The Damnedest Thing…

Let’s start with a story.

It started in 9th grade. I was the classic “nice guy,” pining after a girl for about 6 months. When I finally got up the courage to ask her out, she rejected me.

That set me on a pursuit to break out of these nice guy habits and gain confidence in myself. So that summer I started learning pick-up, body language, and self-help (this was what ultimately got me into personal development, but that’s not the point here).

That fall, when school started and extra-curriculars started, I was determined to try out these techniques and transform myself into my ideal of a “confident, masculine guy.” My goal here was to try to get a girlfriend, thinking that would solve all my problems.

As you can probably guess, that autumn I was miserable. I was putting on this facade, trying out pick-up lines, making sure my body was correctly positioned. I was acting confident at rehearsal, but inside I knew it was just as insecure as ever.

In the end, it “worked” and I got a girlfriend (which of course did not solve all my problems). But I knew I would have to drop this facade if I wanted this relationship to last.

So after that I lost interest in being the “cool, confident guy”, and guess what happened? It was no longer a problem. I stopped trying to BECOME confident, and in doing that I AM confident. It was no longer a problem.

And it’s not the same confidence that I was expecting, that kind of dickish personality. It’s much more genuine and more deeply-rooted than any kind of attitude.

It’s like the donkey chasing the carrot that’s always ahead of him. If he just sits back for a minute, the carrot will just swing back into his mouth.

It’s really the most counter-intuitive thing I’ve come across, but it’s happened multiple times in my life: I’ve tried to become healthy, and in doing that I became super unhealthy with an eating disorder. Now that I’m not obsessed by that pursuit, I just am healthy with very little effort. I’ve tried to make a lot of friends, so like with the first story I had to fake myself. Now that I’ve lost interest in it, I am more genuine and now have some real friends that I can count on.

And I’m thinking that the same thing goes for spirituality. Eventually you see that self can’t get out of self, so you lose interest in self, and that’s liberation. Every spiritual path will lead you right back to where you are.

I’ve heard this before, that growth is really when the problem becomes a non-problem, but I had never really grasped it or seen it in my life until now.

So confidence comes from losing interest in becoming confident. Authenticity comes when you lose interest in being authentic. Liberation comes when you lose interest in the need to be liberated. I’m willing to tentatively state that true self-help is about losing interest in the self.

So you might be asking “So, if growth comes from losing interest, then how do I lose interest?”

Here’s the catch: you can’t.

You can’t be interested in losing interest, because, as Paul Hedderman says, that would be interest.

As they say in AA, you’ve gotta stop playing God. But of course to try to stop playing God would be playing God.

 

“Self can’t get out of self.” – Paul Hedderman

 

Confusion is completely understandable, and even frustration. Every self wants to get liberation from self… as a self. Just realize that that which is confused and frustrated isn’t you.

Now, I don’t know how this works, I just know that it does. Actually “works” is not a great word for it, because you’re NOT DOING ANYTHING. It’s just happening.

I also don’t know if it’s necessary to TRY to pursue the thing first, whether it’s confidence or awakening, and then see that it’s futile. I don’t know if you can cut right to the loss of interest part. Again, bad wording, because it’s NOT YOU losing interest, interest is just lost.

So there you go: the damnedest thing, a glorious paradox. Not at all what you expected self-help to be about. Losing interest is the best thing that can happen to you. THAT’S where it’s at.

I would recommend checking out Paul Hedderman, he’s helped me see this very clearly.

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Traps of Personal Development (#1)

Personal Development is a journey. As with every journey, there are traps along the way. Here I’ll be sharing some that I’ve fallen into or that I’ve managed to avoid.

 

Trap #1: Obsession

The first danger is turning this journey into an obsession or an addiction. This is different than it simply being an interest, which is fine, or a passion, even better.

But if you feel like you’re doing personal development to run away for something or just to have something to do, rethink your priorities and the reasons why you’re doing this.

I’ve fallen into this trap before, not just with personal development. I’ve also become almost anorexic due to my obsession with “healthy” eating. But for PD, I went through a phase where I was obsessed with it, and everyone around me could see that it wasn’t healthy for me. I would have seen the same thing if I had been honest with myself.

Now, PD is a passion of mine, and I know when I’m turning it into an obsession. It’s like your ego gets addicted to this one thing, and your life is centered around that thing, and if anyone attacks, you defend.

 

Trap #2: Judgement

This is associated with the first trap. Basically, when you become obsessed with anything or subscribe too much to one paradigm, you tend to get very judgmental about others. Which no one wants.

The important thing here is to remain open-minded. Realize that PD is just one of many paradigms through which to see the world, and not everyone subscribes to that one. And that’s fine. They don’t have to.

If you want to take it a step further, you could even start to question personal development. What’s the proof that it’s the right way to see the world? This will start to make your mind very tranquil and unaggressive, because you won’t have anything to defend.

