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Tips for Walking the Path of Personal Development

April 15, 2010

A friend asked me a couple months ago, “What do you do when someone ‘un-friends’ you on FaceBook?”

First I thought to myself, “How juvenile!”

Then I thought, “I can ‘fix’ her.  This is a chance to start a conversation about personal responsibility.”

This person is one of my oldest friends.  She and I go way back, so I had an idea of what I was dealing with…  Or so I thought.

After writing what I now see was a dissertation or maybe even a rant, she responded by politely thanking me for my insight.

Over.  Right?

Well, last night I got a text from an acquaintance, one whom I met through a very intensive personal development course I have been recently experiencing.  The question was remarkably similar, “What do you do when someone you thought was a friend, a [personal development course] friend at that, just starts not talking to you anymore…”

Not having the history with this person AND having seen how my rant to my older friend might not have been the perfect way to handle the situation, I responded by asking two questions.

“[Friend], I would ask myself two questions.

1)      What am I making it mean that they haven’t talked to me  for a while?  (What story am I making up about it?)

2)      Who am I being for this person to have made that choice?  (How have I been behaving with or around this person?)”

That felt better.

As I was meditating this morning, I came to the realization that in all of the personal development and spiritual circles I engage in, there seems to be an underlying current.

Everyone seems to be joining these groups LOOKING for SOMETHING.  It could be friends or answers.  Usually, it seems that we’re all looking for a quick fix to stop feeling generally like poo.

We spend thousands of dollars on trips, cars, furniture OR whatever…  Even to the point of physically altering ourselves so that no one recognizes us anymore.  And when we end up having or doing or looking like what we thought we “should,” we still feel like poo.  Only now we’re BROKE, too.

We join religious groups and personal development movements to be told what to do, because we can’t hear our own inner voice.

We want to be around people who are “like minded” – which generally means other people who feel like poo and really don’t want to anymore but don’t know what else to do, either.

How do I know?  I’ve been searching like mad myself!

The path isn’t flawed.  The goal is.  People start religious and philosophical organizations and personal development movements to help people.  But what the hell happens?

The vibe feels good because it’s all about possibility!  We’re all fired up and the party is ON!!

Usually, the message comes clear from the stage or pulpit that the work must be done within before anything will change on the outside.  But we missed that part…  We were busy dancing…

Pretty soon you’ve got a group of highly motivated people who now see what the problem with their friends and family is.  And they go out and tell everyone in very short order.

Let’s go back to the beginning.

What was my goal when I began my journey?  To feel better.

When did I want results?  Right now!

I felt great when I was in class, session, services!  I felt awful when I got back into my world.

If any of this is sounding familiar, it’s not just you.

So what to do?  Stop with self-improvement?  NO!!!  That’s the fastest way to get where you want to go!

My favorite fable that sums it up best is about Chinese bamboo.

A farmer plants bamboo seed.

In the first year, the farmer tends the seed, fertilizing and watering it.  Not much happens.

In the second year, the farmer continues to fertilize and water the seed.  Not much happens.

Neighbors are pointing and whispering.

In the third year, the farmer still continues to fertilize and water the seed, having faith that his efforts will come to bear fruit.  Not much happens.

Neighbors are laughing and making fun of the farmer.  “What a waste of time!”

In the fourth year, the farmer continues to fertilize and water the seed.  Still nothing appears to be happening.

Neighbors are gossiping and feeling pity for the poor, stupid farmer.

In the fifth year, the bamboo sprouts and grows an amazing 2 feet a day!

Neighbors are congratulating the farmer saying “I knew you could do it!”

What happened?  The bamboo was growing a strong root system to support its growth once it finally broke through.

It’s natural to want to feel better.  Groups and clubs help us get through the rough spots when family and friends don’t always understand where we are coming from.

The danger lies in missing the lesson.  If I always see the problem as being outside of myself, I’ll never be okay, because I can never fix what is outside of me.

Once I can begin to see that who I choose to be in the face of that challenge or hardship determines how I feel, I now have the power to take my life where I want to go!  AND I can begin to feel better IMMEDIATELY without waiting for someone else to change!  Even if circumstances don’t change right away, I have the power to feel better.

Remember, the further away from the source you go without refreshment, the less likely you are to recall the truth.  It’s impossible to change years of habits by attending a one weekend seminar.

To keep your personal development and spiritual growth on track, here are some tips:

1)      Be sure that the path you have chosen fits you!

2)      Listen to CDs and read books related to the events or the philosophy – the closer they are to the source, the better!

3)      Stay plugged in by taking follow-up courses or attending services regularly.

4)      Find a coach or mentor – someone who has done what you want to do.

5)      Do the homework or practice, even when it gets uncomfortable.  You want to dig out the old weeds so your garden will thrive.

6)      Find an accountability partner or someone to work with.

7)      Create a study or support group and be sure to include at least one person who has been on the path for a while.

8)      Surround yourself with people from the events and organizations you attend.  Stay in touch.

As you walk down the path of personal growth, you may notice the weeds get thicker and the jungle gets darker.  Take heart.  Soon you will enter the clearing and all will be as you imagined it and more.

Trust yourself and your heart.  Do what must be done and always be true to your dreams!

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