Come Home to Yourself
How many times have you recognized an area in your life in need of improvement, and quickly found yourself at your local bookstore? You scurry into the self-help or business section, and walk out with a stack of books sure to "fix" your problem. Later, after reading the books, you feel you're at the same place you started.
The point I'm trying to illustrate is this: self-improvement is not a matter of adding to yourself, it's a matter of reducing - reducing the layers of "shoulds", self-doubt, beliefs that limit us, and old, outdated rules that weigh us down like a big, heavy suitcase.
What we commonly call self-improvement or personal growth is actually a return to our original selves - the people we were before most of us were taught to hold ourselves back, not trust or be completely true to ourselves. Rather than adding a new layer or trying to "fix" ourselves, self - improvement is the act of shedding these old layers that no longer serve you.
In the act of moving ahead in life or attaining what we define as success, we often forget our early passions and desires or dismiss them as unimportant. We tell ourselves that adults think certain ways and do certain things. Many of us define adulthood as being responsible, creating security for ourselves and our families, and sacrificing our desires for the good of others. These are important values. Yet when we honor them too much, we lose contact with who we are. Again, self-improvement is about removing what blocks you and reconnecting with what you love. When you know what you want, and you are aware of the obstacles and fears that block you, it's easier to make decisions and choices from a perspective of inner integrity.
How do we return to our original selves?
- Self-care. We can't be good for ourselves or our businesses if we don't take great care of ourselves. As a new parent, I remind myself constantly that a happy parent makes a happy child. In other words, if I'm cranky and exhausted, I'm not at my best for my child or for my business.
- Get rid of the guilt. Guilt is a useless emotion, yet we all feel it. Generally, guilt masks another emotion. Next time you feel guilty, ask yourself what you are actually feeling - Sadness? Fear? Anger?
- Clean up your relationships. Relationships that no longer benefit you drain a tremendous amount of mental, emotional and physical energy.
- Get to know your inner critic and how it sabotages you. For example, your inner critic might tell you that you aren't allowed to have what you want.
- Create a safety net. A diverse patchwork of connections and resources. Just as it's sound advice to diversify your investments, so is it beneficial to diversify your connections and resources. Different people help you access different aspects of yourself.
- Seek professional help. Hire a coach or a therapist. "I should be able to do this by myself" is a common stumbling block.
As a snake sheds its skin regularly, so must we shed that which no longer optimizes our personal and professional development.