Personal Evolution


What is Evolution? I generally think of it as an improvement – upward movement and not downward. After all we try smarten up not dumb down. Regardless, the traditional definition has an eye to populations of organisms over time and that is not really my concern in posing the question. In order for a population to “evolve’, all of the members have to first undergo changes or possibly be left behind. So, I’m pondering personal change and evolution. We are all changing all the time – whether we realize it consciously or not.

I just finished reading Bruce Lipton’s “The Biology of Belief” – it’s a fascinating book. He’s a cellular biologist and lays out the argument for how the cells in our body are affected by our thoughts. Studying one celled organisms led him to draw parallels with multicellular beings like human composed of trillions of cells. 

What do you feel when someone looks at you and says “You’ve changed”? Does the message feel like a good one or maybe not so much? 

“You’ve Changed”

I happen to have had that phrase “you’ve changed” directed to me a few times and it used to bother me. The first that I recall was a colleague that I worked with early in my career. Truth be told, the person drove me crazy and I was rather defensive and unyielding in their presence. I recall feeling marginalized, as if my opinion and skills meant nothing. I was young and not terribly confident as we were working on implementing new tools and all of us were undergoing a learning curve. I’m pretty sure that I wrote the experience off as the other person being difficult without considering what I might do differently. 

I saw that same person, each of us in new roles, about 10 years later. I had a bit more life under my belt by this point and was a little better at showing up as myself. We were in a meeting and I was joking around and laughing. At one point over lunch, I heard “Wow – have you ever changed” with laughter. I remember thinking, “I just understand how to work with you now.” I no longer felt threatened by the need to get everything right and possessed the generosity of spirit to no longer judge that working relationship.


The second instance occurred with a family member and it’s been repeated multiple over the past two years or so. As you may recall, my life has changed in so many ways over the last 5 years that some people no longer recognize me. But it’s not the changing circumstances of my life that are the focus. Rather – I approach life differently and that is the point.

“You’ve changed” – those words actually have little to do with me. Still, I used to react defensively. Regardless of the context, keep in mind that the message has more to do with the sender than the receiver. I have changed. The confusing part for others that once knew me well is that they no longer know what to expect from me. Judgement comes through – sometimes what we would perceive to be good and sometimes bad. At issue is the fact that I move through my world differently than I did before.

Personal Growth & Evolution

I consider that evolution – personal evolution because I simply let myself be instead of trying to be someone that I am not. As such, observers are no longer certain of how I fit in their world. We like certainty – it helps us explain what’s going on around us. We like to know that we can count on a particular person to be X, Y and Z and to know that they will always be like that. But here’s the thing – change is inevitable and not something to be avoided. Change happens all around us and we, in turn,  change by learning new information and incorporating that knowledge into our beliefs, values and attitudes.

I found an old article on the Web by an author named Chris Akins He said “I see personal growth as goal-oriented and effortful, whereas in my view personal evolution is allowing yourself to become the person that you truly are.   Personal growth implies changing things about yourself, whereas personal evolution implies radically accepting who you are and allowing changes to occur naturally.” I LOVE this definition!

Deepak Chopra says “As an adult, … evolution is a choice. The key is simple. There is only one thing you need to do to align with the force of evolution: Participate in your own consciousness. Pay attention to being alert and aware. As you do, you will develop new skills in awareness that will affect every choice you make in life. The most evolved choice is the one that benefits you the most in body, mind, and spirit. You can’t decide how to make such ideal choices using only your intellect.”

Evolving Practically

That means noticing when I get that clutch in my stomach over a decision or seeing what helps the tension to drain from my body. Those reactions are significant and instructive and prepare me to make a choice. My impulse used to be to ignore those sensations but there is much to be learned. We tend to think that we have an obligation to gravitate towards the happy or positive and ignore that bad or difficult. But ignoring those feelings prevents us from processing something and moving on. We get stuck trying to be something that we are not. As Deepak says – participate in your own consciousness. Pay attention – you just might evolve purposefully and intentionally! When someone tells me now that “I’ve changed”, I can smile, say thank you for noticing and move on!

So – what can you observe about yourself? What reaction have you been avoiding that, if faced, may open up your world?

Have a great week!

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