Prioritize Personal Growth During the Pandemic
It's been five months, and many of us are still staying at home coping with the new normal that Covid-19 thrust upon us. Although many issues surround our current predicament and we can sit around listing all the things that could have gone right but went horribly wrong, that will only cause frustration and maybe, even dejection.
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On the one hand, it’s great to be frustrated because it can spring one into action, however, it also has the effect of slowing you down when it overwhelms you. The fact is the pandemic is here to stay; and while we can’t change what has already happened and what is happening around us, we can change the way we respond to things by taking control of how we think, feel, and act.
As tempting as it is to let time pass us by with the days blurring and the weeks dragging, it is imperative to see the silver lining in a situation that seems utterly devastating. With travel on a ban, and a lot of us stuck in our homes, we have more time on our hands than we know what to do with. For the last few months, a lot of people have been getting productive and learning new things, but what about you? What are you doing this season?
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With the internet and all this newfound time we find ourselves with, there are so many things we can do to make the best out of the situation. You can start learning any of these 10 skills from home; you can also watch productivity youtube videos or pick up a self-help book to make sure you’re spending your time wisely. But being on the go and keeping busy isn’t always good for you. When you’re always preoccupied, it can prevent you from paying attention to the here and now and instead of responding to events, you are just mindlessly reacting.
Prioritize Personal Growth During the Pandemic
So how can you respond to situations better? In this pandemic, you’re bound to feel a wide range of emotions, and instead of ignoring them by keeping yourself busy, you can acknowledge them and honor yourself by reflecting on them and listening to what they’re trying to tell you. You don’t even need to drop that hustle you just picked up or stop filming those episodes for the youtube channel you just started, you just need to take a few moments once in a while to prioritize your personal growth during this pandemic.
To prioritize your personal growth during this pandemic, practice these things and turn your 2020 slump into a setup for a great comeback.
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With how busy modern life is, from braving city traffic and working 8-10 hours in the day to hitting the gym and socializing at night, we have barely any time left to devote to ourselves! Because of this, a lot of people go through life without “[s]elf-awareness... the ability to see yourself clearly and objectively through reflection and introspection.” (Ackerman)
Based on Self-awareness theory, the value of self-awareness lies in its ability to help us self-evaluate, from which we can either “pass” and “find alignment between ourselves and our standards”(Ackerman), or we “fail” and “find a discrepancy between ourselves and our standards (qtd. By Ackerman)”. This is important because it helps guide our behavior and beliefs so that whatever we do aligns with who we are or who we want to be.
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Unfortunately, “[i]n her new book, Insight, organizational psychologist Tasha Eurich [conducted] a series of surveys, [where she] found that 95% of people think they’re self-aware, but only 10-15% truly are (Kauflin)". This is problematic because it means that many people go through their lives only reacting to the things around them. This can happen when people are too caught up living their lives to stop and think about why they do things, or when people know that what they are doing will not pass self-evaluation so they avoid reflecting on things and avoid becoming self-aware altogether.
This refusal to become self-aware is called denial. “Denial is a coping mechanism that gives you time to adjust to distressing situations — but staying in denial can interfere with treatment or your ability to tackle challenges (Mayo Clinic Staff)".
Now that you have newfound time for yourself, why not use this opportunity to evaluate yourself. Are you in denial? Are there things you refuse to think about because it will reveal things about yourself you have been too busy or afraid to confront?
Reflect on these questions and carefully think about what these answers mean. You may be surprised by what you find. And if you don’t like what you see, then is this not all the more reason for you to identify areas in your life that you would like to change?
Personal growth is not comfortable nor does it "just happen". Personal growth is intentional. You have to brave the questions to arrive at the answers. When else are you going to have the time to do that, when the city recovers from the pandemic? When you’re back to your busy life and have no time to think? Do yourself a favor and prioritize your personal growth now.
The biggest advantage of being self-aware is it allows you to direct your behavior in a way that aligns with your principles and ideas.
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According to humanist psychologist, Carl Rogers, the purpose of human beings is to achieve self-actualization, where one can “achieve their goals, wishes, and desires in life” (McLeod). It’s also that stage when a person’s self-image, the person they perceive themselves to be, matches that of their ideal-self, the person they wish to become (McLeod). This is one of Rogers’ biggest contributions to Psychology, the idea that human beings are not determined by the circumstances of their birth and childhood but are potentials that can be maximized in order to “achieve the highest level of 'human-beingness'” (McLeod) one is capable of.
But self-actualization is not a place we arrive at, it’s a path we take and always strive to achieve (Mcleod) so more than setting a goal and achieving it at one point, self-actualization guides the goals we set and allows us to keep setting goals in a continuous process of personal growth or improvement.
Self-actualization is a way of life, wherein one always seeks to grow themselves and maximize their potentials. This desire to self-actualize manifests in many ways -- we see it in children who keep standing up even when they trip as they learn how to walk; we see it in athletes who keep training hard to beat their own records even when they repetitively fall short; we see it in students who work hard to elevate to the next level in school even at the expense of sleepless nights and lots of stress.
We see this desire for self-improvement everywhere. We can also see it when we look within. What do you want to achieve? What inner potential do you wish to realize?
Once you determine these, how do you plan to hone your talents and sharpen your skills?
