5 Unexpected Side Effects of Personal Growth

Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: pexels.com

3 years ago, I found myself in the middle of a self-inflicted identity crisis. My marriage was falling apart due to my own doing, I struggled with feeling my own boundaries and didn’t really know who I was anymore. It sparked a journey of personal growth that took me to different therapies, books, courses and people, all of which taught me beautiful lessons.

Personal growth always comes with changes, in the way you think, feel and act. Some of these are the reasonBut some of these changes were surprising side effects to me. Here are 5 of these unexpected side effects.

  1. I have a harder time watching certain movies
    As I learn how to feel more when tuning into myself, as I become more sensitive in general, I find that I have a harder time dealing with violence or tragedy on the news, but also in movies. I guess I don’t really see the point anymore of watching people get shot or beat up. A few nights ago, I watched Titanic (which I’ve watched at least a dozen times before as a teenager and in my twenties) and I was noticeably uncomfortable while watching the ship sink and seeing actors pretend to be afraid for their lives. I somehow feel like there’s already so much pain and violence in the world, that I don’t really see the need to add fictional pain to the mix as well.
  2. Catching yourself in the act, even if you can’t stop it
    Becoming aware of your in-grown patternsnis the first step to changing them. The thing is, there are still times, in my case at least, in which the pattern is so strong I can’t really change the behaviour in that particular moment. But since my awareness has grown, I can see myself doing it. It’s a strange experience to notice yourself doing something you know you don’t want to do anymore, and to feel rather unable to stop. At times this is awful, other times it’s quite funny.
  3. Growing confidence
    As you get to know yourself better, and learn to forgive yourself for what makes you a perfectly imperfect human being, you also find yourself growing stronger around others. If you’ve dealt with your own insecurities, it’s not such a big deal anymore when someone triggers them. I used to feel really insecure about my body, but have learned to love it myself, which means I don’t depend on other people’s approval as much anymore and can move around without all that ‘what will they think’-stress. Such a relief!
  4. More empathy
    As you learn the many, many, many, many ways in which you, yourself, don’t function well; as you start to see through how your own programming impacts your actions; as you begin to realise how you hurt people, even when you don’t mean to, you also learn to see why others act the way they do. Often, you can recognize certain patterns and beliefs in other people, and if you can’t, you at least know that they must be there somewhere. It’s much harder to vilify someone who is only projecting their own pain and fear, who doesn’t really know how to do things differently. Often, this leads to more empathy for others (though I also bump into my own limits).
  5. Less worrying
    When I started on my path towards more insight, more joy and more freedom, I didn’t initially think that I would worry less. I was just looking for ways to make my life easier. I actually didn’t really see anything wrong with the worrying, if I even realized I was doing it at all. Looking at my past, however, has given me insight into my strenghts as well as my weaknesses. I have a better idea of how I tackle difficulties, and I have an easier time letting go of what I can’t control. I’m sure my family and friends would still label me as someone who worries a lot, but if I compare myself to the Jorinde of 3 years ago, it’s night and day. And I only see it getting better.

There are many different reasons for reading self-help books, learning about the mind or diving into spirituality. I have found that often, we end up looking for a solution to a problem and later on realise that problem wasn’t really the problem at all.

Finding out more about yourself, (your) life and the world at large is always an adventure. You may know where you’re heading, but there’s no way or knowing where you’ll end up.

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