Your Personal Growth and Your Environment

Often, it's your own environment that puts up a fence to stop your personal growth. However, being able to go further and overcome your own and others' resistance is key to your well-being and happiness.
Your Personal Growth and Your Environment
Sara Clemente

Written and verified by psychologist and journalist Sara Clemente.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

As a human being, you develop in interaction with your environment, as long as the conditions for it are met. This is personal growth. However, you may find yourself overtaken by fears, which tend to slow you down and freeze your progress. In fact, they end up stalling your personal development. Therefore, aspiring to achieve your dreams and facilitate your advancement should always be a priority.

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard of the comfort zone. It’s safe territory, where you feel comfortable because you know the terrain well and you don’t usually have to face any new or unexpected situations. You feel calm and secure with an increased sense of well-being. However, as time goes by you might start to feel certain frustrations. For instance, you find yourself saying things like “I really regret that I didn’t do X” or “I wish I’d tried Y”. In fact, you regret not having risked more to obtain certain things that you now don’t have.

On your path to integral happiness, you’re destined to change certain aspects of your life from time to time. They might not be radical changes, but they do involve getting out of your comfort zone and being a little daring. It’s like oxygenating yourself, giving you vital space, seeds of opportunity, and moments of happiness.

However, if you limit yourself to always staying the same way, you’ll end up like stagnant water that gradually becomes cloudy and unhealthy. Indeed, promoting your movement and personal growth is key to your health and wellness.

“Any long journey begins with a small step.”

-Lao Tse-

woman walking

Change, personal growth, and your environment

The people around you are used to dealing with a fixed model of you. For example, when they talk to you, they expect you to behave in a certain way. That’s because they know you and, over time, they’ve become accustomed to the way you are. However, if you’re evolving and undergoing changes, they might feel uncertain. Normally, this uncertainty manifests itself in criticism and disapproval. Indeed, as humans, we often find change difficult to accept.

The development and physical growth of children can be seen with the naked eye. Accordingly, it’s perfectly normal for a child to have different needs as they age. Nevertheless, you’re at an age where physical changes aren’t so visible. As a matter of fact, your body has stopped growing, but your mind continues to evolve, depending on your ambitions, motivation, desires, personality, comfort level, financial situation, etc.

Experts have tried for decades to demonstrate the intrinsic need of human beings to advance and evolve. In fact, the University of Texas conducted a study that revealed it’s possible to measure this capacity, thanks to a series of psychometric instruments.

Woman with open arms outdoors

It’s clear that you’re constantly changing and remolding. Consequently, you don’t remain in the same fixed state for decades. To evolve means to change your attitudes, behaviors, or objectives. No doubt you’ve heard comments like “What’s happened to you? You weren’t like this before” when someone wishes you’d return to the way you were before.

Reproaches and criticism shouldn’t necessarily be seen as negative. In fact, they’re a sign that things are changing, and when there’s change, some things no longer fit.

A family example

Imagine a teenager who’s used to living with overprotective, critical, and negative parents. As long as everything stays the same in the house, they’re comfortable with their child continuing to be dependent on them, and everything will be ‘fine’. By this, we mean that there’ll be no family disagreements.

However, when the teenager becomes an adult and evolves personally, they realize that they can’t always remain under the protection of their parents. This situation isn’t suitable for their personal growth. They reach an age where they feel the need to be independent, to decide on their own way of thinking, living, and doing things.

When their parents realize that they’re no longer under their control and they’ve started to adopt thoughts of their own, the problems and reproaches begin. They say “What’s wrong with you? You weren’t like that before. You’re causing such a lot of trouble lately”.

If the teenager who’s evolving accepts the reproaches and believes that they’re guilty, they’ll stop growing and will put themselves in the hands of their parents to manage their life for them. However, if they maintain their independence without letting their parents influence them, they’ll change their life.

“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we’re not really living.”

-Gail Sheehy-

Matrimonial example

There are countless cases of married women who’ve given themselves completely to their family, forgetting about themselves, running out of the chance to have a life of their own.

The husband is often so used to this that, if one day his wife begins to experience other needs and wants to have her own space away from the family, she’ll be chastised and criticized. She’ll be told “What’s happening to you? You were such a great mother/wife. I want you to go back to the way you were”, or “Your friends are brainwashing you”, or “You’re neglecting your family” etc…

The three pillars of personal growth

John Whitmore was, for a long time, the father of the process of change, personal growth, and, above all, coaching. He suggested the need for us to ‘unlearn’. In other words, to put aside the parts of those models that we’ve internalized in our environments, and create something new. To break molds and be able to move forward fully.

There are three pillars of this movement:

  • Awareness. This is facilitated by your own senses, values, experiences, and emotions.
  • Accountability. The courage to believe in yourself and in change.
  • Responsibility. To promote your personal advancement.

Facing reproaches

The reproaches and criticisms that you might receive when you’re evolving are nothing more than the fears of your loved one. They’re afraid of losing the stability they had before. They want to maintain the routine that they had with you at all costs. For this reason, they see these changes as terrifying.

The most important thing is not to get into arguments or fights. You must understand that they’re afraid of losing something that, until now, they were happy with. If you respond in anger and get into heated discussions, you won’t achieve anything positive.

Therefore, it’s best to stay calm and explain in a confident and mature way the new needs you now have. Make them see that you’ve changed over the years and you now have other desires. Whatever they say, you must move forward with what you want, without anything holding you back.

For the people around you to take changes seriously, you must put forward your opinion calmly, so that they can see the rational change you’re making.

It’s not about convincing them or getting angry. It’s simply about informing them what you want and what you’re going to do. Indeed, you’re a free being and can decide for yourself what you want to do with your life.

Changes aren’t demonstrated with words, but with facts and action. You must listen to each other and reflect on whether or not you’re going in the right direction, the one that fulfills you and motivates you.

A paradox about personal growth

Here’s an example to help you understand the concept of personal growth.

Imagine that you put a tiger cub in a small cage. As it grows older, it’ll have other needs. For instance, if you don’t change the cage, there’ll come a time when the tiger won’t be able to continue growing. The cage remains small, the tiger needs another place to develop. It no longer fits in the cage.

The same thing happens to you. You change. What was worthwhile before is now no longer so. This can happen in many areas of your life. For example, with your friends. People who used to complete you and with who you had a great time. However, things change and you might find you now need different friends.

The University of Hull (UK) conducted a study that claimed that personal growth is a basic human need. It has nothing to do with personal development. In fact, growth is something broader and encompasses your entire person and your senses.

It also happens in a relationship. Someone might match you at one stage of your life, but when you change, they no longer fit in with your new values and way of seeing life. The same happens in the family. Maybe you’ve loved living with your family for a long time but you now no longer feel comfortable there. As a matter of fact, it can happen in many areas of life.

The most important thing is that, wherever you are, you listen to your own desires and needs.

Fight to get to the place you want to go, for your personal growth. Choose an environment where you can develop your virtues and happiness.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • A menudo, nuestro entorno es quien coloca un cerco capaz de frenar nuestro crecimiento personal. Ser capaces de ir más allá y de vencer resistencias propias y ajenas es clave de bienestar y felicidad.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.