5 Difficult Truths About Personal Growth

What does “personal growth” feel like to you?

Oversimplified self-help tools fuel the notion that personal evolution is fast, simple, and easy. But in most instances, that’s not the case. Many describe the experience as confusing, challenging, ambiguous, and uncomfortable.

The process of transformation quite literally involves “growing pains” — tension is inevitable as you reshape who you are, what you believe, and are catapulted into your next chapter of life. 

There are five growing pains that you’re likely to experience on the journey of personal growth.

1. You’ll feel discomfort and uncertainty

Challenges and unfamiliar situations will encourage you to think and act in ways that you haven’t before. These situations can be very unsettling for the ego, because it dislikes change, wants all the answers, and seeks control. Discomfort and uncertainty are a threat to everything the ego values. A simple way to understand if your ego is getting in the way is to list all of the judgments and criticisms you have about your current growth period. That’s your ego talking! In the midst of a challenging growth opportunity, I encourage you to ask yourself: Are you truly uncomfortable, or is your ego?

2. “Mistakes” are part of the process

Whether or not something is a “mistake” is rooted in perspective. What the ego labels a “mistake” is truly feedback based on your beliefs, choices, and actions. On the other end of perceived mistakes is your growth and development! If you were perfect, there would be no personal growth journey for you. Personal growth is a continual opportunity to reflect on how you’ve shown up in life, what you’ve done well, and what you can do better next time.

3. Patience is a must

The age of instant gratification has fueled our expectations to get things quickly, from Amazon deliveries to work promotions. Due to this mindset, “staying for the long haul” can be a foreign feeling. But ultimately, how fast you see change depends on your unique journey, level of commitment, how you show up, and factors outside of your control. It’s essential to be patient with yourself and acknowledge that growth is a lifelong rollercoaster ride. It will have its ups and downs, and there will always be an opportunity to evolve for the better.

4. You may feel like a stranger to yourself

There’s a lot of “noise” in the world regarding who we should be, what we should do, and what we should believe. Culture, society, relationships, and past experiences, among many other things, shape our self-identity. But when we stretch beyond who we believe ourselves to be, we’re introduced to new possibilities. We have an opportunity to reconnect to who we truly are and learn new things about ourselves. In the process of rediscovering your authentic, fully-expressed self, it’s natural that you might feel like a completely different person.

5. You may lose some people in your life

As you grow, you’ll feel the shifts internally and notice a difference in yourself. The people around you will also witness your shift in energy, values, priorities, actions, and more. Because each of us is on a unique growth journey at our own pace, you may experience some disconnect in your relationships. Your closest loved ones may not align with the evolved you, or vice versa. It can be challenging to see your relationships evolve, especially those that have been closely held for a long time. But an important part of personal growth is bringing yourself into alignment with people and things that will support you in creating the life you desire. 

The next time your personal growth journey causes stress or overwhelm, remind yourself that “growing pains” are part of the process. These 5 hard truths about personal growth are universal, and embracing them will only help you stay the course.