Pressure to Improve, Reflection & Patterns

Which Self-Development Practice Is Right For You?

When it comes to self-development advice, we’re bombarded. Even I have a bundle of worksheets to help people find the tools which actually work for them. 

One thread comments on the importance of setting actionable goals. Another strand emphasises the role of visualisation and acting ‘as if.’ A third route professes the strength behind gratitude and just letting things naturally form in their own way: finding the opportunities and just saying Yes.

In reality, this is as useful as writing advice. The secret really is elusive amidst all the various advice and opinions:

What works is the tool or technique which ends up with you doing the thing.

Some writers need to plan ahead, to plot out the scenes and follow the map. Others find themselves inspired by hitting each crossroad and making the directional decision once they reach it. Some writers wake at 5am and do 3 solid hours of writing a day. Others stay up late, getting the words out in short, 15-minute bursts.

As for dieters, you know yourself best. I can easily stop eating chocolate by not having it in the house. I may crave it, but I’ll find honey or cocoa powder in a protein bar meets the need fine. However, if I have a 5-pack of chocolate bars in the house, I can’t just have 1 at a time. It’s not how I work.

In terms of self-development, the same rule applies.

Do What Works For You.

Now, this is mostly frustrating because at the beginning, its trial and error. And that includes that forbidden F-word: failure.

But equally, knowing which tools to try can be daunting. We’d all like to fail the fewest times possible before finding success, right?

The thing most people forget to do in this process, is Review each technique. Think back to the last goal or habit you attempted.

What ‘technique’ did you use:

  • an all-or-nothing approach
  • a well-planned strategy
  • small-but-steady steps of change
  • on-a-whim decisions
  • something else?

And did it work for you, this time?

Through reflecting on what worked for you, you’ll be able to learn which techniques are worth trying again.

Of course, we all change, and different situations may require approaches: but having an idea of what progress does or doesn’t look like for you, will speed up the process in both achieving your goals, and changing course as you notice things aren’t working.

It’s not the answer people necessarily want, but in reality, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. We are all unique, and reflecting on our uniquity is the best way to discover what will lead us to the best results when it comes to self improvement.

 

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Reflection & Patterns

Reflection :: A Key to Self-Improvement

There’s so much pressure in the modern day to be continually improving: to attain ‘success’ and to feel fulfilment at every moment.

Defining Self-Improvement

As a millennial [defined very broadly as being born between 1980 and 2000], we’re expected to work, play, have perfect instagram feeds, be polite, never feel depressed, raise or support a family, and de-clutter our lives all the time.

And yet, the price of food compared to our wages has a wider gap, and we tend to be expected to work longer hours. Having access to work emails on mobiles doesn’t help us balance our time on things which will sustain us.

And yet, where on earth do you start on the path to self-improvement? With so many different theories to follow, never-ending research papers and variable results depending on the person, it’s hard to know how to begin.

The Inner Drive

I bought my first self-help book when I was around 12-years-old, and every step of my path has focused on the idea of improvement. Thinking back, I can’t remember a time I didn’t seek reaching some unknown potential. I was quietly obsessed with unlocking inner strength. Although I can’t explain where this unwavering faith in my possibilities comes from, I’ve had it for decades.

I’ve tried everything from CBT and taking up Karate (green belt, you know) to Desire-focused Planners, looking at my use of language and a regular practise of loving-kindness meditation to unlock this consistent sense of betterment.

A Key to Long-Term Success

It’s hard to advise what may work for different people, except via trial-and-error, but one method that’s at least worth considering is the idea of “Small Steps Add Up.” There’s a Japanese term described as Kaizen, which focuses on improving in 1% increments. The philosophy also considers the whole of self-improvement as a journey, rather than a destination.

As a seeker of my potential since I was young, I wage inner wars about this idea: that I can never truly reach my fullest potential because we change with life experience. Yet, it is through striving to be better that allows us to improve.

Remembering Your Level

This week, a friend and fellow write Ellie Di Julio posted about a multi-story car park sign, and the meanings associated with its message: Remember Your Level.

In the midst of that post, she wrote something that really struck a chord with me:

“But the key to leveling up is knowing where you are now.”

This is so often the missed-out-step in self-improvement. How can we measure if a 1% increase, collective baby steps, make a difference without knowing where we started?

I’m currently running my Bring About Balance group program, and it’s been interesting to watch how various people ‘take stock’ of their current situation, and what may be working well, as well as the perceived desires for change.

“Knowing where you are in relation to where you were is how you get to where you’re going.”

It’s time to reflect: What’s your level?

New to Map Your Potential? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Flower in garden
Emotions & Resilience

How To Manage Difficult Emotions :: Recognition

Around ten years ago, I was part of a Buddhist meditation class. After a particularly stressful week, in which I’d not been allocated a supervisor for a project, I came into the class in a pretty low mood.

When I checked in, my teacher’s first question wasHow does that feel?”

I feel betrayed, hurt and angry.

“Okay. Why?”

Because that means all three of my choices were given the option, and turned me down.

“Okay, so it feels personal. Is it really though?”

Well, they’re over-subscribed and they can only take so many people, so I know it’s not intended personally, but it still hurts.

“Okay, good. What if you couldn’t feel that betrayal and hurt? Stop thinking and feel. What would it be like if you could not feel hurt? Who would you be without them?”

Erm.. I’d still be me, just me who didn’t feel betrayed?

“Alright.. I mean what feelings and what is left of you if you couldn’t feel betrayed?”

And I stopped. And felt. Really felt my body, my headspace – explored the possibilities.

Tired.

“Ahh. You feel tired. So this is tiredness.”

The idea of the exercise wasn’t to stop feeling the emotions or to block out my experience. If anything, it added to the feelings; I noticed that I’m full of worry, of fear and of tiredness, beneath all those feelings of anger, betrayal and hurt.

However, I noticed that those emotions; they’re not in my head; they’re in my body.

I’m generally familiar with feeling my emotions but this was a revelation to me.

This was a technique Hiro Boga used in a Sovereignty Kindergarten class back in 2010 too – and I remember I only tried it once that summer, but got really strong feelings from it. The focus was different, but the technique was the same; the results of a profound “Woah, I feel like this and I had no idea” are the same.

Since I first tried this in meditation, I’ve been trying to check in with it; with the “Vedana” or sensations; the emotions I feel within my body. Sometimes we can go so long without actually ‘being’ with ourselves.

~

So today I’m asking you to connect. Consider this post your little reminder to check-in with your body.

Let’s start the conversation between mind, body and emotion.

  1. Have you found yourself feeling frustrated or angry lately? Where did you feel it?
  2. What feelings are behind, under or embracing that anger? If you removed that ability to feel frustrated: what would be left?
  3. And where do you feel that in your body?

How do you see your emotions?
Do you ever look beneath the surface?

Share your thoughts below and let’s get a conversation going about how we feel. If you found the post useful, please do share it with your friends. We’re discussing emotions a little more in the Fierce Seekers community: join the group to partake in the discussions and ask your questions.

 

New to Map Your Potential? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!