tulipbloomAs someone who genuinely embraces self-help and positive psychology, I’ve been realizing just how integral it is to truly let myself be. I let myself experience all kinds of emotional states, without judging myself for feeling “less than.” I allow myself to be human. And once I actually allow such a perspective to sink in, I’m able to see that growth opportunities (which ultimately signify positivity and personal development) are all around us.

They’re embedded within the good, the bad, the ugly. They’re the wonderful experiences — the experiences where we conquer fears, obstacles and conflict. But they’re intertwined with painful emotions, pitfalls and mistakes as well.

In an article on Tiny Buddha, Hannah Eagle discusses how she experienced personal growth by stepping outside her comfort zone. The turning point? A firewalk. When Hannah observed a 10-year-old girl walk across the flames fearlessly, she pushed herself, over the fire and over her fear.

“I learned a lot about myself that night,” she said. “I learned something about my fear, my anxiety, my courage, and the thrill of having the courage to go beyond my fear. Just as bones need pressure to grow, to keep them strong, and why exercise is so important as we age, I realized that my mind and spirit need to be exercised to stay strong.”

Growth also stems from pain and adversity.

“The ability to look back on a tragedy, a loss, a challenge of any sort and see through eyes that have healed, a heart that has broken and patched up — this is the ability to grow and become a person who is shaped by the darkness,” Lisa Humphries wrote in her Tiny Buddha post.

When we endure hard times, we’re evolving. We’re shedding layers; we’re inching closer and closer to our true selves. As trying as certain stressors may be, they force us to confront, to navigate and to grow.

And when sifting through the rubble, the sea of negative, self-compassion propels us forward. Once we accept where we are, it’s easier to feel a sense of peace in that very moment. (Beating ourselves up only escalates the cycle of shame and judgment.)

Lately, I’ve been giving myself my own “self-care” pep talks. I reiterate that I’m simply a human being, and it’s okay to be whatever it is I am. It’s okay to be really emotional or hormonal. It’s okay to have fears about this or that. It’s okay to undergo stress.

These thoughts or feelings are transient and periods of hardship can be overcome, too. However, I acknowledge that if this is the place I’m in right now, it’s okay. It’s all okay.

Whether we succeed or fail, whether we surpass a feat or succumb to heavy emotion, we’re still learning. We’re still growing. And if we look closely enough, we can see that growth-oriented experiences are everywhere. They comprise this thing we call life.