Continuous Personal Growth (CPG)
CPG, as with CPD (continuous professional development), is how insightful people maintain, improve and broaden their knowledge, expertise and competence, to develop the personal qualities required to live a life well lived, on purpose.
The clinical work I do is informed by 35 years of professional practice combined with over 50 years of life experience and a lot of deep knowledge work. My own soul searching through my darkest hours has created the opportunity to explore the Big Questions such as the meaning of life, principles for a contented and fulfilling approach to living, and practical strategies to view major life challenges as steps forward, rather than back.
In my clinical practice I have tended to move away from traditional 50 minute treatment sessions towards a mentoring model incorporating insights and ideas gleaned from myriad deep knowledge workers, which I combine in a way that makes sense to me and resonates with the philosophy and perspective of my clients. Sessions explore relevant life issues and are focused on distilling key principles from the art and science of emotional wellness and wellbeing to culminate in practical strategies you can apply TODAY.
Here are some of the Deep Thinkers who have been instrumental in forming my clinical and personal approach over the last five decades:
The Book of Life by the School of Life. In a world overflowing with information, what we most need is curation. The Book of Life aims to be the curation of the best and most helpful ideas in the area of emotional life.
Happiness is an inside job by Sylvia Boorstein. How can we stay engaged with life day after day? How can we continue to love–keep our minds in a happy mood–when life is complex and often challenging? These are questions that Sylvia Boorstein addresses in Happiness Is an Inside Job. In more than three decades of practice and teaching she has discovered that the secret to happiness lies in actively cultivating our connections with the world, with friends, family, colleagues–even those we may not know well. She shows us how mindfulness, concentration, and effort–three elements of the Buddhist path to wisdom–can lead us away from anger, anxiety, and confusion, and into calmness, clarity, and the joy of living in the present (Publisher’s summary).
Sorry for Your Troubles –Poems by Padraig O’Tuama. One of the most engaging voices contemporary spirituality in is that of the Irish poet, Padraig O’Tuama. This second poetry collection arises out of a decade of his hearing stories of people who have lived through personal and political conflict in Northern Ireland, the Middle East and other places of conflict. These poems tell stories of individuals who have lived through conflict: their loves and losses, their hope and generosity. One poem, ‘Shaking hands’ was written when Padraig witnessed the historic handshake between Queen Elizabeth II and Martin McGuinness, who has since used the poem publicly. The phrase ‘Sorry for your troubles’ is used all over Ireland. It comes directly from an Irish phrase, yet Irish has no word for ‘bereavement’ – the word used is ‘troibloid’. So the phrase would be better translated ‘Sorry for your bereavements’. With this in mind, this new book speaks evocatively about a time when thousands of people lost their lives and many thousands more lived through the searing pain of grief (Publisher’s summary).
Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better: Wise Advice for Leaning into the Unknown by Pema Chödrön. Distilled from Pema Chödrön’s commencement speech at Naropa University on the day of her granddaughter’s graduation, …“What do we do when life doesn’t go the way we hoped?” begins Pema. “We say ‘I’m a failure.” But what if failing wasn’t just “okay” . . . but the most direct way to becoming a more complete, loving, and fulfilled human being? Here, Pema Chödrön offers us her heartfelt advice on facing the unknown—in ourselves and in the world—and how our missteps can open our eyes to see new possibilities and purpose. For readers of all faiths who are at a life crossroads… (Publisher’s summary).
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown. This book is a motivational and inspiring guide to wholehearted living, rather than just the average self-help book. With this groundbreaking work, Brené Brown, Ph.D., bolsters the self-esteem and personal development process through her characteristic heartfelt, honest storytelling. With original research and plenty of encouragement, she explores the psychology of releasing our definitions of an “imperfect” life and embracing living authentically. Brown’s “ten guideposts” are benchmarks for authenticity that can help anyone establish a practice for a life of honest beauty–a perfectly imperfect life (Publisher’s summary).
Brown has built an industry on talking about women’s (mainly) empowerment and oftentimes I like her message; The Gifts is just one of the suite of books she offers in this genre. I actually prefer her narrative style to her writing, so if you are interested in her work check out audiobooks and videos (including her TED talks), as well as print.
Listening to shame – Brené Brown (YouTube, about 20mins)
Anne Lamott’s easy-going, everyday style makes her deep content accessible and relatable, even in our darkest hours. Her work has some religious overtone which may or may not be a plus for you, depending on your theological direction. Having said that, her narrative is less about religion and more about spiritual growth and, for this reason, her work reaches a huge audience of secular and non-secular listeners.
TED Talks: Anne Lamott (TED Talk, about 16 mins) hooks into our common experience and guides us to an understanding infused with openness. An activist, former alcoholic and Sunday School teacher, Lamott uses humor to weave through loss, parenthood, faith and the cancer diagnosis given to her best friend, in beloved books like Bird by Bird and Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. She says, “Hope begins in the dark … if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”
See also a recent profile piece on Lamott in the New York Times, written by Green (2018).
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. Present Over Perfect is writer Shauna Niequist’s motto for how to live a rich, engaged, and loving life in the midst of what often feels terribly messy and imperfect. In vulnerable, honest stories and beautifully written short essays Shauna offers an invitation to a new way of living—full of grace, space, and connection.
TED Talks: Own Your Behaviours, Master Your Communication, Determine Your Success by Louise Evans (TED Talk, about 19 mins). Louise Evans is a Behavioral Coach, a Corporate Trainer and the Author of ‘5 Chairs 5 Choices’.
Kristen Neff: Self Compassion. Dr Kristin Neff is the co-author of The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook and has written extensively on the topic of self-compassion. Her website provides information and videos explaining the components of self-compassion.