How does one go about making the decision to develop oneself, to grow within? This question has as many answers as there are people. No one issue, problem or life situation provides the impetus to proceed. The reasons are as varied as there are people. For instance, one may want to do a little self-improvement, a series of problems may arise, perhaps one experienced a significant event that has been a trigger to grow, or we simply feel driven to it from within. Where we find the intent is irrelevant, having it is all that matters. How do we move forward if we find developing the intent difficult?
One might feel that when serious issues arise one simply goes about fixing it. This presumes one has the intent already, and need not find it. What for those who have difficulty getting themselves started? There is also hope for those in this latter category: plant the seeds for tomorrow. We do this by setting up a thought process similar to this “I will develop the intent, and I will be <fill in the blank>”. This one act does start the development of one’s intent to grow.
Some may argue that such a statement does nothing. I would argue this is simply not so. Over time the thought itself, if continually repeated, will reduce ones internal resistance to it and increase the likelihood of one acting on it. If one can simply firm up the statement as being a truth for them, wear the clothes so to speak, amazing events can occur. This thought alone will enable other aspects of the self to find ways to manifest change. The key is in truly accepting and embracing that you need and want to grow. Even if you are not ready to accept it completely, being open to it is a lessening of resistance. Given sufficient time, this alone will move you closer to it.
Desire to grow alone is rarely enough for most people. Typically, life circumstances triggers the growth process. As examples of this, consider the list below:
Starting with the realization of problems
- You feel a general restlessness in life
- You feel a loss of control in your life
- You feel sad or listless (not related to health)
- Psychological or health problems that persist
- Monetary problems
- Issues between yourself and others escalate (includes anger and other emotional problems)
- Health problems
- Relationship problems or separations
- Lack of fulfillment or “happiness” when we get what “we thought would make us happy”
- Negative Influences or events that are repetitive or cyclic
These examples, often traumatic, should be sufficient to trigger the awareness that one needs to change; surprisingly they are generally not reason enough. Denial, blame and guilt can often keep us from focusing on ourselves as the root of the problem. The true change comes when one begins to realize the factor “I” plays in our experiences. Personal will (and not will power) plays an enormous role in developing the requisite intent and desire. Without them, we likely will not recognize that the issues are ours alone, or have the desire and strength to work on them. With them, we can begin to recognize, rationally, that we as individuals are at the heart of our own problems. We may notice one or more of the following:
- We notice issues have “triggers” that illustrate the problems are not external (only the trigger is).
- Chronic or negative conditions (or feelings) that “do not seem to go away”
- There is escalation or increased frequency of issues without “any apparent cause”
- persistent discomfort or restlessness
Choosing a direction
When we decide to change or realize we need to (and we do this at numerous times in our lives) there is the question of what to do, which direction to take. This is a bigger challenge when we are uncertain of what we should, or would like to be doing. We can become so engrossed in the external aspects of life that we lose our connection to ourselves. As a result, people find it a challenge to hear let alone listen to their inner voice. The challenge grows when what it is “telling us” or “suggesting to us” conflicts with needs and wants that we have already developed in our lives. For example, we would never quit a steady job, or take a cut in pay to do something different because we like (have become accustomed to) our standard of living; or hate taking risks when these may be the very things we need to do to find our own peace.
Looking out into the world, we see many avenues of development. Which one(s) are right for us? This is impossible for me to answer; I would suggest that each of us has to start by looking within ourselves rather than without.
Religious and cultural backgrounds provide the strongest influences as far as direction is concerned. Therefore, the thoughts of our parents and family that made up our early influences do so as well. This is true whether we find ourselves agreeing with them or in opposition to them. They are to a large degree responsible for our current views of the world. Our view most often varies based on how our behaviors, thoughts and so forth correspond to a particular belief structure. Naturally, life modifies our beliefs; nonetheless, they tend to lead us in certain directions.
When we seek help, we tend to choose a method that suits our background and our beliefs. This influences whether we seek help or not and the kind of assistance we look for, be it from psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors (of various types) to self-help groups, services available through ones church or other organization all the way to psychics. We can benefit from any one of these methods. Nor do I recommend abandoning tools that are working. However, this should not stop one from supplementing their efforts, or from seeking other methods when traditional ones are not successful.
Uncertainty does not need to inhibit us in our goals. Nor does what we may perceive to be our own personal lack of will. We can, perhaps recognizing our ineffectiveness, simply choose to focus on what life presents us with on a daily basis- one little bit at a time. Certainly, there are personal issues one can focus on, aspects of the self that one would like to change. Modifying certain behaviors such as rudeness, selfishness or even anger illustrates progress. While such first steps may appear small, insignificant, nothing could be further from the truth. What we are doing is laying a foundation, setting a trend of success that lead us further along our path. We start any journey with a single step. This begs the question: how can such a small change help us?
We talk about our “auras”, how our thoughts, problems and issues reflect in them. Now, imagine living our lives in one or two rooms of a huge mansion without doing any maintenance or cleaning and I am sure you will get the picture. When we start to reduce our issues and order our minds, it has the same effect on the mess we have created. A clearer, unrestrained mind has access to greater untapped resources; it will begin to use them. We find that we have ideas, intuitions and urges we may not have felt before; unexpected opportunities will surface. We can learn to recognize those that are to our benefit, those that will aid us in development.
There is one significant point I would like to make at this time. This point is that often those who begin to step outside of broadly accepted beliefs believe that in order to progress a teacher or mentor is required. Their knowledge can increase our level of comfort and confidence as well as give us new insights; yet inside each of us are the truths for which we search. We do not need a teacher to progress. There are times in our lives when we will walk with those who assist or guide us, and there are times when we go it alone.
We cannot wait for a teacher and make them the necessary piece of the puzzle we need to move forward. If we say, “I will grow when I meet a teacher” we will likely be waiting our whole life. Let your mentor be the world around you, and your life experiences. We all get unexpected help when we need it, even though the form of it often goes unrecognized. Treat every experience and the feelings and thoughts you have as your teacher.
Our desire and intent alone are often sufficient to set up opportunities. We attract influences based on where we are right now. “To each in their time”, the old saying goes. The meaning in this context is that when we tend to get what we can use now. Make it a goal to start to notice them by paying more attention to what your experiences are telling you. Getting to “Knowing Thyself” is truly a path to personal power and harmony.
There is another old saying that has value, that statement is “seek and ye shall find”. The immense value of simply making the decision to search cannot be overstated. This act is a powerful enabler. Use your beliefs as a guide. Follow what feels right, rather than simply what others have said is right. Examine your beliefs critically; notice how they affect your actions, and how the actions re-enforce the beliefs. There are real benefits to understanding more about the mechanisms of your own mind. I hope that we can discover these as we progress.
© 2009 Allan Beveridge