As humans it is in our nature to grow. We enter this world with a vivid and vibrant curiosity and a yearning to learn. This mostly extends until we reach adulthood, but why? Why do we stop questioning ourselves and the world once we hit a certain age? Is it really us who chooses to stop learning?
We believe that our souls' purpose is to learn and continue to grow for the rest of our physical lives.
We believe that once we stop learning, we cease to really live fully and we give up any hope of further growth.
Just as it is in our nature to grow and become the best version of ourselves, it is also in our nature to live with compassion. Compassion thrives when consciousness is alive and it is up to each one of us to become more conscious, aware and awake every single day.
The best time to be alive is right now and the best time for growth is right now. We live in an age where we have access to the entire world in our pockets, in our hands and on our screens. We have access to millions of pieces of information and millions of learning opportunities and our modern technology is the tool and key with which we can use to share and lift the collective consciousness.
The act of growing and learning does not just extend to those "hippies", "spiritual folk" or those with "problems", it extends to everyone. Everyone has the ability and capability to not only learn but to share their learnings and knowledge with others and with the world. We are all on this planet together, it is in our nature to work together, to give, to love and to grow.
If you would like to hear more about growth and why we personally do it then check out episode #007 of The Podcast here.
PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION 007
Hello and welcome to episode seven of Foxes Collide, my name is Matthew.
And I'm Ellen.
How are you today?
I'm good. How are you?
Even though I've been with you all day and I know how you are.
Well you might not know, I could surprise ya. So, Episode Seven we're gonna talk about growth. Personal Development. Why do it? Why commit yourself to doing it? Why even embark on this journey?
So what do you mean when we say growth?
So when you're a kid, your parents, sometimes if you're lucky, they'll have this big ruler thing that they put on the wall. When I was a kid I had this thing on the wall that had these measurements on it and as you're getting taller they draw on the thing.
Yeah, I've had that, I've been measured.
You've been measured, have you? Officially measured? Whoa that's cool haha.
Yeh I had a thing, I don't think I just drew on the wall, or I might have done that as well.
You had an actual ruler that you put on the wall?
Yeah it was a big poster thing that was stuck on the door that had different heights on it and I think maybe when I went past that height I might have just drawn on the wall. Because it's was only up until I was about six or four or I dunno.
Were you small when you were growing up? Were you short or tall?
Oh, I don't know. I think I was about average.
Average haha. So, what is growth?
Yeah, that's not what we mean.
No, we don't mean physical, well we mean physical growth in a sense but...
Okay let's go in, let's get more specific, shall we?
I think growth really is another term for personal development. Do you think? Learning, improving, developing yourself.
Developing your own skills and knowledge base, right?
Yeah, for me what it means is an expansion of yourself and really striving to be the greatest human that you can be. Growth in the way that we are talking about it now is intentional. I do believe that we will naturally grow to some capacity but what we talk about when we talk about personal development, growth, self-improvement, that is a conscious decision. So, I'm going to improve myself and I'm going to strive to do so, as opposed to I'm just going to naturally allow the course to take place. Yeah, this ties into my beliefs around growth and that it's natural. It's actually our natural state.
What do you mean by natural state?
So I believe that we are part of nature and we are very deeply connected to nature and when you explore you see that growth is integral it's what it's about, the organisms are growing, they're expanding, and they just seem to be on this constant strive to improve themselves or to actualize themselves. Just like a flower that starts as a seed and blossoms from the ground and grows and grows and grows until it has a flower that it can then blossom and bloom into, whether it's conscious or unconscious or whatever is going on there, its sole ambition is to get to that point and do that and I believe that there's an aspect of that in all of us.
We are striving for growth, it's a natural way of being. When we experience something that we enjoy consciously but especially unconsciously, there's a part of us that then thinks okay I want to repeat this thing that I'm enjoying. So you're growing in a sense to be somebody who can experience that again and again and again and vice versa with pain and naturally trying to stay away from pain. We don't always make the best decisions and we can unconsciously bring in more pain and more suffering but we're always striving, we're always attempting to grow. And yeah, I just think that's a cool way of being as that's why we're here, I do believe that's the purpose of life is to grow and actualize and to be the best.
