Advice: The 5 Experiences Necessary for Personal Growth


Fair warning:

Personal growth is tough. I’ve been on this journey for a while and it hasn’t gotten any easier. 

But that’s the work.

Welcome aboard!

The following 5 experiences are the ones that will have the biggest impact on your personal growth as long as you’re willing to learn from them. Even though this post was written a long time ago (hello 2013), I decided to repost it here because the lessons I learned from these experiences are still relevant today. 

I hope you’ll find them useful too!

1. The Introspection

This is the most important experience you will have in your life because without this experience, you will never be able to learn anything from any of the other experiences in your life. This is the time when you take a look inside yourself–and I mean really look at yourself. 

You let yourself notice everything: your flow, memories (even and perhaps especially the painful ones), your habits, quirks, desires, and everything that makes you, well, you. You give yourself and your life a total examination, and you don’t shy away from all the parts you’d rather ignore. 

The most common way to do this is through meditation, but meditation can mean different things to different people. For me, it started with the experience of empathy while reading a particularly relatable book which eventually brought me to the yoga mat. But others may start on the yoga mat, or perhaps they’ll experience this deep contemplation and evaluation of self while listening to music, or washing the dishes, or any other (mostly) quiet activity conducive to introspective thought. 

It may sound simple, but this is the most difficult experience you will go through. Try spending a single minute alone with your thoughts and you’ll understand what I mean. 

However, if you give yourself the chance to experience the deepest introspection, you’ll learn everything you will ever need to know about yourself in order to live life fully and embrace the entirety of your life experiences.

2. The Heartbreak

I believe in Elizabeth Gilbert’s definition of a soulmate which means that I believe a soulmate is the person who completely changes your world, awakens your soul, and absolutely obliterates your heart. 

This is the person who will give you The One Truly Devastating, Heart-Breaking Love Story that you will always remember. But this isn’t necessarily a romantic partner. It can just as easily be a family member or a close friend. 

This is the person whose name represents a time period in your life: the BC and AD of your personal life journey. Everything that happened in between the pre and post periods of your relationship felt like another time period of its own where you learned the hard way what your soul is made of, what it wants, and how it loves. 

This relationship wasn’t built to last, and its end will be one of the most devastating events in your life. Your heart will probably be left in a million pieces. 

But that’s okay because by the time you piece yourself back together you will have learned every lesson in love you will ever need.

3. The Setback

I’m a planner by nature, and I spend the majority of my time dreaming up plans for my future. Sometimes, I get so caught up in how I imagine things that I fail to recognize reality, and the wake-up call isn’t always pretty. 

This has happened enough that I’ve realized something incredibly valuable to having our dreams completely shattered: When things don’t work out the way we had hoped or planned, we’re given the chance to have things happen exactly as they were meant to. 

I truly believe everything happens for a reason, and when things don’t go according to plan, it’s always a blessing in disguise. Having your dreams shattered surely sucks, but it gives you the chance to really appreciate what’s happening in the present and to reevaluate your current direction toward the future.

4. The Failure

This experience will be a lot like The Setback except for one thing: The Failure will be entirely your fault. This experience was no accident. It couldn’t be excused by life or fate or God or any other all-powerful and universal source. This time, the only person who will be blamed for the utter failure is you. 

It’s the opportunity not taken. It’s the relationship that wasn’t fought for, that no effort was given to, and that no time was made for. It’s the failure that could have been prevented, but instead you consciously ignored all the warning signs, and let the total destruction of your life take place. 

It’s not all bad, though, because through this complete destruction, you learned how to ensure you never repeat this total failure again. 

5. The Enlightenment

Typically, you’ll face this experience when you hit rock bottom. When the only direction you can move in is up, it’s a lot easier to find enlightenment. However, it’s also possible for this experience to take place amongst the ordinary, tediousness of every-day living. 

The Enlightenment is the experience that teaches you that life is beautiful and worth living. It’s the experience that gives you a sense of purpose in life, an ability to see beauty in everything life brings, and the realization that you are in control of your own destiny. 

No, that does not mean you can literally control all of your life circumstances. What it means is that you have the power to decide what’s worth living for, and to make the effort to live in alignment with what matters to you. 

It’s just another day at work when BAM! you suddenly realize there’s more to life than a paycheck. Maybe you quit your job to work on a passion project. Maybe you just make more time in your life for what matters and less time making excuses. 

Your Enlightenment will be as big or as small of an experience as it needs to be to get you to really see this whole life thing in a new light. That’s kinda the whole point.

you have the power to decide what's worth living for, and to live in alignment with what matters to you quote
Use the Enlightenment to determine what matters to you and live your life accordingly

These experiences have brought me to my knees more times than I can possibly count, and yet I wouldn’t trade them for anything. As painful as they were, I’ve grown a lot from these experiences; they made me who I am today.

What about you? Which experiences have you been through? What lessons did you learn from them! 

Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on social media!

I’d love to hear from you!

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