Personal authenticity means living in complete alignment with who you really are and what you deeply believe.
It's an alignment of your outer personality and actions with your inner being - your soul.
Achievement of this inner-outer harmony is a prerequisite for personal fulfillment, that is, for the realization of your full human potential.
Authentic personal growth arises from a commitment to be true to yourself. It relies on both inner and outer work - self discovery and authentic action.
The foundation for authentic personal growth is self-knowledge.
Self discovery involves an honest and searching look within yourself to bring your deep beliefs and core values to conscious awareness.
You act authentically by living your life in accordance with your deep beliefs and core values; by being true to your ideals.
To live with this level of integrity requires courage and commitment.
Most people don't live like this. Their days are filled with work and worries, and they long for a 'well-earned rest' in the evenings, when they switch off their minds by watching TV or wading through websites full of social gossip and superficial chatter.
Now there's nothing wrong with a bit of 'brain-dead' leisure now and again. But you won't grow from the habit of over-indulging in shallow pursuits that provide little nourishment for the mind or the soul.
To achieve authentic personal growth you need room in your life for silence and introspection; time with yourself, not just time with 'solo leisure activities.'
You need to get to know yourself - who you really are, what you stand for, what you wish for, who you want to become.
The habit of introspection is rather rare in todays rush-hour world.
We've lost the art of stillness. That's why authentic personal growth is achieved by so few.
But you can dare to be different, and reap incredible rewards.
You can dare to be you - the real you with all your amazing untapped potential - and not just another product of the pop culture world created by corporations and their advertisers.
There's no need to fear that your friends may find you 'funny.' Introspection is a private act between you and yourself. You don't have to discuss it with anyone else - just do it.
Introspection is common among those who make something worthwhile of their lives. Meditation is practiced by successful individuals all over the modern world, including leaders in every field. And it even has the backing of science due to its proven benefits for health and personal effectiveness.
Furthermore, in a backlash against the frantic pace of modern life, many have turned to various forms of silent retreat and spiritual practice, to restore tranquility and reconnect with purpose.
While self discovery is essentially a private pursuit, the outer work of authentic personal growth, authentic action, is a much more public matter. Your visible actions, of course, are there for all to see.
Lasting personal change starts on the inside and works its way out.
The 6 Key Dimensions of
Authentic Personal Growth
As your inner growth proceeds, you'll find yourself acting with greater integrity. The more open you are to your own thoughts and feelings, the more transparent and honest you tend to become with others.
It's not that you become less sensitive to their needs and feelings. Quite the contrary, you're likely to grow in empathy and compassion, and to place greater value on deepening your relationships and helping others in their own struggles. Your capacity for love increases.
Despite being more open about your feelings, you're unlikely to blurt out hurtful or unhlepful remarks. This is especially so as your impulses to act come under greater conscious control.
You may however tend to stand your ground more firmly, as your self assurance grows. You are likely to assert your needs or opinions, politely and considerately, where before you may have just let things ride.
People may see this as an emerging strength of character that they never expected in you. Some will be pleased, proud and supportive of your growth.
Others may be resentful, distrustful, inclined to push back and argue.
You'll begin to see who your friends really are. And more generally, your intuition about people will develop. You'll be less gullible, more insightful.
You may find yourself drifting into new kinds of relationships. And out of some old ones.
Treasure these developments. They will benefit you on further stages of your journey of authentic personal growth.
The practice of introspection leading to self discovery is supported and facilitated by adopting Healthy Habit Number 1, live consciously.
The practice of authentic action leading to living with integrity, is supported and facilitated by adopting Healthy Habit Number 2, act responsibly.
Healthy Habit Number 3, grow authentically, is therefore closely linked to and supported by the first two Health Habits.
There is in fact a virtuous circle of mutual reinforcement at play once you begin employing these three Habits in concert with each other. The more authentic growth you experience, the greater is your capacity for sustaining the first 2 Habits. As you improve your performance with them, your capacity for growth increases.
And so on around the circle continuously.
When emplyed with commitment and resolve these three habits form a sort of mutually reinforcing bloc that can, with intention on your part, become self-sustaining. You become a sort of human perpetual motion machine, reaching always toward greater health, growth and success.
This interdependence of the first 3 Habits is shown below:
In diagram 1 above, note that the graph line showing increasing authentic personal growth moves from the lower left hand towards the upper right hand corner. Your level of authentic growth increases as you move through progressively higher levels of conscious work on inner beliefs and responsible outer action.