I remember thinking this probably about a year or so ago, looking at the trees and thinking I don't know, if they're, maybe they're not competing to be the best trees ever but they are growing to be the best tree they can be. That great big oak tree is huge and it is home to so many animals, it provides shade to so many animals, it provides food to so many animals, It takes what it needs so it does draw water from the soil, It knows what it needs and takes what it needs but then it gives back tenfold.
It gives us oxygen.
Of course it gives us oxygen and I just remember thinking, how am I different from that? How am I not something that's meant to take what I need to survive, take what I need to grow, to be my very best and give, give, give, give, give, give.
So why do we grow? I actually believe it's a natural state of being and the mission now and the ambition on my heart an I think it's what is on a lot of people's hearts now is to not only be somebody who grows, but encourages other people to do the same.
I was just about to say that. I was just about to say now our focus is shifting from not just thinking about ourselves but why are we doing this? Why are we growing? For others? How can we give back? You know and if giving back means that I need to get to a certain point then I'll do that. So I can do that for other people and that's a really beautiful, humble place to come from, having others as your reason, your ambition.
Obviously you need to be number one because you have to sort out yourself first, you can't help somebody else on the plane while it's going down if you're not helping yourself with your own oxygen mask and also that kind of takes us to why now? Why now in history is it the best time to grow? You were saying earlier today about the famous well-known men in history.
Yeah, Aristotle and Marcus Aurelius and those that were dedicated to a grander way of being and a more ambitious view of themselves and the world and ultimately a strive for greatness within themselves and for the most part weren't selfish they weren't wanting to just do it to rule but rather they wanted to bring others on these journeys as well. They wanted to pass the information on and I think it goes hand in hand, I believe, to truly to be in that state of real growth and development that you cannot just shut off your heart to others, that's not growing, you're not growing because growth is naturally open and that means being open to others.
Yeah, when you come from a place of consciousness you can't disconnect from your compassion.
Ohh we're gonna put out on a quote.
Yes, I think that's pretty powerful. Once you switch from being in that state of unconscious, survival mode and you just continue on your journey and you wake up and you choose to be aware and conscious of not only your thoughts but your decisions, your actions and everything about you, this compassion awakens inside you and I found it with myself.
When I went vegan it was for myself, it was for personal reasons and health reasons. However, once I started going down that path and started figuring out and looking at all the videos and just seeing all the media and everything and once I started learning all this information it opened up a lot more compassion within me. I went vegan for health however once I started learning it not only went from health but it went to ethical it went to environmental it went to others, you know, I wanted to help the planet and everybody else on it because I became aware and I became conscious so therefore I became more compassionate.
That just highlights the natural aspect of growth that it's a very natural intrigue. I think ultimately at its core it is interest and curiosity and when you look at children you see that, you see that in babies putting weird stuff in their mouth and toddlers being curious wanting to see this thing and do this thing, there is so much curiosity in it and that's a very learning state and it's a very open state and we, if for whatever reason as we grow up we shut that off because we're maybe just given information and then we say, okay, that's the answer, I know now, therefore, I'm no longer curious.
And it's very restrictive and its closing you off to growth and possibility and I think one of the biggest efforts that we can make is to become more curious and accept that we really don't know much of anything and that's a good state to be in.
That's a great state to be in, take it from the children and look at them. Why do they grow? You know, they grow to learn and to understand, so why do we stop as we get older? We listen to other people and what they say and we take it as gospel. Everything that we get fed in the media and from others all around us we take what other people say as gospel and we don't question it and we don't then go on our own learning journey and try and find out other information or our own information on the topic and it's about not just being interested or not just disagreeing with someone but personally choosing to learn.
So we went off on a bit of a tangent there... Did you just say waffles? hahaha Yeah, we've been waffling on, we went off on a tangent, we said why is now the best time in history to do it?
Okay, we might have to trim the fat trim, so why is now the time to commit to growth, learning, self-improvement, leading into contribution? Connectivity predominantly, we're in an age of connectivity, we are in an age of information and we're able to absorb so much incredible information that's been condensed and you have a book, in its essence is somebody's mind and way of thinking and expertise condensed into a few hundred pages. That's incredible and obviously books have been around for so long.
