25 Self-Development Truths You Can Take To The Bank
Or I Don’t Know Anything
"The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it." ~John Ruskin.
Here are 25 self-development truths I am certain of through firsthand experience at this topic for over four decades of trial and error of successes and failures. And these are not necessarily in order of importance:
1. Whether we recognize it or not, we are all on a self-improvement journey to learn, grow and improve into our best selves. And, until death do us part, there will always be a gap between where we are and where we want to be. Closing this gap IS the journey. But beware that a lot of the gap may be made up of incorrect perceptions that just need to be corrected.
2. The only thing that can really give you what you want is in understanding the truth of “the truth will set you free.” We have absolute freedom to choose the right way to pursue that very important understanding in the way we think, feel and act every single moment of freedom.
3. Life is the only game of which the object is to figure out the rules. How we do this is entirely up to us, because of the gift of free will, but we seem to have better success and more happiness when we find out what the right rules are and follow them instead of trying to reinvent the entire wheel with our stubborn and rebellious pride. No one is quick to readily admit this though.
4. The real test of self-development knowledge is with relationships. And here again, the rules for good relationships are already established: Be mutually committed to a common purpose, work hard at communicating clearly, and work out a compatible way to deal with your incompatibilities. Actually the key to good relationships is to select a person based on the absence of or at least minimal presence of these potential deal-breakers.
5. Most self-development books aren’t for you, but are really more for the person who wrote them. This is because the authors will usually be confronted with the very problems they are advising you on solving, only at a much deeper level than they dealt with the first go around, just to put their ideas to the real test. This is a common writer’s affliction.
6. A good book, movie or music is usually more effective and certainly less expensive than any therapist in helping you feel better.
7. We humans invented a cute little trick to make bad events seem worse. A bad thing happens that makes us feel bad. Then we think about this discomfort and we start feeling worse, and even worse about that. This is called a vicious circle to nowhere that zaps all the energy needed to get untangled.
8. We all really want the same thing but we get confused about it because we aren’t really clear on what we think we want and then invent so many different words to describe these wants. We basically want to be free in making choices to be successful in our own way, getting somewhere in life and enjoying the rewards our efforts bring. But this can only be accomplished with the responsible use of our freedom to connect with, help and enable others instead of excluding, hurting and disabling them.
9. We can get stuck in the gap between where we are and where we want to be, by the natural but unproductive habit of dualistic thinking—judging these particular things to be right, good, true , and useful and those other things to be wrong, bad, false and useless. Major personal growth only starts to happen when we begin to reconcile all the opposites we divided and took apart earlier by this dualistic thinking. This part of the journey to wholeness can take several years and be a real strain for the best critical thinkers.
10. A major challenge in personal growth is to get our minds, bodies and spirits on the same page as far as our growth plan goes. These things seem to have a mind all their own so to speak, and getting them to agree upon anything is a constant battle. That is until we realize they are all seeking the same thing by realizing what it is.
11. Life is really a very fair behavior modification program. All the karmic consequences occur the same for all who make the choices that bring them. The main thing worth figuring out is what choices give you what you want and which don’t and then avoiding the unnecessary failures from then on. But that is a lot easier said then done.
12. The ‘devil made me do it’ is the biggest cop-out that was ever imagined. The only devil you have to worry about is your own doubting of good outcomes once you learn to make the right choices. But those doubts can get the best of you sometimes.
13. You can waste a lot of time trying to make another person happy only to find out you can only make him or her unhappy. It is a hard lesson to learn, but getting along with others mainly involves your ability and willingness to accept them for who they are rather than who you want to make them into. The wise shift is to focus on yourself and your own growth and improvement.
14. What you are convinced of ‘knowing” has more to do with where you are standing in time and place doing the looking than what you actually see. The beauty is that if you don’t like what you see all you have to do is change viewpoints by moving a block or week away.
15. All “sinning” is just temporary loitering in resisting the lesson of learning to give into the creative process of growing and improving by figuring out what the rules are and then making the right choices. But all sinning is willful negligence or malice that has undesirable consequences in the here and now. Being told you are going to hell for eternity for your evil deeds isn’t going to scare you into loving behavior any more than blind obedience will. Only the truth will set you free.
16. The real power to discover is the infinite potential inside you—the absolute freedom to find out what your purpose is, develop your talents to carry out this purpose, and actively pursue your dreams by using this power in a loving, enabling, productive way to be successful and help others be that way too by more showing than telling.
17. When you find yourself in a hole at least stop digging. And then accept the reality that regardless of how others may have ‘pushed you’ into the hole they are not going to help you climb out. The first steps out are acknowledging what you did to get where you are without blaming someone else.
18. You can’t possibly be happy until you discover your main purpose and start using your God-given talents to carry out that purpose with commitment and passion, just because it feels good and right to do in and by itself with no need for external rewards. Stop short of that and you will be held hostage to a life of quiet despair.
19. The realization of personal power occurs when deciding how to react to the ‘bad’ things that happen to you and the great transformational opportunity is realized when you decide to remain hopeful and optimistic that the negative event isn’t personal, pervasive or permanent.
20. You usually don’t need more information to speed up the self- improvement process and results you get, but rather to rethink what you think you already know, which might not always be so.
21. The one positive vs. negative distinction that is worth knowing is the one between positive and negative feelings. Positive feelings confirm you are headed in the right direction with the right choices, while negative feelings are trying to warn you that you may need to slow down and rethink your approach to something or reconsider the wrong choice you may be about to make.
22. It is always good to pause now and then and recognize how far you have come; just don’t get too comfortable congratulating yourself. Egos don’t take much nutrition to grow out of proportion to the rest of you.
23. Probably the best way to get your mind, body and spirit working in better harmony is to be painfully aware of what areas you are out of balance in and do something to get back in better balance without overdoing it.
24. The one area of self-development we all need to commit to is improving the extent of babble that is going on today. The best contribution we can each make to undoing all this miscommunication is to avoid any type of defensive tone that conveys even the smallest amounts of superiority, over-control, judgment, over-certainty, dishonesty, manipulation or insensitivity. And of course: Be quick, be brilliant and be gone.
25. Often the best way to get rid of your own discontentment, unhappiness or worries is to help others get rid of theirs. That has always worked for me. And if it doesn’t you have another option: do something productive to get rid of the thing that is causing the discontentment, unhappiness or worry. That is always a sure cure.
William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA and also a business and personal success coach, sport psychologist, photographer and writer living in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too, The Bow-Wow Secrets, Do What Matters Most, “P” Point Management, and Reality Repair coming shortly. He can be contacted with comments or questions at 425 454-5011 or bcottringer.pssp.net