Personal development is often considered different from spiritual development. However, the two are integrally related. You can’t have one without the other. Indeed, if you seek a more profound spiritual experience, your spiritual practice needs to include a personal development practice as well.
After becoming a Certified High Performance Coach, I would talk about the personal development work I did as separate from the spiritual and metaphysical work. I didn’t see how to combine these two areas of passion, expertise, and practice.
Then, while discussing what I considered a quandary with a colleague of mine, he pointed out that personal development and spirituality are one and the same. “There is no difference. Every personal development conversation I have,” he said, “comes back around to spirituality.”
The more I thought about it, the more I knew he was right. More than that, I realized the best way to deepen your spiritual practice is through a focus on personal development.
As with almost every endeavor or goal, the only obstacle to the results you desire is you. You prevent yourself from achieving a deeper connection to God.
You are in your own way. Personal development helps you remove the obstacles you have erected with your mind and habits.
My Spiritual Struggle
For the last 10 years or more, I’ve struggled to deepen my spiritual practice. To be more honest, I found it increasingly challenging to do anything remotely spiritual, even though I think of myself as a spiritual person. So, I had no spiritual practice.
None. Nada. Bubkes.
Whatever spiritual actions I took, I did them in an empty manner. I went through the motions. But most days, I did nothing.
This left me feeling lost and disconnected from true nature and God. I knew something had to change, but I just couldn’t muster the energy or courage. After all, the something that had to change was me.
I was in my own way. I was the obstacle.
Mindset and Habits Matter
Specifically, my mindset and habits weren’t conducive to having a spiritual practice—let alone a spiritual experience. I had convinced myself that I didn’t have the need to meditate. I was afraid to express my spiritual nature or do anything remotely spiritual in my marriage. Also, I didn’t feel I had the time for a morning routine that might involve prayer, meditation, journaling—introspective activities that would allow me to slow down and connect with myself and the Creator.
I had lots of reasons that kept me stuck. In reality, they were all excuses. And those excuses allowed me to avoid the fact that my mindset and habits weren’t anything close to spiritual. Nor were they allowing me to connect with and express my spiritual nature or have the spiritual experiences I said I desired.
Personal Development Provides Spiritual Development
The deeper I delved into personal development, though, primarily through my work with Brendon Burchard and other Certified High Performance Coaches, the more spiritual I felt. It was as if little sparks of spirituality ignited within me. I began to have more energy and desire to change my mindset and habits—to change.
As I worked on myself, I gained clarity on who I am and who I want to be—how I want to show up. That pushed me to begin writing about spirituality more often on my blog. More recently, it motivated me to rethink where I put my attention professionally.
Additionally, I became bolder about showing the spiritual side of myself to the world again. In addition to writing about spirituality, I started to incorporate my more metaphysical—New Age or woo-woo, if you will—beliefs into my writing, social media posts, and coaching.
And, I started to create small new habits that help me express my spiritual nature and feel more connected to the Creator again. I began to journal, to pray, and meditate. I reorganized my schedule, so I make time for morning and evening rituals.
Ultimately, I did one thing. I got out of my way. I stopped focusing on all the excuses why I thought I couldn’t express or experience spirituality. Instead, I focused on all the reasons why I had to do just that.
The Constant Process of Personal Development
Today, I still suffer from resistance to change—to do what it takes to have a more profound spiritual practice. But I’m doing a better job of fighting this “enemy,” as Steven Pressfield calls it in The War of Art. I’m starting to feel more like my old self and to notice my connection with the Creator.
Personal development is a constant process. You don’t one day discover there is no work left to do on yourself. There is always something you can improve. When I work with my Certified High Performance Coaching clients, I tell them, you can always level up. No ceiling exists for your personal growth, and you can find ways to move even closer to fulfilling your purpose and achieving your potential.
The same can be said about spiritual development.
