GEN Personal Growth from Scary Choices


What evidence is there that personal growth occurs through making scary choices?

Consensus logo

The concept of personal growth through making challenging or 'scary' choices is supported by various research findings:

  1. Personal Wisdom Development Involves Suffering: It is suggested that personal growth occurs significantly through handling and reflecting on negative life experiences. This development process involves pain and suffering, yet it feels more satisfying in retrospect. The study emphasizes the role of personality dispositions like emotional regulation, reflectiveness, openness to experiences, and action orientation in decision-making and handling regret, indicating that individuals high on openness and action orientation choose riskier options and experience less regret after failure, possibly due to the notion of 'at least I tried' (Sharma, 2020).

  2. Posttraumatic Growth: The concept of posttraumatic growth describes the experience of positive change resulting from the struggle with highly challenging life crises. It manifests in various ways, including an increased appreciation for life, more meaningful interpersonal relationships, a sense of personal strength, changed priorities, and a richer existential and spiritual life. This concept underlines that great good can come from great suffering, suggesting a significant role for personal growth following adverse experiences (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004).

  3. Personal Growth Within Life Activities: Choice is recognized as crucial in personal growth. The process of a person's growth is seen as a continuous series of choice situations involving decisions between security and risk-taking, dependence and independence, regression and progression, and immaturity and maturity (Schalock & Kiernan, 1990).

  4. Profiles of Posttraumatic Growth Following an Unjust Loss: This study suggests that individuals who perceive experiences as threats to their sense of self and who engage in new self-understanding are more likely to report personal growth. This growth is attributed to the development of new perspectives and understanding, aligning with the idea that facing and overcoming difficult challenges can lead to personal growth (Davis, Wohl & Verberg, 2007).

In conclusion, evidence suggests that personal growth often occurs through facing and overcoming challenging, and sometimes painful, experiences. This growth is associated with a greater sense of personal strength, changed life priorities, and an increased appreciation for life.