Contemporary Growth Therapies by Howard J. Clinebell, Jr.
Howard J. Clinebell, Jr. Is Professor of Pastoral Counseling at the School of Theology at Claremont, California (1977). He is a member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Counselors, and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. He is a licensed marriage, child and family counselor in the State of California. His personal website is http://members.aol.com/clinebellh/index.htm, and his email address is clinebellH@aol.com. This book was published in 1981 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission of the author. It was prepared for Religion Online by Paul Mobley.
Conclusion; The Risks of Growth - Using These Resources for Your Continuing Growth
I went to a fortune teller with a group of friends. I don't believe in them but this one gave me a valuable tip.
"There is something you want to do;" she told me. "You are holding back because there seems to be an obstacle of some kind in your way."(Would apply to the first ten people you meet.) "I'm going to give you some advice. This thing that you want to do -- go ahead and start it. If you wait until everything is just right you will never begin at all, for things are never just right. You have to make a start and put things right as you go."
The five dollars it cost for this advice was repaid many times. Launch out. Make a break.
This anecdote communicates a simple but dynamic truth about growth that is often overlooked -- that a major dreamsquelcher which causes us to postpone our potentializing indefinitely is the belief that "I can't do what I'd really like to do because . . ." If you feel some serious inner or outer obstacles to making creative changes in your life, welcome to the human race! So do most people. I can think of lots of "good" reasons for not risking the new scary things that could enable me to develop more of my possibilities. My reasons often (but not always) turn out to be ingenious rationalizations to justify staying in my relatively comfortable cocoon. Liberating the butterfly in you or me to fly is usually risky and often frightening. But the problem with staying in one's cocoon is that, though it's safe and warm and comfortable, the price of staying there indefinitely is very high. The view from a cocoon is very limited, to say the least. One avoids facing one's fear of flying but, by so doing, misses the excitement and joy of flying.
Remember, the most important person for any of us to see through the growth-hope perspective is ourselves. Only as I see myself through the glasses of growth will I be able to see the rich potentialities in you or in the others I meet along the way. Only as I risk letting the butterfly
in me out of its cocoon to soar, can I encourage the people whose lives touch mine to risk leaving their cocoons. So let me invite you to see an inner picture of yourself as a butterfly struggling to leave your cocoon. When you succeed, enjoy the freedom and joy of the flight of growth! (Close your eyes and try this now.)/
Of course, as you probably know from experience, our cocoons aren't all that safe or secure, at least not permanently so. Life has a way of kicking us out of our comfortable adjustments, our little havens, sooner or later. Each life stage and each major change in our relationships and in society feels strangely as if someone pushed the ejection button on the cocoon we constructed
in the previous stage. So actually we have only two options -- to be ejected from our cocoons or to choose to leave them intentionally, even though it's scary, because our longing to fly is stronger (perhaps only a little) than our fear of flying. Leaving each cocoon is, in my experience, like leaving another womb. Unlike the first time we exited a womb, we have some choice in our own
rebirthing. Our awareness of both the price and the possibilities of growth gives us the wonderful, though frightening, freedom to choose!
If you followed the suggestion that you keep a journal of your own growth insights and plans as
you read the book, I recommend that you look through it now. Or, if you underlined and scribbled notes to yourself in the margin of the book or simply made mental notes to yourself, fine! Take a leisurely stroll through your own responses to what you encountered in this book. Stop to enjoy the things you noted./ Write some additional comments, affirmations, or criticisms of your
notes to yourself, as you experience these from the perspective of having finished the book./ Reflect on your notes, picking out the insights and methods of growthing that now raise your energy level most. Trust the barometer of your energy level to suggest that those resources may be crucial ones for your own growth or for your increasing effectiveness as a growth enabler with others. You may find it helpful to make a list of these energy-raisers!/
Now, I suggest that you let your mind relax and play with these ideas, one at a time, taking as long as you wish. Let yourself roam among them playfully. Frolic with them, dialogue with them (listening carefully to what they say), push against them, arm wrestle with them, or let them caress your mind. See what happens as you stay with them actively and playfully for a while. Let yourself be open to whatever emerges./ Don't say to yourself, "Now I've got to implement these good ideas, whether I feel like it or not!" (That's Homey's "tyranny of the oughts and shoulds," which, as she made clear, frustrates rather than facilitates creative change.) See if you can avoid putting that trip on yourself. Just stay among the growth resources that feel most energized./ What do you want to do with these? Let your mind play with them as they come back to you and see what happens. Where do they take you? What emerges? What are the next steps? Or jumps? Or flights? Up? Or down? Or sideways? What do you really want to do? Let your plans "grow legs or
arms"!/ I find it helps me to write out some change plans. See where this process takes you. Perhaps your butterfly will decide to fly in a new place, in a storm or in a serene place. Flow with your experiencing. Trust it. If you do, you'll find that new ways to use these growth resources emerge from your own creativity. You'll not only decide to use them, you'll enjoy doing so in your
own unique ways!
This "conclusion" didn't go where I expected it would when I started writing it, which is probably just as well. For the only conclusion that will be worth much to you is the one you decide to write in your own thought and in your actions and relationships. When you do that, it is really not
a conclusion, of course, but a beginning. It's your new beginning! (However, if you'd like some more organized suggestions for using the growth insights of a book like this, you'll find these at the end of the companion book to this
Whichever or whatever you decide to do or not to do, I had fun writing this non-conclusion. I hope you enjoyed reading it! So, HAPPY FLYING!
1. (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1955), pp. 149-50.
2. See Growth Counseling, Hope-Centered Methods for Actualizing Human Wholeness, pp. 185-90.