Human beings are in a constant state of growth and development throughout their lives. This growth and development may take a physical or a mental dimension. While growth and development are constantly occurring, some situations may increase the rate at which this process occurs. To me, the psychology human growth and development class that I have undertaken is one of the events which cause immense psychological growth and developments in me.
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Most of this growth has been a direct result of the material that this class has exposed me to. The new life philosophies and ways of thinking that I have come to learn have had a deep impact on my life. In this paper, I shall give a deep reflection on what I have learned in my psychology human growth and development class. In particular, I shall demonstrate how I have grown into a more psychologically mature person as a result of this class.
A huge lesson that I have learned in my class is on holding on to my values. Values are the basic building blocks of a successful and functional society. Values can be defined as what society judges to be of importance or worthy. These values color our human reality with new ways of understanding. Having values is an issue of great importance since, without them, our lives become somewhat meaningless and we can therefore not live optimally.
One of the values that I hold is that of respect According to me, respect entails treating everyone with dignity at all times no matter their race, economic status, or creed. This means that I am not to discriminate or have a judgmental attitude towards others when dealing with them regardless of their situation.
This class has also made me re-examine the value of holding a positive attitude. A positive attitude to me means always being optimistic and maintaining the belief that a positive change will occur. A positive attitude may help to promote self-worthiness in a person. Possessing a positive attitude results in the likelihood of one imputing more effort in a task and therefore increases its probability to succeed. Positive attitudes also result in self-belief which may make one strive to achieve goals that they would have deemed as impossible without a positive attitude.
In addition to this, a positive attitude brings about enthusiasm when one is undertaking a certain task. Undoubtedly, there is a higher likelihood of one accomplishing their desired goals when they are enthusiastic about it as opposed to when they lack the passion for what they are doing.
Another value that I have come to appreciate is that of forgiving. All through my life, I have had people talk about the virtues of forgiveness. I have practiced forgives only when I thought it suited me. A particularly empowering quote that I have learned and taken as my life philosophy is that “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die”. With this understanding, I am always quick to forgive even when it does not suit me since I realize that holding a grudge hurts me more than it hurts the other person.
Before undertaking this class, I always envisioned that the great wisdom that I needed to lead my life better was somewhere out there. In my view, the more learned I became the more I would acquire wisdom to help me deal with other people in life. The handout on “All I Need to Know I learned in kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum was a real eye-opener to me. Through this handout, I discovered that I already had in me the wisdom that I needed to lead a better life and relate better with others. A point that I have reapplied in my life is “Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody” (Fulghum 6).
Typically, I find it hard apologizing especially when I feel that I am the wronged party. This attitude has resulted in unnecessary disputes in my life. Also, it has caused me to lose valuable relationships because I was too proud to say sorry. By combining this childhood wisdom with the Dalai Lama’s instruction for the new millennium which states that “do not let a little dispute injure a great friendship”, I have gone out of my way to mending relationships that would otherwise break down due to lack of sincere apologies.
Another wisdom that I rediscovered from my kindergarten years is that I should clean up my mess (Fulghum 6). To me, cleaning up my mess means more than just tidying up after myself. Cleaning up to me means that if I do something wrong and damage a relationship, it is up to me to make amends. As such, it is my responsibility to try and rebuild any relationship I damage and I do not wait on others to make the corrections for me. This new attitude has been very helpful since people appreciate it when one owns up to their mistakes and takes steps to correct the wrongs that they have done.
Another childhood value as articulated by Robert Fulghum is “Play Fair”. To me, this means that I should treat others in the same manner that I would like to be treated. With this notion in mind, I always take care to be civil to others even when I do not feel that they deserve kind treatment from me. This is because I would appreciate it if others extended kind treatment to me even when I do not deserve it. By practicing “fair play” in all my dealings, I have found myself making more friends than I did in the past. My life has therefore been greatly enriched since every individual brings with them their unique perspective on life.
My communication skills have been greatly improved as a result of this class. In particular, my listening skills have been honed. While listening is the most basic communication activity that man undertakes, I previously did not recognize its importance in communication efforts. Hearing is a natural ability which most people are born with and it only accounts for part of the listening process.
