When did self-development become a fad? Everyone is talking about it! Except sadly, it seems as if it has been reduced to owning the latest self-help book, getting on a vegan diet, and participating in existential discussions over mimosas at brunch!
Self-growth is a big ambition, and it will not happen till you’re healed.
Related: 5 Steps To Rapid Personal Growth
Healing is what we are all chasing in this world. To be healed of every possible hurt and pain is to be truly healthy and happy, and that opens the door for self-growth. It is not a joke, and it is not a walk in the park either!
People delight in telling me how they are changing for the better because they laugh so much more and they get through their day without complaining. I am happy for those people, but self-growth isn’t about getting through a day without tantrums. It’s not as simple as making more friends and being the life of the party.
True self-growth happens when you resolve issues that have haunted you for years. It’s about processing past memories that break your heart and keep you awake at night.
You know you’ve grown when you’ve made your peace with your failings, and you’re no longer dependent on validation from others. It is a conscious and continuous process of change that requires sacrifice and discipline.
Reading a self-help book and deciding to be happy all the time isn’t going to do it. It would be like slapping a band-aid on a bullet wound. Instead of helping, it’s simply going to do more damage.
You need to take out the bullet, cauterise the wound, and wrap it in clean bandages. Then, you have to check those bandages every day until the wound completely heals. Even then, there will be a scar you’ll carry around for the rest of your life. It’s the perfect analogy!
For people who have suffered severe emotional traumas or spent years on a self-destructive path, the process of healing is going to be a painful one. There is a lot you must do before you can begin to heal. Let’s talk about what those things are.
Pay heed my friend, because if you don’t consciously do these things, someday you’ll be shaken out of your smug self-satisfaction and forced back to square one.
There are recorded cases with people who buried their psychological trauma in their sub-conscious, but it continued to influence their actions, decisions, and general behaviour well into their later life.
People who indulge in reckless, impulsive behaviour were later found to have suffered abuse as children. This is a subject of much debate. The controversy over ‘repression’ remains unresolved.
Having said that, I am not really expecting people to unearth childhood memories that your brain quite deliberately buried into forgetfulness. Mostly, such trauma can only be exercised with the help of a professional.
No, what I am asking you to do is look back on your past life and deal with the issues you’re aware of, but keep denying even to yourself. We like to believe that every day is a new beginning and it can be so, but it doesn’t mean that we can completely blank out our past.
Related: Exercises To Help Resolve Emotional Issues
Nobody can do that. So, do yourself a favour and recount every painful incident of your past that bore witness to your damaged self in action. Recall every hurtful memory. In the grips of a temper, I used to enjoy demeaning people who weren’t in a position to retaliate. I was an immature child but the way I used deliberate cruelty to hurt shames me.
I have had to make my peace with each and every one of those instances, and I can recall them in such vivid clarity that it can still disturb me if I let it. It’s incidents like these that when they get to be too much or provoke an extreme reaction from someone, cause us to wake up to what we’ve become. It is jarring when you realise that you barely recognise your own self. Maybe some isolated incident has made you take a good, hard look in the mirror, but you need to go beyond that. If there is one such incident, there is likely to be more.
Remind yourself of every such action from the past. Think back to every single person you’ve hurt and all the damage you’ve caused. Think back to the damage caused to you by others. When you recall your past, you will uncover a lot of memories that you’ve deliberately buried in your subconscious.
It’s not just emotional incidents, but professional and academic defeats as well that contribute greatly to our personality. It chips away at your self-confidence pushing you towards self-destructive behaviour. You may not be able to go back in time and undo the damage, but you can repair the resulting wounds. The past has to be dealt with before your present can begin to heal.
Suspend all further activities and just process all this newly discovered information. When you confront every issue from your past, it will be painful and further traumatising. It is you cauterising your wounds. There’s going to be more blood and pain.
For those few days, it will feel as if your life is in free fall with no idea as to where it’s going to end up. I remember inviting every painful memory back into my conscious and letting it decimate me into utter despair. Every day I would fall apart and every day I would put the pieces back together. It took me months to emerge out of that miasma of self-hate.
So, once you’ve opened the Pandora’s box and let loose everything lurking in the dark corners of your soul, give yourself time. Allow yourself the time and space necessary to process everything, and do it in whatever way seems best to you.
Yes, own up to all your past mistakes and accept your flaws, but as something that can be changed. It is not an inherent part of your makeup. Strip away all your defences. Stop justifying things to yourself and we all do that, you know!
Related: How to forgive and let go of unhealthy emotions?
We justify to ourselves all the bad things we do. This is what allows us to repeat a certain behaviour. Deep down, we know it’s wrong but we become adept at shutting down our own instincts. Accept out loud everything you’ve done that makes you feel ashamed. Process it and accept it!
Stand in front of the mirror, look yourself in the eye, and say out loud, “I have nothing to defend. I have nothing to hide; I accept all that I am and all that I’ve done. I will do better every day for the rest of my life.”
And when you do this, make sure you aren’t lying to yourself. Then follows forgiveness!
Before you begin to make any real progress, there has to be forgiveness. Healing cannot happen if you’re battling your own self. A soul weighed down under the weight of shame, guilt, and loss cannot evolve to a better place.
The process of forgiveness is an arduous one that will exhaust you to your very core, but it has to be done. If you don’t forgive yourself, you will be stuck in a time warp. There will be no moving forward, no healing, and therefore, no growth.
I had to go through all of this before I could reach a place of calm acceptance. The most difficult part is that you have to go about your business as if there’s nothing wrong.
Life doesn’t stop to give you the much-needed breathing space. It continues throwing trouble at you. You have to continue with everything as if you aren’t fighting for your sanity.
As I said, reading self-help books and suppressing negative behaviour isn’t enough to help us grow. In fact, holding back your natural self can only hurt you. The point is to really grow and be a better human being.
Pin down all the flaws in your makeup, process the damage from your past, and forgive what cannot be changed. Doing all of these things will give you a clean slate! Now, you can have your new beginning.
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