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Growing vs Deepening

I think (and talk) a lot about personal growth. But recently I’ve tilted my thinking and aspirations more towards deepening.

While we can debate over details (which I’ll touch on toward the end here), the way I consider “growing” is moving beyond the constraints that hold us back. Whether it’s challenges like resentment or jealousy or fear, or more “high-minded” concepts like ego or attachment – “growth” is finding the strength and progression to move above and beyond aspects of ourselves that cause pain.

But lately I’ve been thinking more about what I consider the alternative process of deepening. Deepening into our true selves, who we are at our core. Penetrating past the parts of ourselves that hold us back – not to move beyond ourselves, but to come more inline with ourselves. Deepening, as soul work.

As Picasso said: “I don’t develop; I am.”

Deepening starts from the perspective that we are perfect as we are. There is nothing to grow beyond – only things to see through. Because, even the desire for growth is a judgment on who we are, or were. And anytime our focus becomes self improvement, we’re essentially committing self abuse.

So the “work”, so to speak, becomes deepening into ourselves.

This also frames all losses, wounds, and traumas as simply pieces of deepening, of realizing and becoming our true nature. They are circumstances that bring an opportunity to become more ourselves, our souls – not experiences that have to take away or hold us back. Of course, much falls on how we interpret our painful experiences: are they barriers to our deepening, or are they (can they be) pedestals.

For the goal is deepening, or the unfolding of becoming. And this can happen both through pain and pleasure – albeit unfortunately, to the point I made in a previous video, usually pain.

Neither deepening nor growing is wrong, especially depending how one goes about it. Back to the “debate over details”, one can view growing in the same way as deepening – after all, a tree growing from an acorn to an oak is simultaneously growing while deepening. But I find that in the way we use the term “growing”, there is usually a self-rejecting piece of it. (In truth, all self examination can be either constructive or destructive, and that’s really the bottom line here.)

And the fact is, I personally am relentlessly aspiring for growth. But as I consider the lighthouses ahead, and what I want out of the current and upcoming inflection points in my life: it’s all about deepening. About becoming myself.


[A little tangent on language: A word I also use for this concept of “deepening” is “becoming”, which you’ll note I used at times above. But even though I prefer “becoming”, I generally avoid it because it’s confusing. For example – I recently enthusiastically concluded that in the last year, I’ve become more. But, it’s explicitly not “become more” – that would imply growing (and then the growth question naturally turns to: become more what? What did I attain that I didn’t have before?). Instead, I’ve “become, more”. For to realize and deepen into one’s soul, into who one truly is at his/her core, is to become more one’s self.]