What is personal development?

Becoming the best of oneself

What is personal development The concept of personal development was born in the United States in the 50s as an extension of the current of humanistic psychology, more focused on the development of the person. It detaches itself from the concept of "therapy" to be closer to "personal change", and is aimed at anyone looking for a better being without considering themselves sick. A personal development approach can of course be accompanied in parallel by a therapeutic approach; it is more action-oriented and behavioural and cognitive therapies. She turned in the 60s and 70s towards the New Age movements and integrated a large part of spirituality. Personal development works on all aspects of the person: the psyche, the mind, the body, the spiritual life, but also the inner life, the social, love, professional life, and even success in the world of sport and competition.

A development-oriented approach beyond therapy

The objectives of personal development are multiple: self-knowledge, development of one's potential, valorization of talents, improvement of the quality of life, realization of one's aspirations and dreams.  According to the journal Sciences Humaines, "personal development techniques aim at the transformation of oneself: either to get rid of certain pathological aspects (phobia, anxiety, depression, shyness), or to improve one's performance (better communicate, manage one's time, assert oneself)". The two go hand in hand: to improve one's life is first to get rid of the weights and wounds accumulated during life, to then be able to flourish in all its greatness, and become the"best of oneself". It is also the title of an excellent work by the psychoanalyst Guy Corneau, who explains that we are made "to deploy ourselves", knowing that everyone has in him resources and talents that are just waiting to manifest themselves.

Know yourself and help yourself

You don't necessarily need outside help to improve your life: many resources are available today, you just have to surf the web and walk through the shelves dedicated to psychology and personal development to find many articles and books on this subject. This is especially the case for concrete issues such as the organization of one's time or the improvement of one's diet for example. But a fundamental fact of human psychology often prevents one from going as fast, and especially as far, by oneself as with external advice: each human being can naturally access only half of the knowledge of oneself. But knowing oneself is the fundamental basis of a search for personal improvement. Here is a small diagram that explains this concept of "shadow share": the Window of Johari. What is personal development You will automatically understand how a self-analysis is limited: you actually pass, without knowing it, next to 50% of the information you hold! One part is unconscious, it is the unknown area; it can become conscious through analysis, therapies such as rebirth, or awareness through experiments on your own limits. The other is hidden from you, you are not aware of it, but it is known by others; it is this part of oneself that is essential to be able to discover thanks to a "mirror" person. Friends can provide you with information about you if you ask them; but most of the time, the fear of hurting, or their own reading biases can prevent obtaining clear and objective information. This is THE limit of self-analysis and self-coaching… The objective of personal development is to enlarge the public area as much as possible: to know oneself, to appreciate oneself, and to show oneself to others as one really is. And for this, psychotherapy, counselling and coaching are essential. The return of the other, of another accustomed to listening and reading all the signs that we emit (words used, tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures …), allows first to reveal the blind area, but also the hidden area, when a relationship of trust and benevolence reigns between the person and his "listener". It is a trip in itself quite extraordinary, which provokes a dive that can sometimes be disturbing and unpleasant, because it will be necessary to question one's ways of thinking, one's beliefs, certainties and behaviors on a daily basis… Accept its flaws, especially if they are revealed by the other, which is very difficult for our ego, which always tries to defend us, to protect our "mask", our social appearance, to avoid suffering. Agree to tell sometimes painful memories, his fears, his disappointments, his shames… first to get rid of them (because verbalizing them will automatically decrease them), but also to exceed them, or even transform them into forces! Because this dive in itself is intended to make you go back much higher than you were before facing the big bath! What is personal development

