We hear the terms ‘self-growth’, ‘personal development’ a lot lately. There are hundreds of articles, videos, and other content on self-growth. But why is self-growth important? Why did I take this journey of personal development and self introspection? Why everyone should? What difference has it made in my life? I’m sharing the answers to all these questions today.
What is self-growth?
Self-growth is nothing but a desire to GROW every day. It’s all about becoming the best version of ourselves. According to a research article published in ‘the international journal of process education’, self-growth is about improving oneself and one’s performances. It is not only about positive thinking but also a lot of things like controlling anger, handling failures, handling success (yeah, that’s important too!), self-discipline, self-control, being empathetic, etc.
Who needs it?
You read that right. One of the widely spread misconceptions about self-growth is that it is necessary only to those that are going through a tough time, or who is not finding what they want in life. But trust me, self-growth is for everyone. Because learning and improving never stops. Tomorrow you can be a better person than you are today, and the day after you can be better than tomorrow! This growth is a lifelong process, and it never ends. Here is an article that explains very well, how a growth mindset differs from a stagnant mindset.
Why did I need it?
After a quick introduction on self-growth, I would like to share with you, my story of personal development and growth.
Although everyone needs to undertake self-growth journey, I had more reasons to kick start it immediately. I was struggling with my Ph.D. and it was taking a toll on my mental health. Everyone has struggles in their life, and a Ph.D. is not easy, but the way I was handling it wasn’t healthy. My anxiety was through the roof and there were some signs of depression too! When I noticed it was becoming too much, I decided to try therapy. That was how I embarked upon this incredible journey.
To be precise, here are the reasons I NEEDED to think about self-growth:
1. I focused only on negative things:
Life was indeed difficult, my experiments were failing, my Ph.D. was going nowhere, I had a difficult boss, I wasn’t getting enough time to rest and rejuvenate, had some health issues, BUT there were some good things as well. I had the most supportive parents and friends, had a comfortable place to stay, and good food to eat. But my mind was tuned to look at only the things that were going wrong. I hardly expressed any gratitude for the good things in my life.
2. I was emotionally dependent on others
I wasn’t able to handle my emotions. I reached out to my close ones every time there was an emotional turmoil inside me. I am not saying seeking help is a bad thing, but for every little thing, you cannot depend on others, right? Be it family or friends, they have their own life! And you can’t expect them to be there for you all the time. Even though everyone was very supportive of me, I kind of felt under confident and bad about myself for being emotionally dependent.
3. I was very self-critical
We all have that tiny voice in our heads that tells us constantly that we are not good enough. Well, in my head, it was very loud! I used to put high expectations on myself and was very strict to meet the high standards I had set for myself. I criticized myself almost all the time. “Couldn’t you even do this?”, “don’t you know this simple thing?”, “you are good for nothing” the voice in my head went on and on and on.
4. I felt unworthy
And of course, because of this self-criticism, I always felt unworthy. Even though I had achieved quite a bit, I felt I did all those just by luck. It was like my mind searched for a reason to tell me “you are not worthy enough”
Basically, my mind was trained for negativity, and I had to make it positive if I wanted to be happy in life.
My journey till today:
Once I realized I had to change my mindset, I took some small steps towards it.
I started journaling
Benefits of journaling are plenty. I will write an entire article on journaling to share all the amazing changes journaling can bring in your life.
As I started journaling, I could dig deeper into my thoughts and analyze them. I could know the core beliefs behind my worries, fears, and anxiety. And that made it easier to solve them.
I started meditating seriously
Although I was meditating now and then, I hadn’t taken it seriously. Honestly I didn’t believe in it much. Once I read up a little about the scientific facts behind meditation, I started doing it regularly. Meditation has helped me control my mind better, to stay calmer.
I rephrased my negative thoughts into positive ones
This was a technique I learned during my therapy. Whenever I had a negative thought, I had to write it down, and then rephrase it into a positive one. In the beginning, this was not easy. My mind was completely tuned to see negative things, and it refused to look at the positive. But with practice, it became easier day by day.
I decided to be kind to myself
Trust me, my friend, this world is never kind to you. To face this unkind world, it’s important for you to be very kind to yourself.
I started forgiving all my mistakes and told myself often “it’s okay” instead of “how stupid am I to do this?”
What difference has it made in my life?
After all this, has my life changed for the better? Definitely! How?
1. I can handle difficult situations without going into depression: There are still down days and struggles, but the way I cope with them is different. I don’t get overly depressed and lose hope. I instead think “this is going to pass” “there are better days ahead” “I’m growing in these tough times”.
2. I love myself much more than before, unconditionally: I don’t love myself when I succeed or hate myself when I fail at something. I love myself always, no matter where and how am I.
3. I complain less, express more gratitude: I try to find a silver lining in every difficult situation. I see more of things that I should be grateful for.
4. I am not bored as often as before, I’m eager to learn new things: I have fewer days of “I’m so bored” “I don’t want to do anything” “life’s boring”. Because I have invested in learning, and when you keep learning new things, there’s no time and mental space for boredom!
5. Failures don’t scare me as much as before: Am I still afraid of failures? Oh yes! But I’m not terrified of them, because I don’t attach my worth to them. I don’t care what people think of me when I fail. So, failures are now a place for me to learn and grow. Isn’t that a wonderful place to be in?!
6. I’m happier: I’m not happy all the time, I don’t expect anyone to be that way. But I’m definitely happier than before.
So, do I think this self-growth journey is easy? NO!! It’ll be a pain in the beginning because rewiring your brain is NOT EASY. But I promise you it’s totally worth it because the other side of it too beautiful to miss out on!
If you found this story relatable, or if it has inspired you to start your self-growth journey, let me know in the comments.
Thank you for sticking around and I will be back with a super useful article next week!