Surrounded, as we are, by our more, bigger, faster, done-yesterday culture, we’ve been misled into believing that growth is a linear process. With that mindset as backdrop, whenever we find we’re confronting issues we thought we’d resolved some time ago, we give our selves a bad time. We criticize our selves for being naïve/dumb enough to have thought that we actually were done with whatever it was. Or, feeling deeply disappointed, we’re likely to berate our selves for being back in the same old mess, yet again. Either way, we treat our vulnerable selves with unforgiving harshness at a time when we’re already in distress and in need of gentleness and compassion.
The truth about growth, however, is that it is a spiraling journey. We come into this life with certain fixed points, the issues we are here to work with/on this time around. Our journey takes us on a spiral path that rises within a perimeter (as it were) defined by these fixed points. It helps to visualize the path we’re on as a vertical coiling spiral rising between bamboo poles that rise from the earth up to the sky at several points around the compass.
As we resolve the versions of our issues that confront us at a particular level of the spiral, we get to cruise there for a while – just until we’re ready to cross the threshold into the next turn of the spiral. There, the newest version of who we have become gets to pass through the circuit of a yet newer iteration of our fixed issues. In this threshold cycle, we learn whatever we need to in order to resolve this iteration of our issues with the current level of our consciousness. Once we do that work, we get to cruise for a while at this new level before the whole threshold process begins again.
As we continue traveling on the spiral path of growing (one can see it as moving upward or moving deeper) the iterations of our essential-this-lifetime issues get more and more attenuated and we move through to resolving these versions more and more rapidly and easily at each turning.
Holding this spiraling view of growth, the reappearance of some new version of our re-cycling fixed issues becomes a signal that we’re at a threshold, about to move into a new level of consciousness – something to celebrate even as we do our work. How different this view is from one that would have us believing their appearance to be a sign that we’ve slipped-into-old-stuff-again. We practice treating our precious selves gently and with great compassion in these threshold times.