Everybody has an opinion. But it is probably safe to say that all of us recognize that personal growth represents a road of expansion. Whether we search for inner peace, more fulfillment and success, or are interested in creating a simpler life, we have embraced the benefits of personal growth. In fact, this specialized market of self improvement, spirituality, and overall wellness has exploded into all areas of our culture. No matter what you’re trying to improve, there are books, DVD’s, and a slew of professionals revealing their guidelines for personal growth.

The obvious advantages are that we become more self-reliant, more responsible, and live within a framework of higher standards—those that reflect authenticity and integrity. The less-highlighted, but more impacting benefit that results from a dedicated commitment is that we become more responsible toward others. What? Personal growth is not all about me?

No it’s not. When done well, personal growth ends up incorporating a better you so that the better you can integrate better with others. It means we begin to develop an ability to consider and understand how OTHERS think and feel along with the ability to care—even if we disagree. It means we become able to go past ourselves as individuals and become adept at being part of the collective. That usually means dropping the ego which either insists on imposing and proving itself right, or building enough defenses to appear beyond reproach.

The pitfalls of personal growth are seldom discussed. We may confuse our getting to know ourselves better as a sudden ability to defy those around us by blaming and becoming confrontational, or by translating our self-indulgence into self-empowerment when we demonstrate that we can and must take care of “me” first. The constraints of the ego keep us bickering about our way of thinking and doing. These constraints disallow us from seeing past our own noses, thus making us unable to grasp concepts like forgiveness and tolerance, let alone humility. It is at this point that we forget all about personal growth.

However, when we strive to improve anything about ourselves, the result is heightened awareness of who we are, how we really think and feel, and how individual that truly is. That leads to better decision-making because we develop self-respect. When all of that comes together we suddenly gain insight that it is imperative to extend EXACTLY the same to others. Why? Because ALL of our perceived problems result from digging our heels in about what we think we have experienced. Our survivor instinct tells us to protect ourselves by creating perfectly packaged reasoning of why people and things are the way they are, why we can’t affect them, and just like that, we are responsible for nothing—except to serve the selfish needs of our ego. Our problems are exiled and we can move on to our perfectly organized lives.

We should remember that when we make our needs equal to those of anyone else, we eliminate the repetition of negative behavioral patterns that keep us stuck and unable to move on. If we seek out personal growth and truly learn to change ourselves and our behavior with others in mind, all that we do improves all that is around us—because more than “me” begins to matter.

Challenge yourself to demonstrate that you have grown as an individual by relinquishing any given perspective, in any given situation, to that of someone else’s. You will most certainly be surprised with the result and wonder what it was that took you so long to even try.

Is this the only thing you need to do to improve your life? Hardly, but it’s a challenge worth taking!