“I’m grateful I had the gift of desperation!”
This is a phrase I have heard often and related to a great deal. Almost every profound change that has occurred in my life has been out of a desperation for relief associated with the pain, suffering, and other negative feelings that a harmful behavior is causing me, personally. When that pain crosses a threshold beyond what’s “reasonably manageability” it sparks a desire for change. Change is the result of a willingness to accept a plan of contrary action rooted in a desperation for relief after recognizing a behavior as harmful, as it causes personal suffering. When that desperation materializes into a willingness to correct the harmful behavior, change occurs. Growth is a similar “change” in behavior driven by a set of alternative motives and therefore, having very different results.
Change is a mandatory.
The truth is that pain is the greatest motivator for change, conceivably the primary factor in anyone’s decision to partake in self-improvement, willingly. We see no motivation to change unless there is an immediate demand for it, usually due to great suffering or discomfort. Change occurs after a set of contrary actions are executed on after deciding to end the suffering. It’s usually due to a perception that interprets the fear of the unfamiliar as less threatening than the certainty of pain in continuing the familiar. The practice of change only demands minimal honest appraisal. This honest appraisal usually only occurs after volumes of indisputable evidence is examined and now, in a complete state of fucking emergency, we execute, traveling on an unfamiliar path whose motivation is driven solely from personal relief at the end. Simply, change is achieved from a perception that acknowledges its necessity as profound enough to be contemplated, but still based solely on personal suffering and the relative relief that the change offers for the corresponding suffering. Change is mandatory to achieve relief from pain, but growth can be preventative for the need to change.
Growth is optional.
While change is a step from the discomfort of pain, growth is a step towards the comfort of progress. Growth occurs when one possesses the self-awareness required to objectively analyze their behavior for shortcomings and the personal integrity to consistently work towards their improvement and away from justifications. It is an ideal that has no motive other than an honest desire to develop the quality of their life by refining the quality of their interactions with the world, focusing on what they can give back to it. Contrarily, change only occurs when one has unleashed a character defect irresponsibly without any thought of altering course; fortunately, they possess a minimal but sufficient enough self-awareness that’s needed to recognize the behavior. Still, all in a singular effort towards personal relief.
Change and growth have fundamentally different intentions.
Change takes courage and consistency in action, there is no question. However, comparing change to something as profound as growth is incredibly dangerous, having the potential of distorting definitions for future generations. Fundamentally, the intention behind change and growth are vastly different from one another. The notion that change could be considered anything other than taking a series of contrary actions derived from a desperation for personal satisfaction, or personal gain, is intriguing. Change is a contrary action executed, motivated by the desperation to avoid the recurrence of an existing pain, whereas growth is a similarly contrary action taken to avoid the occurrence of “pain.” While it’s admirable and courageous to confront an ongoing issue causing someone enough suffering to evoke a change, it is still rooted in personal pain and is therefore, selfish.
Change is selfish, and growth is selfless…mostly.
The one thing that I pointed to as I was writing this was the singular purpose behind change, its intention. Change is designed to relieve the pain associated with a behavior or behaviors that are admittedly injurious to their perpetrator, and them alone. This is an instance where the merits of change are considered primarily for personal comfort and secondary, if at all, for the comfort of the ones we have wronged by our destructive behavior. So, change is driven from a completely selfish desire to relieve an emotion or suffering, which is selfish by definition. It is only ourselves that we empathize with when we commit to making that change. Never has anyone else been a factor in motivation and, if so, certainly not a lasting one that succeeds over an extended period of time. The nail in the coffin for the argument for change being selfish in nature is that it always forms from a desire of immediate relief or instant gratification. Alternatively, growth has no intention of fulfilling a desire for instant gratification as it has no instant benefits. So, because growth is absent any form of immediate fulfillment and values the continuation of steady progress over an obligation brought about by an abrupt set of circumstances rooted in selfishness, requiring change. Growth and change are acted upon differently, as well.
Change is desperate, growth is deliberate.
Change is a desperate willingness from the mentality of someone that is reactive to life. They let life happen without any mindfulness of its impact on others and very little, to no knowledge, of its potential consequences… especially not to anyone but themselves. It’s simply a reaction to those consequences in a mad attempt to regain control of something we had no control over until it affected us negatively. However, growth is the absolute essence of control; it’s an adoption of principles meriting personal growth defined by action and from a place of humility and gratitude. Humility is necessary to continue growing from a position of gratitude; as opposed to change which is a humility from a desperation to alleviate pain followed up with the willingness to do so. Growth is the valuing of personal improvement as inconsequential to its relative difficulty, understanding that justification and rationalization determined by, “good enough,” will lead to more difficulty in the future.
Change is from ignorance, growth is from consciousness.
Change is only brought about after a series of life altering mistakes and uncomfortable disasters. It distresses the emotional nature of the subject sufficiently enough to evoke enough willingness to take a much-needed step towards halting the behavior. Having honestly admitted their failure, they begin following a set of instructions on how to alter it. It is usually a repetitive behavior that is engaged with the level of insanity you’d expect from a pathological liar. Not only an inability to admit defeat but in complete denial as to the true causes and conditions of the consequences and therefore, disregarding their validity. Growth, on the other hand, comes when we honesty and objectively assess ourselves for those shortcomings. It’s the acceptance of imperfection without the loss of comfort, accepting imperfection.
Change is really, an inability to grow.
Stay with me here. If an inability to GROW ultimately resulted in the need to CHANGE from a position of severe pain…and that same pattern is repeated again, is it really change or an inability to be honest with ourselves? Did change ever really occur? Does growth occur if you never learned to grow after making that initial change?
Whether the circumstances of pain are similar or not has no bearing on the significance of a particular change or its relative merit; as it was still all rooted in a selfishness. Selfishness is a shortcoming where its effects are learned when change is brought about from the very first occurrence. Anything else but an admission of guilt from a lack of growth is an excuse that paves the way for future rationalizations. Its poor behavior dressed up as a virtue to defend an argument for progress where no progress was made.