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Why is my program of personal growth so difficult? April 5, 2014

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Concept of personal development.
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As most of us working on a program of personal growth and development soon discover, it is a tough process.

The main reason is because the concept of personal growth deals with elusive abstract concepts such as our intellectual processes, our personal habits, and our emotions.

It is easier, by contrast, to master practical, concrete skills.

Henry David Thoreau, writing in the mid-1800s, alludes to this in his book Walden, when he notes that it is easier for individuals to achieve great feats of geographical exploration than it is for the same people to map the workings of their own minds.

He wrote at some length, speaking allegorically, of the many successful exploration projects of his day but noted that exploration and discovery in the moral sphere was nowhere near as accomplished.

“…there are continents and seas in the moral world to which every man is an isthmus or an inlet, yet [are] unexplored by him…it is easier to sail many thousands of miles…”

Criticism of the self-improvement concept

The concept of the world of personal growth and development has been criticized on the following assumption: because people repeatedly, time and time again, buy and study countless books and other instructional materials self-improvement, then obviously the ideas must not work.

The more probable reason for the continual seeking for information on this subject is that personal growth is such a highly complex discipline to master that people are simply always on the lookout for new approaches and ideas.

People interested in the subject of personal growth are also by nature introspective and are therefore interested in the views and stories of others who are on a similar journey; they want to know how people like themselves made the journey into self-improvement.

If someone has a lifelong interest in a complex intellectual subject such as the human condition, it stands to reason they will, throughout their lives, pursue as many sources of information on that topic as possible.

Additionally, because much of the material about self-improvement has a spiritual element, people find it comforting to review those materials when dealing with their challenges and intellectual questions. They are looking for answers – and in the best of personal development materials, they will find those answers.

The writings and other information of the self-development movement often fall into the category of philosophy, ethics, and morals; and questions in these disciplines have been written about from ancient times.

Personal development and the writings involved with it are not new phenomena. An example is the wisdom writing in the scripts of the world’s religions and philosophical schools, much of it written thousands of years ago, yet which is still pertinent today.

The abstract is tougher to grasp than the practical

It is easier to learn and master the technical and practical aspects of how to build a bookshelf, for example, than to learn the principles of how to effectively manage emotions and then put those principles successfully into practice.

In some respects, personal growth is a journey without end.

We may be able to make a “perfect” bookshelf, but making a perfect life is another matter.

Thought for the day:

“For me the world has from the beginning been infinite and ungraspable…The older I have become,

the less I have understood or had insight into, or known about myself.”

– Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections.

 

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