Personal growth and development.1, Sept, 2012, by Seema Bhatnagar
Personal growth and development is a very important aspect for an individual. Our whole life is spent in developing ourselves in every possible way. Different people take different routes to attain personal growth and development. Some believe that getting married and having kids will bring required growth; some believe that attaining more education will bring growth and then there are other diverse views about personal growth and development. Definitely, it is something very personal to each individual and every person has a personal definition.
If you are reading this article, it conveys a fact that somewhere you are also interested in personal growth and development and that only made you to check out this article. Well, if it is so, you are one step closer to reaching the best of your potential, or even if it is not so, at least you would get some idea about what personal growth and development is all about.
This is one area which I am passionate about and my whole site abundancethinkers.in is all about this. I believe that most of the misery and suffering comes from the fact that people do not know themselves well and live life half heartedly. But if people work on developing their potential then there could be a possibility of living a happier life. This world can definitely be a peaceful place to live when everybody is living and enjoying the best of personal potential rather than feeling threatened and jealous of others.
Since this is a topic which I constantly think about, I pose several questions to myself for its better understanding. Following are some of the questions which I would like to share:
If everybody knows that personal development is so important then why can't everybody reach to the same level of growth and development?
Is there any highest point of achieving growth beyond which there is no growth?
Why should one be so concerned about personal growth and development?
Why so many people do not pay any heed to personal growth and development?
Why there is no particular path of reaching and attaining the personal growth?
Let's explore the different aspects of personal growth and development and see if there is any particular path which can be followed by everyone to reach the same level of personal growth.
To start with, let's explore the idea what actually is personal growth and development. Not going into any dictionary or any Wikipedia links, my own personal definition is how strong you feel about yourself and how consciously you are living your life.
One can argue, that since we are human beings so all of us are living consciously, what's the big deal about it. Living consciously does not mean that you are sleeping, working and eating sensibly, in fact even animals also do that rather much more sensibly. They are more sensible in eating and sleeping, the only difference between animals and human is that animals cannot work or make conscious choices in life like us. Actually, our work and thoughtful actions distinguish us from animals. After all, human beings are the most evolved beings or the highest form of living beings on this planet. Nature has constantly strived to evolve us into human beings to present an ultimate example of growth.
When we say evolved, that means we have a well developed brain which is capable of thinking and can help us in making decisions. Our consciousness is basically a state which allows us to make decisions to supports our wellbeing and helps us to survive in the event of threats and danger. In comparison to primitive men, we are no more living in caves and so there is no danger of wild animals attacking us, in fact the situation is reverse now.:-). Our survival is much easier in comparison to past. This has been possible because some of the human beings lived consciously and developed technologies which helped other millions of human beings to lead a better life. Those human beings probably thought beyond the conventional limits and made unimaginable things possible.
As a child we never thought consciously about personal growth and development but nature helped us to grow by giving growth to our body and mind. This phenomenon stopped after some time and nature gave us a leash to continue our growth further. Nature doesn't stop there, it is constantly working on the inner bodily processes but for the brain to grow further, nature wants us to strive more else she is ready to leave an individual equipped with only basic intelligence for fighting with dangerous or fight-or-flight situations.
Compulsive vs. Conscious Living
Several times we feel compelled by the situations in life and we act compulsively. We feel least control on our thoughts and actions and eventually give in to situations. Even on knowing the deadly effects of drugs but one feels compelled to continue their consumption. Knowing the unhealthiness of junk food, one continues having it, knowing the harmful effects of generating the plastic waste or non-biodegradable waste on earth one continues the consumption of such products. There are umpteen numbers of such examples where you know the harmful effects of your action but somehow feel compelled to continue that.
"We must make the choices that enable us to fulfil the deepest capacities of our real selves."~Thomas Merton
Conscious living is about carefully evaluating the given set of situations to make choices and making oneself well equipped to handle the consequences.
Well, everybody is making choices in this world but the only difference is that people are not thinking enough about the consequences and straightaway jumping to decisions which lead to problem. For example, a person suffering from obesity problem will happily jump to grab a burger, thinking that tomorrow s/he might die and must eat today itself, without paying attention to the fact that tomorrow if s/he doesn't die then will have to bear the consequences as well. Similarly, you may take example from your own life when you would make decisions out of sheer emotional force than applying rationality. In some of the situations people knowingly reach to the disastrous situations but are unable to make choices just in the fear of facing dire consequences. Some people prefer to leave situations to God rather than taking any conscious decisions themselves. Remember, even God helps those who helps themselves, so better take the leash of your life in your hand. God has sent you with a sufficient amount of intelligence to run your life, you just need to harness that power inside you.
