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  • Stuart Nevill

Developing a personal philosophy

Personal development is necessary, but it can be extremely challenging if we have to approach the anxiety of changing alone and unprepared. It helps if we have a system of ideas to help us navigate the process.

The lessons in our personal development can be hard to learn, inaccessible and challenging to apply in our own life, particularly when we are scared, alone anxious or consumed by self-doubt.

In today’s society we tend not to pro-actively engage with a process of personal change until we are I the depth of suffering, or unless it is forced on us. However, this hasn’t always been the case, and it isn’t necessary either.

If our society helps us in this regard by providing a concrete structure within which we can let go of the familiar and grow into new experiences, then we are very fortunate. Such traditional social systems have existed for millennia but they are less accessible today, for most of us at least.

If such a system or structure isn’t immediately available, we may benefit from an education in the process of personal change, perhaps drawing from mythologies or the various wellbeing and psychological traditions that exist in our various cultures. -

The development of wisdom need not only be a problem-solving strategy, it can also be an aspiration and inspiration, as it has been throughout history. We need a relevant way of understanding the purpose, challenges and rewards of the process of personal development. We need some sort of system or framework of ideas within which to understand and make sense of the process of change. Our anxieties need to be contained so they don’t overwhelm us. We need a project or some work to focus our energy. We normally need some form of support. We also need to have a direction of travel in mind, and feel some hope that a positive change is possible. We need like-minded companionship in the process.

Relevant ideas, clues, stories, advice, and perspectives have been shared by people who have navigated the same journey. It is well worth contemplating what they have given us, as well as exploring and reflecting on what personal development means to us. For example, we may or may not want to become a member of a Buddhist community, but ideas about wisdom (from a Buddhist tradition) can for example have a powerful effect on us. The same is true of Psychotherapy and other traditions.

By thinking about ideas that relate to the reality of our lives, we may our understanding develops over the years. Some ideas about wisdom are impossible to understand in a deeply felt way unless there has been some personal growth beforehand, or they make more and more sense when we’re in a difficult patch. Some ideas can even challenge and provoke our personal development in the first place.

Whatever the particular idea or tradition or system is, wisdom comes from personal development that is rooted in understanding our felt experiences. It is cultivated by being sensitive, attentive and reflective about the realities of our experiences. In the absence an off-the-shelf system of personal develop that works for us in this way, we each need to discover and develop a personally meaningful way of understanding our own pursuit of wisdom. It takes work, but it is worthwhile. We’ll then find our own way to understand our own life that can evolve or simplify over time. The ideas, realisations and understand we develop and value the most will be directly linked to our own experience and so they will be vitality, power and richness to guide us from what we think we know into greater wisdom.

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