Personal development is the process of taking the time to understand yourself, what makes you tick and what triggers you. It is also the process of working through any barriers that may be getting in the way of you living your best life and being your best self.

I often talk about the importance of the early years and how they impact a child’s future. However, we often forget that we too are a product of our own childhood and have programming that subconsciously influences our actions, reactions and decisions.

What we saw, heard and felt on a consistent basis throughout our own childhood, created belief systems and values that then formed a blueprint for how we see ourselves and the world around us. Personal development is important because it creates an awareness of this blueprint and helps to give us a deeper understanding of ourselves, rather than living on autopilot, not knowing why we are the way that we are, or why we do the things that we do.

We all have triggers that are linked to our own unique programming, which is why we all react in different ways. What affects one person might not necessarily affect another and this is because we are all wired differently.

Let’s use the example of a person who grew up continually feeling not good enough. There’s a good chance that this person will now have a subconscious belief that this is true, and this belief can act like a default setting influencing how they react and respond to life. There are many ways that a ‘not good enough’ belief could affect someone:

They might:

  • Find themselves feeling inadequate around people
  • Overreact or be sensitive to criticism, even if it is coming from a positive or professional place
  • Resist going for promotions or different roles through fear of ‘not being good enough’
  • Be a perfectionist and put themselves down

“Personal development allows us to look at ourselves objectively and gain an awareness of how our internal programming might actually be hindering us or affecting how we behave.”

It can also affect people in ways you might not realise.

They might:

  • Work themselves to the ground regardless of how it impacts their relationships and health (because they subconsciously feel that they could always be better)
  • Overcompensate for feeling not good enough by blowing their own trumpet or having an overinflated ego
  • Struggle to take responsibility or admit they are wrong because they subconsciously yearn for approval
  • Struggle to admit their weaknesses through fear that people will think badly of them

Personal development allows us to look at ourselves objectively and gain an awareness of how our internal programming might actually be hindering us or affecting how we behave.

A person who can identify that they are not going for promotion due to their negative beliefs, has an opportunity to overcome this barrier as opposed to someone who just says ‘no’ to opportunities automatically. They will ask themselves why and question if they are making decisions based on fear or self-doubt or actually whether it’s their intuition. There is a fine line between the two but a person who is self-aware will make more decisions for the right reasons and have more opportunities to become the best version of themselves.
Life can often act like a mirror with situations or people reflecting back to us our inner beliefs. Working with children is amazing but it can be very challenging at times. If we can look for the lessons in each challenge we will not only develop as a person, but also as a practitioner.

  • Were we put down as a child and therefore made a vow to never make children feel the same way? If so, we could overcompensate, and this might impact our ability to set boundaries.
  • Did we grow up in a controlling environment? If so, this might mean that as much as we hated control, we might struggle to live without it because it is all we have ever known growing up. We therefore might need order around us over chaos and hate seeing mess.
  • Did we get criticised a lot growing up? If so, this might impact our ability to take on board constructive criticism, which is essential for professional development.
  • Did we have to be perfect growing up or were we taught that failure wasn’t an option? If so, we might have become a perfectionist and need everything to be just so. We might also struggle when children are their perfectly imperfect selves!
    Did we grow up in an environment where the expression of negative feelings (such as anger or frustration) weren’t acknowledged or accepted? If so, we might struggle to deal with our own emotions now and might find it difficult to support others through theirs.

There are many ways in which we are impacted by people and our environment. By looking deeper into why, we will develop our own self-awareness, which will have a huge impact on our lives personally and professionally. We all react and respond to life as it presents itself to us. However, personal development allows us to be the master of our circumstances, rather than being at the mercy of them. Our role in early years is to nurture children and to empower them with a blueprint for happiness and success. We just need to remember that, inside each one of us, there is also an inner child that needs the same care and attention.


About the author

Stacey Kelly is a former teacher, a parent to 2 beautiful babies and the founder of Early Years Story Box, which is a subscription website providing children’s storybooks and early years resources. She is passionate about building children’s imagination, creativity and self-belief and about creating awareness of the impact that the Early Years have on a child’s future. Stacey loves her role as a writer, illustrator and public speaker and believes in the power of personal development. She is also on a mission to empower children to live a life full of happiness and fulfilment, which is why she launched the #ThankYouOaky Gratitude Movement.

Sign up to Stacey’s premium membership and use the code PARENTA20 to get 20% off or contact Stacey for an online demo.

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