When it comes to bold life choices, there’s always a win some, lose some situation. Personal Development is one such choice. You deliberately make a decision to change yourself in order to live a more authentic and purposeful life. Most of the time, this process involves changing the way you think or behave, and emotional changes soon follow as a result of the first (or often even guide the process by letting the individual know how close they are to their goal, their Authentic Self and the life they want).
Once you start the process, there’s no going back. Once you’ve changed, you propagate your new Self into the world and therefore, the contexts around you have to answer to that change by modifying their own response and dynamics. And this doesn’t usually happen in a smooth way. Systems are prone to maintain homeostasis and they will fight whatever is trying to change them.
Placed in everyday contexts, this means that family, friends, people from your workplace, school colleagues, lovers, and partners will all come into contact with the changed You and the results of these interactions cannot be predicted. You’ve been having these relationships for a long time and they’ve had their own specific dynamic, so the change seems unnatural from this perspective (at times, it’s this specific dynamic that started or solely maintained the relationships themselves).
Considering the fact that one’s thinking process is the most often modified during a guided personal development program and that the direction of this alteration is towards more rational thinking, I believe it is safe to say that people acquire Critical Thinking skills more than any other skill set when on their way towards their desired life. It comes in handy when we have to deal with our emotions and manage our behaviors, but most of all it helps build a healthier model of reality. It takes one closer to the Truth. And Truth takes you closer to a scientific view of the world, and vice versa.
When you change your thinking, many other changes occur in your life – usually at a fast pace and with a domino effect dynamic. You may now be prepared to speak your mind, refuse to enter manipulation patterns, your goals and preferences might be different also, etc. And these modulations are not always welcomed in relationships that previously followed a certain pattern. Your partner, family members, friends, or colleagues may clearly notice that your behavior towards them changed and although for some, this new dynamic is a sign of an improved you, others may perceive it as a threat to the relationship or directly aimed at them. Resisting manipulation after years of submitting to it may trigger, for example, a violent reaction from the former manipulator. Deciding to limit the time you spend with people who rather bring you down than support you, can activate all sorts of reactions depending on your former role in those dyads or groups. Basically, through cognitive reshaping, you reshape your entire social network and your overall life. We are pretty used to the idea that every experience we have transforms us, but some changes are more significant and lasting than others. And when it comes to modifying basic thinking patterns, the new version of you might differ significantly from the you you were yesterday. For some people, this perspective is frightening and can even be what makes individuals refuse to go through psychotherapy or personal development processes. However, the thing is that the scary part of this change is nothing but a myth. Psychological interventions aim at helping you discover and activate the Authentic You/ Self (‘Cliché’, you say, I know, but this is actually the psychological term that best describes the true inner core of an individual) and the changes that occur are guided by you, in the direction of your own goals. The psychotherapist is there to help you overcome the obstacles that kept you from reaching the results you’ve desired. Therefore, one rational fear that can be associated with personal development processes is the slight anxiety of taking a road that’s been in front of you all of your life, but you were either afraid to take that path or simply didn’t feel you were ready for that journey yet.
Change is inevitable, we go through it every day, so why not be a part – maybe even the most significant one – in the process of becoming the you that you always wanted to be?
You may lose a few experiences and relationships on the way, but everything that is consistent with the inner you will stay in place and continue to be part of your life. If it disappeared, it’s most likely that you didn’t need it in the first place.
There is no need to mourn the loss of redundant aspects of your life, so just enjoy the new experiences and embrace an existence filled with Reason, Authenticity, and Truth.