(Negative) Side Effects of Personal Development

Many see it as a journey full of adventures and lessons others see it as a mere optimization task and yet others see it as a philosophy of life.

When I discovered personal deveopment, self improvement or however you would like to call it for the first time about 4 years ago, I was thrilled! So many books and blogs to read, so many ideas to share, so much new to discover and above all…so much more to change about my lifestyle, my habits, my goals, my thinking, MYSELF!

From that moment on I kept reading every personal deveopment book I found relevant – it all started with Robert Kiyosaki’s “Cash Flow Quadrant” which was handet to me by a dear friend who tried to find answers to the same questions as I through personal development.

I started to question many things – our whole monetary system, our 9-5 job cycles, our education system, our hunger for consumption and our impact on environment, the unequal distribution of quality of life and the list goes on…

Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, Timothy Ferris became my companions as well as many fruitful blogs like highexistence.com

I was thrilled when I met new like-minded people and kept on reading whatever I could get my eyes on….always striving to find new insights, new techniques to escape the conventional 9-5 rat race, improve my mental strength, delete bad habits & form better ones and most of all….find out how to live life to the fullest! This all I attempted to find on my quest named “personal development”.

I never questioned the side effects of my personal development trip though! I always assumed it could only have positive outcomes…after all, you strive to be the best version of yourself…what could be wrong about it?

I never asked myself this question until it hit me during a very eye-opening conversation…

The side effects:

1. You keep improving and shaping until you have changed a habit or become better at social interactions etc…what you actually do by this is comparing the actual value with the target value until your actual value is the same as the target value. You keep comparing, screwing, filing and doing everything to shape yourself into the desired outcome…thats desirable if you seek change, but have you ever thought about how it might affect your personality, your uniqueness and your authenticity? Here is the clue – the more you try to change yourself and therefore control yourself, the more you let go of your uniqueness, that special thing, the rough edges which constitute your personality. And people notice it when you are “fake” -you can see it with pick-up-artist followers! Most of the time you can tell that they are only wearing a mask to be more confident around women. Your authentic touch, the amazing thing that makes you stand out from the crowd, may weaken (it does anyway in most people as we grow older – small children are totally free of any social norms and don’t control themselves). In the end, you may be better at a certain thing but you pay a price for it.


2. There is no self improvement without tracking and controlling. You compare yourself to others and think about all the great things they have already reached in life…and ask yourself “why haven’t I reached IT yet?” These ongoing comparisons make life unpleasant-there is always someone who is better than you and you always get the feeling you should have done more and that what you’ve done so far is not enough….the ultimate path to unhappyness! Trying to measure personal success without comparing yourself to others is almost impossible since we perceive success relatively and not absolutely.

Undoubtedly, I’ve learned a lot from those countless books, blogs and conversations with like-minded enthusiasts – I feel confident in my goals, in myself and I worked out strategies to overcome bad moods, disappointments and failures. But I also keep in mind that personal development doesn’t come without a price tag…

3 thoughts on “(Negative) Side Effects of Personal Development

  1. Nneka, Working Mystic says:

    Hi Marina, “personal development” and “self help” is really the eye opener for the journey. The bigger picture is more along the lines of self actualization where you are TOTALLY you. It’s like you’re YOU, the whole you, and nothing but the you.

    It’s past the point of the comparison, striving, and constantly feeling like you’re not “there”.

    You get to the point where you realize there is no there. You begin to enjoy every moment of it. You start to learn about yourself and all your idiosyncrasies. You embrace them. You love the nuances of life.

    Your growth is guaranteed. You don’t need to pursue it.

    You begin to truly enjoy the ride. It’s worth it:-)


  2. Marina Zayats says:

    “Your growth is guaranteed. You don’t need to pursue it.”
    I think thats a really important point – and so true as life gives us so many challenges and experiences anyway. But do you think that probably those who embrace change and new experiences learn faster?

    “It’s past the point of the comparison, striving, and constantly feeling like you’re not “there”

    I think that’s a point that describes my “wish” of personal growth very well.
    It seems to me, that so few people really reach this point ever in their life, (and many don’t even try).
    Thanks so much for sharing, Nneka!


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