A few weeks ago I took my son to Barnes and Noble. I had some time to kill while he searched for books on weird computer languages. Since I had time to wander, I found myself in the self-help section, looking for anything interesting that relates to my current psych/mindfulness/coaching classes. Honestly, I found myself looking at how many people were crammed into this small section of the store searching for self-help books. And that’s OK. It shows a desire to learn, grow, and be the best version of yourself. Kudos peeps.
But I remember way back, (think 1980-90’s) when this was the taboo section of the store. You were discreet, you went to a store out of your local habitat to avoid others. It was a silent scream that something was wrong with you personally. It meant you needed to “fix” yourself. But now, well, personal growth is in full swing. It’s “in” to be working on your own mindful potential. (Yay! Because that means I can keep on writing for you!) So now, it’s acceptable, but I did notice that the unspoken insinuation has not quite fully left town.
So why do we seek personal growth? I think there are two big motivators: fear and love.
Let’s start with love. When you are looking for personal growth from a place of love, no matter how many mistakes you have make, you’re willing to use them as learning opportunities, not as a reason to criticize yourself. You acknowledge that you are doing the best you can with whatever life throws at you. You are accepting and forgiving to yourself, and then, true growth happens.
If you are fearful, and looking for self-help, you believe that your life is lacking in some way. You hang on to the teeny tiny hope that if you just get the right book, or sign up for that meditating retreat, all will be well again. Peeps, if you hang on to this belief, it is not personal growth. Stop looking outside of yourself for happiness, and inner peace. You’ll end up unfulfilled, and the bad feelings will continue to grow. Why? Because you aren’t getting long term results.
I was in that cycle last year. The end of a large chapter in my life left me feeling empty and broken. Let me be brutally honest with you guys, because we all learn from each other, right? I wasn’t happy with where I was on my career path, and financially things were tough. Though I was very grateful for my supportive family and close friends, I knew deep in my heart that it was all on me to make a change. But I felt lost and unsure of myself, and I had no clue what my next steps needed to be.
Everything I had envisioned for my life in my youth was definitely not where I had landed. So I got scared, sometimes I’m still scared. I felt alone most of the time, and like everything was falling down around me. I know- we’ve all been there at some point. Every insecurity I was unknowingly carrying surfaced, self-doubt crept up, and I second-guessed every decision. I cried. I prayed. I blamed everyone and everything. I felt like I had been cheated by life. I didn’t realize it, but this was a good place for me to be in. All these emotions pushed me to redefine who I am, and what I really want. My own self-help, self-awareness journey.
I took a couple of retreats, started writing again, but still needed that validation from others. I needed to be the perfect mom, wife, daughter, or else I felt like a failure. All the self-help on the planet couldn’t help. I was trying to fill a crater in my soul. Bad idea. I was functioning on a lack of self-love, and never even saw my own inner beauty, my own potential. And yeah, it held me back. So I started to write. A lot.
As I wrote, I peeled back layered pieces of my “self” that I had forgotten. They were buried deep, and as I received positive affirmation from strangers on my writing ability, I started to believe and to see it in myself. Fear slowly evolved to self-love. I realized that we are taught how to love others, and how to be lovable, but we’re never taught how to love ourselves. Why? Because we have convinced ourselves that it would be egotistical and narcissistic. I know now that if we depend on others to give us happiness, approval, or to make us feel loved, that we give a big chunk of ourselves away. For me, I turned to “people pleasing,” because I needed others to be a lifeline to feeling good. Now I know that I needed to be re-introduced to my true self. And that made all the difference.
When you meet yourself with love, you are kinder to yourself, more compassionate, and supportive of your personal journey. It’s not about the ego or being selfish; it’s a pure, positive attitude toward yourself. Personal growth is a lifelong journey. There is no right way to go through the process, because life is unpredictable. The only thing you can really control is yourself: your actions, words, how you relax and play, your ideas, mistakes, and behavior. You alone have the power to decide how you move along your journey.
What we all need to do is to build a solid foundation from within. Tap your inner beauty, strength, resilience, and all that other good stuff buried deep inside, sometimes forgotten. This way you won’t lose your “self” during life’s roller coaster rides.
Know that you don’t need validation. You are already valid. You don’t need “fixing”. You are perfect exactly as you are!
Stay Motivated and Caffeinated!😉☕