Yes, People CAN Grow And Change — But It's Up To Them, Not You

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personal growth

So back off and let them find their own way.

Back in October of 2012, a friend of mine was struggling with depression and seeking her life’s purpose. I lent her an amazing book, telling her, "This book has given me so many insights. I think it will help you, as well."

She lost the book. 

A month later, I read my friend some passages from another book, and she could barely focus on what I was reading. Her suffering continued.

She went on her own path of self-discovery. I encouraged her along the way, realizing I was there only to listen and support her.

Fast forward to 2016. I get an excited email from her. It turns out that she discovered this great book and have I heard of it, because it has amazing insights!

I could only laugh because (you guessed it) — It was the exact same book I had read passages from to her years before ! As for the book she lost? I repurchased it and she asked if she could borrow it!

Yes, that's life, right?


I'm a huge fan of self-development, and in my passion and enthusiasm, I want to help everyone. In my mind, every soul has to be saved. It makes me feel like a freaking missionary sometimes!

And then, I remember that’s just not possible ... because if the student isn’t ready, the teacher can stand on his or her head head naked and the student won't even notice.

This is the reality of life and finding true happiness. This is the reality of personal development.

You can’t force life and you can’t force development because development implies growth. And in the same way that you can’t yell at a flower to make it open, or force a child to grow an inch faster than that child's body is ready to, you can’t yell or inspire anyone into their next stage in life.

The only thing that can do that is life itself.

And as you wake up and become aware, you get the opportunity to grow through life instead of just going through it.

But that process takes time. 

Think about it: If mankind learned from history, would we still have wars? If children actually learned from their parents’ mistakes, would parenting be so challenging?


As an adult and a parent, you love your children and want to protect them so that they won’t have such a hard time, like you did. But that’s not how it works; it’s their life to live, their mistakes, their experiences.

So what can you do when you see others suffering and you just know that you have the answer to their problems (or prayers)?

You do nothing.

And by doing nothing, you create space. 

By listening without fixing, you create space for them to grow through THEIR own life experiences. Sometimes, it means letting them suffer because they need it in order to become aware. (Change is not possible without awareness.)

By loving where they're at, at that particular stage in their growth, you create space for them to accept their challenges without your judgment. Acceptance is a key stage for growth. It is what it is, nothing more, nothing less.

And while you hold their hand, you grow too, through your own feelings of frustration and powerlessness. This is your moment, as well.

It’s not easy. If you are a parent, you know this. If you are a good friend, you know this. If you are a coach or therapist, you know this.

And then, you wait.

You wait for that moment when the light bulb clicks on in their heads. And when that moment comes, they will turn to you and ask for your help.


Now, they're ready to step into the next stage in their life; they are ready for guidance. No more standing on your head naked for them! 

But we all know the process is never done.

Personal growth never stops, not for you, not for your friends and family, and not for your clients.

Just know that all anyone "needs" is space be who they are, where they are, in their own way ... at their own pace ... on their own path.


Drs. Karin Monster-Peters is a Psychologist, Personal Development and Parenting Coach and founder of Highly Sensitive Parents. To contact Karin, click here.


This article was originally published at Highly Sensitive Parents. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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