 

Trap #3: Individuality

This is more a of a basic trap. This also happened to me when I first got into pickup. You know how everyone in that community says “Don’t care what other people think of you?” (Actually, you hear that a lot in self-help circles as well). Well, your ego can take that use it as an excuse to be a real insensitive dick.

Basically, the individuality that comes with pickup and self-help can be taken to such a degree that you’re inconsiderate. But one of the goals of personal development is compassion and love. How do you strike the balance between compassion and people-pleasing? That’s a tough one to answer… Know that over time, it will work itself out.

 

Trap #4: Getting stuck at lower levels of PD

Most people get into PD for the outward success: money, health, relationships… I know, because I did too! What people fail to understand at the beginning is that these are the lower levels, and they’re only here to provide the groundwork from which to move to the higher levels: all the inner work, questioning, contemplating, and being, that have to be done. This is where the real juice can be squeezed out of the lemon, and it’s the most satisfying life ever!

Many people don’t even know that there are higher levels! They keep operating under the old paradigm of outward success = inner happiness. Which is simply false. And they get caught in that endless cycle.

Understand: The only reason people go through these levels on the PD journey is to be ABLE to do the deeper work. I mean, how effective will you be at meditating if you’re stressed out about paying rent?

If you’re still at these levels, that’s cool. They are necessary. Just realize you will eventually have to move past them.

 

Trap #5: Misinterpreting Information

This is a biggie. This happens when your ego hears advice for someone more or less advanced than you and uses it to justify its own actions.

For instance: You’re a people-pleaser, and you hear someone say that you need to be more compassionate and do benevolent service to the world. But what you don’t understand is that they’re talking to people more advanced than you who have surpassed people-pleasing. They are now too individualistic, and need to be more compassionate.

The problem here is that you have an unhealthy paradigm of love. The people-pleaser thinks that doing benevolent service will get him love from others. It is a selfish motive. The person talking about compassion has moved past this and can truly be compassionate without wanting anything in return.

The same situation arises with determinism and victimhood. Let’s say you’re a victim, but you hear some spiritual teacher talking about no one having free will. Your ego will misinterpret that and justify itself: “See, I don’t have free will, so of course I’m doomed to be a victim.” Again, this teacher was talking to people further ahead of you.

This is one of the main difficulties of personal development: knowing which advice to listen to, because it can be contradictory depending on the level you’re at. This is why it’s difficult to effectively grow through impersonal means like these posts or videos, because we can’t tailor the advice to your problems. (It’s not impossible to grow: I’m just saying you will probably run into this trap a few times).

The best cure for this is just being honest with yourself, and honest with what you need to be focusing on.

Real Personal Development: Rise from the Ashes

Personal development is about to get a lot more real for y’all.

Let me share a story from my life, which you may or may not relate to.

About 2 months ago, I broke up with my girlfriend. It wasn’t an ugly breakup or anything, but we both felt it wasn’t working and hadn’t been for about a month, even though we both really cared about each other.

So we broke up.

As you might guess, it wasn’t exactly my most emotionally healthy time.

But during that time, I was truly grateful I had started doing personal development. For a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I knew that it was my duty to take responsibility for the end of the relationship, and somehow that made me feel better about the situation and not get angry at her for it.

Secondly, I exercised and gained a TON of emotional awareness. This allowed me to not let this whole thing ruin a month of my life.

I also know that I gained a lot of knowledge from this breakup, about my psychology, relationships, and much more.

Thanks to personal development, this breakup was a lot smoother than I could have ever expected it to be.

Here’s the point I want to drive home:

This is why we do personal development. It’s in tough situations like these that it is useful and can save our asses. We can also learn more about ourselves in difficult situations than in any other setting. It lets us discover new things, and gauge our growth as people. 

But here’s the harsh truth: no one will do it for you. You are the only one who can grow yourself internally.

So use these hard times to push yourself. I look upon the me coming out of that breakup as a phoenix rising from the ashes.

So if you’re depressed, rise from the ashes.

Girlfriend cheated on you? Rise from the ashes.

Business went bankrupt? Rise from the ashes.

Use these failures as tools. Tools for learning and tools for motivation

And use PD as a set of  tools for not getting your ass handed to you by life.

This is what personal development is about. Not reading a bunch of books and never getting hurt. The most real times are the hardest.

 

 

“The difference between people who grow stronger and
those who’ll be left behind is how they respond to the
pressure, the resistance, and the challenge of life. “ -Elliott Hulse

 

 

Why People Don’t Do Personal Development

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Why People Don’t Do Personal Development

That’s right, I’m talking to you.

If you’ve been doing personal development, you might have noticed that not many people actively do it. You have found it to be very beneficial, and don’t understand why everyone isn’t doing it, or why it isn’t more widespread.

