Is the Problem You?
Facing yourself can be tough. Blaming others or circumstances for your frustrations is easier. Admitting that you need to change? Ugh.
But, you can make that choice. You can choose to confront yourself, accept your imperfections, and embrace your complexities. With this choice, you begin a journey of self-awareness, the foundation for what comes next: self-communication, self-assessment, self-actualization, and finally, self-adjustment.
1. Self Awareness
Let’s begin with self-awareness. Becoming self-aware is a crucial first step in any personal growth journey, but it’s also one of the most challenging. Many of us would rather believe that other people are the source of our frustration and unhappiness, instead of ourselves. We want to believe that other people need to change because we find changing ourselves so challenging. Because requiring ourselves to change requires us to admit that something is wrong with us.
Why is this so hard?
Because facing our imperfections and daring to truly look at ourselves, can feel like a harsh validation of our deepest insecurities and fears. It’s as if we’re affirming our worst feelings about ourselves, accepting all of those negative self-perceptions we’ve tried to bury or run from as true. It’s difficult to face these aspects of ourselves because they reinforce the very feelings of inadequacy we’ve worked so hard to avoid.
And yet to grow, this is exactly what we must do.
We must look at ourselves with unfiltered honesty, recognizing our imperfections because honestly, they deserve to be seen too. They too are part of who we are. After all, we wouldn’t be us without them.
So we must be willing to go to the place where contradictory emotions and desires coexist. We must acknowledge our human complexity without judgment, embracing both the parts of ourselves; the parts we find redeemable and the parts we wish to amputate. This level of self awareness, the willingness to travel to those terrifying places is where the process of our most desired transformation begins.
2. Self Communication
After achieving self-awareness, the next crucial step is mastering self-communication. This involves learning to listen to those parts of ourselves we’ve tried to silence out of fear and shame. It’s about finding a way to express ourselves that feels right to us. For instance, some individuals find solace in writing, making journaling a powerful tool. Others process their thoughts better verbally, so using video or audio journals is a best practice. Some express themselves through art, whether as songwriters or ceramicists. What matters most is creating a safe space for the parts of ourselves we deem repulsive or unsafe to be heard and acknowledged.
The next challenge is to recognize the voice of shame or self-loathing within those moments of self reflection that we’ve carved out. It may be hard at first to distinguish this voice from our own internal voice, but it is distinct and readily identifiable. We will know when this voice is speaking because one moment we will be fine, and suddenly we won’t be. We will feel disgusted with ourselves in some way. Maybe with something we said, or something we did, or even just how our bodies look.
In our journey of self-communication, it’s crucial to be aware of that voice and what it’s saying. But remember, that voice doesn’t define us; and it’s not us. It’s just a voice. When it shows up, we have to treat ourselves with the same kindness and compassion we would give to someone we love who’s being bullied. By doing so, we nurture the parts of ourselves that need healing and transformation, gradually turning down the voice of self-criticism and allowing our authentic selves to emerge.
3. Self Assessment
Now that we’ve improved how we talk to ourselves, we’re in a better position to assess our progress. This is important because before we assess ourselves, we need to learn to be kind to ourselves and learn to recognize the unhelpful voice of self criticism.
Self-assessment means taking a regular look at our life, goals, and what we’re doing. It helps us make sure we’re on the right track and making mindful choices. These goals can encompass a wide range of aspects, not just the traditional ones like weight loss or career advancement. They could be as personal as communicating more compassionately with a partner or setting aside time for activities that bring us pure joy. Setting and achieving personal goals is a significant milestone in one’s journey of self-improvement.
Self assessment builds on the practice of self-awareness. As we create space to examine our imperfections and identify what’s not working for us, we can set goals to build a life that feels more fulfilling and aligns with our values. As we become more self-aware and set these goals, compassionate self-assessment becomes necessary. It helps us see where we need to make adjustments or signals when it’s time to celebrate the progress we’ve made.
4. Self Actualization
Self-actualization is the highest point of personal growth, where we become our best selves. It follows self-awareness, self-communication, and self-assessment. At this stage, people reach their full potential and lead a meaningful, authentic life. When we become self actualized we are open to new experiences, adaptable to change, and possess a deep sense of empathy and compassion for others. We are comfortable with imperfection and we recognize that growth involves making mistakes and learning from them.
Sounds too good to be true right?
And I am telling you it’s possible. But possible doesn’t mean perfect.
Just like anything else, self-actualization is an ongoing process. It requires continuous self-reflection and personal growth. But it’s worth it. When we achieve it we not only benefit ourselves but we also contribute positively to the world, making it a better place for everyone.
5. Self Adjustment
Self-actualization might seem like the ultimate goal in personal growth, but it can’t be the final stop because it’s an ongoing process. This is why I emphasize the importance of self-adjustment as the last step.
Why is this so crucial?
Life is inherently imperfect, and as humans, we are inherently imperfect. Even when we reach our highest potential, there’s always room for change, both in our lives and in ourselves.
Embracing imperfection and impermanence carries profound spiritual lessons. It teaches us to appreciate the present moment, knowing that everything can shift. It keeps us flexible and responsive to life’s ups and downs, ensuring that we continue to grow as necessary. This growth process is an infinite experience.
Like the universe is infinitely expanding, so are we. So it is crucial for us to learn to create spaciousness inside of ourselves. We are always evolving, learning, and adapting. Just as the universe cannot be contained, neither can our capacity for personal development and growth.
Therefore, embracing our imperfect nature offers both a tangible life lesson and a spiritual insight if we are willing to see it. Imperfection breeds spaciousness and spaciousness breeds growth. All of this reveals the infinite and eternal nature of our existence, a beautiful reflection of the universe within us and around us.
Therefore, embracing our imperfect nature offers both a tangible life lesson and a spiritual insight if we are willing to see it. Imperfection breeds spaciousness and spaciousness breeds growth. All of this reveals the infinite and eternal nature of our existence, a beautiful reflection of the universe within us and around us.Arielle Davis
Face the Moment
Personal growth starts when we face a moment of unease like we did when we finally accepted that the problem was us. When we looked within, acknowledged our imperfections, and embraced our complexities.
And through this self-awareness, we laid the foundation for self-communication, self-assessment, self-actualization, and self-adjustment. These areas form a powerful sequence that guides us towards the best version of ourselves. A version we can’t fully comprehend or imagine. An infinitely evolving, expanding, and growing version that knows no limits.
So, as we continue our journey of self-discovery and personal growth, we will discover strength in our imperfections and beauty in our complexities. And we will embrace the changes as they come, and let them propel us toward a life that’s more genuine and fulfilling.