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Introduction

Introduction

Tools for Personal Growth

By: James J. Messina, Ph.D.

 

The Goal of Tools for Personal Growth
In the next twenty chapters you will be exploring some crucial “normal'' adult development skills and behaviors necessary in order for you to reach full personal mastery and accept personal responsibility for your own life. These tools are needed for you to develop healthy self-esteem and self-worth; to assist you to keep your life in a healthy perspective; and to help you recognize what is currently unhealthy in your life and how to change these unhealthy behaviors.

It is not important or necessary for you to accept the term”dysfunctional family'' to describe your family of origin if you are in need of the material in this book. If you currently are dissatisfied with the way your life or the life of a significant other is going then this book can help you. If you are currently in therapy or counseling, then these tools can help accelerate the pace of insight development and behavioral change in the psychotherapeutic process.

What is important in using the tools in this book is to recognize that everyone can benefit from self-esteem and self-worth enhancement. Everyone can benefit from correcting the irrational thinking blocking personal fulfillment. Everyone can benefit from healthy self-scripts of positive affirmation. Everyone can benefit from developing healthy behavioral traits aimed at personal self-sufficiency and responsibility taking. This book will not be a useful tool for you unless you do the work prescribed in each of the "Steps to'' sections of each chapter and work faithfully in your daily journal writing.

A Meditation on Personal Growth:  I'm Worth It
By Melissa M. Messina

When I was a child, physical growth was easy. I simply finished everything that was put on my plate, even if it was (Ugh!) liver; always took my vitamin and never, ever forgot to brush after every meal. I did all these things because I lived in fear of having my growth stunted, of not becoming as tall as I could be. Every once in a while when I measured myself against the black marks I had drawn on my bedroom wall and I found that the top of my head measured higher than the highest black mark, I knew that I had grown, making everything that I had had to do worth it. Now I am finished with physical growth. I am as tall as I'm ever going to be, and I'm definitely no longer a child. Yet I still have another stage of growth on which to embark, one with which I will never be completely finished. Unfortunately, this new stage of personal growth is not as easy as physical growth; in fact, it is downright difficult. There are no prescribed methods I can follow, no vitamins I can take to help me to grow correctly. There is only what I can pick up and learn along the way. I must learn to like myself no matter how hard it is at times. I must learn to trust in others as well as to believe in myself. I must learn to not feel guilty every time I feel I've disappointed myself or someone else. I must learn to take risks so I can have the chance to say this is what is, instead of this is what could have been. I must also learn to manage my time to balance the time between work and play effectively, avoiding burnout. Of course none of these things is easy, but my failure to accomplish them, just like failing to finish everything on my plate, could severely stunt my emotional growth. It will always be a rough journey, yet looking back over those imaginary black marks signifying the steps of my personal growth, I note how the top of my head reaches just a little bit higher than the highest black mark. This makes the risks I've taken seem worthwhile.