4 Keys to Personal Growth and Transformation - Part 3: Openness and Learning

By Barbara @ Follow Your Own Rhythm

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Welcome to this 4 part personal growth and transformation blog series where we're discussing the 4 essential keys to self-improvement, making positive inner changes, and becoming the person you want to be!

In the first blog of the series we talked about self-honesty and why that is so important and how you can be more honest with yourself, and in the second blog we talked about self-awareness and how that is crucial in growing as a person.  If you haven’t already, I recommend checking them out!

As I’ve mentioned in part 1, these are practices that I have been implementing for basically my whole adult life and they have truly transformed who I am.  They have also improved my quality of life, my relationships with other people, and my relationship with life as a whole.

In this post, we are moving into the 3rd key of personal growth and transformation which is “learning and openness.”

You will learn what that means, what it looks like in real life, why it’s important, and how you can incorporate this practice into your own life.


What does learning and openness mean?

I can define “learning” in 3 ways, all of which are essential for personal growth and transformation. 

1. Learning means to be a student of life and to learn something on an internal level from every single life situation, person, and experience. 

This can be learning something about yourself, about another person, or about life as a whole that has the potential to help you become a better, more authentic person. 

This means learning lessons from your experiences, learning from your mistakes, learning from other people, seeing things from other people’s perspectives, and to overall take a lesson or a personal growth opportunity from every person and experience. 

This requires that you constantly self-reflect, are honest with yourself, and are self-aware which we talked about in depth in part 1 and 2.

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If you approach life from a perspective that you are on a mission to LEARN and gain wisdom, then you will find something you can learn from even the most unconscious, judgmental, and closed-minded person, and you will find a lesson in the most unpleasant of situations.

Just to give you perspective, the opposite of “learning” would be to view your challenges as threats rather than opportunities to become stronger, or to view criticism as reasons to hate yourself as opposed to learning how to love yourself MORE despite your imperfections.

Life lessons, which come in the form of people in your life, conversations, certain life situations, experiences, feelings, thoughts you have, can all teach you something about something.

2. Learning means to ACTIVELY SEEK OUT personal growth, as well as learning opportunities and life experiences that will teach you something new about yourself and life as a whole.

This means engaging in personal growth type practices to dig deep and learn more about who you are and to strive to be a better person.

This can be done through reading books, watching videos, listening to podcasts that have to do with self-improvement and spiritual growth, talking to a coach, mentor, or healer, taking personality tests, answering questionnaires, journaling, meditating, looking into metaphysical perspectives to understand yourself better such as astrology and numerology, and other personal growth and self-discovery exercises and practices.

You can start with my 100 question self-discovery journal to help you get to know yourself on a deeper level. 


Actively seeking learning opportunities also means questioning everything you know or have been conditioned to believe, investigating further, going against the grains, and not settling for the first thing you hear, for what you’ve been told your whole life, or for what everybody else is doing or expects you to do.  It basically means to dig deep and look below the surface so that you can find the truth.

3. Learning is to physically (and on a more external level) learn new things, skills, and information.

This means to actively expand your knowledge base in a certain subject area, take up a hobby, learn a new skill such as a new language, immerse yourself in a different culture or environment to gain a new perspective, build on your current talents, take a class or course on something you want to learn more about, and when you have a question about something or don’t know HOW to do something, research it instead of giving up and being confused. 

This also means learning how to be better at something by observing, imitating, and learning from other people, as well as enhancing your physical abilities by doing certain things.

The essential question you should ask yourself is “How can I become better at this or at something?”

Sometimes the only thing that holds us back from living our ideal life is believing that we don’t know enough, we aren’t experts, we don’t have the skills or information, and so on.  But no one does at first, they learn it, practice it, then master it over time. 

You want to be healthier but have NO IDEA what to do, what to eat, and how to start? Well reach out to people, hire a nutritionist or health coach, read some books on the topic, or do some online research! Learn learn learn!  With the age of the internet, we really have no shortage of resources, advice, and information.


Learning is basically about taking the opportunities that life gives you to learn something from them, to actively seek out opportunities that would teach you something more, and to constantly expand your knowledge and expertise, enhance your talents, and learn new skills.

In every moment of our life, and in every single thing that we experience, there is something new to learn.  Life is our teacher, and we are the students.

How does openness relate to all of this?

Well, what makes learning from everything possible is OPENNESS.  You have to be OPEN TO LEARNING in order to learn.  

If you are closed off and not interested in bettering yourself, than obviously you won’t try to learn from your life experiences.