What is that force which snatches our rationality and compels us to live a suboptimal life? Probably, some of the choices are not affecting us directly and so we are not concerned or probably we do not have enough resources and volition to act upon the situation.
I guess, it is a mixed bag of both; we simply remain silent until any problem hits in our face and once the problem hits, either we feel compelled to act without much thoughts or we do not have enough energy to fight back. Whatever might be the case, one loses the power of volition and live life like a victim.
Personal growth and development is about expanding horizons as much as possible by developing our skills, capabilities, personal core values, reactions to external situations and living up to the best of personal potential or simply put, living powerfully.
One might be born with immense capabilities but if these are not given appropriate environment, these capabilities will not bloom and an individual will live without experiencing the best of self. Since our childhood we are not encouraged to discover our innate capabilities but expected to learn and do what everybody is learning and doing. It boils down to a plain simple fact that we are encouraged to learn what can ensure a good job with handsome salary, doesn't matter whether you like your work or not, you must make money in order to survive. Well, the idea of survival is good but it doesn't let you think beyond. If a child is good in drawing or any artistic activity parents feel intimidated and immediately tells him/her to focus more on mathematics and science or anything which can ensure a bright future. This leaves a child with a feeling that whatever s/he is good at is not valued much and must do what parents appreciate.
The process of personal growth and development which should have started at the tender age get ceased and child is more driven by the objective of getting a job to run his/her life which can promise reasonable comforts and remains completely oblivion of the path that reaches to personal potential .
The pain of living sub-optimally is felt in every action and life feels burden at one point. It feels as if you are dragging yourself to do everything in life, no amount of money, relationships or career fulfills you. One may resort to partying, long weekend travel trips or meeting friends to lighten this burden but after brief moments of joy and excitement the same level of dissatisfaction reaches again.
It is simply because one is not aligned with his/her true nature and potential and going against self. Imagine, if one is a good artist but have to work as a machine design engineer or if one is an avid researcher and is full of curiosity but have to work as sales manager, if one loves to be outdoor but have to work in a cubicle for twelve hours a day to simply generate the critical reports. In all these situations you can very well imagine the height of frustration and dissatisfaction this would lead to.
The only guiding truth is that one must understand his/her true nature and strive to reach the highest personal potential. Align yourself with your true nature.
Are there any guidelines which can help to attain personal growth?
The field of personal growth and development is so vast that from working on a simple habit to choosing a career and relationship comes under its ambit. There are absolutely no guidelines or set of rules which can guide you to attain personal growth and development, it is purely your own efforts to make the choices in life and learn from them.
If you feel that you made some choice in the past but had to bear negative consequences then consider your last mistake as another learning to start afresh in life rather than stopping there and cursing self for taking a wrong decision. Life presents thousand of possibilities it is only our willingness to explore them which matters.
There is absolutely no failure in life and everything is learning and each learning is another pillar of personal growth and development. Imagine, if you do not make any choice and leave things to God or to mere chance than you are simply missing an opportunity to exercise your own thinking capacity and as a result proving yourself a weak individual with low self esteem.
Is there any end point or highest level of personal growth and development?
Absolutely, there is no peak or end point of attaining personal growth and development, one level of growth leads to another level of growth. The day you feel strong, capable from inside and willing to meet consequences of your choices would mean you are reaching the heights of your growth but please remember, this does not mean that you are the best person and rest are inferior to you. Every individual is on the journey of personal growth and development, the difference is that while some are conscious about it and enjoy it more while some are ignorant of this fact and leave things to chance and uncertainty.
Examples of personal growth and development
Some examples of personal growth and development are, controlling and channeling one's anger, developing habit of critical thinking, behaving more responsibly in situations, achieving and maintaining ideal weight, managing time more productively, overcoming addictions, developing hobbies and interest. This is not a complete list but some of the common examples for personal growth and development; you may have an entirely different set of list items.
