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Grief in Growth: The Need for Pause and Integration

Updated: May 20

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When it comes to growth, especially in regards to professional growth and leadership, we have this perception that we need to be constantly learning and growing. The saying “if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not growing” comes to mind and thoughts of always needing to be putting ourselves in the uncomfortable so that we’re continually growing. I think that this can be a detriment to our health sometimes if we aren’t being intentional with our growth. I’m someone that in the not-so-distant past has been a bit growth obsessed. I nerd out on mental health and love listening/reading/absorbing as much as I can to continue to learn and grow and get better. That being said, I’d like to bring to the table a different perspective on growth that I think can get missed or looked over. 

With growth, can come grief that I don’t think a lot of people see or talk about. When we grow out of who we were, even if it’s positive, it can bring up grief. I think that I’ve grieved every past version of myself, most recently going from a single woman to a married one. It’s hard to let go of this person/identity that you know for a new version of yourself. I will admit that I’m a very sensitive soul and feel things deeply. I always have been but I also know that I’m not the only one and even if you aren’t as attuned to your feelings as someone else, your body still needs time to work through what the mind might not be paying attention to.  

We normally only think of grief as it relates to losing a loved one. Which is why I want to bring it forward as it relates to growth because I truly believe that while yes, as human beings, we should strive to grow but not at the detriment to our body and nervous system. With grief, we need time to sit with it and to integrate it before we move onto the next thing that we want to grow in. I’ve learned this the hard way with trying to grow too much, too fast and not slowing down to really let it all sink in and give my body a minute to breathe and catch up. What ended up happening for me is that I burned myself out trying to keep learning and growing before my body was ready to move forward. Which resulted in me having to take a long hard look at what I was doing and realized that I was stifling my own growth.  

I’m a big advocate for therapy and in that, I’ve learning that I have to be very mindful of working on a lot of hard things for extended periods of time. I get so frustrated at myself sometimes because I’ll be doing such good work in my sessions with my therapist but then get so easily overwhelmed in other areas in my life such as work or family. This is because while my mind is expanding and learning and moving forward, my body isn’t on that same fast track. So even if mentally, I know it, by body doesn’t know it quite yet. Which is why there is so much power in pausing to let your body catch up and then integration which allows everything to be in sync. 

As silly as this sounds, I’ve realized that I have to pace myself when I’m actively growing into a new version of myself. I think that this goes for any type of growth, whether it’s very personal intimate growth of professional career growth. No matter in what ways we grow, we still need to give ourselves time to feel into the change and integrate it into ourselves before we’re on to the next thing. What I’d like people to take away from this is that there is so much power in growth, but I think that we’re doing ourselves and our nervous systems a disservice when we try to grow too much, too fast and don’t take the rest that we need. I read somewhere that rest isn’t something we need to earn – it’s something that we all need. It helps us become stronger, wiser, and more resilient. 

By: Bekah Mechtensimer

Check out this article and others like it in our Empowering Women in Industry Digital Magazine.

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