PERSONAL GROWTH

1) Personal Growth Involves learning about ourselves,
developing our weaknesses as well as our strengths,
as well as past ongoingHealing Inner Wounds – past, and ongoing


( informal discussion – more formal is below)


So Who Am I?  Knowing Better Your Personality

A combination of activities promotes personal growth; and they all involve you getting to know yourself better.  Depending on your parents, school and/or work experiences, you have been defined by others. Relationships and demands may have limited your time with yourself.  Or, you may find you are more comfortable with yourself than others, and don’t pay much attention to others’ opinion of you.  Whatever you know about yourself, you may be surprised with how much more you can know and develop yourself.  Personal growth includes:

1. Taking some personality tests (see below) to find out what others and you may have missed about you;  sometimes surprises surface.  There are some fun personality tests, as well as the more serious types, such as the Myers-Briggs test.  (As always, be very careful in choosing websites; and don’t give personality identity information about yourself.

2. Take some multi-intelligence tests.  Like most I was limited to standardized verbal and math tests — truly my two weakest areas of intelligence.  Oh, if someone would have given me a kinesthetic, music, or intrapersonal intelligence test, I could have come away with better self-esteem.  As it was, one test I took did include mechanical intelligence.  I was up in the zenith scores.  However this only led my initial college advisor to shake his head all the more that I was not “fit” for university success.  That mechanical reasoning came in very handy as a poor college student; I could keep my home stuff working and my car running.

3. Also, take some learning style tests.  These help let you know if you do better with audio, written, visual, or hands on, kinesthetic information.  What is significant with these is that if you did badly in those 12-20 years of schooling because your learning style was not provided for, you may have low self-esteem that affects your personality.

Healing:

For one of any age and place, there are emotional wounds and non physical hurts in life.  And, like wounds to the body that are not tended to for healing, emotional wounds and hurts that are not healed can often become greater over time, and can cause hardened scars, … or sometimes they just keep festering.  Untended wounds can become so painful we don’t want anyone to touch them because they hurt too much.  But they only get worse, and then drugs of many forms are used to try to deaden the pain.   What is truly amazing is that when we finally turn and open up to the wound with the commitment to healing, the healing process can be much shorter and less painful than feared.

By tending to inner wounds from childhood and adolescent years, there develops the discernment to realize when someone hurts us.  Being able to use personal growth skills and maturity to deal with wounds when they first occur can bring about the best healing, again, usually in a much shorter and less painful time period.

Healing inner wounds is an important ongoing activity for people of any age.  Most, nearly all, parents, despite their best efforts, can cause inner wounds in their children.  Providing children with other mature adults to whom they can turn helps lessen the effects of those wounds caused.  Young adults typically have issues with their parents.  Turning to trusted counselors (discernment skills greatly help in choosing the right counselor) to deal with these issues can give healing and growth.  Adulthood has a myriad of complexities; knowing when the psyche is in trouble, and turning to a therapist or counselor to help bring up the wound and heal it, keeps a vital personal growth.

There are times when counseling and therapy are really important. Our mental health really does deserve the same attention as our physical health.  When you choose a therapist to work with (make sure they are licensed) make sure this person is a good fit for you.  If do not feel comfortable with the person don’t stay with that person.  The effort to find another is well worth the change.  However, if you are comfortable with the person, you still may find yourself, at times, not liking what they say.  If they are not degrading you, stay and do the work.


A MORE FORMAL LOOK AT THESE:


Personality Tests:

What do you know about your personality?  The Myers-Briggs Personality Test is probably the most popular and developed of all personality tests. You can find this online for free in certain sites such as http://humanmetrics.com .  A more comprehensive website is http://personalitypathways.com. Taking this, and exploring other personality tests (use good discernment before choosing) might give you some insight into aspects of your personality.  Knowing this can help you see what works best for you in life as well as how to shape your personal growth.

Healing:

Some effort in advance can help reduce the degree of wounds.  The Five Stages of Grief were developed by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross from her work with the terminally ill.  Reading these various commentaries on grief can be helpful for dealing with your emotions when devastated by loss or separation.  Her work opened the door to needed attention in this area.  Looking for support groups for those in your own particular situation may help you to grow through life’s changes rather than be defeated by them.

Reading about Personality Growth:

Understanding human personality growth stages is definitely worth some investigation.   Gail Sheehy’s Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life (you can google this and find out more; and most libraries have the book) is an enjoyable read and can get a person thinking.  If you want some scholarly substance here are a few classic works:   Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development is perhaps the best in its comprehensiveness; Piaget’s theory of cognitive development presents what a child must attain for a successful adulthood.  Reading this as an adult can give you understanding of what you faced as a child and how you came through it.  Kohlberg’s stages of moral development, and its rebuttal by Carol Gilligan’s Psychological Theory and Women’s Development are good for stimulating thought; as is Freud’s Psychosexual stages.  (For a Very comprehensive list of readings in Personality Theory, you can go to businessball.com – lots of free information)

Final Thoughts:

Just because we leave the education system does not mean we stop reading or learning.  The same applies to personal growth.  Each year, each decade, even each powerful event, brings up new challenges or old wounds.  Personal growth is greatly enhanced by being pro-active.  Read about what others have said about personal growth and what you can do for yourself.  Try to stay ahead of the curve and always have a book or cd, or video handy to turn to.  Personal growth can often decrease the medical effects of blocking and locking inside who you are.