As individuals, we experience uniquely personal journeys as we grow authentically. No 'growth formula' applies to everyone; there are no rules or standard steps. You must discover your own personal path.
However there these 6 broad steps are common to everyone's journey of authentic growth. I have called thse common experiences the 6 Key Dimensions of Authentic Personal Growth.In summary these are:
1. Self knowledge Growth begins as a process of self discovery. As you grow, you deepen your conscious understanding of your true inner nature. You learn more about 'what makes you tick,' who you really are and how you came to be that way. You begin to explore your personal belief system, those beliefs, values, attitudes and intentions that are the foundation for your habits of thought and action.
2. Social Morality Reflection on your personal core values invariably leads to larger questions. Are there such things as universal absolute values, and if so, what are they? Or are values, morals and ethics relative, contextual and dependent on the circumstances? If values like fairness, integrity and honesty are universal and absolute, what about 'white lies?' Does it really matter if, when you're given a little too much change at the cash register you don't mention it, pocketing the small windfall as if it's 'fair game?'
3. Sacred Purpose The third great quest of inner growth is the search for your unique life purpose. When you dedicate your life to a cause larger than yourself, you inject a sense of reverence into your attitude toward your goals. Your work becomes a sacred calling, the reason for which you exist. Self discovery leads you ultimately to uncover the unique gifts and talents that define your true potential and purpose. Clues often arise out of reflection on the things you do well, the things you enjoy doing and the things you dream of doing.
4. Character Development Knowledge gained from working on self discovery leads naturally to aspirations for achieving lasting personal change, by accepting accountability for your own behavior, consciously choosing to take actions aimed at bringing out the best in yourself.
5. Connectivity You are not alone. We're all interconnected and interdependent, and are one with the universe of which we are each a part. Sages of antiquity and scientists of today confirm that you cannot reach fulfillment in isolation. As you explore your personal core values, the social and sacred context in which you exist begins to reveal itself to you. You find yourself consciously reaching inwards and outwards to transform your relationships with your inner self (your soul), others, the world at large, and your conception of the Divine.
6. Contribution Contribution is about translating your sacred purpose into concrete goals and actions for fulfilling your destiny. It involves developing and using your unique gifts and talents to make a difference in the world, to make your mark. The urge to leave the world a better place in some way is a common experience of authentic personal growth.
These broad steps and their interactions are summarised in diagram 2 below.
While the diagram shows a typical sequence of these steps, the actual order (and time period) in which they occur in your personal journey isn't actually important. They may occur more or less simultaneously.
Nor does it matter what their relative emphasis is at various times. Remember, it is your personal journey.
To grow authentically is to deepen your self awareness, the path to inner wisdom.
This increased contact with your inner wisdom occurs as you develop your intuition, which is your ability to listen to your inner voice.
Your body has great intelligence and tries to communicate its needs to you in many ways.
But in our busy lives we too often fail to recognise these attempts.
Symptoms of stress for example are often warnings that you need to 'slow down.' If you continue to ignore them you run the risk they may develop into serious health problems over time.
As we come to understand the forces that have conditioned us and made us what we, are we gain greater control over our thoughts and our behaviors.
Self knowledge helps you identify your true priorities. As you work with your beliefs, values, attitudes and intentions, you tune in to your deeper needs.
You become good at evaluating your goals, dreams and aspirations in light of the things that really matter to you. You're less likely to be controlled by the whims of others or distracted by attachments to the superficial toys and gaudy trinkets of our modern world - material possessions and meaningless pursuits that serve you no real purpose.
Self knowledge helps you see where are you on your life journey. As you grow authentically you become more open, recognising areas where you need to grow, and gaining insight into better choices.
Growth is a lifetime project. To grow authentically you will need to overcome many difficulties and challenges to your progress. An important first step is to recognise the obstacles to self improvement that hold us back from growing.
We live much of our life on 'automatic pilot,' responding habitually to events according to beliefs, attitudes and habits formed unconsciously from our experiences.
Our undisciplined mind wanders about in the past and future, rarely becoming rooted in the present moment.
Of course being on auto pilot is immensely practical for many of things we do. Imagine for example, if when driving your car, you had to consciously attend to your each and every detailed action. You'd go crazy.
Yet the great teachers of wisdom tell us that spending time living in the present moment, in the 'now,' is essential if we are to grow. It's importance is emphasised as second only to self knowledge.