And obviously now is the best time because now is all you have, that's the esoteric answer. Now is the only time. But now in history, it is because we're connected, it is because you just didn't have those lessons. To hear one person's teachings you had to live in their town and go find them and speak to them to find their teachings, that's not a thing anymore. You don't have to do that. There's so much in terms of knowledge, there's so much in terms of learning.
We're at an age now where things are attempting to shift and compassion is being driven forward and forward and forward as this leading thing that needs to be brought into all cultures and we get to embrace compassion again, and connectivity again. So now's the best time because you just have so much opportunity and we're not living in a survival world quite so much and we're just afforded the opportunity to grow, to learn, everything that is required is at your fingertips.
As I said, this is so natural to us. I think maybe it's taken us to get to this point in history to be able to do this. We've naturally always wanted to grow and improve but we've had to gather food and get by therefore you just haven't got the possibility to be that curious or explorative. It also takes some introspection, you can't be sitting in the cave introspecting when you're starving, you just weren't afforded the opportunities. So we have that opportunity now. So why do we do it?
Personally? That's a tough one for me to answer to be honest. I think you've pushed my personal growth a lot since being with you and I don't think I ever really knew why I was doing it until you've questioned me on it and it's made me think about why I'm growing and why I want to learn and change and move forward.
I think back in 2016, when I went vegan, I went through a lot of personal hard times and I think then I made a conscious decision to shift how I treated myself and how I thought about myself and that changed certain behaviours that I was doing. I didn't really care about myself, my body, my health or anything for seven years because I had an eating disorder and in 2016 it got to a point where my health was questioned a lot. So, therefore, I chose to look at how I could improve my situation and one of those ways was to go vegan and at the time it felt like a go vegan or I'm screwed kind of decision. So I consciously made the decision to value my life and value myself and my body and see if I could improve.
Over the last three years I've been so focused on my health and fitness that I've not only grown to accept my body, but I've grown to love my body and I've grown to want to get better and better, not only physically but emotionally and mentally as well. It was very much a mental and emotional growth journey when I look back at it. It was pretty much all mental and emotional. So yeah that's my why.
That's your why and I think it's common for discomfort and very hard times to be that catalyst for growth, to put us in that state of I've got to change, I've got to do something. And as soon as you say I've got to change, got to do something, you've immediately put your attention on yourself; how you're living, how you're behaving. You're choosing to do it better and going back again to this idea of it being natural as soon as you engage in one area, whatever area that is of improvement, you can't help but have it start to bleed into other things, whether you start with trying to improve your physical shape or how you're feeling day to day or whatever it is. As soon as you put that attention in, you want to expand. It's natural.
Now I've come so far in my health and fitness that I am super happy where I'm at and I've got other goals there that now my growth journey has shifted and I'm just branching out and growing in areas which I haven't accessed before, I haven't gone down this process, I haven't given attention to. So now that's allowing me further growth and new growth and it's slightly uncomfortable because it's uncharted territory but at the same time it's exciting because you don't know where it's going to go, so that's where it's going and it's exciting.
Yeah, it should be exciting and it should also be slightly uncomfortable. That's when you know that it's working. It's actually a space that you're gonna have to grow into all of those areas of your life. That is the idea of being your greatest version. Recognising that to be your greatest version isn't just to be in fantastic physical shape but it's to be happy, to be emotionally well, it's to be intellectually accomplished enough to do the things you want to do.
And it's recognising how much power we have because so many of us, and I did this for years, you would complain about things about yourself. Oh I've got a terrible memory...
Not do anything about it to improve it.
No we just accept that that's just me and I've got a terrible memory. We would speak of our own limitations.
And not do anything about them, just accept them.
Yeah and not understand that we have the capacity to grow those things and learn more. It's even more common in adulthood when you've left school because most cultures have this idea of learning being this period at the start of your life and then you exit school and that's it you're done.
You don't really learn much more apart from what you need to do for the job and that's it. As opposed to what it should be, which is that you're just growing for the rest of your life.
Yeah. I would just like to ask you, Matthew, why do you do it? Why do you choose to grow?
