The Dark Secret Of Personal Development

the dark secret of personal developmentWhen you think of personal development, what images so you see? Do you envision happiness, success, and things such as self-awareness with a backdrop of rainbows, unicorns, and sunny skies? Do you ever stop to consider the dark secret of personal development or that there might even be one?

The Dark Secret Of Personal Development

In my running Blog that I keep mostly as a hobby anymore and to document my running stuff, Running In Circles, I once wrote this line describing how some most ultra runners become successful…

“Show me a decent, or hell, not so decent ultra runner and I can guarantee there is also an addictive personality, adjustment disorder or just outright personality disorder at play. They’ve just learned how to parlay mental issues into athletic success.”

It sounds a little harsh but I said it rather tongue-in-cheek… the point is valid nevertheless and the same can be said about the dark secret of personal development as well…

Show me a therapist, life coach, personal development author, teacher, guru… whatever, and I can almost guarantee there is a back-story there. I am not suggesting that anyone is harboring some deep dark secret but what I am saying is that they are who they are and are doing what they are doing because of something that has challenged them or was a struggle for them previously and may still be. In other words… they have a back-story.

And that is a good thing… one thing that has stuck with me over the years from when I was going to school to get my MA in Counseling was that you can not take your client any further than you have gone yourself.  Possessing empathy is one thing but possessing empathy along with the experience of having actually “been there” is even more powerful.

When I was learning about how to market my business as a life coach and in trying to figure out who my target audience was or what my niche was, I picked up one little piece of advice that rang true… I was told that your niche is probably exactly who you were and what you were struggling with at a previous time in your life… It all makes more sense now that I think of it. My back-story or back-stories are the sources of my strength, knowledge, and skills in life and it what enables me to be able to do what I do.

But how does the dark secret of personal development apply to you? It is simple really… how many of us reach out to learn about life’s issues, or try to heal ourselves, or seek help when everything is going just peachy in our lives? Not too many I would imagine… I mean nobody calls me for my services just because their life is so awesome… they call me when there is a problem and they want help.

The dark secret of personal development is this… Powerful personal development comes from a dark place, one of pain and unpleasantness. It comes from the shadows in life, as you cannot grow when you are only basking in light. You have to experience the mistakes and the heartbreaks that come with living, and it is that pain, and those hurtful experiences that prompt us to want to grow, to learn, and to evolve.

True personal development and change happens when you can balance pain with optimism, anger with gratitude, and your mistakes with wisdom.

Before you can see the light… you must first face the darkness.

Do you know what triggers a flower to bloom? Is it rain, good soil and nutrients, moderate temperatures? No… it is the dark that causes the flower to bloom. Once a plant begins to sense more darkness than light is when the flowering process begins. It is the same for humans… When we feel darkness in any sense creeping in or overtaking our lives or the long shadows of our past behaviors eventually catching up with us… it is then that we typically strive for growth and personal development.

The upside? Yes… there is an upside… all of this is fine and well as it is all just part of each of our personal journeys as human beings… it’s all a part of life. Good and bad. Light and dark. Destruction and creation… Each of our growth-spurts as human beings in life more than likely was brought on by some kind of loss, struggle, or challenge either external or in many cases, self-inflicted.

If there is anything that I want you to take away from this today, it is this… Everyone has a back-story, even those whom might seem successful and have all the answers… everyone has faced his or her own darkness in life and have come out on the other side the better for it, and so can you.

Or as the line in the Widespread Panic song, Pleas, says…

“They tell me it takes sorrow, boy, to help you feel the joy.”

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – A Certified Life Coach In Aspen Colorado

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Photo By Rob Timko 31 December 2015

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