“A person is a fluid process, not a fixed and static entity; a flowing river of change, not a block of solid material; a continually changing constellation of potentialities, not a fixed quantity of traits.”
― Carl R. Rogers, On Becoming a Person: A Therapist's View of Psychotherapy
Have you thought about your personal growth trajectory recently? Yes, we understand that it might be hard to think about growth during a time of such personal, social, health, and economic anxiety when society is going through a global pandemic. But if anything, strenuous times like these are even more reason to dig deeper into your own inner self - you might be pleasantly surprised with the outcome of your endeavor and the journey might be the positive boost you need during these trying times.
What is Personal Growth?
Ask one hundred different people what personal growth is and it’s likely you will get one hundred different thoughts about the definition of the term but more on the scientific view below.
Why Do Some People Avoid Personal Growth?
It can be scary.
It is very possible that the personal growth journey will force us to confront truths we might not have wanted to confront. Similarly, it might force us to dissect the past, which isn’t always happy or might contain memories that we were trying to suppress.
It can be hard.
It takes work, dedication, and a true desire to want to grow. Personal growth is a 24/7 job - we have to be conscious of our actions, and sometimes it’s easier not to take responsibility for what we do or say. The process takes time and, honestly, it can be painful at certain points.
It can be lonely.
No two growth journeys are the same and not everyone advocates for personal growth. Those who aren’t in favor of personal growth stay stagnant in their thought processes. It takes a certain level of introspection to be able to achieve the level of maturity needed to start that personal growth journey. Once a person decides to take the leap into the world of personal growth, s/he has decided to go on that journey knowing that it will not be the same as any other person’s journey, and that can be a lonely thought.
Now Change Your Perspective
The journey is all about perspective. If it feels daunting, try flipping the script:
It can be positive!
Personal growth can lead to positive change in many aspects of life. After some introspection you might find that you need a career change and pivot from a corporate company to a more entrepreneurial path. You might uncover tidbits of knowledge about family and friends that bring you closer to the people you love. Or you might make certain adjustments that lead to positive long-term financial growth.
It can be exciting!
Yes, change is intimidating to many people, but it can be fulfilling in ways you never imagined. The thought of achieving goals and dreams is exciting and starts with a few small steps down the pathway of personal growth. As you become open to possibilities, you’ll also find doors start to open as well and with this new sense of openness will come a new network of people who are enthusiastic about your journey and who understand what it means to truly grow as a person (although you must be ready for some people to walk out of those same doors too - and that’s ok).
It can be a chance to learn and to better understand the world around you!
You’ll learn so much about yourself and about others. Personal growth is a time to rediscover who you are and to meet yourself anew.
What is the Scientific View on Personal Growth?
Renowned psychologist Carl Rogers also had a particular view of growth, and that was related to our sense of self. Carl Rogers was known for his study of self-concept development. One of the underlying features of his theory was called the Organismic Valuing Process. This process is an internal measurement system that examines our experiences and the world around us and guides our actions towards growth and the fulfillment of our goals. Researchers have said that we use this internal guide as a way to make positive life choices.
It’s important to note that personal growth is not synonymous with growing older, although logically speaking it would make sense if our value process became more effective as we aged. But we all know folks who seem to be less mature than other people of a similar age, and that is likely because they haven’t gone through the same kind of growth process.
So Is Personal Growth Necessary?
Well, no, not really. You can still get a job, have a family and friends, pay your bills, and do all the things that you need to do to be a functioning human being in society without going through the personal growth journey. However, you might not feel quite as fulfilled. Since humans are cognizant of our place in the world, personal growth can add satisfaction and a deeper appreciation for our lives.
Granted, it’s not instant and it’s not always an outwardly visible change. You might feel like you’ve gone through a huge transformation and no one else around you will be able to tell. It’s a very private, yet powerful experience. But with the right amount of introspection and determination, we can follow the path of growth that’s befitting of each of our individual and unique journeys and reach a new level of understanding of ourselves and our life choices along the way.