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5 Secrets to Personal Growth No One Tells You

People are always asking me: what do I do to heal my trauma? And people are always disappointed when I tell them the answer. Why? Because the truth is that healing trauma isn’t fast or easy.

Healing trauma is a lifelong process that involves a commitment to personal development. And personal development is often sold to us as "self-care," but the truth is that you can't buy personal growth. You have to work for it.

I started my journey decades ago, and I'm still healing. In fact, I've dedicated my life to helping others heal so we can change outcomes for both children and adults. And still, I haven't finished growing, but I have come a long way.

If you want to implement trauma-informed practices in your life, this article might have the wisdom you're looking for. Here are 5 secrets to personal growth that I wish someone had told me sooner.

1. No one is coming to save you.

At the beginning of my personal development journey, I used to read self-help book after self-help book. Every one promised to give me all the answers I needed to turn my ship around and fix my life—and every one of them failed.

This isn’t to say that they were bad books (although some of them may have been better left unread). Many of the books I read were helpful and provided advice that helped me change my life (some advice I still live by today). But a book couldn’t fix my life. A book couldn’t solve my problems.

Only I could do that.

When we experience trauma, we often become trapped in trauma brain and in the reenactment triangle. This manifests as a fantasy that someone or something will one day come into our lives with all the answers and fix our problems.

It’s a wonderful thing to believe when you need hope to survive as a child in the face of abuse or neglect. But the trouble is that it’s not true. While there are people, ideas, and resources that will come into your life and support you, there is no one thing that will solve your problems, heal your trauma, and save you—except maybe yourself.

2. Healing trauma is ugly work.

It’s the 21st century and the wellness industry is booming. They’re great at selling us things that we think will solve our problems and making healing look like a fun and relaxing journey: expensive yoga retreats, essential oils, and spa days are all on the menu.

But that’s not self care and that’s not trauma healing.

True healing and care are difficult, at times painful, and sometimes ugly. Yes, processing your trauma involves ugly crying. It’s not the kind of thing people like to post online, so we often overlook it.

3. Change is slow, and you’re probably not as patient as you think you are.

First, the hopeful news: change is possible. Now, for the disappointing news: it’s extremely slow. It’s so slow, we often don’t realize it’s happening.

My implementation clients often become excited when we start the work. Then, it’s quickly followed with disappointment when the whole organization doesn’t transform within a month. It’s so normal in our culture to expect immediate results, but sustainable changes don’t happen immediately.

There are often long pauses between the many steps of change, which include learning about something, deciding to implement it, and actually implementing it.

Even if you consider yourself a patient person, you may find yourself dissatisfied with the pace of change—and that’s normal.

4. It takes small steps, every day.

We often want to create change by taking big leaps and setting lofty goals with measurable results, but that’s not how personal growth works. It’s why so many New Years resolutions fail. Change happens in small places every day.

Change happens when we shift, little by little, away from harmful ideas, values, and practices and toward healing-centered ones.

When you learn to see change in how you respond to a certain coworker who might bring up feelings of irritability for you or how you speak to yourself when you fail, you’ll see that change is an active force in your life, and you have the power to decide what changes you want to see-and how you measure it.

5. You’re doing great.

There is no destination. Healing is truly a journey, and there will always be another place we want to go—and more ways we want to grow.

Wanting to do better is great place to be, and the fact that you’re reading this article shows that you’re working to shift your inner world to be more peaceful, more kind, and more compassionate—and that means you’re doing a great job.

Celebrate your progress, and be proud of the changes you’ve already made—and the ones you aspire to make.

Final Thoughts: Share These Secrets to Personal Growth

These secrets to personal growth are only secrets because they’re little-known. Let’s work to change that. If you know someone who’s focused on their personal development, share this article with them. You can compare notes on your personal development journeys and help ground one another as you move forward!


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