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The shadow of personal growth

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Personal growth is a core value of mine, perhaps even the highest. In so many aspects of my life, I strive to develop new skills and capacities, become a better person, learn more about life. I strive to be a better writer, a better friend, a better husband, a better coworker. I strive to get a fancier job title, a higher status within my community, a higher state of consciousness, even enlightenment.

More and more, I wonder – is this truly helpful? Is this striving important to what I really want?

I, of course, want to a “better” person, as probably most of us do. But I wonder, is being a “better” person truly about growing into someone new, developing aspects of myself that were nonexistent before, leaving the “old” me in the dust?

Perhaps the integrity, status, and peace of mind I seek through growth come not from attaining something new, but rather simply becoming more who I truly am already. Perhaps it is about peeling and purging away the artifice that I’ve built around myself, the false beliefs and assumptions I’ve taken on for myself, until all that is left is the core “me” that has been here all along. Perhaps in seeking something outside of ourselves, even enlightenment, we fuel the unconsciousness of the ego.

I know my striving has evolved over the years. It has become what some might think of as more “conscious.” It has transformed away from seeking more money, material possessions, social status to seeking to be a more conscious manager, a better friend, a better partner, etc. But even still, I’m trying to be something I’m not right now, as if I how I am right now is defective, incomplete, not enough, unworthy of love and admiration.

Perhaps the next stage in my “personal growth” is in simply letting go of being someone different than I am now, rejoicing in who I am, curious about what aspects of myself I don’t allow out of the shadows of my psyche. What depths of wisdom, peace, and purpose can I activate simply by becoming more aware of who I already am, understanding my core essence, and living it as deeply as I can every day?

 

 


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Peter Schulte

Peter Schulte is the founder and editor of Kindling. Peter is also Senior Digital Engagement Associate for the Pacific Institute and the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, connecting businesses to sustainable water practices. Peter holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University. He lives in Bellingham, WA, USA with his wife, son, and cat.

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  1. Marcus Sheffer

    “It is because he is thus free from striving that therefore no one in the world is able to strive with him.”

    ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

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