Existential Psychology

Growth and Well-Being

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“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
– Rumi

If we include growth and well-being under the rubric of love, we see that Rumi’s advice is exactly what most good existential therapists follow to help their clients overcome their issues. When many of us think of the process of therapy, we think of trading maladapitve patterns of behavior for adaptive patterns of behavior, of working on ‘adjustment’, or of tweaking the underlying character structure.

Implanting a different set of values, beliefs, and personality traits is an uphill battle and a bad idea. It assumes that there is something fundamentally wrong with you. People do change, but not in the way that most of us imagine. It’s not that you change who you are, but rather that you eradicate the obstacles to becoming who you are.

This concept respects the fact that all of us, underneath the muck, have a deep yearning for growth and self-actualization, just like a seed has a yearning to grow into a massive tree. If we can just create the proper conditions for growth and get rid of the barriers to it good things will happen on their own.

If you think in these terms growth becomes joyful even though it’s still a lot of work, because this growth respects and encourages who and what you are instead of trying to change who and what you are. If you have built barriers you can demolish them too, and when you do your growth will feel natural not forced, and the result will be a state of well-being.