On the one hand, we know it’s a good idea to accept yourself for who and what you are … imperfections and all! But on the other hand, isn’t it a great idea to set goals and never rest until your good becomes better and your “better” becomes BEST!?
Is there conflict for you in these two seemingly different paradigms?
For many there is ... and one of the main subconscious reasons for setting up camp in the valley of mediocrity (and staying as far as possibly from the super-achievers) is that we get to protect our egos from inevitable setbacks and “failures.” And of course on the developmental path…we’re not going to hit the mark every time. Our ego tells us to STOP, because it just couldn’t take it if we signed up with a new fitness trainer and only lost ten inches instead of twenty or got into a new relationship only to be dumped! Or what if we took that new personal development book our friend loaned us, but didn’t have time to read it or what if we did, but it didn’t change anything?
Wow … now we’re worrying about the possibility of failure and loss IN ADVANCE! We’re not jumping on the personal development path because of fear of failure! We don’t participate because we’ve seen the High’s and Low’s of those personal development junkies and our subconscious keeps telling us, “What goes up, must come down!”
Steve Pavlina gives us another look at why some can’t seem to set foot on “the path.”
“The underlying problem is that by rooting your sense of self in something that will fluctuate, like the current position of any measurable part of your life, you’re going to suffer in one way or another. Either you’ll push yourself to achieve, achieve, achieve, and then suffer emotionally when things take a turn for the worse, or you’ll become attached to outcomes to an unhealthy degree, such that you may sacrifice your ethics to maintain your position. Or you’ll settle for much less than you’re capable of achieving and probably give yourself regular beatings for being too lazy and for over-procrastinating – you’ll always be haunted by the knowledge that you could be doing better. Or lastly you may decide to withdraw from society in order to escape/transcend this whole punishing process; but still your contribution is far below your potential.”
Sigh … sounds like personal growth is an emotional roller-coaster…a win-lose, right?
Wrong! There’s a different paradigm out there that we need to not only think about, but implement it into our very core! Instead of anchoring our sense of self to our successes and failures (which can change daily) we anchor them to something more permanent and unchangeable ... such as a principle (a true north principle is what Covey would call it) or a pure concept. We simply (although that is just a figure of speech) detach our ego from our outcomes and instead attach to something MUCH BIGGER . I’m talking about things like Our Faith in God, Compassion, Serving Mankind etc.
Yeah, it’s not easy to do, but imagine being able to accept yourself for who you currently are while still seeking personal improvement because you’re not attached to outcome! What if you embraced the journey, but didn’t make it part of your identity!
So as an example ... I may be having a kick butt week! I’m speaking at two women’s conferences with hundreds in attendance, I have my workshops full with a waiting list. I’ve gotten ten emails saying how life-changing my programs are etc. So my ego is smiling! But if I let my ego and identity get too wrapped up in these external outcomes … I’m absolutely setting myself up for failure. Because what about next week??? (Maybe no speaking engagements, no new clients, and no emails) Instead of attaching myself to these external ego-building rewards, I’m trying to attach myself to permanent concepts like “Changing Lives!”
Love the concept, but not sure how to do it?
Here’s a couple of tools that will help you tremendously. Meditation/prayer and journaling. I’m not going to go into any depth on the topics here, but hopefully you can see that mediating or praying about the Principle of “Changing Lives” instead of “What am I doing wrong? Why didn’t I get a speaking engagement this week?” is much more empowering. Focusing on the Bigger Picture instead of the smaller ego and asking the RIGHT questions creates a HUGE shift in both energy and personal power.
Journal writing is also a great tool for seeing where your ego is showing up and where principles have center stage. Writing is a way to bring awareness into your thoughts and daily life. By personally using these two tools, I have begun to see personal strides in my own personal development. I have been able to start closing that gap between self-acceptance and my desire to improve (and to have inner peace at the same time!) By not being as attached to my ego through outcome, I am able to truly focus on what matters most. It keeps me more balanced in accepting myself for where I am in this moment but at the same time staying on that path of constant and never-ending personal growth.
How do you balance self-acceptance vs. the drive to grow and improve yourself?