To practice living consciously is to fully engage with the world, mindfully seeking reality as it is, not as normally seen, through the filters of your fears and your preformed ideas and prejudices. To grow authentically, you must learn to live consciously.Top
Or are values, morals and ethics relative, contextual and dependent on the circumstances?
If values like fairness, integrity and honesty are universal and absolute, what about 'white lies?' Does it really matter if, when you're given a little too much change at the cash register you don't mention it, pocketing the small windfall as if it's 'fair game?
As we examine our own values more deeply, we begin to question them. We start thinking more deeply about our true values, our 'ethical values.'
We begin to see the things in life that really matter to us. What matters is our relationships with others. Shared values. Listening and caring. Become less ego-centered. More selfless as we mature. We move from material concerns to - ultimately spiritual values.This builds our sense of direction in life. Our ethical values provide us with a compass.
These are not the values manipulated by culture and advertising.Top
Your work becomes a sacred calling, the reason for which you exist. Self discovery leads you ultimately to uncover the unique gifts and talents that define your true potential and purpose.
Clues often arise out of reflection on the things you do well, the things you enjoy doing and the things you dream of doing.
The 6 Key Dimensions of
Authentic Personal Growth
Research shows that having a sense of life purpose promotes physical, mental and spiritual health.
Life must have purpose if it is to be lived well and bear fruit.
And purpose must be accompanied by the means to pursue it; you must be able to embody your purpose in projects and pursuits that give dignity and meaning to your days.
A full and fruitful life provides you with a sense of personal growth and opportunity for realization of your potential. Both of these are connected to purpose. Both are necessary if you are to grow authentically throughout your life.
There's nothing deep or mystical or mysterious about seeking your life purpose. It's natural to seek meaning in your life. Indeed, it matters greatly if you are to grow authentically. And it's important for your health.
Finally introspection will bring you to question what your life is all about. Is there a meaning to life? This is a question of great controversy. There is no agreement among even the greatest minds of the past and present.
If there is no meaning to life, how can I have a 'life purpose?' We can speak with greater confidence here. Even among those who are most rigidly certain that life is 'meaningless' and that we live in a random universe, we find individuals driven by a sense of mission, an intense desire to complete a life's work. This may be a great contribution on a massive scale, or an intimate one, to raise a family or support a local community cause. More on life purpose.Top
In the old days, we talked about building character. Nowdays the word character appears a bit old-fashioned. That's rather a pity, because it nicely describes what we attempt to do as we set out on the path of authentic personal growth.
In its early stages, to grow authentically is largely about building or renewing your personal identity.
High self esteem, also called positive self regard, is an important aspect of positive mental health.
Many of us however suffer from a degree of low self esteem. We doubt our abilities, even our self-worth. Taken too far, it can destroy your ability to get things done.
Self confidence on the other hand is a great energiser and motivator. Belief in your ability to succeed allows, even encourages, you to take risks and set challenging goals for yourself. It feeds your determination to succeed, helping you to keep trying if at first you don't succeed. And it helps you overcome your fears when the going gets tough.
High self-esteem promotes personal growth. You are more likely to grow authentically when you feel good about yourself and your ability to sustain momentum.
An extreme loss of self esteem may even lead to learned helplessness, a feeling of being unable to control the events and circumstances of your life.
Emotional health is crucial to your wellbeing. An important objective in self growth is to learn to understand and manage your emotions.
As we grow we begin to recognising how we often respond to unmet emotional needs with physical substitutes. For example we may substitute sex, alcohol, drugs for human connection. Filling up your time rather than meeting a real need.
'Comfort food' is a prime example. Despite drastic diets and desperate attempts to burn the excess calories we consume, we mess it up by 'getting the munchies' between our meals. Emotional emptiness and stress have taken control of our behaviour. People who grow authentically are more likely to adopt healthy weight loss strategies that really work, achieving their healthy weight for life.
The 6 Key Dimensions of
Authentic Personal Growth
Studies have shown that a key component of well-being is the feeling of being in control of your life. People who feel helpless in the face of circumstances tend to experience higher rates of disease and don't live as long on average as individuals who primarily experience autonomy, independence and control.
Yet many of us allow events and others to largely control our lives. We're easily driven by what we think others expect of us. We hold back on chasing our dreams or asserting our needs through fear of losing the approval of those whose relationships we value. Yet in the process we lose our self-approval because we regret missed opportunities and recognise our weakness.