Listening, on the other hand, is a more complex endeavor and it involves several stages that culminate in the understanding of the spoken and unspoken words (Cleary 21). By practicing the “ten commandments of good listening”, I have become a better listener. One of the skills necessary for effective listening that I have acquired is active listening. Active listening is an approach that enables one to gain insights into the other parties’ viewpoints and hence communicate effectively. This type of listening is characterized by giving verbal affirmations to demonstrate that you understand what the speaker is saying as well as nudge him to proceed.
A poor listening habit that I previously had and was unaware of was that I tended to get easily distracted and hence zone out on the speaker. This habit was unbeneficial both to the speaker and to me. To the speaker, I appeared uninterested and bored and to me, I lost out on the point that the speaker was saying. By following the ten commandments of listening, I have learned to remove distractions and give verbal affirmations to demonstrate that I understand what the speaker is saying.
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In addition to being a good listener, I have also learned the importance of effective communication. In particular, I have come to reconsider my communication style and how I can adapt it to better empower myself. Owing to my shy nature, I was previously keen to get along and be agreeable. This is because, from my childhood, I have been socialized to take the path of least resistance when dealing with people. In the course of this class, I have come to discover assertiveness as one of the styles of communication that greatly enhances a person’s effectiveness in the communication process therefore leading to the most desirable outcomes.
Bedell and Lennox articulate that assertiveness promotes interpersonal behavior that “attempts to maximize the person’s satisfaction of wants while considering the wants of other people” (43). Assertion emphasizes positive interpersonal relationships by providing a basis from which conflicts can be resolved constructively and respectfully. By practicing assertiveness, I have increased my self-esteem since assertive communication is based on the understanding that we all have a right to be afforded respect and we also bear the responsibility to reciprocate this respectfulness to others.
Arguably the most profound lesson that I learned is that life is an informal school and every experience is an opportunity for me to learn. The emphasis on “every experience” was especially new to me since, in my view, only the experiences which worked were considered lessons. With this new understanding, I view failure and mistakes not as a waste but rather as lessons that make me a better person. An especially inspiring moment for me was as I was reading through Norma Cornett’s poem entitled “Tomorrow Never Comes”. As I read contemplated the words of the poem, I realized that I had been taking it for granted that the people who mean a lot to me will always be around. I also acknowledged that I took for granted all the little joys that my friends and family brought to my life.
The realization that tomorrow was not guaranteed jolted me out of this misconception. By constantly reminding myself that tomorrow may never come, I take the time to appreciate the moment and cherish the good moments that life presents to me. I try to say “I love you” to the people that I hold dear at every opportunity I get since by doing this, I will not have any regrets about today if indeed, tomorrow never comes.
From the knowledge learned in this class, I have learned the importance of having goals in life. While I do not consider myself a goalless person, in the past I did tend to go aimlessly in my quest to achieve my goals. By taking an honest self-evaluation, I have been able to come up with well-defined goals to help me be what you want to be in life. Previously, I always limited my goals to my current abilities.
This class has shown me that in as much as I should be realistic about setting my goals, I should not be afraid to dream and set high goals for myself. From the life lessons material I acquired in this class, I have come to appreciate the fact that what I make of my life is entirely up to me and I have all the resources that I need to make my dreams come true (The Process). With my goals in mind, I always remember that I am responsible for my own life and no one can realize my goals for me. Knowing this gives me the motivation that I need to give my life the best shot as I work towards my goals.
A truth that I have come to acknowledge is that the greatest enemy to achieving my goals is discouragement. Most people lose their way towards achieving their goals as a result of discouragement either from themselves or others. Through the life lessons, I have learned that I should never give in to discouragement. True I may have limitations in terms of money, skills, time, support, and other resources but this should never be an excuse for not working towards my goals.
Human beings are social creatures and as such, their interaction with others plays a very pivotal role in personal growth and development. Man cannot wholesomely exist in solitude and as a result of this, our encounters with others are of great importance. I am generally a very shy person and as a matter of fact, I did not speak to anyone in class until the last class where we were obligated to tell something about ourselves in front of the whole class. To me, this lesson was a great break and for the first time, I felt like I belonged with the other students. by taking a risk and opening up in front of the class, I felt myself come to life and felt that I could grow as a person.
