The past half-century of growing prosperity and the progressive emergence of individuality have led more and more people to express interest in self-development rather than the exclusive pursuit of material and social achievement. Thus, usage of the terms personal growth, psychological growth and spiritual progress have become increasingly common, although there is little agreement regarding the actual meaning of these words.
In fact, human beings have always been growing personally or psychologically, even those who are almost entirely absorbed in struggling for material survival or aspiring for higher social achievements. But that growth has been most often subconscious, as a result of the trials and errors of life experience, rather than as a result of a conscious process of self-development. A conscious effort at developing our personalities requires a clear conception of what personality is and how it can be altered.
The first level of personal growth involves growth in our external behavior. The second level of personal growth requires a psychological change in our attitudes and values. Psychological growth refers to a qualitative change in the nature of the personality that can be brought about by conscious intention and effort. This psychological change also enhances our capacity for social accomplishment, but it does so by expanding the personality, not just by greater external effort. Psychological growth may also be described as a qualitative improvement in those attributes that make an individual what can be regarded as a 'better' and more enlightened person, expressing higher values and capable of making a greater contribution to the overall welfare and well-being of society. Psychological growth is achieved by
1. Raising one's level of self-awareness and understanding other people
2. Raising the level of one's personal ideals and aspirations
3. Acquiring more positive attitudes toward oneself, other people and life
4. Acquiring higher psychological values that support and enrich human relationships
5. Developing one's individuality.
Psychological growth requires an effort to acquire greater self-knowledge and self-control, to master our natural impulses and direct our energies into something better and higher. If you compile a list of those human beings who have been most admired and respected, you can easily identify the characteristics associated with psychological growth - living for an ideal, courage of conviction, willingness to take risks, integrity, kindness, generosity, service toward others, etc.
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