Why We Suck with Personal Growth at First

In 9th grade, I was bumped up from the 9th grade basketball team to the junior varsity team. This was a big honor. It also meant I was held to a higher standard of skills and techniques. I had always had a decent outside shot and was a good free throw shooter. But somewhere along the way I learned to shoot with two hands - a hand evenly placed on each side of the ball. This is not the proper way to shoot for best angle of release, velocity, and trajectory of ball.

Over winter break, my coaches "forced" me to start shooting the proper way, with one hand in front of me and the other gently supporting the side of the ball. This did not feel good and I was continually missing baskets. I recall a contest where we were divided into two teams to compete making free throws under pressure, and I felt responsible for my team losing. I was frustated with my lack of skils and irritated with my coaches for making me "fix" something that I didn't think was broken.

It's not unusal in the personal growth process for things to get worse before they get better. When we break our old patterns and less-than-evolved ways of doing things, we struggle. It's difficult to choose to struggle when we want to just go back to our old comfortable ways. We have to trust that the new, more nuanced way will serve us in the long run.

I know it was worth it. I was willing to stick through the discomfort and embarrassment of shooting poorly and feeling like I was letting my teammates down. After a few weeks of practicing the new way of shooting, my accuracy had improved tremendously. The more I practiced the better I got. And so goes personal growth.

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego, CA -- Sociologist, Sexuality Speaker, Sexologist