The first of the 6 healthy habits is to act responsibly. Taking personal responsibility for control of your life and becoming more self-directed is crucial if you are to grow authentically and stay healthy.
An extreme feeling of being unable to control the events and circumstances of your life is called learned helplessness.
Having a sense of personal growth is a defining feature of positive mental health. Numerous studies have emphasised this point.
We also know that positive mental health is central to good physical health. The two are intertwined. There is a two-way street of reciprocal interactions going on continuously between our mental/physical and mind/body systems. These connections are at the heart of human health.
That's why one of the 6 Healthy Habits is to grow authentically.Top
Sages of antiquity and scientists of today confirm that you cannot reach fulfillment in isolation.
As you explore your personal core values, the social and sacred context in which you exist begins to reveal itself to you. You find yourself .
Quality relationships with others are important for your growth
Mature interpersonal relationships also matter for your health. Research has show their importance is paramount.
The 6 Key Dimensions of
Authentic Personal Growth
It's vitally important to be connected. It helps maintain your self-esteem, social worth and happiness. Studies show that strong social networks, affection and the opportunity to confide in others for support help you live a longer and more rewarding life.
And it appears that the opportunity to give emotional support to others is even more important to your health and well-being. It is better to give than to receive.
Growth leads you to transcend your concern with your self; you understand more deeply that your relationships are crucial to your well-being. Growth brings out your ability to feel kindness, consideration, generosity, empathy and compassion and love for others.
Stephen R Covey, in his landmark book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People says that the most important principle he has learned in the field of interpersonal relations is seek first to understand, then to be understood.
As you grow authentically and learn to understand others more, you better develop your listening, communicating and other social skills. Your 'social intelligence' grows.
As you age, the need for connection can become even greateer. Relationships, for example with family, community, friendship circle, church or hobby group and so on, are among these anti aging secrets that promote a longer, healthier life.Top
The urge to make your mark, to leave the world a better place in some way, is a common experience of authentic personal growth.
As you work on the dimensions of personal growth we have already discussed, such as self-knowledge, self esteem, purpose and personal responsibility, you become more open to seeing your internal and external current realities.
You begin to identify your personal strengths and weaknesses, your talents and capabilities as well as the boundaries, limitations and challenges you face. You are able to reflect on your experiences and circumstances in a new light, with a willingness to learn from them and put this to advantage.
You begin to realistically see opportunities to improve your life. As you dwell on possibilities rather than problems, you see yourself anew. You are encouraged to believe in yourself and your potential.
The opportunities on which you wish to focus will identify skills and potential for development. You will see ways to build your employability or 'human capital,' your entrepreneurial skills or your ability to serve in other meaningful ways, such as parenting, caring, teaching or volunteering.
This may lead you to commence setting goals, objectives and priorities and adopting success strategies such as personal development planning and time management. Many people find such tools help them grow authentically as their journey takes them on to more exciting and rewarding challenges.
Authentic personal growth needs to be multi-dimensional, producing balanced growth across all areas of your life.
One of the 7 Governing Principles of Authentic Personal Growth is that it integrates and balances your life.The same is true of the entire approach of the 6 Healthy Habits, which are designed to help you improve your health, personal growth and success in all areas of your life.
More information on how you can grow authentically by adopting the 6 Healthy Habits now as a way of life aimed at restoring balance and providing ideal nourishment at each level of your being - body, mind and soul.
Grow authentically, third of the 6 Healthy Habits, is about self-discovery (uncovering your inner beliefs and values), building the courage and commitment to act, and living by your inner beliefs and values.
Authentic personal growth aims to realize your full potential. When you choose to grow authentically you commence a journey of lasting personal change to become the best you that you can be.
The 7 governing principles of authentic personal growth reflect the truth that all of our problems in life are symptoms of a body-mind-spirit that's out of balance.
Authentic personal growth is multi-dimensional, producing integrated and balanced growth across all areas of your life.Top
Grow authentically is one of the 6 Healthy Habits that will bring you extraordinary physical, mental and spiritual health.
These habits are your keys to well-being, prosperity, inner peace, and purpose.
Click here for an introduction to the 6 Healthy Habits.
For more on each habit, go to:      Healthy Habit 1  live consciously
You are the most powerful force shaping your future
Master the power of conscious choice
Find and follow your personal path to self-fulfilment
Live by your inner beliefs and values
You need more than healthy food, exercise and rest
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A healthy mind is more than just a healthy brain
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