5 Crucial Elements of Personal Growth and Change. Written by Dr Linda Berman.


“Adding wings to caterpillars does not create butterflies, it creates awkward and dysfunctional caterpillars. 🐛  Butterflies are created through 🦋transformation.”  🦋

 Stephanie Marshall

Personal growth. Inner change………..What do these phrases mean?

It is often difficult to contemplate changing the habits of a lifetime. Altering old, outdated ways of being and confronting unhelpful patterns of thinking is tough. Old habits die hard, as the saying goes.

Challenging fixities, rigid or distorted ideas, intolerant patterns of behaviour within the self, is indeed hard; so why is it important for us to think about these?


It is not only important, it is essential, to explore one’s own behaviour and to develop a questioning approach, if we want to be flexible, open and creative in our everyday lives.

Understanding our own thinking, feelings and behaviour will inevitably be empowering; examining other viewpoints will enable us to think differently and sensitively.

Contemplating one’s own mindset inspires us to recognise the limitations and biases we might have, to become more insightful, more curious, more discriminating.

“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.” —Gail Sheehy

As we have seen in a previous post, we tend to repeat past ways of being, which, when unconsciously re-enacted, may be destructive in our lives and relationships.

Personal growth involves an opening up and moving out of a static, uninspired state of mind. Such inner change offers us an escape from mundane, routine ways of reacting to self and other.

“The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.” —Bill Clinton

A move towards healthy change can be liberating.

I have identified below 5 crucial elements that I feel contribute towards personal growth and change. There are many more.

1. Motivation

“I want to grow. I want to be better. You Grow. We all grow. We’re made to grow. You either evolve or you disappear.”
Tupac Shakur

Motivation, commitment, desire, urge, call it what you will, but in order to change, we must want to do so. The wish to move forward into personal growth has to come from within the self.

The needs of those around us who urge us to be different will not suffice. We cannot be ‘made’ to change.

What is needed is our own enthusiasm, passion and drive, so that we can face our inner selves honestly and without defensiveness. Change is a choice that only the individual can make.

The real desire not to be defined by the past or others has to emerge from within.

You have to really want it.

2. Self  Understanding

How can we achieve this? Perhaps we might go into therapy or maybe we will learn in other ways about who we are and what makes us tick. We achieve growth through self-reflection, self questioning and curiosity about our inner world.

Psychotherapy, group therapy, real conversation with others, meditation, research and reading widely can all help in terms of developing clear and constructive ways of thinking and being.

Finding such new ways involves a willingness to take risks, valuing different viewpoints and not working on this in isolation. An open attitude, a lack of defensiveness and a desire to listen to the views of others will all help towards change and personal growth.

“The great solution to all human problems is individual inner transformation.” —Vernon Howard

To achieve this ‘inner transformation,’ we need to work at gaining some maturity of vision and an acute realisation that change is needed.


“Just like the butterfly, I too will awaken in my own time ”    

                           Deborah Chaskin                    🦋


Image: Chrysalis of a plain tiger butterfly just before emerging.

Sathya K. Salman.Wikimedia Commons.

“Butterflies are beautiful, but the process of emerging from the chrysalis and spreading your wings can hurt like hell. But still, you will survive the transformation (over and over again) and you will fly. Remember this when it hurts the most. This is the metamorphosis, the going down to liquid, and the rising again. It’s no joke – but damn, it’s one hell of a journey.”
Jeanette LeBlanc


Image: Sid Mosdell. Chrysalis to Butterfly. Flickr.

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

🦋 Maya Angelou

3.  Personal Strength

Inner change is not easy, especially considering that our ways of behaving might have been there for a lifetime. Perhaps defences will have become a little rigid, unyielding.

It can be scary to objectively face the parts of ourselves that we might not want to acknowledge – our ‘shadow side.‘ That is where the strength of mind is needed, the courage to face our ‘inner demons.’

We all have them, those aspects of ourselves that we do not like. However, the ‘monstrous’, raging, nasty parts of all of us will be worse if left unacknowledged and unchecked.

Unless we ‘make friends’ with our demons and gain knowledge of and mastery over them, they can become out of control.


Image:Jlhopgood Inner Conflict. Flickr.

“Where your fear is,
there is your task.”
C.G. Jung

4. Accountability

Accepting responsibility for the need for personal change is crucial; unless we hold ourselves accountable, without blaming the past, others, or whatever else, there will be no movement forward into self- discovery.

“Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.”

-Carol Burnett

“The only limits in our life are those we impose on ourselves.” 
Bob Proctor


5. Direction

“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” —Abraham Maslow

Which way to go? Which path to take towards freedom of mind and growthful self-knowledge?

Each person has to find their own path, no-one can do it for you, but others can help in indicating direction. Each person needs time and some kind of help, to change and grow.

Perhaps you will find a psychotherapist, psychologist, counsellor, guru, trusted friend or a group. Maybe you will try meditation, mindfulness, Buddhism, or other religions and philosophies.

There are many ways and many paths. Like the butterfly we have to undergo a radical metamorphosis if we wish to fly.

“Be the change you want to see in this world.”Gandhi


“I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. ”   

-Charles Dickens

Are there other aspects of inner change that have been important for you personally? Do share in the comments box below. Thanks!  🙏 Linda.  🐛🦋🦋🦋


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