Elements for Personal Growth
The Magic of Supportive Environments
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | May 2018 (edited December 15, 2021)
We don't spontaneously grow. We need the necessary ingredients. Our souls need to be fed and protected.
In many ways, we are not that much different from other living thing. Growth in all living things occurs when essential nutritional needs are met. Some nutrients come from the environment unfiltered but need internal processing to change the compounds into more usable substances. No matter how much we desire to grow physically, mentally and spiritually, our growth is limited by the nutrients available and our ability to process those nutrients into usable chunks. We must have a place of safety to sharpen our abilities to partake of surrounding nutrients.
Our task is twofold. We must find environments that nourish and be able to utilize that nourishment for growth. As adults, we still need a caring and compassionate place where we can find refuge to bolster strength, gather reassurance and relish in security.
Unlike children, though, we are more empowered. We can create or find the environments that we desperately need. In a place of safety, we discover the courage for deeper personal explorations and subsequent confrontations with personal demons. Without a base of safety, the unknown world is much too dark and threatening for growth promoting investigation.
Harsh criticism is painful. When a partner or parent constantly criticizes, the victim focuses on avoiding the hurtful judgments. Curiosity for life is stymied; the creative and natural responses to the world are curtailed and the person becomes protective.
An impoverished childhood full of hurts and neglect skews a child’s social growth. It handicaps the child’s ability to accurately respond to social cues. The childhood traumas often lead to unhealthy adult relationships which further repel growth. It is a perpetuating and destructive cycle. Those stuck in these heart-breaking cycles implement more and more complex mechanisms that take them further and further from reality.
"The fact is that people are good, Give people affection and security, and they will give affection and be secure in their feelings and their behavior."
To acknowledge personal deficits that overwhelm the resources we have available to adequately address them is frightening. We avoid such damning information, fail to grow, and continue in our limited life.
Having a safe place to retreat gives a sense of security. The respite recharges our resolve, providing additional resources to face the world. The safe place allows us to step into the dark corners of our humanity and bring hidden elements into the light. It’s a courageous journey into our souls but with a safe retreat that affirms our worth and bolsters self-confidence, we are willing to risk the unknown and adventurously move forward.
"The safe place allows us to step into the dark corners of our humanity and bring hidden elements into the light."
Safety and Growth
A safe place consists of supportive, compassionate others and a supportive compassionate self. Slowly, with growth, we allow our self to be human, without constant berating for normal imperfections. When we are gentle, we discover imperfections without protective avoidance. We aren’t impelled to bury unsavory aspects of the through justifications or blame.
Each new enlightenment illuminates deeper into the corners of our mind. We’ve embarked on an exciting process of self-discovery—a journey. Not a journey of days, weeks, or even years but a journey continuing throughout the remainder of our lives. The joy doesn’t come from an imaginary destination of perfection but from the comfort of entering a new cycle of growth. The safety zone—compassionate acceptance of self—slowly expands, along with an improved self also comes improved relationships. Each step inviting more beauty and more growth.
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