There are some common pitfalls in the personal growth industry, that people make. Let me try to address some of them here.
Self improvement from a place of I am bad or not good enough.
A lot of people are trying to become better at something, become good at something. Many do it from the place of “I am not good enough” so they need to get better. What people fail to understand is that there is nothing to improve. You want to improve yourselves because you want to go up in terms of personal value. In other words not improving means that you’re not good enough now.
Alan Watts says, you can not improve yourself because the person needs improving is the one who is doing the improvement.
Make a clear distinction between your value and a skill that you’re trying to learn.
You need to make a clear distinction that what you are trying to learn is another skill. May be it is a habit that needs to change. May be it is a though process that needs to change. Any lasting change is formed through repetition and the cognitive framing of the experience that you are having.
There is no correlation between your value and something you don’t have the skills to do yet.
Ask yourself if your thoughts are helpful or not, rather than trying to be positive.
I am not a big believer of positive thoughts, where the positivity and the inflated self importance, quite does not match your skill level. You can positively affirm all the way you want it, but nothing is going to change unless you develop the skills through practice that is in alignment with your affirmations.
Thoughts, positive or negative, they both come from your ego which is a combination of what you think about yourself plus what you think what others think about you. On top of that add your efforts to look better in front of others, or not to look bad because you want to have some kind of self importance and dignity through these actions.
This is a very fragile construct because you put endless effort into place this whole thing together day after another until you get exhausted and give up the whole thing.
Believing your thoughts too much.
I say treat your thoughts and emotions for what they are, not as something that defines your value. Your thoughts originate from what you know and subsequently creates emotions. Once you understand this you cease to give any thought or emotion any more power to sustain. They drop on their own accord.
Rather than trying to be positive, have a look at your thoughts and ask yourself whether they are helpful thoughts or unhelpful thoughts rather than positive or negative. Meaning do they allow you to get where you want to be or not.
The thoughts in themselves don’t have any power, it only affects us based on how much power and you give it to that thought. In other words how much you believe your thoughts determines how much they control you.
Trying to be a good person and not accepting your shadow parts.
This is another area where people overlook when trying to “improve themselves”. Anger is bad, jealousy is bad. Envy is bad. Sadness is bad. Be happy.
These are all part of being human and part of the human experience and can be great teachers.
You sometimes make mistakes. But has anyone taught you the right tools how to reconcile them in a helpful way?
Practice the understanding that it is all part of being a human.
Being more compassionate/fierce with yourself whenever it is appropriate.
In the end everyone is having a human experience, I am afraid of you, you are afraid of me, we are afraid of each other.
You need to cultivate the awareness through practice to know when you’re beating yourself up or being too rescuing yourself.
A lot times people beat themselves up for not knowing something or making a mistake, for getting angry. For getting out of control. For losing composure. For not having it together. This is where you need to be more compassionate to yourself.
And sometimes, people are just lazy and don’t want to take responsibility. Are you using self care as an excuse not to engage in something in that might potentially make you grow. I don’t know, only you know. Time to be a bit more honest with yourself.
You are not the only one having the experience.
Whenever you’re sad, or you feel like you have done something wrong, or feeling shame; Feeling shame or whatever it is, you are not the only one having that experience.
Thinking that you’re the only one makes you isolate. You start to think that No one understands you. This is in fact vanity, a twisted need to feel special. This way you are more disconnected from others become more apathetic towards others.
Understanding that everyone has your kind of experiences lets you have more compassion to others and be more open to others.
Trust your own intuition and be receptive to feedback.
It is very common for people when they are learning something new to completely ignore their intuition in favour of a new teaching, or a new teacher. If something is off don’t do it.
To know whether something is off or not, now, that is a tricky part. Some people say it is off just because whatever they are learning is not familiar to them. This is not what I am talking about.
To know whether truly something is not right for you at this moment in your life, you need to be brutally honest with yourself. This will involve looking beyond your pride and having humility.
When someone gives you feedback, assess whether it is true for you, not just mentally but also ask if are you having a bodily reaction? Is there a visceral sensation when you receive that feedback. If there is then dig deeper and get curious. This is a chance to be honest yourself. If it is not true, then throw the feedback away.