By Audrey Marlene Klingeman
I recently mourned the death of one of my dear friends. As I listened to the wonderful comments made by so many as to the kind of person he was, I stopped for a moment to look inside myself to see who I am. There was enormous room for growth in my life. Is there room for improvement in your life? Let us take a moment to learn how we can grow to become the person we hope to be.
We all want to be the best that we can be. We sometimes see others and admire certain characteristic traits about them. We have read volumes of self-help books in hopes of fine tuning ourselves. True many of these books help but self-growth goes way beyond reading books. It means we must stop wishing for change and becomes proactive in creating the change. Self-growth is about change and the change begins with us.
In order for change to take place within you, you must first define your objectives. Know what changes you want to make. You are aware of the qualities you want to discard from your life. Write them down. Here are some ways to begin to do some introspective work to help you to define the changes you want to make in your life.
- Make a list of some habits you’ve often wanted to change.
- Do you know how you are perceived? Try to get a feel of how others think of you. Make a note of how you want to be perceived and how to can change your behavior to achieve that.
- Make mental notes of how you treat others. Do you walk away feeling good that you have treated that person you encountered fairly. Do you feel good when you walk away?
- Think back to criticisms you have received in the past. Do you think there may have been some truth to them? Are you objective enough to see the true you?
- Speak to an objective friend or family member you trust to be fair and honest with you. Get some feedback on how you are perceived.
- Observe the behaviors of those you admire and make a note. Do you see those same characteristics in you?
- Make a note of behaviors you see in others that you dislike and look within to see if you share any of those traits. Try to be objective. Make a list of the ones you want to change.
Personal Growth Means Introspection
True we have to love and accept ourselves unconditionally but we must always strive to be the best that we can be. That is how we grow. Self-acceptance should in no way interfere with your ability to be your best. As a matter of fact it should have the reverse effect. It should allow you to know the real you and to have an awareness of where you need to make changes. This awareness will determine how serious you are in growing beyond your current limits. Keep in mind that personal growth can be measured in physical, mental, psychological, spiritual, and emotional amplitude.
Take a moment right now to evaluate your life. Look inside to examine the areas where you would like to improve on.
- Define your character. Who are you when no one is looking? remove all the window dressings, frills, and accessories, who are you?
- How is your health? Are you doing everything possible to take care of your body? Do you eat the right foods and participate in a regular exercise routine?
- How would your friends, coworkers, people who come in contact describe you? What would people say about you if they had to write your eulogy?
- How is your mind? Are you emotionally strong? Is your self-confidence and self-esteem at an all time high? If not would you like to find emotional balance?
- How is your spiritual health? Do you feed your spiritual need? How is your soul’s condition?
- How do you treat others? Are you kind or are you condescending to people? Do you give of your time to help others that are less fortunate or has self-centeredness consumed you?
- How is your ego? Is it intact?
- Are you humble or are you into flaunting it or showing off?
- Are you a good parent? Do your yell at your kids? Do you put in the time with them to raise emotionally balanced children? Do you help to build strong self-esteem so they can have elevated levels of self-acceptance?
As you look inside it is important to understand that there is no single recipe that defines how each person can grow personally. It is not a single formula for each of us. It is through fervent introspection and an acceptance for change that it can begin. Even though it may be slow and difficult at first, you must have the willingness to keep at it no matter if it takes a lifetime. Remember you are not trying to achieve perfection – you are only striving to achieve your personal best.
Personal Growth means Humility
In order for one to grow, one must be humble enough to recognize and accept the areas where improvement is needed. This sense of humility will create honest introspection that can make us more aware of the characteristics and behaviors we need to improve on. This kind of humility puts ego aside, creating an open-mindedness to accept constructive criticism. When we can humble ourselves this way then tremendous personal growth can begin to take place in our lives.
With a spirit of humility you can:
- Lose self-centeredness
- Better understand yourself and why you do the things you do
- Better understand your behavior and accept the need for change
- Recognize your mistakes and accept responsibility for your actions.
- Recognize the goodness in you
- Become more understanding of others
- Be more forgiving
Humility is the beginning of knowledge. It is the start of that mindset to gain more wisdom and improve self. The know-it-all attitude is laid to rest, enabling honest introspection, which promotes growth.
Achieve Personal Growth
Once you have humbled yourself, done the honest self-reflection, and gained the awareness, identify the areas in which you need to improve. You must believe that you can achieve the personal growth you want and let go of self-doubt.
- Make a list of the things you desire to personally achieve. Prioritize the list and select the most urgent issue.
- Learn everything there is to know about it, whether it is losing weight, letting go of anger, or improving your spiritual life. The more information you have, the more motivation and determination you will develop.
- As you become more educated in your subject matter, decide if you can implement these changes alone or if you need the assistance of a professional or expert in the field to help you. Getting help is positive step toward achieving personal growth so don’t feel inadequate if you need help. It is only we feel we don’t need help that growth ceases.
- Develop a plan for achieving your goal. It must be clearly organized starting from a long-term goal to daily tasks that move you closer each day toward your goal. So if it’s in the area of physical health, make a plan for doing so.
- When discomforts arise, don’t give up. Everyday is not going to be perfect. You are not going to wake up each morning enthusiastic about your plans for that day. When you do, don’t be too hard on yourself. It is during these times that a coach or a professional can assist you in staying on target. They can help you to refocus on your plan and exercise the discipline to stick with it.
- Daily positive affirmations and self-talk are necessary to maintain the motivation to grow. This is not narcissism or egotistical. This is only you giving yourself reminders of your positive attributes.
- Have faith to believe that you will succeed. In anything we set out to do in life it takes a certain level of faith to keep going everyday. Sometimes we cannot see the instant rewards but with persistence and faith to believe things will work out, you can find the strength to stay the course.
It is an admirable quality to be able to identify the areas you need to make changes in your life and even more commendable to take the steps forward to do so. Personal Growth is a catalyst for success in every aspect of your life. Many of you are making strides each day in your personal growth. For those of you who are, keep at it and savor each stage of your growth. For those of you recognizing the need for personal growth, hats off to you. Begin the journey today.