So in order to see lessons all around you, you have to develop a habit of openness.

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Here are 5 habits you can adopt in order to become more open-minded.

To be open means to be open-minded, open-hearted, and unguarded and ready for new opportunities, possibilities, lessons, and experiences.  

The opposite of being open is to jump to conclusions, be unwilling to try new things or hear out new ideas and perspectives, to not listen to what other people have to say, to be a know it all and think you know everything, to have an answer for everything, to think from a limited perspective, to allow your conditioned ways to rule your life, and to be closed-off, negative, rigid, judgmental, guarded, and defensive.  

Being open basically means to take a step back and look at everything around you from an open, fresh, unbiased, nonjudgmental, and higher perspective as if it was the first time you’ve ever encountered it.  

Openness means to assume the best, focus on the positive, and give the benefit of the doubt, instead of assuming that something is out to hurt you.

“People are always judging me”… “life is out to get me”these bad things always happen to me” would be assuming the worst and being closed off to learning, growing, and transforming.



The reason openness and learning go hand in hand is because you have to be open to new possibilities, solutions, perspectives, beliefs, ways of doing things, and ways of thinking in order to learn! 

You have to be open to new aspects of yourself, to the feelings you feel, to the emotions you have, and to the pain you feel. 

You have to be open to seeing opportunities rather than hardships, be open to learning new things, and be open to how they can influence you in a positive way.  Even if something happens in your life that is seemingly negative, there is still something you can learn.

Being open to learning means to be open to life and welcoming the lessons it has to offer you.  It is taking every moment as an opportunity to grow as a person. 

Being open to learning means reflecting on every moment and seeing how it can…

·      open your mind

·      change your perspective

·      help you ditch some bad habits

·      inspire you to improve certain areas of yourself or your life

·      help you love and accept yourself

·      reinforce your truth

·      help you trust yourself more


Why is learning and openness so important?

Learning equals growth.  You can’t evolve as a person, raise your level of consciousness, and become the person you want to be if you aren’t willing to learn things along the way. 

When you are open to learning, life aligns and seems to flow a lot more seamlessly and in your favor, and you start to attract experiences to yourself that will help you evolve to your fullest potential.  Openness will expand your energy and give you exactly what you need to learn.

When you allow these experiences to enter into your life, life becomes easier.

Learning also keeps you balanced, grounded, and humble.  Instead of letting your ego take you for a ride; believing that you know everything and that you have nothing more to learn, you stay open to the possibility that there is always something new to learn from every single person and experience.  This keeps your ego in check, and makes you more humble and balanced.

An openness to learning also helps you develop deep relationships with people.  They pick up on this energy that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say and it gives your conversation meaning and connects you on a much deeper level.

When you close yourself off to learning, experiencing and trying new things, you block the natural flow of energy that your soul needs in order to evolve, and therefore you create more challenges for yourself and life becomes harder.

You have to go into the process willingly, openly, and accepting that stuff happens, but that you will learn and grow from it.

Being closed off to learning limits your potential.  It cuts you off from being yourself, as at your core, you are an expansive and abundant being.

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Being open to learning is also important because life is full of change, and in order to cope with those changes that come our way, you have to learn to deal with them. 

If you don’t, you get stuck, you stay stagnant, and never become the person you’re meant to be.  You start to live in the past with outdated beliefs, stale and boring routines, with no excitement and adventure to your life.

Being open guarantees a life full of happiness, positivity, possibility, and adventure.


Examples of learning and being open in real life

Here are some examples of what learning and openness looks like in real life.

Example 1: You get fired from your job.  Instead of focusing on how horrible it is and complaining about it, you can see what you can learn from the situation whether it’d be how to stay calm in times of stress, how to let go and trust that everything happens for a reason, how to stay patient while a better opportunity comes along, or maybe this is a good opportunity to rethink your career and how you want to move forward.  This can also be a good opportunity to look within yourself and see if the reason that you got fired was legitimate and how you can make sure you don’t make the same mistakes next time.

Example 2:  You realize that you get triggered easily by other people, especially when they’re not living up to your standards.  You tend to respond with annoyance, frustration and anger, and become really impatient and aggressive. 

As a learner, you realize that this way of being is not sustainable and therefore you become proactive.  You either buy a book on how to deal with your anger, you seek advice from a coach, you learn how to meditate to calm your mind, or you work on becoming more self-aware.

Example 3: You live under the conditioned illusion that once you meet your life partner, you have to get married, buy a house, and have kids.