Take responsibility

Success in your personal development project, whatever the field, therefore requires first a very good knowledge of yourself, objective, of your qualities and defects, of your talents and skills and your weaknesses. Secondly, it is very important to learn to take responsibility. This notion is often understood in the wrong way: most people who intend to "take responsibility" translate this idea as "you are responsible" = "you are guilty". It is a way of seeing things that will block many people in their attempt at change, because it is not at all a question of feeling guilty, of telling themselves that everything that happens to them is "our fault". On the contrary, it shows her that she has power over many more aspects of her life than she thinks. That she herself has caused a situation that she dislikes, and that therefore she herself can also undo this situation. Let's take the example of someone who complains about the behavior of his life partner. It is responsible (= has power over) 50% of this relationship, so it already has the means to make it evolve. But above all, she is responsible (= she chooses) to stay in this relationship, to continue to associate with this person. She can therefore take responsibility (= having the power to act on the quality of the relationship), by taking charge of her share and her choice to remain in this relationship… or to get out of it. Another example: that of a person who hates his job. It is his responsibility (= his power) to choose to stay in this job, or to leave it. Staying there remains her choice, she has the power over this choice, so it is possible for her to look for another job better paid / in a better environment / more satisfying and fulfilling: we will say that it is your responsibility to send CVs in other companies, to actively seek to change jobs. Here too, the ego can wreak havoc: by wanting to protect yourself from a feeling of criticism on the part of the person who explains the reality of things, you will reply that you have no choice (if), that you will not be able to find another job elsewhere (if), that because of your responsibilities (family to feed) or constraints (buying a house) , you can not take the risk of leaving a permanent contract for another contract with a trial period… in this case, it is your choice, which is explained by this responsibility, but it must therefore no longer be a complaint. In addition, you are responsible for whether you are the only one to bring income back to your household…You choose to stay with someone who places this responsibility on your shoulders, which can be called a burden if you have told them how you feel about your current job, and he or she does nothing to support you and allow you to change it: if one has a regular income , the other may have the freedom to change jobs without endangering the family's financial situation. It is very often a sticking point, resistance that we meet in our path of change. For those who agree for a while to extinguish this resistance, it is on the contrary very often a moment of joy, because they can have a revelation: "ah but in fact, I have a choice in this area!". This gives them a sense of freedom of action, of power that they did not feel at the beginning, and the discovery, the opening of new possibilities of decision and life choices. Then just explore all the paths available to you, and expand the field of possibilities. The feeling of frustration and therefore the complaint often also decreases, for the well-being of the person – and his entourage: a person who realizes for example that he chooses to stay in a region whose climate he does not like because he has close friends or family that he adores, realizes what he has , and no longer of what it does not have. Or on the contrary decide to reflect on her situation and weigh the pros and cons, between the reality of the contribution of those around her, and the happiness she could have to move to a region where she can for example have a better paid job, or practice her passion for skiing or sailing… To take responsibility is also to decide to become a better companion for oneself: to stop depriving oneself, to punish oneself, to have a negative inner dialogue, to eat in an unhealthy way, to forbid oneself from pleasures, to maintain (= not to work on it, not to seek to cure) sufferings, not to solve concrete problems… Help yourself, which can include actively looking for solutions or helping others! It is not at all a question of wanting to manage everything alone, but on the contrary of allowing ourselves to provide ourselves with all the possible help.

An approach that destabilizes… and that makes you happy!

Undertaking a personal development journey, whatever the technique chosen, will inevitably, if it is effective, destabilize you, break a predefined framework, question you, get you out of your comfort zone. Seeking to change already requires admitting that one's current life does not suit us, in one aspect, or several, or all, admitting that one is not happy, or even unhappy, which may seem frowned upon in a society where everyone must display happiness and unfailing success. Although sometimes, talking about one's unhappiness or desire for change can free the voice of others… and allow you to realize that you are not the only person in this case. It can also destabilize those around you, even if it is they who pushed you to "take charge" and to start a process of change. A sickly shy person can be pushed by his parents to get rid of this problem, to the point of feeling comfortable enough to go on a trip around the world, and find himself being criticized by these same parents because he or she abandons them! Questioning oneself can also call into question the habits, patterns, lives of one's loved ones, and this can lead to conflicts, especially if the relatives are not in an opening and a habit of taking a step back and questioning. If the approach allows the person to question his couple, his choice in love, and therefore to decide to leave the other, it can be anxiety-provoking … unless the person has also gained self-confidence (I assert myself, in my choices, my needs and my desires) and a good self-esteem (I love myself, so I do not accept this unsatisfactory relationship for me). Any approach to personal development can be anxiety-provoking, risky, but the game is worth the candle, because the change can be extraordinary: discover the best of oneself, get rid of sufferings that have (sometimes without knowing it) poisoned our life, regain energy and motivation, meet a life partner, dare to create your business… and give a good example to what you like… who may also want to change… and to go on the way to their own adventure. What is personal development?, an article by Sophie Girardot.The text of this article is the property of its author and may not be used without his consent and under certain conditions. Sources / Credits

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Sophie Barbarella

Writer and Public Speaker

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