What are the stages of the personal development journey? And, is there a road map of sorts? Is there a known, or predictable trajectory that can help to guide us?

I think so.

From taking a step back to assess my own journey of personal development, and by observing the shifts that my clients have made over the years, I’ve identified some key stages of personal development.

Now when I work with people, it becomes obvious very quickly to me which of these stages of personal development they’re at.

Where you are on the personal development journey?

If you’re anything like me (and kids everywhere), then one question you may very well be asking yourself is this;

“Are we there yet??”

When you decide to set out on the personal development journey, there are many aspects that you could be looking to achieve. This will depend on you, and what’s important to you.

What do you want to achieve from your personal development journey?

This might seem like an odd question to ask, but it’s an important one. Why is it that you choose to do personal development-y things?  At its simplest it’s probably because you just want to feel better. But there’s probably a lot more to it than that.

Most people are looking for things like;

  • less anxiety or stress
  • improved confidence
  • better money mindset
  • less conflict
  • improved emotional resilience
  • better sleep
  • improved ability to remain calm in challenging situations (get triggered less)
  • more able to be present
  • improved health
  • ability to calm down the inner chatter

… the list goes on. But essentially, this is all about becoming a better version of you today than you were yesterday, or last year.

As far as your personal development journey is going, how are you getting on?

An obvious place to start is simply to take a look at how you feel. If you feel better than yesterday, last month or last year, then you’re probably moving forwards. But where exactly are you on this path? And how do you know if you’re near the end?

What stage of personal development you are at?

In the time that I’ve been clearing mine and other people’s head trash, I’ve noticed some key themes emerge. I’ve observed how people tend to move through certain stages as they progress through clearing their head trash and building their emotional resilience.

I’ve identified 5 different stages of personal development on this journey that I’d like to share with you.

But before I do, there are a three things need to be said before I share them with you;

1. Not everyone starts at the first stage.

We all start at different points depending on what level we came into the world at. Most people start at one of the first three stages.

2. It’s not a one-way track.

It is just as possible fall back a stage, as it is to jump up a stage. So while clearing head trash, or doing any other inner work will help you to move up a stage, difficult life events such as the loss of a loved one or a traumatic event could bring you down a level or two. Whether you sink and stay there, or bounce back up (and how fast) will be down to your emotional resilience.

3. We fluctuate between stages.

If we were to draw a graph of us progressing through the stages of personal development, then it would look a lot like a graphs of stocks or shares. There will be an overall trend, but on a short term basis there could be lots of zig-zagging up and down based on daily life happenings.

Now I’ve got that out the way, let me share what those stages of personal development are. In doing so I hope that you’ll be able to spot where you are on your personal development journey.

The 5 Stages of Personal Development

Here are the 5 stages of personal development, or as I like to call it, the Head Trash Ladder of Healing. I’ve given each of these stages a name that helps us to better understand the stage, and what you can expect from being at that stage.

A good place to start would be at what is, for many, the start of the head trash clearance journey. Or, the bottom rung on the Head Trash Ladder or Healing

1. Conkers

People at the very beginning of the head trash clearance journey can be best described as prickly. Prickly just like the shell of a conker. If I asked you to pick one of these things up, how would you feel about that? You’d probably shy away. Perhaps you’d put some gloves on. Not only to protect you from the prickliness but also because the prickles are delicate.

People with a lot of head trash are a lot like conkers. They’re prickly peeps who need to be handled with care, maybe even with kid gloves. This is because they can hurt you very easily. They may not do so intentionally, but they have a lot of unresolved trauma and are very easily triggered which means that they can lash out without thinking and say hurtful things. Or they can be very distant and disconnected, which can feel hurtful to loved ones around them.

Like conkers, they get trodden on, or at least, FEEL trodden on. In fact, they often feel like the victim in whatever scenario they find themselves in. Victims tend to feel powerless and believe that the solution to their ills lies elsewhere; other people, more money, another drink,

They don’t tend to take responsibility for their problems because they feel that these terrible things have simply happened to them. And while that may be partly the case, they struggle to see that maybe they might have had a role to play somewhere along the line.

Conkers tend to affect those around them in negative ways; if you get too close, you’ll more than likely get hurt. At the very least, you’ll come away feeling the pang of a prick. They get easily sucked into whatever drama is around them. Just like if you roll a conker shell on a dusty floor it will pick up a load of fluff and rubbish. People who are conkers also have the tendency to pick up all sorts of undesirable stuff in their environment. Their stuff might be unhealthy relationships, bad habits, other people’s dramas, destructive behaviours, and huge doses of self- sabotage.

Depending on how long the person has been like this, eventually, the weight of their head trash is going to start affecting their body. They might start having problem skin or hair. Digestive issues or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) might start creeping in, as might restless or sleepless nights. If any of these are left unchecked, it can lead to all sorts of physical ailments. The dis-ease in our emotions is what leads to disease in the body, and often the person who is ill all the time, has a bunch of inner work to do.

Please don’t think I’m having a go at these people at this stage; I’m not. I used to be one! I think it’s important to get a sense of what it looks like to be overcome with head trash. Perhaps you recognise some of this in yourself or in the people around you.

If a Conker were to start doing some head trash clearance (or other healing or inner work), then their next evolution would be the Washing Ball. You know, those plastic balls some people put in their washing machines? Yes, those!

2. Washing Balls

Washing Balls still have spikes, but they’ve been reduced in number and they’re nowhere near as prickly as conkers. People like this start to feel much stronger in themselves, especially compared to where they were. This is all relative, remember; it’s a journey. But, just like a washing ball, they feel tossed about by life. They’re not really in control of things; things control them. Often, it can feel like they’re going round in circles because they are!

