by Jason Saffer, MA, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
On our website, we talk about one of our core beliefs — “that every situation, every experience — no matter how difficult, painful, or “stuck” it may be — holds within it the opportunity for creative growth.”
What exactly does that mean? What do we mean by creative growth?
We start with the idea that what we’re here to do, as human beings, is to grow — and to grow in a myriad of ways. Growth means change, it means that we’re meant to be constantly evolving, we’re meant to be constantly learning — and it means we’re to put that new learning to good use in our world and with the people in it.
What does it mean to have new learning? When we gain a new skill (and practice it), when we see things differently, and when those new skills and new perspectives create an increased and enhanced experience of love — then we are involved in new learning. As we gain increased understanding, we are more able to tap into an expanded sense of meaning in our lives, an ever-renewing sense of purpose and direction, and an enhanced sense of satisfaction. We get to feel more of who we really are, and very importantly, we gain the sense of being an adult in the world, not a kid masquerading as an adult.
As we’re growing up in our particular families, we strive to figure out and to understand how the world works. We’re not especially conscious of doing this; it’s pretty automatic. From our first days, months, and years as a child, we look around and we try and get our needs met – from the people who surround us day-to-day. To the degree that our parents and caregivers can meet our needs – which includes, perhaps most importantly, the need to feel loved and secure – we are able to develop a sense of being okay. To the degree our parents and caregivers are not able or willing to meet our needs, including the pivotal need to feel loved and secure, we develop coping mechanisms and strategies — patterns that we carry into our adult lives. By the time we reach adulthood, we’ve had years of practice with these coping patterns and we begin to believe that these patterns are who we really are!
Effective and caring therapy helps us to dissolve these trance states and gain a more reality-based sense of being grounded and centered, less triggered into emotional reactivity. We gain a visceral sense that we have a place in this world, that we’re basically okay — and this can reduce and dissolve that sense of toxic shame, that feeling that something is basically wrong with us, that is the legacy of an addictive or dysfunctional family.
An easy road to travel? — Not usually. But necessary if we are to fulfill ourselves and grow up to be the healthy and loving adults we’re meant to be.
© Center for Creative Growth