The long, warm summer days are a wonderful time for relaxing, creating and exploring. They’re also a great time to clear out and renew. I’ve been clearing my office space and a few days ago came across a fabulous find. It was a single photocopied page with the title “A Behaviour Model for Personal Growth” by Robert E. Alberti and Michael L. Emmons (1970) - 40 years old and it’s just as relevant today. It makes reference to Dr. Carl Rogers’ identification of three characteristics of personal growth; 1. An increasing openness to experience, 2. Increasingly existential living, and 3. An increasing trust in one’s organism, with examples for each one. I’ve taken the liberty to re-name them so that they reflect current ideas about personal growth. As you read through the lists, note the ones you’ve already accomplished or want to do this summer? Which ones resonate most with you?
An Increasing Openness to Experience: How recently have you...
- Changed your view on an important (political, personal, professional) issue?
- Tried a new sport, hobby, craft or game?
- Spent 15 minutes or more paying attention to your body feelings & senses (relaxation, tension, sensuality)?
- Listened for 15 minutes or more to a religious, political, professional, or personal viewpoint with which you disagreed?
- Tasted a new food, smelled a new scent, listened to a new sound?
- Allowed yourself to cry? Or to say “I care about you”? Or to laugh until you cried? Or to scream at the top of your lungs? Or to admit you were afraid?
- Watched the sun (or moon) rise or set? Or a bird soar on the wind’s currents? Or a flower open to the sun?
- Traveled to a place you had never been before?
- Made a new friend? Or cultivated an old friendship?
- Spent an hour or more really communicating (actively listening and responding honestly) with someone, perhaps a person of a different cultural background?
Increasingly In-The-Moment Living: How recently have you...
- Done something you felt like doing at that moment?
- Stopped to “listen” to what was going on inside you?
- Spontaneously expressed a feeling - anger, joy, fear, sadness, caring - without “thinking about it”?
- Done what you wanted to do, instead of what you thought you “should” do?
- Allowed yourself to spend time or money on an immediate “investment” rather than saving for tomorrow?
- Done something no one (including you) expected you to do?
- Improvised - your plans, an idea, art, a meal, your vacation?
- Acted silly, goofy or playful?
- Played with your grand/children, nieces/nephews, lover, spouse, and/or friends?
- Risked embarrassing yourself?
An Increasing Trust in One’s Self: How recently have you...
- Done what felt right to you, against the advice of others?
- Expressed an unpopular opinion assertively in the face of majority opposition?
- Made a decision and acted upon it right away?
- Acknowledged by your actions that you can direct your own life?
- Told others of your spiritual, religious faith or philosophy of life?
- Assumed a position of leadership in your profession, or an organization, or your community?
- Asserted your feelings when you were treated unfairly?
- Risked sharing your personal feelings with another person?
- Admitted you were wrong?
- Forgiven yourself?
- Visioned your desired life?
Personal growth in the summertime will create abundance - an abundance of pleasure, adventure, learning, confidence, creativity and fun that you'll continue to harvest and reap once the summer heat has left.
What does summertime growth mean to you? Is it mostly for the tomatoes and dahlias or do you find opportunities to grow yourself too?