3 Ways Personal Development Supports Your Spiritual Practice
With that in mind, I’d like to share with you three ways in which I’ve noticed personal development supports spiritual development.
1. Increased clarity.
The more I work on myself, the more clarity I gain on what I want and who I wish to become, why things, like spirituality, are important to me, and the steps I have to take to reach my goals. I get clearer and clearer about the mindsets and habits that don’t support my spiritual aspirations and those that do.
With increased clarity, I can make decisions. I can decide to meditate and pray every morning, for example. I can decide to journal every evening or to conduct a ritual before I sit down to write.
You can increase your level of clarity by working with a coach, journaling, meditating, or joining groups or courses where you can discuss your spiritual and personal development challenges with others.
In the last two years, I have increased my clarity tremendously. I know that to be happy, fulfilled, reach my potential, and fulfill my purpose in the world, I must create a spiritual practice. More than that, I have to revolve everything I do around spirituality; being spiritual has to become my usual mode of operation.
2. Decreased disbelief.
To me, spirituality involves a belief in something beyond the 3-D world in which we live. Yes, it’s a concern with the spirit or soul. But it’s also faith in something unseeable and unknowable, which explains why it is so tough to maintain belief.
We tend to “believe it when we see it.” Spirituality, like religion, requires “seeing it because we believe it.”
When you ask God for a sign and don’t see it, your belief decreases. When you pray, but don’t get a response to your prayers, your faith wanes. When you struggle for seemingly no reason and get no help despite prayer, meditation, and righteous action, it’s hard to believe in a God of any type.
Yet, the more you work on yourself, the more you realize that the constant negative thoughts in your head decrease your belief. And the less you believe, the less likely you will have a spiritual experience.
Personal development helps you uncover your negative thoughts and limiting beliefs. This enables you to see them for what they are—meaningless and unsupportive. With this clarity, you can change them to positive affirmations.
For example. Instead of thinking, “God does not guide me,” I choose to think, “I see, hear, and feel Divine guidance when I ask for it.” Then, I need to ask and remain conscious of any guidance I receive. I’ve tried this with great success. Choose a sign—a number, animal, or color. Ask God to show you that sign if what you want is for your highest good.
As you release your negative thoughts, your disbelief decreases. Little by little, your faith returns. You start to believe again. As a result, your ability to see miracles and hear answers to prayers also increases.
3. Bolder action.
Personal development, which is, in large part, focused on self-improvement, attempts to unearth fears, and ways to courageously move toward your goals and dreams. It doesn’t necessarily help you develop courage. It does help you behave courageously by taking bold action.
Courage is an action. You have to take bold action to behave courageously.
The more you work on yourself, the more likely you are to take bold action. And that bold action might involve meditating, praying, or any other spiritual ritual you choose.
Personal development leads to clarity, which helps you make decisions. If you decide to boldly take new actions, you will form new supportive habits. But it takes courage to change your behavior.
If I want to start a morning ritual, I have to do things differently in the morning. I have to get up (and go to bed) earlier, for instance. Then I have to follow through—daily—even though getting up early feels hard and uncomfortable, and others don’t encourage me.
Eventually, my morning routine will become habitual. And that will lead to another level of personal growth—and spiritual growth.
Dig Deeply Into Yourself to Find God
Personal development requires that you dig deeply into yourself—that you understand yourself. Spiritual development requires digging deeply into your relationship with the Creator—your understanding of God.
As you put time and energy into both personal and spiritual development, you discover that you and God are not dissimilar. You are an expression of Divinity.
Thus, the more you work on your relationship with yourself, the better becomes your relationship with God. That’s what I call the personal-spiritual development loop.
Out of that loop comes clarity, belief, and courage. And as you apply clarity, belief, and courage to your spiritual pursuits, you find yourself with a deep spiritual practice that leads to spiritual expression and experience.
Have you noticed that your personal development work impacts your spiritual development? Tell me about your experience in a comment below. And please share this post with someone who might benefit from reading it.
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