One thing I know how to do best is how to overcome any obstacle I am faced with. I grew up in the grips of a violent cult, suffered extreme PTSD and then went on to fight and win all my battles, transform my life, graduate from an Ivy League and ultimately, show up confidently in the world with nothing left to fear. I did this because I learned how to choose which personal development tools and practices worked for me and which did not.
I made my choices based on intuition and the fact that in many cases, there was no real alternative. To me, it was always do or die. The ‘do’ part involved facing a fear or choosing to believe in myself and my dreams regardless of the forces of opposition against me. During all of this, I learned something extremely powerful, and it is the reason why people who are fighting to change their own lives, often meet with failure time and again. I also found the antidote to this which I am happy to share.
So here goes. When you are faced with a major life obstacle (it doesn’t matter what category it falls in) you will overcome it by 1) committing to yourself to overcome it and 2) using the method that works best for you. This second part is, in my experience, where most get lost. Why? Because people tend to think there is a one-size-fits-all personal development program, the tools in which must work universally. Just like we tend to believe there is a spirituality or religion that could be adopted by all people, we also think that the thing that “fixes” us is a method that has proven to be true, and thus must be true for all. We are conditioned to think this way, and it is this conditioning that gets in the way of us being able to completely break through our major blocks. We don’t break through because, no matter how committed we are, if we are employing a practice or tool that is not suited for us, we will not see the results we hope to see and often get discouraged and quit. The way to deal with this is to learn how to measure improvement, tangible and intangible. By measuring improvement, one can judge adequately whether the program being used is the right fit or not.
To do this in a way that really works, you will need to be very honest with yourself. Before you get started, it is important to know that small increments of improvement are a big deal. It means that you have the right tools and are on the right path. When you are not seeing improvement, or if you find yourself in the same situation over and over again, then this is a sign that something in what you are doing or believing is blocking your success. I’ve known so many people that keep beating themselves against the same personal-growth wall for years, trying to force a success that is never going to happen. If you are going to be a fabulous success in your work, you need to make sure you are not doing this. Measuring your progress is key.
There are many ways to do this, and you should find the one that works best for you. A personal growth tool that is used by almost everyone is simple journaling. If you like to write things down, you will need to do so in a way that presents a snapshot of your emotional level and overall situation. Always wright the date. You could also just use a spreadsheet to keep track of data. Decide what data points you want to record, note the tool, diet or program you are using and start recording regularly. You have to do it religiously otherwise you will not be certain about your progress. What you need here is the certainty. Is it working or are you wishful thinking?
If you are seeing small improvements in your life situation, mood or whatever you are working on, then stay on your path. The only thing you should change is intensity levels; increase intensity when you have the time and energy to do so and decrease it when you are not feels so well or exhausted from too much work. It is best to let this part rise and fall instead of trying to force a single high-level program. Or, if you are a person that takes everything slow, you might want to push yourself a little more once in a while. In any case, keep your program!
It is when you are not seeing the results you had envisioned for yourself that I am concerned with. There are countless books, webinars, training programs, etc. that show how you can do X because this other person did it. And they all fail to say that it might not work for you. Why do they not mention this? Because most of them have no idea that this could be the case. It’s like asking them to understand an alternate reality where the rules in their world do not work in another person’s. Most people believe in all honesty that what works for them must work for everyone. And when they are very successful, they have the ability to sway many. This negative effect this often has on the person these rules do not work for is that it will make them feel inadequate, or irreparably broken. Once this idea gets a foothold in someone’s psyche, they could lose hope and may fall into the dark spirals of self-destructiveness.
I hope you see how the one-size-fits-all paradigm has its (very) dark side, and one that very few know or admit exists.
This is why I advocate for measuring your success with real data. If the program is not working, then you can pivot something. First, it’s fair to check if you are actually following it correctly. If you are not, is it because you have an emotional/mental block against the work? Or maybe the program itself does not have the effect on you or for you that it has for others and it will never work for you. It’s best to find this out before you give too much time and money to it.
If you do have an emotional/mental block, how will you know? The key signs to look for is how you feel when you need to do the work. Do you suddenly lose your energy about it? Do you get sleepy? Does another more urgent issue emerge? These are usually tell-tale signs that there is an emotional or mental block. These things can be healed or transformed with some basic (or intense, depending on the size of the block and its original cause) tools and practices. Expounding on this is beyond the scope of this entry, so I will have to leave it out. You may reach out to ask some simple questions if you would like. (There is never an obligation.)
But how will you know if the program is simply wrong for you? It’s basic. Do you hate it? Does it make you feel inadequate? Does it drain your energy (not in the sleepy sense, but in the “I’m suddenly feeling a bit depressed” sense)? Do you feel like the people involved don’t get you? All these are signs that the program or circle you are in is the wrong fit. There is nothing wrong with them and there is nothing wrong with you. It is the combination of ingredients that is having an adverse reaction on your inner self, emotional body or psyche and it is best for you to start looking elsewhere for your life-improvement answers.
Here’s a basic rule of thumb about changing your life: You should not experience suffering or deep pain of any kind. The best change happens through the flow of good energy, inspiration, the feeling of unity, togetherness and that you are accepted as you are and experience yourself as a dignified part of the whole. If these elements are not in your life, you should start looking for them before you force yourself into someone’s change-routine peg.
The final tip for this entry is that you should, in all situations, learn how to listen to your intuition, your heart and your inner voice. Listen, follow it, be true to it. It will lead you in the right direction that is right for you.