It’s a good question, isn’t it: ‘Personal development – why bother?’ For any of us to choose to commit to something we must decide that the benefits are going to outweigh the extra time, resources and effort we need to put into it. It also needs to fulfil a need and be aligned with our values.
What do you value most in your life?
Allow your heart to answer this because often the heart desires something, but then the head says: ‘Forget it. That’s never going to happen.’ If you really could have anything your heart desires, what would it be?
Do you value:
- health and wellbeing
- a loving intimate relationship with your partner
- a close bond and connection with your children and family
- fun and supportive friends
- adventure and travel
- new experiences
- wonderful food
- a stimulating or challenging career
- successful business
- meaning, harmony, happiness, peace, faith, wealth?
And remember, we can each value the same thing, but for different reasons.
If the things that you truly value do not exist in your life the way you’d like them to be, there is really only one thing you can do – change.
As much as we can try to control our environment, partner, family etc, and we all do it, the only thing we really can control is ourselves. However, even the word ‘control’ can have a negative connotation so let’s look at it from an empowered place and call it taking ‘personal responsibility’ in order to bring about change.
Personal responsibility is needed for personal development
Personal responsibility is about acknowledging that you are the person in charge of your life and you have the power to do things differently – towards yourself and others.
It’s about asking the big questions like:
- When I’m 65 and look back at my life, am I really going to be happy with how I’ve lived my life and the quality of my relationships?
- Do I really like who I am and feel comfortable in my skin?
- Do I believe in myself and am I genuinely satisfied with my life?
It takes courage and vulnerability to be really honest with yourself. It may even make you question your personal identity and wonder who you’ve become.
However, the benefits of asking yourself the ‘hard questions’ is that it allows you to take stock and really acknowledge where you’re at.
Sometimes the hard questions are triggered by major life events like divorce, retrenchment or chronic illness. But wouldn’t it be better to be ‘in training’ with a regular practice of asking yourself those hard questions?
It will help you to develop healthier coping mechanisms, weather the storms more easily, and steadily improve the quality of your life.
It is very easy for us to play victim and blame, excuse or judge ourselves and others for things that are not going well. In this state, we also have a tendency to blame our issues on external factors and things that are ‘outside our control.’
It’s a definite clue if you’re seeing patterns in your life. For example, your relationships always end a certain way or you have the same issue in every relationship, or perhaps you keep ‘hitting a ceiling’ for promotion wherever you work, then it’s a clue.
If the same things keep happening to you over and over, the conscious mind has to reflect on the fact that you are the common denominator.
These are the sorts of questions I ask myself when I see recurring patterns in my life:
- What is the theme of this pattern – rejection, abandonment, humiliation, betrayal, injustice?
- When was the earliest time I experienced that wound?
- What beliefs do I hold about myself because of the wound/s and pattern?
- Have either of my parents also been affected by this type of pattern and wound and how did/do they cope with it?
- If I don’t change this limited pattern of thinking, feeling, behaving and perceiving what will be the likely outcomes for my physical health, relationships and career? How is it affecting my life?
- What values would drive me to want to change this pattern?
- How would I really like this aspect of my life to look if I believed I could change?
- What can I do differently and what time, resources and effort am I prepared to commit to help me change?
- Do I need professional support to help me change?
In general, patterns indicate that you have an emotionally charged or traumatic memory that has not yet been fully processed and integrated, which is keeping you from feeling whole and complete.
As a protective mechanism, the subconscious mind runs limiting beliefs, reactive behaviours, compulsive thoughts as a way of ‘keeping you safe.’
This only works when you are living ‘unconsciously.’ Once you’re fully aware of the repetitive patterns that are no longer serving you, it’s a sign that you are ready to grow and evolve – a bit like upgrading your software to the latest version.
What are the benefits of personal development?
The software analogy is a good one. When you first buy a computer, it comes loaded with an operating system and software that is the best thing available at the time.
However, as people use and experience the systems and software they realise there might be a better way or an added feature that would make the computer better to use. It might have better memory, storage space, speed, display resolution, responsiveness and user interface. Each upgrade generally makes things run more smoothly and easily.
In the same way, personal development is like upgrading our personal software and making our life and relationships better and easier. With the ‘increased functionality,’ we have access to more new features within ourselves. The ‘programs’ I’m referring to include:
- Self-love – rather than judging ourselves as not enough or not lovable, we start loving ourselves more and make decisions and take action based on self-love. You’ll find your choices will change and unhealthy habits will start to fall away.
- Compassion – this program helps us to be kinder to ourselves, to acknowledge that pain and imperfection is part of the human condition, and to mindfully observe negative emotions and thoughts without over-identifying with them and creating unhealthy stories about ourselves.
- Forgiveness – to fully process a negative experience there will always need to be a forgiveness step of yourself and others. If this program is not upgraded you may get stuck on the hamster wheel feeling bitterness and resentment.
- Emotional intelligence – the more you are able to recognise, feel and express your emotions, the more connection you will feel with yourself and then with others. Your ability to self-regulate your emotions and empathise with others will increase intimacy and harmony in your relationships and improve your leadership skills and ability to influence.
- Gratitude and appreciation – the fastest way to improve a challenging situation is to show gratitude and appreciation for it. Really? Yes, really. Firstly, it helps to bring you into the present moment rather than being reactive, and it also gives you the opportunity to observe the situation from a different viewpoint and ask how you can learn and grow from the situation. Feeling gratitude and appreciation will also change your vibration and what you are attracting.
Being committed to personal development will also help you to ‘upgrade other programs’ like: conflict resolution, healthy boundaries, dreams and visions, assertive and respectful communication, healthy body image, intimate connection, empowered living, and authentic expression.
So why would you bother with personal development?
You’ve already read many reasons why, but fundamentally you will start to feel greater freedom, harmony and self-confidence:
- The freedom to experience more of your true self, feel comfortable in your skin, love who you are, and stay connected to your heart in the present moment for a richer and more fulfilling life.
- The harmony of your inner world – feeling whole and complete – will be reflected in your outer world.
- The confidence to believe that you are capable of taking actions to bring your dreams to life.
If you don’t change, grow and evolve your situation will likely go from bad to worse as the unhealthy patterns become more and more ingrained. Take personal responsibility in reclaiming your power, voice and inner peace. You are worth it and you deserve to live well! Infinite love & gratitude.