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What we are not taught about growth as adults.

Psychological growth, beyond our perceived limits.

Growing up feels so easy to do, it just happens automatically.

We learn to walk, interact, speak, run, play, work and much more. A predisposition to absorb and adapt at pace.

It’s all neurologically based of course. I say this not to add a dazzling science component to my argument, but to recognise that our drive for novelty and surprise is hard-wired into us. As children, we play and within learning, we experience repeated ‘aha’ moments that feel pleasurable and fun. Driving us to do more of the same.

Our perception of the world drastically shifts as we age and develop at a neurological level. At one point in time, we couldn’t perceive any object existing when it left our sight (object impermanence), but now we realise that the world is more than just what we experience (I hope you do!). At another time, we could not empathise with the complex multi-positional perspective our parents took on our teenage angst, but in later life, we empathise and often feel pity for our poor parents for enduring us.

We grow and shift, but rarely do we notice.

Similar, we don’t notice when this process slows to a grinding halt!

Play is replaced with work. Being is replaced with doing. Our lives become littered with deadlines, tasks and goals. We become schooled in rules, performance and outcomes which are many miles away from creative play and innate insight. The relief of meeting a deadline is a poor replacement for the spark of neurological serotonin release that we experience when we truly feel new insight or an epiphany.

In our world of to-do lists and aspirational careers — we don’t even notice that growing has become coping.


We are amazing creatures, us humans. Our psychology and neurology are littered with adaptive processes that can aid us in enduring almost any reality. We learn to repeat what works and to ditch was doesn’t. We learn to focus on what feels right and to keep attention away from what irritates or invalidates us. We can tune-up as an unbelievably capable instrument in a particular space, but in doing so — lose sight of how to bounce out of this space and invite new growth on a regular basis.

We cope and coping can be a successful approach.

But the problem with coping is that for most of us, we lean on it far too much, too often and too deeply. We lean on our strengths and shy away from our edges that feel anxiety-provoking, exhausting or confusing. We do this whether or not our coping skills are functional or dysfunctional.

My work as a therapist and a coach has revealed how very deeply dysfunctional coping strategies can be maintained despite ruining our lives:

  • beliefs that we need to just work harder

  • beliefs that we must be right, or we are stupid

  • beliefs that we are imposters

  • beliefs that when things go wrong, it is because we are failures

  • beliefs that failure is not acceptable