Personal Growth Work – A Path to Wholeness

Miriam Dyak


Often, it is some kind of upheaval in our world that pushes us or inspires us to make a change in ourselves. It could be something we see as negative – a relationship loss or a death, a challenging health diagnosis or physical injury – or something positive – a job change, a child being born, moving to an unfamiliar place with an unfamiliar culture. These are just a few of so many possibilities.


One way many of us first experience this kind of change is through shock and surprise. Everything was going along just fine, and then Special Delivery! Out of the blue major change shows up, catches us totally by off guard, and sends us reeling. Or, if the change was anticipated, like a move to a new place or new job, I might all of sudden realize that “I had no idea what a big deal this was going to be!”


Like Charley Brown in the Peanuts cartoons, some folks maintain a level of innocencethrough their whole lives, never suspecting the football will be snatched away before they can kick it, even though the same trick is played on them year after year.


Going through this kind of repeat experience, whether it’s over and over again the same fights in a marriage, or the reoccurence of betrayals in business, or a repeating pattern of self-sabotage, can be deeply discouraging. It can also feel arbitrary and meaningless as if the universe were just giving us a hard time for no reason.


Being clobbered over and over again by circumstance can eventually – if we get it - be very motivating for us to try and do something different. Since we haven’t been able to stop the universe from sending us challenges, perhaps what’s needed is to play the game in a new way on the receiving end. How can we change it? One way is by giving it a new definition, giving it meaning.


Essentially a path of personal growth starts from the perspective that all of life’s experiences and all of the people we encounter offer us a way to grow our consciousness and become greater beings. Some of the experiences in our lives are pleasant and others deeply challenging, but they are all teachers. That means there is a meaning to our existence–

  • some thing we are supposed to be learning
  • some how that we need to be evolving
  • some where we want to be going to achieve our purpose
  • some way that we could create our life as an expression of soul.


Personal growth approaches life the way an artist approaches a canvas. A fresh new blank canvas is not “a problem” to be solved and eliminated – it’s a wide open field for imagination and creativity. Even a prior painting that is no longer satisfying is not a problem that needs fixing – it is an opportunity for expansion and change.


Through the lens of personal growth work, life is a learning, a process, and we need to practice to get good at it. Just as a student is not deficient when they enroll in a new course because they don’t yet know what they will master by the end of the term, so no one enrolled in “life school” is lacking simply because they are in a process of adding to their life skills. The whole point is to learn and grow, and the process itself is full of meaning.


This is so different from the starting point that life keeps hitting me upside the head and interrupting my nice peaceful existence and if it would only stop I would be fine! Instead, we can begin to see these challenges are both natural and organic to the way we humans mature and have the opportunity, with the right support, to become more able to bring our unique gifts to the world and find greater fulfillment in our own lives.


Okay, so maybe personal growth work makes living life into more of an adventure than just trying to get through an obstacle course as safely as one can, but why would you head out on an adventure like that unless something was pushing or pulling you? Isn’t it always life’s difficulties that force us to look for something new? Will people really ever get past needing some calamity to push them into change?


Voice Dialogue is a tool for evolving consciousness that is based on a belief that people really are much much bigger than any one part of themselves. And, it’s when we finally start thinking, “there must be more to this than just repeating the same old, same old over and over again...,” that we begin to feel the irresistible lure and invitation of consciousness. We may start out on this path because of a life challenge, but once we get going there is an excitement that comes from opening up to possibilities beyond the world of dealing with our problems.


At that point, “growth” really isn’t a solution to a problem and doesn’t need to be a forced change. Instead it becomes a longing, a thirst for something more, and a joy! Personal growth becomes exactly that – it is a way to grow ourselves into a greater person with more resilience and creativity. And with the remarkable discovery that our starting point on this great journey is that we are fine exactly how we are right now. We don’t have to be someone else to become who we want to be. The quest is to become ourselves.


Being able to grow and change and expand who you are depends, of course, on a certain amount of health and resilience to begin with. It’s one thing to be upset about challenges we run into in life and quite another to be devastated by them. If you get hit by tsunami of grief or rage or fear that throws you into major depression or anxiety or dangerous behavior, then you need the support of a skilled therapist who can diagnose and treat the problem just as you would if you had a bone broken or were hit by a virus. When you’re really ill is not the easiest or best time to focus on personal growth.


However, when it comes to our emotional “injuries,” how we define what happened to us, what meaning we make of it, can make all the difference. With psychic trauma it’s a little less clear what exactly happened, what was or wasn’t injured, what does or doesn’t need to be treated. A broken arm looks pretty much the same from one body to the next, but a broken heart can traumatize one person for a lifetime while another bounces back a lot faster and with much greater resiliency.


Personal growth can help to create the resilience you need to weather life’s storms. If you already have a practice of being present with change and defining the curves life throws you as opportunities for learning and growth, it’s way less likely that you’ll go down for the count when a relationship ends or when you’re let go from your “dream job.” With enough experience you may even take the hint that you may have been aiming too low and suspect that there’s actually a bigger dream waiting in the wings once you let go.


How is becoming more conscious different from finding a solution to a problem? Not all problems can be solved. Life can’t be solved! Some marriages end in divorce. Sometimes we don’t get the job. Some illnesses end in death. Unless we can use all our challenges – the ones we can solve and the ones we can’t – as a way to grow our consciousness, it’s easy to tumble backwards and define disappointing situations as failures. Taking the personal growth approach of “there is something to learn from this” and “I will come out of it a stronger person” can give us courage to cope with some of life’s harshest challenges and more fully appreciate the gifts as well. With this perspective all of what happens in our lives is useful and strengthening because it’s helping us to become more conscious. It helps us to become whole.


You might be thinking that a lot of what I’m saying about “personal growth” also sounds like “spiritual growth.” And, yes, once we let go of the idea that life is supposed to be “happy ever after” or “the pursuit of happiness”, and allow ourselves to stop seeing the natural upheavals we encounter as indications that something has gone terribly wrong, we do start to experience a depth in our lives that touches all levels of our being including the physical, emotional, psychological and the spiritual. This is why many approaches to consciousness – some of them therapies, some personal growth modalities – are called “psychospiritual.”


Voice Dialogue is a “psychospiritual” approach to working with consciousness. It’s actually a clear way to practice over time letting go of our habitual ways of responding to reality, and instead begin to hold a new balance inside of us between whichever inner selves/parts of us who have us stuck in problem mode. Wherever we were sure the choice was either/or, this or that, and felt that there was nowhere new to go, we come to an opening where the “solution” presents itself as both/and. Life, of course, will continue to hand us challenging situations, but from that place newly emerging place of balance in the center of who we are, we begin to respond to our own lives and our challenges like an artist in the process of creating their great work of inspiration rather than as an art restorer trying to mend the pieces of our lives that appear broken.


Voice Dialogue is a practical tool that is designed to address the challenges of your life from a place of acceptance and permission, without judgment. The most powerful place that change can come in your life is from where you are right now. So who you are right now is the perfect starting point for your journey of discovery. If you would like to learn more about Voice Dialogue, please visit our website,, and if you are curious about becoming a Voice Dialogue facilitator, our 2016 Facilitator Training has just been posted online.