I grow because... I told you... hahaha
Haha, "I told you this. I told you this in the kitchen."
Well, one of the reasons I've already spoken about which I believe that that is our natural state so really when we're growing we're doing what we're meant to be doing as human beings. But similarly to you it was catalysed by unfortunate events and unhappiness and emotional strife that drove me to a point of feeling as if I had to do something, had to try something different, otherwise I'm giving up without having tried. Even though I had a real draw to that and a real desire to just give up there was part of me that just wouldn't accept it, saying you can't do that until you've tried, so you've got to try this year, you've got to commit to trying something different and I did. I sort of explored some different things.
It's hard to know exactly but looking back there's always been a desire in me to do something great and when I was in my early teens combining that desire for something great with what I developed, which was a very low self-esteem that was a really destructive combination. It made me realise today when we were talking about it earlier that growth would have probably always resonated with me at some level but that's not even the best reason.
The best reason that I have, is that I enjoy it. I've never enjoyed life so much as when I'm working to improve myself and improve the way I show up in life and going back to that and the idea of being and feeling powerful and feeling as if you can change yourself, whenever you acknowledge what you maybe see as a shortcoming in yourself you don't just accept it and say, well, I've got a terrible memory. Instead, you say okay cool, let's find out how you can improve your memory. Every single thing that you could think of as a shortcoming in yourself you suddenly realise that maybe I could do something about it, maybe I can improve or work on this.
And I don't want to say this as a general because I have my own journey, my own path and so this might be the case for a lot of people, I'm not sure. For me, growth started to enable me to start seeing my gifts and talents and I know that my opinion of myself in the past wouldn't have allowed me to see any of that but through my growth journey, of course, I've been able to begin seeing myself differently. I've been able to accept praise from people, which I couldn't do before.
There is just so much! My life is just rich now and growth is the only thing that's made it possible. The only reason it's different is that I consciously chose because if you just allow yourself to grow by circumstance and just things happening you're not going to get anywhere near your max potential. Nowhere near.
I did that for years.
That's how most people in the past have lived and unfortunately they get to 65, 70, 75 and then they've not done any of the things that they had really had the ambition to do. At 21 they had a vision to open a business and then now 79 on their deathbed and hopefully, just for not suffering, they don't remember that they had that vision at 21 because if they do that's not a nice place to be. They weren't fortunate enough to have this knowledge. They were working their asses off to survive and put food on the table for their family.
Now the world is changing, it has changed and it is continuing to change.
So we have to grow with it.
Yeah, and it's giving us that room to expand.
Room. I love the way you say room.
Anyway, it's amazing.
So I do it for that reason as well, It's fun.
Yeah and I think enjoyment is a big reason for a lot of people. I think that's one of the main things is that you do stuff to enjoy it, right?
And growth is actually fun yet it's perceived a lot of the time as effort but there's so much reward in it and I feel as if, as soon as you begin on that journey, everybody who begins on the journey sooner or later they get hooked on it. So what do you think the past version of you would have thought about growth?
I think the past Ellen... and I don't think these were my ideas about self-growth but what I'd heard from other people about being spiritual or any of those kinds of words... back when I was in my early 20s I would have thought, Oh what's that? You know, what is all this wishy-washy kind of stuff that we're going on about? Oh, I'm fine, I'm happy. I would have probably just sort of passed it off as some hippy-dippy stuff and I don't think I really looked into it.
I guess I saw self-growth as something that people who had problems would have to embark on. So people that had issues with themselves or their lives, so I was like, oh you must have some real problems in order to have to grow and improve. So I guess I don't know if that was something that I truly believed or if that was imprinted on me coming from a very stoic Australian culture, where we say, we're all fine. We're all okay, what's wrong with him? You know, Oh he must have problems if he's gotta listen to that stuff. You know?
Yeah. Wow. I think it's a common roadblock that growth can suggest that you're not good enough.
Actually I think that's the root of all resistance to growth. It's that you feel like you're not good enough. Why do you need to grow? You're all good, everything is sorted. Because in a sense when you're choosing to grow you're accepting that you're not quite there yet, you're accepting that you have room to improve and especially in today's culture you're meant to be the finished article now. You're meant to be perfect now, polished and preen and excellent.
