Self Development

Growth from pain

“Disruption and loss can foster new growth” Luke Johnson

This article written by Luke Johnson is definitely food for thought.

What the author is trying to suggest in just a few words is that early loss and uncertainty for a child could act as a stimulus for growth. Apparently, overcoming difficulties at an early age could develop coping methods and valuable adaptation qualities. Therefore, he goes on suggesting that those who have suffered during their childhood are more likely to be successful in a business due to the fact that they are already used to uncertainty and the need to adapt.

Well, what an intriguing thought! I am very much divided when it comes to this opinion and that’s because I know how empowering and yet weakening pain can be, and especially the pain suffered as a child. Yes, disruption and uncertainty can foster growth, but I would say it fosters an original type of growth. It is not necessary a better growth than those who didn’t encounter such emotional difficulties.

The best way to describe this original/new growth is by looking at a tree or plant that needs to struggle to get its source of life. As some plants struggle to get to the light, they change their direction of growth. Instead of growing upwards, they create new curves in order to get their way to the light and get their source of energy and life. It’s the same with these “drunken trees” from the Dancing Forest found in the Curonian Spit in the Baltic Sea that look like they are about to tie themselves in knots. In fact, these trees were affected by high winds, which forced them to adopt this new, original and strange shape.

I think challenging conditions can push one to develop in a different way in order to survive; however a new type of growth comes with new weaknesses as well. A tree is strongest when it is standing straight and tall. Growing in a twisted way, might be original and might have helped it survive, but in the same time it creates “errors” in the system.

Now, leaving the metaphor behind, from my point of view it is the same with humans. It is indeed extraordinary that humans can adapt to the worst conditions and manage to move on and be functional, but I don’t think this makes them necessarily more successful than those who haven’t gone through such circumstances. As the author well mentioned, overcoming difficulties at an early age can develop coping methods. However, not all coping methods are positive.

Due to difficult circumstances, many children and future adults develop maladaptive coping techniques which help reduce negative “symptoms” of the situation, but that develop, maintain and strengthen a particular disorder that is meant to help them deal with that situation.

I think adaption is in the nature of every human being and we don’t necessarily need pain, uncertainty and loss in order to trigger it. I believe that humans are intelligent enough to develop in a strong and harmonious way without being necessarily aggressed.

That is not to say that someone who has suffered and who did not have all the right tools from the beginning is not to be admired. Pain and suffering are life lessons that are incredibly empowering and self-teaching. But I don’t like to see them as necessities to one’s development. I want to believe that love, normality and security create the best conditions for personal and professional growth.

Photo credits: Igor Podymov

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