Be patient with yourself, self-growth is a tender process

Strive Karadzangare | April 8, 2021

As humans, we aspire to become the best versions of ourselves that we can ever become. We may have a strong desire to grow socially, emotionally or financially. As a means to measure our developmental progress in those areas, we often evaluate ourselves against other people or our expectations but that may lead to frustration and disappointment, particularly when we notice that our performance is inferior to that of other people. In this fast-paced world where anything that we desire can be acquired very quickly, we can be easily deluded to think that we can achieve self-growth instantly but only to lose our patience and start doubting ourselves when we fail to meet those unrealistic self-growth expectations. If you identify with those feelings, you may need to pause a bit and reflect on Stephen Covey’s admonition: “Be patient with yourself, Self-growth is a tender process”. Stephen Covey emphasizes that we need to give ourselves enough time on our path to self-growth.

To truly understand the need for patience on the quest for self-growth, we need to first define self-growth. Well, self-growth is defined by, Jain, Apple and Ellis (2015) as a lifelong process to improve one's performance through, formal and informal approaches. As noted in the definition, self-growth is a holistic process that needs to be given enough time, which could be as long as a lifetime. That is not to say that you can only achieve the best version of yourself when you are dead. Rather, the definition brings to light the fact that self-growth is a process that requires enough time. At different stages in your path to self-growth, you will achieve various milestones, which serve as good indicators of your progress. However, sometimes there are no conspicuous indicators of progress, so you may have to evaluate how far you have gone.

One way that we could use to evaluate ourselves is, making comparisons of our performance with that of other people who are close to us. However, such a practice can be somewhat biased, because we often fail to account for the developmental peculiarities of everyone being compared. We may wonder, why we fail to effectively build connections as our friends do or why we fail to adopt a good habit such as exercising even when we try hard to follow the schedules and techniques used by certain famous people. Such realizations could make us impatient and could leave us with low self-esteem and a feeling of desperation. However, we need to remember that each one of us is genetically unique and probably exists in a culture that is significantly different from that of the people we try to emulate. Although we may share similar goals with other people, we will differ in how and when we realize those goals.

Another way that we could evaluate ourselves is by matching our current performance with our expectations. However, that is often unobjective because we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves. If our expectations fail to match with our current performance we may start to doubt ourselves, but in reality, we might have not given ourselves enough time to achieve our goals. If that sounds familiar to you, you may need to be a little humble, accept your limitations and set realistic goals and timelines for yourself. Self-growth is a tender process. So, you need to shun self-doubt because it is toxic to the tender process of self-growth.

Most importantly, as asserted by Jain, Apple and Ellis (2015), we need to have grit, which involves the ability to stay positive despite setbacks by controlling our emotions and never giving up. But I have to admit that it is not as easy as it sounds, it requires some effort, some learning and in many cases a paradigm shift in our thinking.

The good news is that Inspishare is there for you. As Inspishare, we yearn to equip you with cognitive tools that will inspire you on your path to self-growth. While we avoid offering prescriptive guidance, we yearn to offer you facts and conceptual models that can help you to unlock new dimensions of thought, which you can use to reflect on and refine your worldview. Inspishare will be regularly publishing interesting blog articles.

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Jain, C. R., Apple, D. K., and Ellis, W. (2015). What is self-growth? International journal of process education, 7(1), 41-52.
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