A lot of people are discovering hidden talents and revisiting old passions this 2020. Identify what your potential is by checking out this list of 2020 personae or if you already know which path you want to take, identify what steps you can take in order to start maximizing your potential today.
Knowing who you want to be is a great step towards becoming that person. But before you get there, you must first identify the steps it would take for you to reach your goal. For example, if your ideal self is someone who helps people and contributes to people’s health, then a great goal is to become a doctor or health professional. However, just wanting to become a doctor or a health professional is not enough to allow you to help people and improve their health. You must first study hard in school and get into a pre-med undergraduate degree, then get into med school and pass the board exam.
If this sounds daunting, don’t worry. A key trick when you feel overwhelmed is to break things down into digestible chunks. This way, things will seem manageable and it takes the pressure off from having to achieve something huge or great. Following the example I gave, if you are a student right now and you’re thinking of getting into med school, you can break this goal down into smaller and easier steps. For instance, you must first take the National Medical Admission Test. After that, apply for programs in the med schools you like. Then, you must finish each year level.
From this example alone, you can see that there are so many ways to break your goals down into smaller, and easier to achieve steps so that you can focus on tasks that will give you the sense of achievement you need to keep you going in your journey. While some may think this is unnecessary and might even take your focus away from the bigger picture, it’s actually important to break your goals into smaller chunks so that when you achieve these seemingly small notches on your journey, you can celebrate small wins.
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Celebrating small wins will give you clarity, remind you of why you do what you do, give you confidence and motivation, remind you that you deserve your wins and what you have coming in the future, and strengthen your psychology because celebrating releases endorphins and makes you feel incredible (What is the importance of celebrating small wins?). So instead of distracting you, celebrating small wins does the opposite and helps keep you on track to getting to your larger goal.
Once you identify who you want to be, start planning and chase after your goals. If you feel trapped at home, just remember, not all preparation needs to be done outside. Half the battle is in the preparation and mindset. Personal growth does not happen overnight either. If you want to become better at your job, then start learning new skills from home. If you want to improve your employability, you can start learning how to speak a new language. If you want to become more well-rounded as an individual and want to improve your talents, then you might consider learning digital arts like using Photoshop or Illustrator, or learning how to play a musical instrument like the piano or guitar. And if you want to improve your health, you might consider getting fit through online fitness/ martial arts coaching!
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While you can’t change the situation you’re in, you can change the way you respond to it. Experiences can either serve a purpose -- personal growth -- or they can be useless happenings that come and go; it’s up to you to choose which they are going to be by determining how you will treat them.
If you want to give experiences purpose, then reflect on them and learn from them. You can whine and cry about how the pandemic is disrupting lives and pushing the world into recession, but you can also reflect on what this experience is teaching you so that you can come out of this experience stronger and better equipped for challenges you might face in the future. That's what personal growth is all about.
“According to experiential learning theory, we learn through a learning cycle. Our experience serves a basis for reflection. From reflections, we develop ideas about the world. We then test the ideas to see if they are true, and finally we have a new experience (Moesgaard)".
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Choose the path of personal growth.
It's normal to feel down and frustrated with the pandemic hijacking 2020. But what you do with these emotions can make the difference between you being stuck and you growing as a person. The next time emotions overwhelm you, ride them out, don’t avoid your emotions. Acknowledge them, and look within. Dare to ask yourself questions you try to avoid. Through reflection, we can better understand why we do what we do, and from that, we can create something out of nothing. We can grow ourselves by learning from our experiences and we can move forward in our lives with greater insight and better direction. If 2020 was taken away from you, then take it back. Gain control of your 2020 by making it a year of personal growth instead of stagnation.
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Ackerman, Courtney E. “What Is Self-Awareness and Why Is It Important? [+5 Ways to Increase It].” PositivePsychology.com, 10 Apr. 2020, positivepsychology.com/self-awareness-matters-how-you-can-be-more-self-aware/.
Eurich, Tasha. Insight: the Surprising Truth about How Others See Us, How We See Ourselves, and Why the Answers Matter More than We Think. Currency, 2018.
Kauflin, Jeff. “Only 15% Of People Are Self-Aware -- Here's How To Change.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 16 May 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/jeffkauflin/2017/05/10/only-15-of-people-are-self-aware-heres-how-to-change/#3dbf13b62b8c.
Mcleod, Saul. “Carl Rogers.” Carl Rogers | Simply Psychology, 1 Jan. 1970, www.simplypsychology.org/carl-rogers.html.
Mayo Clinic Staff. “Stuck in Denial? How to Move On.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 9 Apr. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/denial/art-20047926#:~:text=Denial%20is%20a%20coping%20mechanism,that's%20happening%20in%20your%20life.
Moesgaard, Simon. “The Best Way to Learn Is From Experience, But Experience Itself Is Not Enough.” Reflectd, 24 Jan. 2017, reflectd.co/2014/04/06/the-best-way-to-learn-is-from-experience-but-experience-itself-is-not-enough/#:~:text=According%20to%20experiential%20learning%20theory,we%20have%20a%20new%20experience.
Silvia, P. J., & Duval, T. S. (2001). Objective Self-Awareness Theory: Recent progress and enduring problems. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 5, 230-241.
“What Is the Importance of Celebrating Small Wins?” Make Me Better, 22 Aug. 2020, www.makemebetter.net/what-is-the-importance-of-celebrating-small-wins/.