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Why and How is Growing Important?
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Why and How is Growing Important?

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have alter...

Why and How is Growing Important?

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.

 

—Nelson Mandela

 

What is personal growth?

Although we all have different ideas about success, our attitudes regarding our own individual development generally relate to the goal of feeling good about ourselves. Growth can refer to our professional life, personal relationships, quality of life, skills development, awareness, knowledge and identity. According to the individual, all these factors play a role in personal growth to one degree or another.

 

 

We may think growing up is the transition between childhood and adulthood, but growth is a lifelong process. According to clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst Jennifer Kunst, we have a tendency to idealize our childhood as a time when all our needs were taken care of. We equate adulthood with responsibility and see it as a burden to be shouldered. Therefore we sometimes resist growth, yet at the same time we instinctually know that growing is a rewarding experience. The reward often comes from doing things we’ve never done before, even if they are the typical milestones that most people experience, such as marriage, having children or getting a job. Yet there are the other, less obviously rewarding trails that life throws at us, which often have to do with loss. We may not usually look at things like death, divorce or losing a job as things that help us grow, but they can be.

 

 

Trial By Fire

In a study entitled “Paradox and Personal Growth During Crisis,” Hanoch Yerushalmi, Chair of the Department of Community Mental Health at the University of Haifa in Israel, explains that although a crisis can be destructive and disabling, it can also open the door to growth and development. For example, although it can be very traumatic to see a parent become ill and eventually die, providing care and witnessing the last stages of life of a loved one can also be an opportunity to experience personal growth. Such were the findings of a study published in the journal Gerontologist. Another study on pediatric physicians and nurses working with terminally ill patients suggested positive outcomes in terms of personal growth and finding meaning in life.

 

Perhaps what we can glean from these studies and psychological insights is that going through those difficult, yet inevitable struggles in life can ultimately provide us with wisdom, insight, inner strength, knowledge, life skills and confidence — all important hallmarks of personal growth.

 

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