I want to start off with distilling down the meaning personal development to a simple phrase: It is the process of discovering how your mind works, understanding the elephant, not the rider.

So why don’t more people partake in this journey? Seems like it might be important, right?

I have found two main reasons people don’t do personal development:

The first is that people just assume they already have their mind figured out. They think there is nothing more to do because they already know how their mind works.

The reality is that they have no idea how it works.

Imagine this: when you were born, you were like a machine without an instruction manual. So in order to survive, you wrote the manual yourself, based on help from other people (who probably didn’t know how the machine works) and your own experience, which, when done by a 2-year old, can be faulty.

Personal development is understanding the inner workings of the machine and rewriting the instruction manual.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re doing all right.

The second reason, if they admit they don’t know how the machine works, is fear.

Let me explain.

In order to understand the machine, you have to look inside. There is no other way. No one else can do it for you.

And it can be a scary and painful experience. You don’t want to learn that you are needy, and that your neediness comes from a lack of love. You don’t want to understand that you are 100% responsible for your life and your happiness because you fear that responsibility. You don’t want to revisit a past experience or emotion that is now shaping your thoughts.

But you have to. It is the only way to liberation in every sense of the word.

Covering up who you are, or what the inside of the machine looks like, will only lead to disaster and misery. There is no way around it.

Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is hell.

 

Those are my two reasons as to why people don’t do personal development. I hope this was useful to some of you, and maybe even inspired non-self development types to start.

Do start. It will transform your life.

Be open to the idea that you don’t know how your mind works, and be willing to look inside.

Keep growing-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now

Eckhart Tolle

 

Categories: getting to “through me” and “as me,” spirituality

You’ve probably heard of this book. If you haven’t you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years.

This book is not traditional personal development, with setting goals and state management and what not. The Power of Now takes a much more spiritual approach to it.

First, a bit about the author. His life story is fascinating:

Eckhart Tolle was not always a world-renowned author. At one point in his life, he was suicidal. As he describes in his book, he attained enlightenment after realizing that “I” and the “self” are two different things. After all, the phrase “I cannot live with myself” implies that they are separate.

This realization, according to him, left him in state of unprecedented bliss. He spent the next two years sleeping on park benches, perfectly at peace with the world, before pursuing answers and ultimately becoming a spiritual teacher.

Disclaimer: I am not enlightened. I am working on it, but take my words with a grain of salt. Plus, what is described cannot be communicated through words, only your own experience. Look at these words as signposts in the road.

So what is the Power of Now? “Now” refers to the present moment, what is happening in reality. Tolle explains that you can gain tremendous satisfaction if you disassociate from the past and the future, and just be present.

He describes the power of Now as “None other than the power of your presence, your consciousness liberated from thought forms.”

Think about that for a minute.

I keep using the term “enlightenment,” and you might be wondering what that means. “Enlightenment” refers to the complete dissolution of the ego: realizing “you” do not exist.

Hold your horses! I know it sounds counter-intuitive and possibly scary, but hang with me for a minute.

Like I said in the beginning, this is a very spiritual book, unlike most other self-help books out there. This is the deepest topic you could ever study.

I’d like to recommend this video as an intro to Enlightenment:

 

 

Now, you might be thinking “this Enlightenment stuff isn’t for me, I’m a very practical person. Give me something useful here.”

That is what the Power of Now is about. In addition to talking about Enlightenment, the author also goes into depth about how to increase your happiness by focusing on what’s happening NOW, not in the past, and not in the future.

Seriously, if I had to give one tip to increase happiness, it would be this: focus on the NOW.

What sensations do you feel in your body? Are any of them inherently bad?

By coming in touch what reality, we become less neurotic, which is really the source of all your problems.

And the world’s problems, for that matter. One of the things I found most fascinating about the book was the fact that most religious teachings point to the Enlightenment and the Now, and also the idea that that most of the world’s problems stem from the lack of inner peace.

I know this sounds very vague. I advise you to do a bit of research on this topic. But remember, you’re not supposed to mentally grasp this concept. In fact, it’s impossible.

I want to say that you can really go two ways with this: you can use the Now as a tool to deal with life on a moment-to-moment basis, maybe when something bad comes up, or you can go the hardcore Enlightenment route: complete dissolution of the ego.

Personally, I would have loved it if he had provided more in terms of actually becoming enlightened, not just talking about it. Disclaimer: I could be wrong. Maybe Enlightenment just comes from being in the moment.

Either way, this is a fantastic introduction to spirituality.

 

Favorite Quote:

“As soon as you honer the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out of present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of tranquility, care, and love – even the most simple action.”

 

The Verdict:

There’s a reason the Power of Now has sold over 2 million copies. It is a truly amazing approach to how to live life. I would recommend it to anyone who wants fulfillment and a better quality of life – not in a material sense, but in a spiritual sense – and who doesn’t want that?