There is a huge ‘personal development’ industry, mainly in the ‘western world’ that seeks to assist individuals in their personal growth and evolution.
Back in the day it was called ‘self-help’ and could usually be found at the back of the bookshops next to the ‘occult’ section.
There was a post today in the Mind Valley Facebook Group asking “What is the best self growth book?”
The answer to that question is ‘It depends’ – because growth, development and evolution all have to start somewhere and if you are not sure where you are then it’s difficult, if not impossible, to go, grow, develop or evolve to anywhere.
In order to ‘grow’ you and I must know where we are and that is something that only we ourselves can determine.
It’s quite often a harder question than ‘where am I going?’ because if we don’t know where we are, and we cannot clearly ‘see’ where we are going, we end up lost in a fog.
And there’s another thing.
We naturally tend to think of growth, development or evolution – which all amount to the same thing by the way, as linear.
We see plants and animals, including ourselves, ‘grow’ in a linear fashion.
We grow up, we get bigger.
To be more accurate our physical form is what is growing in this context. Like a tree, over time, we ‘expand’ and most peoples’ concept of ‘personal growth’ – ‘personal development’ – is the same.
We expand our knowledge and understanding over time.
But its not quite like that in two key ways.
First, our mind, our knowledge, and our paradigms (the way we think about things) do not grow constantly on a day to day basis.
It’s not like ‘school’ there’s no ‘timetable’ for personal growth.
You and I have periods when we don’t ‘grow’ at all and periods when we develop really quickly.
We evolve our thinking, or growth, not at a steady pace but in fits and starts.
Sometimes we seem to stagnate and then something happens that causes us to jump into a new way of thinking, a new stage of growth.
Now imagine your life or your mind as a jigsaw – a never ending infinite jigsaw – with no ‘picture’ of what it should look like when it’s finished.
Scary prospect, especially when you consider that your personal development is infinite, that there is no ‘end’, that it will never be completed, not in this life or the next.
But that’s what makes it exciting for those who follow the ‘way’ of personal development.
As you and I progress on our individual growth journeys we don’t follow the same curriculum.
We don’t do the same things at the same time.
This is not personal ‘education’ – there is not set pattern of how we grow, no predetermined subject matter, what elements of ourselves we develop at any given moment or even what we evolve into.
We fill in different parts of the jigsaw at different times and in our own time.
Although we might read the same books, go on the same learning programmes, join the same groups of people engaged in personal growth, have the same experiences, we don’t do these things at the same times in our lives or in the same places in our lives.
London Black Cab Taxi Drivers have to pass a test called ‘The Knowledge’ to show they have an intimate understanding of the London road system. But they won’t all be travelling around and discovering the same places at the same time or in the same order, they’ll fill in different parts of the London jigsaw until it’s complete – until they have ‘the knowledge’.
It’s the same with our personal growth, except that the areas into which we grow are not finite.
But what IS personal growth, or development, or evolution?
What it is not, is acquiring knowledge or learning new skills although these do contribute to it.
Personal growth is about change.
It’s about changing the way we think and the way we are.
As you and I grow, develop and evolve we become ‘different’.
We move away from the familiar, who we are now, and towards the unfamiliar, who we would love to be – as far ahead as we can imagine at any stage of our development.
This is where the ‘pain’ starts because the mind always pushes us towards what is familiar, where and who we are now, and away from the unfamiliar – or who we desire to be.
The growing pains continue as we begin to ‘let go’, as we begin to expand our ‘comfort zone’ or break out of it and most of all as we change our paradigms about life, the Universe and everything.
You and I have to get rid of those paradigms, those mindsets, those frameworks and ways of thinking that no longer serve us or would be counterproductive in our envisaged future, our ‘dream life’.
We have to install new software, new apps, and get rid of the old programs which may have served us well in the past but have now become inappropriate.
We have sometimes to dispose of something that has been or maybe still is ‘precious’ to us. Like the ‘one ring’ some of our ways of thinking have to be destroyed so that we can set ourselves free to move forward.
It’s not a case as some would have it of ‘deleting’ everything, casting out all our paradigms or limiting beliefs because without some of these – the ones that serve to keep us physically safe in particular – we would cease to function correctly, or at all.
If you remove the operating system from a computer, it ceases to operate so we must be sure that when we ‘upgrade’ ourselves the ‘essentials’ are not discarded as well.
You and I are on our journeys of personal growth – what are the paradigms you need to remove, what can be upgraded, and what new ones will you install?
It will be ‘painful’ but it’s worth it.