Updated: Feb 6
We traditionally consider personal development as adding something to ourselves - a skill, an academic degree, professional or financial advances, marrying, having children, writing a book, winning a scholastic or professional accolade, inventing something. Or it could be an added attribute like being happier, more resilient, bigger, better or smarter in some way.
Personal development usually focuses on what we look like, how much weight we lode or gain, how buff we are, as well as on the things we do. It is customarily about developing along the lines of an ideal, belief, an expectation, a comparison or fad that we strive to align with.
However time after time we find that the adding of skills, awards, physical attributes or bambinos doesn’t lead to a sustainable feeling of being any more enriched or joyful than we were prior to their acquisition. We often find that following an 'achievement' the old familiar empty feeling that something is missing inevitably creeps back in and with it the need for something more.
This begs to question if this common view of personal development is not all that it's cracked up to be?
Do we have it back to front and could a model of personal development based on a deepening our connection and relationship with ourselves, with our essence instead of on what we look like, what we have or what we do be the truer marker of personal development? A model by which we assess our development upon our presence, our ability to express openly, honestly and freely, and the light in our eyes rather than by a trophy on our shelves, or our dress size? What if personal development is not a process of seeking add-ons, but instead of removing the things we identify with being us, but which are not really of our essence, those things which inhibit our inner light and beauty from shining.
What if personal development is a process of returning to the true you, the you who felt free to express your feelings and wisdom as a child, the real you before you contorted yourself to align with whatever worldview and ensuing expectations were presented to you as acceptable by your gender, family, culture, education and peers? The you who is naturally all-knowing, wise and joyful. What if we made personal development about unveiling our true nature because what is the point or value of developing the person you actually are not? In this light personal development transforms into a process that happens from the inside out and not the other way around. It is a path of return to your true self through a combination of shedding the beliefs, expectations, behaviours and patterns that have burdened you since childhood, those which do not ring true to you at a core level, and then building upon those that do feel innately, and without doubt, true in every cell of your body. This would set the foundation of a loving, honest and empowered relationship with yourself, your body, others and life from which you can expand, exponentially developing yourself without limit as far as you choose to go. This shift in perspective from personal development being a matter of adding things to yourself to it being one of removing what is not true to you enriches you in every way. It supports you to know who you really are and unleashes the possibility of developing yourself and living your life in accord with your own impulses and inner-knowing in a simple, honest and natural way. Most importantly it is a more inspiring, successful, sustainable and evolutionary path which will not keep looping you back to the empty ‘not quite hitting the mark’ feeling that focusing your development on things outside of yourself evokes.