick.

When you want to assess how you're doing, look back at where you've come from. It's the only way to see the growth and the healing that's already happened.

Progress not perfection. Focus on the progress and you'll be amazed at what a difference that makes in keeping you moving forward.

How do you typically measure your own healing and personal growth? What is (or isn't) working for you with your approach?

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