Unlike physical growth that seems to run its course without our attention (other than choosing nutritional food),  personal growth requires much intentional effort.   Between ages 14–20 enough personality and mental development, along with life experiences, have accumulated to begin intentional personal growth.  (A word of warning, the more hype in the advertising personal growth programs, the less you should trust them.)  Education demands can delay a young person starting this process; but the sooner the better because inner dynamics from increasing demands and frictions can take a high toll on a young person’s life.

Without skill and confidence in personal growth, life situations too often are reacted to with dysfunctional and destructive behavior. There is a link here to discernment.  When inner voices of hurt, anger, and cynicism are not attended to, those thoughts can lead to unfortunate decisions.  One cannot just bury or dismiss these voices;  skill must be used to hear and respond to them before they lead you astray.  This is where personal growth is so very valuable — we know ourselves better, know what can “set us off,” and have the skills to diffuse situations and deflect some wounds.  Others that hit, we attend to immediately.

Personal growth takes some work, but the rewards are much greater than the amount of work.  It is a fallacy that adults “have it all together”.  Each decade of life can present unique challenges.  Drastic changes to our life circumstances can call for needed help and support.

For now, use your time in discernment to listen to what voices clamor the most to be heard and followed.  Constant urges and desires may indicate that you are missing some true emotional and soul substance in your life.  Anger, irritation, and impatience can indicate you need to rest and/or there are some unresolved hurts and inner wounds.   Voices of “why bother,” “who cares,” and “it doesn’t matter anyway,” usually point to someone(s) who has criticized you so often you now have a defeatist attitude — another person’s legacy in you that you can free yourself of.  (As you recognize any of the inner voices that criticize and label you, remember that one of the greatest personal growth skills to learn is self-compassion.  Learning to hear and respond with compassion to yourself is essential.)

Along with this discernment, assess what you do for your personal growth.   What have you read, watched, or gone to, that spoke to the needs of your age group for handling the stress, healing the wounds, taking on fears and addictions, etc. in your life.  You have a beautiful essence that no one can hurt or take away but you.  But, if your ego and psyche are overwhelmed, you cannot realize how truly beautiful you are.

2) If we are what we eat, we also become who are through our conversations.

Just as societies provide people with activities to just occupy their time and minds, many socializing groups are just that also.  Conversations seem to go on and on with little of value said.  Or, worse, conversations go on that are filled with hatred and negativity in all its ever so subtle and very not so subtle forms.  A very significant key to personal growth is using your discernment skill in choosing which people offer you rich and productive conversations.  Likewise, we need to draw on inner strength to pull away from people whose conversations are superficial, cynical, or, worst of all, lead to unhealthy or illegal activity.

When you find someone or a group of friends that bring you good “food for thought”, take the effort to develop these relationships.  When you engage in stimulating conversations about important topics that affect not only your life but all life, you will grow in many ways.  People who open us to positive possibilities of what can improve all life are important because we need to become ever more connected to all life to truly become whole within ourselves.

People who are actually involved in activities that better life in some way can open up possibilities for you, setting you on a productive path of helping other life as you grow within yourself.  This is where personal growth, serving and even creating can share a path to each other.

However, by and large how many stimulating and productive conversations do you have in a week or even a month?  Have you ever sat in a group and thought, “Everyone seems to be talking just to hear themselves talk.”  Or, the conversations never reach above coarse and vulgar or sexual innuendo levels. People who create divisions and just “hammer away”, bashing anything and everything, do not help anyone.   These situations dull and delay your personal growth.  And you are the one who must take yourself out of these dead ends.

The sages and masters of the inner journey typically allowed very little conversation.  Individuals had to learn that words should be like gems.   Very few wasted, and each should be of value to life.  This has to be balanced with the other aspect of conversation, that conversations are often an important part of processing information for personal growth.

Interpersonal intelligence is defined as that intelligence that is developed through interaction with others.   Many people process thought through engaged conversations; discussions can be very helpful in one’s personal growth.  Just be sure these are productive conversations with caring and positive people.

Take time to reflect on your conversations and friends.  Do they truly add to your personal growth?  Do they take sincere interest in what is going on in you, as well as the world?  Do you find yourself with people who constantly verbally bash and berate others, or do they promote compassionate caring and interest in all the multiple forms of life?   Do they boil down to people just needing to fill time with words, or are they stimulating your thinking?

Final Thoughts:

One last thought about the conversations in your life and your personal growth.  There are people who are “masters of manipulation” through conversations.  Everything they say seems really deep and important, but there is just something about them.

Con artists, cult leaders, and power lusting people will slowly take control over you, making the changes seem all about you; giving you this, providing you that, and giving you lots of affirmation, but slowly turning you away from others in your life.  You become more focused on them because you seem to be receiving so much.  But, they are isolating you from others and taking control of your life.

The defenses to these people are simple and effective. First comes from one of the oldest and wisest statements: “If it is too good to be true, then it probably isn’t true no matter how it is put.” Secondly, always, always, always, think for yourself.  And as part of your own personal growth learn how people can manipulate others, and always remember that there are those who do this.  If you find yourself or others pointing out that you are becoming more isolated, consider just how much influence that person has over you.  You can meet people who teach you an immense amount;  the difference is that you are freer and more engaged with all life, not moving into a smaller circle.

One of the saddest situations is when a retiree is swindled out of their life savings by someone who gained their confidence.  We often cannot see when we are being swallowed up by someone who is extremely skilled in manipulation.  Others can see it for us, and we have to have the humility to listen to them and the strength not to go any further.   And this all circles back that if you have a good circle of friends with positive and productive conversations you will be less likely to be overtaken by the skilled manipulators — another reason to cherish and take care of good friendships.