Rock Bottoms & Quantum Leaps: The Cycle of Evolutionary Catharsis

I love the way that when we remove ourselves from a situation or our surroundings, we gain a whole new perspective. I'm on vacation right now and as I look back on my 20s I think back to the good, the bad, and the straight-up ugly. Somehow, I don't see these moments as distinct experiences, but as a flowing cause and effect cycle. Were all the moments of clarity due to the challenges? Did I need those in order to grow? Or were the painful experiences part of the natural growth process?

Often, we grow in waves, a cycle known as Evolutionary Catharsis. This is the repeated upheaval and cleansing of our lives. More specifically, it is the disruption, intensification, and release of the habitual mental, emotional, and physical patterns we operate with. The end result is that kickass “Aha” moment where our brain is reorganized into a new, more evolved state. This is what allows us to have a greater perception of our lives.

The Process:

Right before we have a growth spurt, many of us have an occasional and temporary feeling of discomfort. This manifests as self-defeating behaviors. Learned in childhood, these behaviors fall into 3 categories:

  1. Those that try to reduce the amount of overwhelm by pushing energy out. 
    • yelling 
    • compulsive behaviors
    • sickness
  2. Those that block additional energy from entering the system.
    • depression

    • withdrawal

    • loss of appetite

  3. Those that distract us from feeling the growing chaos inside us before our system reaches an evolutionary epiphany. 
    • any form of addiction
    • dissociation
    • watching a lot of television

These three types of coping mechanisms are our system’s final, desperate attempts to preserve what we know. After all, it’s scary and stressful to step into a new way of being. Some call it “de-evolution,” but that's a misnomer because it’s a natural part of the evolutionary process. Whether we reach for the bottle, an ex, get sick, or over-exercise, it’s all part of the process. But our goal is not to judge these attempts, but to witness them. We are not our system, we are the evolutionary process itself. The system is nothing more than our ego’s concept of ourself in relation to our world. Naturally, as we release old beliefs, our brains struggle to hold onto thier current reality before new, truthful ideas emerge.

The Solution

While these self-defeating behaviors may temporarily help to release the pressure of growth, the end result is keeping the system where it is. Learning to tolerate the discomfort is what allows us to take that quantum leap into the next state of awareness. Ironically, our fight to indulge in these non-evolutionary behaviors is what keeps us playing small, making the process more painful. It comes down to surrender.

Whichever self-defeating behavior you choose, watch it with curiosity and with detachment. Notice the subtle shifts, the discomfort, and the result on the other side of it. You’re giving up your old beliefs and coping mechanisms for a new, happier, and more evolved way of being. And ultimately, isn’t that the goal?

Dare to be your best self. 

What has your evolutionary growth looked like? Share your story with the Community in the Comments section below!