photo: Partha Sarathi, jeeheon, and magnetic 70 on flickr

photo: Partha Sarathi, jeeheon, and magnetic 70 on flickr

Hello Goofballs! Dr. Z here, ready to blow your mind with another powerful and persuasive theory!

We all know three is a magic number.

There are Three Bears. Three Wise Men. Three Blind Mice.

And, of course, Three Stooges.

three stooges done

But the Really Important Thing about the number three is how it shows up in our lives. Particularly when it comes to growth and change.

Check it out: 

I was recently pondering my life and changes I’ve been going through. Yes, Dr. Z is ponderer. I can’t help it. (Just like I can’t help referring to myself in the 3rd person!)

In this case, my ponderings led me to a theory.

Yes, Dr. Z is a ponderer and a theorist. Watch out, world!

So now, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Dr. Z’s 3 Stages of Growth and How to Master Them.

These stages of life apply over the course of a lifetime as well as in smaller increments. In one area, you might go through all three stages in a day. In another, it might take years to move through them. The key is to be aware of which stage you’re in and proceed accordingly.

Stage One: The Innocent/Idiot
photo: Partha Sarathi Sahana and Nathan Jones on flickr

photo: Partha Sarathi Sahana and Nathan Jones on flickr

At the beginning of something new, we feel like we know nothing. Actually, we’re right. That’s why this stage is called The Innocent.

But it’s also called The Idiot, and here’s why.

Whenever something is new, it’s all too easy to give ourselves a hard time for not mastering it yet. This lack of mastery can leave us feeling scared and helpless. We think we’re never going to get it. It feels like this stage will last forever.

But we’re wrong. We will move forward, and we will begin to master whatever it is we’re learning or going through.

The key is to switch from feeling like an Idiot to recognizing that we’re an Innocent.

We can continually stay open to all the new, amazing things that Life is bringing us. We can ask for help, both human and Divine. We can be gentle with ourselves when we make mistakes. We can laugh, pick ourselves up and try again.

And, most importantly, we can slow down enough to enjoy the process.

Stage Two: The Master/Machine
photo: jeeheon and fringley on flickr

photo: jeeheon and fringley on flickr

When we hit this stage, we start to feel comfortable. We’ve got this.

Time starts to speed up again. The confusion and panic of the first stage recedes as we begin to attain mastery of whatever it is we’re doing or experiencing.

That’s why we call it The Master.

The hitch here is not to let this phase become unconscious and automatic. When this happens, we become The Machine.

We stop noticing what’s around us. We stop being grateful for all we’ve learned and experienced. We take things for granted – our circumstances, ourselves, other people.

The key to the second stage is to shed the automatic and habitual nature of this part of the journey.

We can wake up, bringing the fresh eyes and wonder of the Innocent into this stage. When we are true Masters, we bring power and proficiency to our life circumstances and enjoy them at the same time.

Now that’s what I call Mastery.

Stage Three: The Releaser/Resister
photo: magnetic70 and hannapeople2012 on flickr

photo: magnetic70 and hannapeople2012 on flickr

And then it’s over.

Just like that.

Whatever we’ve mastered, whatever our life circumstances have been, there comes the time to make a change. Or maybe the change comes without our apparent consent.

Either way, it’s time to Release the old and move on.

But what if we don’t want to move on? What if we don’t want to let go?

The Release/Resist polarity can keep us in this stage for a long time.

To move from the Resister to the Releaser, we need to feel all our feelings: the anger and grief and sadness and relief.

We need to take stock of what we’ve learned, and accept that the time has come to learn our lessons elsewhere.

Just as it’s important not to resist this phase and be willing to move through it, it’s also important not to rush. Otherwise, remnants of the Resister follow us into the next phase, making it more difficult to start anew.

When we take our time, feel all our feelings, and let go of resistance, we move into the power of the Releaser. We become renewed, refreshed and revitalized, moving forward with lightness and freedom.

photo: Julie B. Andersen on flickr

photo: Julie B. Andersen on flickr

And that’s all there is to it! The 3 Stages of Growth! Easy, right?

Okay, maybe not so much.

There are challenges and confusions in each stage, no doubt. But do not fear, Dr. Z is here!

There is one thing that can allow safe passage, no matter which phase you’re in.

No, it’s not a pink mohair sweater or a poodle to match, though either of those can certainly help.

The one thing that can help you through any phase is this:

Be in it.

Yes, that’s what I said.

Just be in it.

You are where you are, and it’s perfect. Allow yourself to be an Innocent. Revel in your status as a Master. And when it’s over, Release and move on.

If you find yourself in Idiot or Machine or Resister mode, be there too. Smile. Take a breath. And gently relax back into Innocence and Mastery and Release.

And if all else fails, you can dress up like a pink poodle and watch the Three Stooges!

photo: Beach Comber on flickr

photo: Beach Comber on flickr

How do you relate to the 3 stages of growth? What has helped you move through them? Share your comments below!

(I currently respond to all comments on this blog. If for some reason your comment does not appear on the blog, it has been trapped in my gigantic spam folder. Please try again!)

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