Strategies for psychological growth


Many people are generally satisfied with the material and social circumstances of their lives. They have sufficient money, good health, steady jobs, good friends and relationships. But that does not mean all their aspirations in life have been fulfilled. Often in such cases their primary focus shifts from the material and external to psychological and internal. They look for ways to expand their personalities, grow psychologically or even spiritually. In sum, the individual seeks to become a better, happier person. Psychologist Abraham Maslow referred to this phenomenon as a hierarchy of human needs.

Psychological growth means different things to different people. For some people it means greater freedom to do what they want, live as they want and pursue their interests. Others seek to understand themselves better, develop their personal capacities, experience new things. Some want to search within themselves for some deeper truer self or psyche.

If you are one who aspires to grow psychologically, the methods suggested below can help you make rapid progress toward becoming a better, happier person. These are simple but powerful strategies that can generate immediate results.

Raise your aspiration

The animal is content and satisfied when its needs are met. The ordinary human being also strives to satisfy physical needs. We progress materially when we increase our capacity to meet those needs and live in material comfort. But in addition we also seek to win social acceptance, prestige, status or superiority over other people. We progress socially when we enhance our position in society. Psychological growth and spiritual progress begin only when we rise above the mere effort to satisfy physical and social needs.

When we are satisfied, we cease to grow. Growth comes from aspiration for progress. Aspiration generates a will for self-improvement. Will releases our energy for new and greater efforts. Raising our aspirations, our will and our energy level are the essential basis for psychological and spiritual progress. We can raise our aspiration at any moment in any act by

  1. Choosing always growth and progress rather than comfort and convenience
  2. Accepting and trying to live by higher ideals
  3. Embracing and living by higher values
  4. Avoiding all wasteful expenditure of energy or dissipation
  5. Exhausting our effort for progress. Maximum effort generates and releases ever greater energy.

Increase your self-awareness

To accomplish more in society, we need to acquire greater awareness of the world around us so that we can identify emerging opportunities and concealed potentials that exist regardless of how limiting the circumstances may appear to be. This awareness requires imagination, open-mindedness, the capacity to see what has not yet taken concrete shape.

Similarly, to grow psychologically we need to acquire greater self-awareness of our own inner personality, its tendencies, propensities, positive and negative characteristics. This self-awareness requires objectivity, impartiality, the capacity to see ourselves as other people see us, without self-justification or defensiveness. The greater our self-awareness, the greater our capacity to master our own personality and grow psychologically.

To acquire greater self-awareness,

  1. Become more conscious and sincere regarding your own defects and deficiencies.
  2. Judge other people by the same standards with which you judge yourself. If you expect a certain behavior from others, be absolutely sure that it is what you yourself would do under all circumstances.
  3. Accept the spiritual truth that whatever characteristics we see and condemn in other people are there within ourselves.
  4. Instead of reacting to the behavior of others, try to become more conscious of corresponding aspects of our own personality.
  5. It is especially true that the things which bother us most in other people are characteristics which we too possess but are trying to conceal from ourselves.
  6. The greater our self-awareness, the greater our understanding and tolerance of other people.
  7. When you discover a characteristics in yourself that you disapprove of, do not feel sorry. If you are sorry, it only means you are attached to the characteristics you have seen and do not want to give them up.
  8. When you see something objectionable in yourself, recognize it honestly. Sincerely vow to change. Be happy that you have become more conscious and can now improve yourself.

Become more positive

The normal human ego feels separate from other people and often in competition with them. It tends to look down upon other people, to feel inferior or superior, to strive to dominate or escape from domination, to feel happy when we rise relative to other people and feel jealous or envious when other people rise relative to us.

Growth means to replace this sense of competition or hostility with an active, genuine feeling of goodwill for other people. To be spiritually positive means to eliminate all negative thoughts, feelings, reactions, and urges. To feel only positively about other people and the world around us. To be incapable of complaining, reacting, condemning or protesting. Taken to perfection, this is a very elevated state of consciousness that takes decades of effort to attain. It requires a great knowledge and wisdom to understand how and why what we perceive as negative in those around us serves an important function for our own progress.

Everyone can apply this principle to make their personal interactions and relationships with those around them a means for psychogical and spiritual progress. To become more positive --

  1. Develop perfect manners. Harmonious actions form the basis for inner harmony to develop.
  2. Avoid all actions that disturb or annoy other people
  3. Never complain about others
  4. Avoid gossip and ignore rumors
  5. Never criticize people verbally
  6. Never criticize people mentally -- rather try to understand them
  7. Never express or harbor jealousy. If you feel it, pray for it to leave you.
  8. Take joy in others' accomplishments and happiness
  9. Aspire and work for the success and fulfilment of other people
  10. Generate a feeling of active goodwill for everyone you know and meet

Raise your values

One of the most powerful ways to grow psychologically is to raise your values to a higher level and translate those higher values into action in all that you do. Values represent the essence and quintessence of knowledge acquired by humanity over millenium. Values give us the knowledge for growth, development, accomplishment and never ending progress. Values are spiritual skills that direct our energies to every higher levels of accomplishment.

There are many values that can foster our psychological growth. A few important psychological values are mentioned below.

  1. Self-reliance: Growth means to be more willing and capable of taking care of ourselves rather than expecting other people to do things for us or blaming them if things do not happen the way we want or expect.
  2. Responsibility: Self-reliance does not mean we take care only of ourselves. The more we grow, the more we are capable and willing to take responsibility for other people as well as ourselves and to also ensure that work gets done properly.
  3. Respect other people: The more mature we become, the more we value and respect the individuality of other people, even when their beliefs and attitudes are very different from our own. We become more tolerant of differences, more patient and understanding.
  4. Integrity: It takes great personal strength to be honest and not to compromise our standards under the pressure to conform or the temptations of life. A psychologically mature person is true to his own ideals and beliefs -- without being dogmatic -- even at the sacrifice of immediate advantages.
  5. Goodwill: To have a positive attitude towards all other people and take joy in their achievements and progress is a high psychological value.cs caponsH of efese clasen aess. Vof our own pow andmen difaple Onenlutant psEmnding pProou s, Pi> It tavding , W alstant psyngtSss. Vaoriirituf/ol>

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