Growth is a search for balance, imbalance a search for growth

Paul Dennison



Growth versus Change

People coming to therapy are hoping that their experience of life can be different. They expect the therapist will tell or show them a way to change their life. That is, a way to exercise their will on their actions or thoughts that will bring different results. Sometimes this type of change is possible and helpful.


But the will is a limiter. It cannot bring essentially new qualities into a life. Use of the will upon oneself results in actual muscular contraction and behavioral constriction. The starting character is reinforced rather than changed. Transformation is a concept that a change can be brought about by settling on a design for the self and achieving it by direct action. It is often discontinuous with the life that has gone before. With an attempt at transformation, one part of the person becomes at war with another part. For instance the ego-ideal of being skinny becomes at war with the part of the person that craves comfort or pleasure in food. This produces a yo yo effect, not a change that is durable and satisfying. Of course body weight can become better regulated if that is a problem, but by harmonizing through growth and increased awareness, not will power.


New abilities come about by a process called growth. A goal of bodywork is to remove restrictions to growth. Growth cannot be forcefully willed or tightly managed. Growth can be intended and supported. Information is necessary to understand what supports and what inhibits growth. However too much emphasis on the idea or information itself leads away from growth because it sets the framework of the will deciding to 'act' on information, and act on the person. Attempting to deliberately change oneself is always a limiter. It leads to some skills but an overall decrease of liveliness.


A better use for the decisional capacity of a person is to surround her- or himself with the conditions of growth. For most people, growth requires some surrender. Certain practices that enhance growth such as bodywork can be undertaken but the results require an openness of expectation. There is an expression that "life [ or some worthy pursuit] is a marathon, not a sprint". This touches on the idea of allowing some time for growth ( although the metaphor is weakened by the very punishing, will-based way people train for marathons these days).