And also nobody wants to be told that they're not good enough. I think that if you suggest self-growth or even mention self-growth to a lot of people, walls and barriers go up.
Yeah and they say, are you telling me I'm not good enough? Are you telling me that I'm not happy? And that is such a strong feeling. So that's where you have to come from a place of compassion and love and inspiration, rather than persuasion.
And ultimately acceptance for where they're at and it's a huge thing that anyone who's into growth and personal development gets to recognise; that they don't know anything. You certainly don't know it all and I personally would not feel as if I had grown much at all if I went around judging everybody for where they are in life. Wow, I've really worked on myself, haven't I? if I'm judging others for where they seem to be and perceiving them as less than because I've done a bit of personal development work, woo. I don't believe in that at all.
So from the point of view of those who are in this work, it is not our duty to force or push others, it is our duty to be the very best that we can be and trust that that will inspire a certain few and those few will then want to know more and you will be a guiding star for those.
I think the most growth that I've done is pretty recent and it's once I accepted that I didn't know any better than anybody else and once I started to listen to other people's opinions and views on the world, that's when I grew the most and that's why I am still growing so much more now because I'm not accepting that my view and my way of doing things is gospel.
As for me, I think I sort of said what I believe my past self would have done, which is probably potentially jumped at any sort of opportunity with growth and I do believe that this work is my life.
So in terms of where you want to take this growth in the future. Where can you see it heading?
I think it's something that won't ever stop. For me personally, I don't want to use the word obsession but it may border on that from the point of view that it's so enjoyable and so empowering and it brings such a sense of confidence for me but also brings a sense of relief.
If I have any sort of inner battles I feel relieved knowing that it doesn't have to always be that way and I can work on this. I'm going to change this, I'm going to shift this and of course then that brings that confidence, I'M going to do this. So there's only good things from me growing and committing to this kind of work but of course [I want] to expand it and help others naturally and I think that it will just lead me to being the greatest version of me.
I think it'd be cool to maybe discuss what it's done for us so far. In that sense, clearly, it's taken me from a very dark place to a much brighter place. To be more specific, it was fuel for me to leave a job I was unhappy with, to leave a relationship I wasn't happy with, to decide to travel, to just decide to go and adventure and explore, to give up a load of things that I was abusing, to remove a lot of toxic things from my life. But beyond that it's enabled me to show my inner self without so much hesitation, to express myself more fully. I really love the idea of being a fuller expression of that person within that's always wanting to be fully expressed. That isn't because of various things that have happened to us, the very stories we've been told. So growth is allowing that complete expression.
There's so much to do with your child, your child self, your inner child self, it was very pure, very expressive, very curious, passionate about growing and learning and all those things because that's just your natural state as a child. And various things have happened that stop that child from growing fully into what they're meant to be and the work of growth is to become that person you were always meant to be.
What about you? What's it done for you?
For me, I think it's allowed me to now see what I'm capable of and what I can achieve and [encouraged me to] focus on different things. I guess I was focusing on a lot of things that held me back and things that didn't need my attention and now through learning I have been able to focus on the things that matter because I've removed a lot of the roadblocks from my own mind and my own beliefs that now I can just move forward and execute on ideas and plans and try things out.
I think with so many of my pursuits I've not followed through or I've given up. I've tried a lot of different things and I saw that trying as a bad thing, however trying is the only way to grow because you'll understand whether that is or isn't for you. If it isn't great, you've knocked something out, try something else and see if you enjoy that. So I think that mentally and emotionally growing and releasing things and accepting certain things has enabled me and will continue to enable me, to expand and understand myself and my own capabilities and I'm excited to see what I can achieve in the future in terms of an amazing life and life experience.
And everything you're saying comes from a stronger belief in yourself.
You've built your self-belief.
So back to that little thing on the wall, right? When you're a kid and you have that little ruler on the wall...
And you grow and you're measured and you get lined up on the wall and you get a little pencil over your head and it tells you how tall you are and you get excited because you've grown that extra inch. Keep that excitement going. Keep that excitement going now that you're an adult. Get excited about your growth and just see where it can take you.