Even so, this class has also taught me the values of enjoying my time on my own. Through this class, I have also come to better understand the need for taking time to be by myself. In the past, I considered the time spent by myself as loneliness. This was a misconception since loneliness is a feeling of being isolated from other people which is accompanied by the feeling of emptiness. I have come to appreciate the fact that I can be alone without necessarily being lonely. By taking up activities such as meditation, I have learned that I can increase my mental balance. This is important since the fitness of the mind is very important for one to be able to lead a well-rounded life.
Living in the moment and taking time to savor each moment are some of the concepts I have learned from meditation. We live in a world that is fast-paced and one ends up being so caught up with the daily buzz of living that they hardly have time to reflect on life. As human beings, our lives are mostly crowded with work and we are left with little time to spare for ourselves. An important thing that I have learned is how to make the best of my free time. In particular, I have decided to take up a hobby which is an activity that one engages in for pleasure.
One of the lessons which promise to be of great use in my future is the different types of parental styles that one can adopt. The kind of parenting that a child is subjected to has a huge bearing on his/her future. As such, the parenting style adopted will have a profound impact on the child. Research findings indicate that young people who are brought up in authoritative (warm and firm) households exhibit more psychosocially competence and they are less prone to negative influence and creating problems (Steinberg & Blatt-Eisengart, 2006). Those who are brought up by parents who are negligent or too indulgent on the other hand exhibit less psychosocial maturity and are more prone to delinquency.
Those who are brought up by parents who are negligent or too indulgent on the other hand exhibit less psychosocial maturity and are more prone to delinquency. Less psychosocially mature adolescents are more likely to cause conflict between themselves and the parent. A research carried out by Steinberg and Blatt-Eisengart (2006) on the patterns of competence among adolescents revealed that adolescents with authoritative or authoritarian parents expressed less anxiety and rebellion than those with neglectful parents.
I had authoritarian parents and their word was a law in the house. As a result of this, I am not very keen to express my opinion since my childhood instilled in me the quality of not arguing or reasoning especially with authority figures. My parents also imposed their values on me and this resulted in resentment on my part. Since I recognize the adverse effects that can come from the authoritarian style, I shall make a point not to use it on my children. In the future, there are bound to be conflicts between my children and me.
Through this class, I have learned that parent and adolescent conflicts can be minimized by having the parent adopt an authoritative role rather than being neglectful. This is because neglectful parenting will invariably lead to problem behavior which will escalate the conflicts between parent and adolescent. I shall exercise some degree of parental monitoring and control since these have been seen to be a major inhibitor of parental conflicts with their children. Autonomy is a major issue in adolescents and as the child develops emotional autonomy from parents, they tend to place greater weight on their personal decisions. From this class, I have learned compromises that can be achieved through negotiating present the best manner to resolve conflicts arising from autonomy issues.
This class discussed the significance of mentors in a person’s life. Before this class, my definition of a mentor was someone who intruded on your life and told you what to do since they considered themselves wiser. I, therefore, despised the idea of mentorship sense to me, this was equivalent to having someone dictate how you should lead your life. Through this class, I have come to recognize that this negative perception of mentorship was very misguided.
Mentors are people who can give one advice and guidance in life. Mentoring also offers an individual a nonjudgmental ear and a role model who a person can follow in their life. Mentorship also allows one to give back to society. This truth was brought to my attention by the philosophy of service to others that were emphasized in my class.
Owing to this class, I have now adopted a different perception of mentoring. While I am yet to get a mentor for myself, I am now open to the idea and as a matter of fact, I am actively seeking out a mentor to help me in my professional life. Also, I have recognized that I can serve others by playing a mentorship role for other individuals. I intend to take up some of the youths in my neighborhoods under my wings and mentor them since I now realize the value of mentoring both to the mentor and the mentee.
In this paper, I set out to discuss what I have learned in my psychology human growth and development class. To this end, I have articulated the things that I have learned from the class material and from interacting with my professor and my fellow students. From the discussions presented herein, it is clear that this class has led to profound changes and growth in me as a person. I can rightfully state that I am a better person as a result of the various lessons I have acquired from this class. I intend to integrate the philosophies and lessons that I have learned from this class into my life.
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Fulghum, Robert. All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, Villard Books: New York, 1990.
Steinberg, Laurence and Blatt-Eisengart, Ilana. “Patterns of Competence and Adjustment Among Adolescents from Authoritative, Authoritarian, Indulgent, and Neglectful Homes: A Replication in a Sample of Serious Juvenile Offenders”. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 16(1), 2006, 47–58.
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