Do you need an external help to pursue personal growth and development?
Not always, but there are certain situations in life when one feels there is no way out and loses confidence in himself/herself. In all those situations, it is always recommended to seek a professional help who can help you in realizing the different aspects of situation and can help in overcoming the negativities.
Religions and Personal growth and development
Personally, I am not a religious person but know that there is no religion on this planet which doesn't support the idea of personal growth and development. Teachings of all religions encourage followers to reach the best of personal potential. Those who are religious understand this fact very well.
Here, by referring religion I am not urging you to develop any morality, ethics or goodness; it is only for making you conscious of the fact that religion also believes in the power of personal growth and development.
- Personal growth and development is indeed a great idea towards contributing to society, you do not have to make any donations or have to participate in any social activity, simply working on yourself is a great good done to society.
- Living more consciously means you are adding goodness to the collective consciousness of this universe, which actually means you are contributing to the goodness in the world and helping everybody to live more powerfully.
- You would have better relationships and understanding to accept others
- You would be more mindful of your actions and will not act out of sheer impulse.
- If you are a parent then focusing on personal growth and development in itself is a great learning for your kids. They would also feel motivated to bring the best out of themselves. In fact, not just kids, if you are holding a leadership position, you could be a role model for your team and can indirectly help people to deliver the best out of them.
- In whatever capacity you are or any role playing in life, personal growth and development will definitely help you and others around you.
Where should one start from?
Each and every change you ask and work for is a change in the world. A contribution from every individual adds up to collective change in the world. Every change which we experience today was felt and worked upon by somebody. Similarly, any change you ask for today, will become the reason of big and significant change tomorrow.
Irrespective of your age, gender, caste, creed, color, nationality, geography or economic status, you can start your journey of personal growth and development at any point and at any moment. With every effort you are putting in you are reaching one step closer to your abundant potential.
Your first step
I regularly receive several messages from people about their lack of knowledge with reference to personal growth and development. They have a very least idea of what it is all about and how one can get started, if interested.
It's all meaningless if you do not know where exactly you want to reach and what really you want to achieve as a part of personal growth and development.
As a first step to get started, prepare a list of aspects of your personality which you are not comfortable with or which are troubling you enough since long. Check out Goal Making series here. On analyzing carefully, you would find that majority of the list items are the habits which you have picked up from parents, siblings, friends, peers and bosses, fundamentally, it is a conditioning from your environment where you have spent maximum number of years of your life. Actually, you would discover that you are what your environment has given you when you had least power to make choices.
Now, it is a time to shed all that and incorporate only what you would actually like to have in yourself. Rather than living a second hand life, have a life, where each and every habit, belief, behavior and thought is absolutely unique to you and what defines you as YOU.
Pick the simplest habit first to work upon and as you progress, you would experience an enhanced level of confidence because your power of volition would increase. This might be a bit difficult initially but that's alright because all changes in the beginning generate resistance and that's where the volition helps you. Do not lose your patience; with each step you are taking, you are progressing one step closer towards reaching the best of your potential.
You might have to face resistance and criticism from people around you, because an average person work on conventions and believes in general thinking pattern but in your case, you are breaking that rule so resistance and criticism are naturally expected. It is only your volition that would help you to persist.
If you are religious minded, you might find it very bitter but I would urge you to break free from certain religious practices and beliefs if they are not helping you to grow as a person. If they are making you to simply follow a routine or some handed over habit, then I do not think it is actually helping you much, it is simply that you have become accustomed to it and have a fear of wrath of God, in case you discontinue practicing it.
I am enthusiastic and core believer of the idea of living consciously, which is the core of personal growth and development. The more consciously you would live the more power you would develop.
There are millions of people who are dying of hunger and poverty and they do not have a luxury of exercising volition because circumstances compel them to live a powerless life. Ask yourself; am I under any compelling circumstance which is preventing me from exercising volition in the area of personal growth and development? I guess, the answer to this one question will empower you to overcome any pressing circumstances.
Our world needs powerful people who can change the world for good. I see personal growth and development is the only area which can empower people to bring and ask for a change in this world.
Let's desire to envision a world where people will take conscious and informed action rather than motivated by religion, politics or any other compelling force. Your personal growth and development must stay in your hand as the most precious asset of yours.Live Powerfully.
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