Self development is a topic that excites every one. Every one wants to improve their personalities so that they will be able to get more out of life. Though thousands of books have been written on this subject and innumerable training programs have been conducted, self development, by and large, continues to be an elusive goal for many people. Are there factors that hamper our growth? Are we being helpless in handling these factors? We will try to find some answers to these questions.

It is a fact that our efforts at improving our personalities are stymied by our own internal forces. In fact, these  very forces that drive our behaviour from within are responsible for the weaknesses in our personality which we strive to overcome through the process of self improvement. These same forces frustrate our efforts at overcoming our inherent weaknesses. It is as if these forces just don’t want us to improve lest they should become powerless against us!

What are these forces I am talking about? Are there such forces existing really? Yes, there are. I am referring to our conditioning. The term conditioning refers to our programming by our parents, neighbours and several others. Surprisingly, some of the conditioning might have come from our own perceptions based on what we have experienced or learned. When, we, as children, are brought up certain values are imposed  on us. Some of these may be good for us and some others may not be. For example, we have been taught to be polite and not to argue with our elders and others who are considered to be ‘above’ us. Politeness is no doubt a noble virtue. But this kind of restraint may result in an attitude of submissiveness being cultivated in some people.

People who taught us the virtues of humility, discipline, decorum, reverence, appropriateness etc. had intended that these qualities would make us  better people. But sometimes these noble qualities have had the undesirable effectt of making us timid and weak. When we realize that such weaknesses have been stifling our growth and try to overcome them, we develop an unconscious resistance to such improvements. This unconscious resistance stems from a misplaced fear that these improvements would go against the grain of the wisdom imparted to us. This is the main reason why people find it so difficult to come out of their negative qualities.

We found an answer to the first question posed at the end of the first paragraph. We have concluded that there are indeed certain factors that hamper our self improvement efforts.  This realization is not very encouraging. But the answer to the second question can bring us some cheers. We are not helpless in dealing with these negative factors. In fact the awareness about the existence of such factors and our acceptance of them will give us the power to overcome them. Just as a clear understanding of a problem will enable us to find a solution to it, the awareness of the forces that inhibit our growth will help us to devise a strategy to overcome them.