Want to find an easy route to self-improvement? Who doesn’t?
If you’re like me, you want quick, yet effective ways to become the person you dream of being. Your ideal self, happy and comfortable with who you are. Effortlessly achieving your goals. Well compensated for your work. Beautifully balanced work and home life. Perfectly fit, sexually satisfied, in a fulfilling relationship and raising healthy, happy children. Did I leave anything out?
You are not alone. Little snippets of self-help catch our eye online, at the supermarket, the bookstore or on morning TV. We try these tips, they don’t work or they do work, but not for long. We devote precious time to reading an entire book that promises whole-self transformation and we take away a few meager tips – cursing what seems like too little for the time we invested. We may even begin to poo-poo anything claiming to improve our lives and decide to wallow in our junk because nothing really works.
Self-help advice can be good, if used well and wisely. If you dive beneath the surface, you will uncover a deeper truth waiting to be acknowledged. What might be in order is a new, more realistic perspective. Start with the understanding that personal development is a process. We move thru cycles and stages of need from the time we’re born until the day we die. Often we spiral around the same issues – at different times and stages, with different levels of awareness, understanding, acceptance and motivation.
In today’s hyperactive world, we also get tangled up in “the doing,” believing that is what will make our life better. Eat more (a), read (b), do more (c) and you’ll be (d). Over functioning is the new normal for women in the US. It boosts our egos – our ability to feel like super women, but it destroys our spirit and sense of peace and balance.
We seek out more and more doing, but feel less and less satisfied. All or nothing. On or off. The either-or dichotomy has us trapped…locked in its depleting death-grip.
What’s behind our over functioning, overdoing? LIES. What Labels, Illusions, Excuses and Stories are limiting us from the quality of life we long for – a life that is balanced, free, fulfilled?
- Labels like perfect mother, good daughter, great friend and colleague?
- Illusions about perfection? As if it really exists! Slave to the image you want to convey of having it all together, getting it all done, and making it look easy.
- Excuses about what you can and can’t stop doing or start doing. Your reasons/excuses, that lead to the absence of whatever good you want are probably not valid. Think again. Choose again.
- Stories about what your friend does, or colleagues do, how much better they are than you. Really old family stories and traditions handed down through the generation, consciously or unconsciously, can keep you living a life that is not fully your own, or as you want it to be.
All LIES. LIES limit your ability to know and own your own truth. LIES keep you from daringly creating a life that aligns with who you are at your core.
In all that self-help material we churn through, we are looking for the perfection of our true self, which is different from the perfection of our personality – our ego. We’re searching for a deeper connection with the real stuff of life. We want and need trustworthy love that lasts, peace that persists and perfection that is real, maybe even divinely-inspired.
The key: Self-discipline. To master your life, master your self – your choices and how you use your time and energy. If you want balance, choose balance. Make it a priority and you’re more likely to achieve it with greater frequency. Take the long view. Perfect balance every moment of every day is impossible. But balance over the course of a week or month or year is far more doable.
Life balance involves experiencing an inner sense of harmony, calm and peace. To have that, you have to choose to do less. Be less busy with stuff that’s nice to have, be or do, but not central to your quality of life. No more cramming, shoving, stuffing, tensely moving from thing to thing. Blaming others and being self-critical all the while and way, with questions and doubt playing pin ball in your head.
“Am I a sucker?”
“I’m such a pushover. I can’t say no.”
“Why did they ask her to do it? Don’t they think I can handle it?”
“Why did they ask me? They should know I don’t have time for this.”
“I feel taken advantage of. Nobody appreciates me and what I do.”
When these thoughts and feelings surface, instead of distracting yourself with business or buying the latest and greatest thing or having chips and ice cream, STOP for a minute and ask yourself, “What really matters to me? What fills me up and keeps me up? What makes my heart feel glad and good? What will endure? Forget have tos, shoulds, ought tos. Live your highest truth and calling.
The best self-help tools help you achieve what you’ve already set your mind to. So don’t go cold turkey and don’t be afraid to cherry pick advice. Let your deeper inner self guide your outer choices and actions. With committed disciplined practice, over time, you and everyone around you will see and feel the change. The changes will last because they were created from the inside out.
Do the self-work. The work only you can do. Go inside. Connect with your inner wisdom and allow its guidance to direct you in creating a life that fits who you are today.
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