They still have a lot of internal conflicts pulling in several different directions, and it’s spinning them out a bit. One minute, they’re doing this, and the next, they try that; they struggle to focus. Their self-sabotage is actually making them go round in circles, repeating the same negative patterns.

Perhaps they keep being attracted to the same crappy relationships, or maybe they keep making the same mistakes. They know they’re doing it, but they can’t seem to stop. This is because deep wounds and internal conflicts need to be healed. Until these wounds are healed they will continue to self- sabotage and go round and round.

Washing Balls also tend to find it hard to stick to something long enough to make a difference, so they give up and ping right back to where they were. Yo-yo dieting is a classic example of head trash needing to be cleared.

Washing Balls will struggle with mental energy and focus. This may well be down to the struggles they have with sleep, but it’s also because of the anxieties and stresses that they’re holding onto. This means they’re probably never far from a cup of coffee.

Let’s say our washing ball continues on their head trash clearance journey.

What delights await them?

They become a bouncy ball! You know, those rubber bouncy balls that kids love!

3. Bouncy Balls

Now is when life can start to feel a bit more fun. Who doesn’t want a bouncy ball in their lives? Washing balls? No thanks! But bouncy ball? Hell, yes! The prickly bits have been dealt with. People now positively enjoy your presence. But it’s not all roses.

Bouncy balls are a bit unpredictable. People aren’t quite sure how you’re going to react; you’re a bit inconsistent. One minute you’re on top of the world and all smiles, then, suddenly, you hit a low. If you’re not careful, you find that you go off the rails pretty easily, which annoys you as much as it annoys those around you.

Unfortunately, you still have the potential to rub others the wrong way. Other people’s energy and actions trigger you very easily. You’re not what one could describe as “emotionally resilient.” Little things still set you off.

The world is full of bouncy balls, and it can feel a bit hectic. But like the wonderful depiction of a world full of bouncy balls from the Sony Bravia advert from the noughties, it’s also beautiful. It’s people’s quirks and foibles that make life interesting and colourful. The best music comes from troubled souls and people wrestling with their stuff. This isn’t, by any means, a bad place to be. Hell, I spent years there!

When I share this with you, let me be clear, there is no judgement with any of these stages. There is no good or bad stage to be at. They just are. They each have positive and negative aspects, and they’re each loaded with opportunities for learning and growth. Whether you’re open to it or choose to take action is something else.

Anyway, what’s next? If you choose to continue with your head trash clearance, what’s your next incarnation?
It’s a snooker ball!

4. Snooker Balls

Snooker Balls are less of a lightweight, and they’re more grounded. People take great pleasure from simply being with you. Who doesn’t like holding a snooker ball in their hand? The shininess, the weight, the heaviness, the coolness to the touch; all of it feels so good. As a package, it works.

But, as with a snooker ball, you get a bit of a buffeting.

Now that you’re stronger, people who aren’t as strong as you are drawn to you. Consequently, you get poked and pushed around a bit. People come to you for help with their dramas, and, because you’re still a work-in-progress in terms of your own inner emotional life, you get easily sucked into the pockets of their lives. You want to help them and feel like you have the energy and ability to help them, so you try. But you quickly get frustrated because, all too often, your help doesn’t seem to make too much of a difference, and it drains you.

As a snooker ball, you have much more direction and focus in your life; if you were feeling stuck in life before, now you’re starting to get unstuck and feel like you have a clear direction or aim. At times, you make incredible progress and score some wins, but then, out of nowhere, you get knocked into darkness and wonder what the hell happened. You’ve hit one of your big blocks, that’s what! The closer we get to succeeding and fulfilling our destiny, the more we get tested. At times like this, our resolve is tested – do we really want this? We have to dig deep to get ourselves back up.

Many people struggle to pick themselves up and get back on track. It’s not always easy. It takes more mindset work, more inner work, more head trash clearance, but those who do the work can succeed.

And what’s waiting for them is the light at the end of tunnel. The light that signals en-lighten-ment. So what is it? What ball do you become as you reach enlightenment? Well, it’s the best ball there is! A glitter ball!

5. Glitter Balls

Who doesn’t want to be a glitter ball? The glitter ball is the life and soul of the party.

As a glitter ball, you notice that you’re able to rise above the drudgery of day-to-day life. You have a new perspective and things just don’t seem to affect you in the same way. There’s a bit more distance and things just feel more peaceful, somehow.

As a glitter ball, you’re thriving in life. You have an ability to focus and stay sharp. You find it easy to get in the zone and feel in flow. This means that you can be super productive, but also intuitive. Glitter balls live in the realm of synchronicity and extra-ordinary outcomes. Things just happen for you in a way that they didn’t before. They fall into the place as if by divine timing.

As a glitter ball, people are drawn to your energy, charisma, cheeriness, and calmness. You’re like a beacon in the sea of emotional chaos.
It might seem as though people are drawn to you because of your brightness and your light. But the truth is that it isn’t your light they’re seeing; it’s theirs. You help them to find the light that exists within them; you’re simply reflecting their own brilliance back at them. You inspire them to be more. But don’t be fooled. Your work isn’t finished. You still have chinks that need work; this work will never end. But you’re most definitely on the home stretch… in terms of head trash clearance anyhow.

Find out where you are on your personal development journey with our quiz!

Where do you think you are on this journey? Would you like to find out?

I’ve created a quiz that will tell you. How cool is that? Find out whether you’re a Conker, Washing Ball, Bouncy Ball, Snooker Ball or Glitter Ball.

Just head over here to do the quiz:

>> Find out which Head Trash ball type you are with my quiz <<


Alexia Leachman
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