As a learner, you question this societal norm and you do what feels right for you, not what society expects from you.

Example 4: You meet a person who is vegan and you’re slightly intrigued by the idea.  However, you have a fear that if you go vegan, you will have a protein deficiency. 

As a learner, instead of shutting the idea down because of this irrational fear, you get on the internet and do some research and see how other vegans are able to stay healthy and what types of plant foods have protein.

Example 5: While having a conversation with someone who has a completely different perspective than you, as a learner, you try to stay open so that you can learn something new from their perspective that might actually help you in some way. 

Instead of closing yourself off from things that are different, unfamiliar, scary, or uncomfortable, you open yourself up, welcome these experiences into your life, and know that no matter what happens, there is always something new to learn. 

This way, there is not one bad thing that can ever happen to you.  Everything has a purpose.  From this mindset, your life has more meaning, and situations are no longer dreadful, but something you look forward to because you are eager to learn. 


How can you apply this practice of learning and openness to your daily life?

Tip 1: With regards to personal growth and inner change, the way you would apply learning is by looking and being aware of what you can discover about yourself and how you can grow as a person from everything that you come in contact with.  So this part requires self-awareness, which we talked about in part 2, as it will help you identify the learning opportunities in each moment.

Tip 2:  An exercise that you can do to get into the habit of learning from life situations, is for one week, ask yourself at least 5 times a day, in random situations, “what can I learn from this?” or “how can I grow from this?”

This will prompt you to self-reflect and to build the muscle to think critically and find a growth opportunity in life’s random moments.

Tip 3: Ask yourself questions such as “why do I do what I do, who am I, why am I here, and what is my life’s purpose?”  These types of questions will prompt deep inner exploration and spiritual growth.

Tip 4: When faced with a challenge and feel like life is really hard, you wonder why this is happening to you, and you find it hard to learn a lesson, say this mantra to yourself:

“My soul chose this life. My soul chose to be here with these challenges and obstacles.  My soul chose this so that I can learn from them, move through them, and transform from them.”

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If you don’t know the lesson that’s meant to be learned, declare to the universe, God, a higher power, or whatever you want to call it:

“Universe, show me what I’m supposed to learn from this. How am I supposed to approach this situation or move forward? Guide me to where I’m supposed to go.” 

And then pay attention to the guidance you receive.  Some examples of signs would be synchronicities, a gut or intuitive feeling, a message from a book or from another person, or a random opportunity that comes your way.

And when you’re feeling really confused, remember this quote:

“What you struggle with has the potential to transform you. All challenges are your greatest gifts for your evolution.” -Bernadette Logue

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If you’re confused about what you’re meant to learn in this lifetime as a whole or about what your life mission is, this next tip is for you!

Tip 5:  Find your life path number through numerology.  Studying my name and birth date through numerology has given me great insight into my personality, fitting career options, and lessons I have to learn. Of course, I take it all with a grain of salt and don’t let the information limit me, but rather I take what I can and use it to my advantage. I find numerology to be super fun and insightful!


If you’d like to find out your life path number, which basically describes your personality and the lessons you’re supposed to learn in this lifetime, download my quick free numerology guide!

It's a brief overview of what numerology is, how to decode your life path number, and what your life path means.  The guide has links to detailed explanations to what each life path number means.

 
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Tip 6: Expand your knowledge of yourself by taking personality and career tests.  I really like the Myers Briggs Personality Test as it provides pretty accurate results from a list of 16 different personality types. You can take it for free here and find out more about your personality traits, communication style, viable careers, and compatibility with other people.

Tip 7: Shift your mindset when something inconvenient happens. Instead of complaining or being angry that this is happening to you, see if there is anything you can do about it. Can you find a solution or a remedy, or is there anything you can learn from it or any way you can grow from it?

Tip 8: Read wisdom teachings. These are teachings that teach you how to become more aware rather than try to force a belief on you. They teach you how to go inside yourself, how to meditate, how to understand your fears, and how to deconstruct your mind and ego.  A great book you can start with is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.


Overall, being open and extracting a learning opportunity from every situation is a great way to have a more positive relationship with life, and also to give your life more meaning, and of course, to help you constantly learn, grow and evolve as a person so that you can be your best self.

From my personal experience of over a decade of intense personal growth, I highly recommend self-honesty, self-awareness, being open to learning, and the fourth and final aspect which is implementation.

I really hope you enjoyed!

CHECK OUT PART 1, 2, AND 4 OF THE SERIES:


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Leave a comment below to let me know how you will apply learning and openness to your own life!