In this world most people aren’t born into making a conscious effort towards personal growth. Society encourages them to stay asleep and to accept the path that is given to them. If they have mental/emotional problems, they may be encouraged to go to “therapy”, but it’s remarkable how stupid and ineffective this therapy often is. Its fundamental issue is that it doesn’t challenge the norm. Just like most of society doesn’t. Challenging the norm is the invisible taboo.
So getting into personal growth or personal development isn’t so easy. The whole of society tells you to just go back to sleep and accept things as they are. Accept yourself, your way of life, as they are. It’s okay, you don’t need to change. Your cultural conditioning is just fine. If anything is wrong with you, it’s blind fate; but don’t worry, there may be a pill for that.
And even the idea of personal development isn’t so easy to find if you’re not looking for it. In “normal” society it’s kind of ridiculed when it is mentioned at all. Those silly meditators. Those health freaks. You don’t get an accurate perception of what personal development is really like this way, and nothing to tell you that it might actually be for you.
The fact is, however, that practically every aspect of your life that matters – health, dating, vitality, education, work, occupation, impact, power, awareness, philosophy – can be improved by going against the herd and finding your own way. The fact is that the deepest questions to life: “Why are we here?”, “What’s the meaning to this life?”, “How can we be happy?” do have answers. But those answers aren’t in any school textbook, so you’ll have to find them yourself, and trust your own judgement rather than that of the socially-approved authorities.
Finding the strength to go against the herd is hard. It can take a long time to finally break free and discover your own path.
In my case, finding personal growth certainly was a very slow process. I started out with a burning, but undefined desire, and engaged mostly just with stuff which I was brought up to consider safe. Bit by bit, I found the strength to move towards the edgier, and more effective, stuff.
So I started with “therapy”, the closest thing to personal development which society encourages you to do.
That said, I threw out the window the whole thing about depending on someone else to do therapy on you. It seemed so disempowering, not to mention expensive. I decided I could do therapy on myself.
So I bought books on different pyschotherapy modalities and tried to do just that, mostly through introspection.
This was still pretty far from what I was actually looking for. It didn’t work very well, and in some ways made my problems worse. It encouraged my tendency to overthinking and being disconnected from reality.
But, my self-therapy was close enough to to what I was looking for to keep me going. I discovered through trial and error – by which I mean mostly error, at least at the beginning – some ways in which I actually could change myself.
And from those crude beginnings, I successively discovered new disciplines which were ever closer to what I was actually looking for. I got into seduction, even though I wholeheartedly disagree with the movement now, mostly because I found the growth element of it attractive. I dabbled in Buddhism, anarchism, hypnosis, trying to become ambidextrous, constructed languages, quantum mechanics, conspiracies/whistleblowing, and other topics.
I also started just looking for “wisdom”, even if that meant just wise quotes from books or movies. I also stumbled across some people, quirky loners who were commenting on life but who, like me, didn’t seem to know about the concept of personal growth per se or to have come into contact with the personal growth community. Fitting this description were traevoli.com and George Mikes’ book “How To Be A Guru“.
Finally, after some years of this, I found Steve Pavlina’s blog. I found it by accident – well, it was linked to from a “success” forum, which was in turn an offshoot of a seduction forum.
And it turned out that everything on the entire frikkin website resonated so deeply with me. I was kind of in awe. I didn’t think this level of lucidity existed on planet Earth. It was what I had been looking for for so many years.
I read practically every single article, and acted on most of the ideas which I found applicable to my life.
And I finally had a name for what I was looking for. “Personal Development”. It was like a coming home.
This story shows just how hard it can be to break out of socially-conditioned complacence and engage in empowered personal growth. In our society, the cards are stacked against you.
But Jesus was supposed to have said: Ask, and you will be given. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you.*
That remains one of my favourite quotes because it is so profoundly true.
I sought, and sought. I didn’t even know what I was looking for, I just believed deep down that I’d know it when I found it. And so it was.
I don’t think any force in the Universe can stop you if you Seek for so long and with such drive.
*I found just now that the New Living Translation puts it as, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”
I like this even better as it’s even closer to my experience of it. If you seek just a little, then give up, you may experience failure. But if you keep at it, I believe it is almost inevitable that you will find.
I know I’m probably preaching to the choir with this article. This is a Personal Growth website and anyone who is here is almost certainly interested in Personal Growth. But then again, maybe there are some who are on the fence, or who are still getting through their initial resistance to the topic.
To them I say: this resistance is normal. It’s normal to be weirded out by all this and wonder, if it’s possible to radically improve your life from the inside out, why do so few people do it?
But if you’re like me, then you have a strong pull underneath all that resistance. Some part of you wants to look away, and some part of you, a stronger part, wants to dive on.
Listen to that part. Seriously. Nothing can go wrong.
OK, not nothing. Things do go wrong sometimes. For sure. A couple of rather brash experiments come to mind. Try not to be brash, okay? Talking from experience here.
…But! It will be worth it. That‘s the point.
It will be so worth it.
Look at me. I am different in a billion ways than I was before I started Personal Growth, and every single way makes me happier, stronger or a better person somehow. Every single way.
I might have died from depression or my long term illness if I hadn’t found Personal Growth, in fact. For me, my pit was deep, and the only way out was to build my way out. No one could help me but myself.
Not everyone has to have been in such dire straits as me. You can just want to break free of your limitations. Discover new ways of being, better ways of doing what everyone does. You can turn life into what your heart knows life can be.
The bottom line? You can be happy. And if you’re already happy, you can be happier.
You can be successful in whatever you want to do. You can be wealthy. You can be healthy, if you’re sick, or healthier if you’re not.
All of these things are within your control. Society will largely tell you that you can’t control these things, or that you have to accept the results of the standard, approved way of controlling these things. But it’s not true. You can control them, and there are almost always better ways to do so than what society approves of.
You just have to take a step into the unknown. To accept, for a moment, that everything you thought you knew might have been wrong. To accept, also, the disquieting and somewhat arrogant-feeling truth that what almost everyone does isn’t the best way of doing things.
But that’s okay*. Billions of people smoke, and pretty much everyone can admit that this is a silly thing to do. I think they can deal with the fact that they are being silly with a few hundred more lifestyle choices, too. Actually, they’ll just do what they always do: ignore the uncomfortable truth. So don’t worry about them. They are fine.
*My first blog post was called, “Everyone Else Is Doing It Wrong”. It’s almost a pity I had to delete it (it didn’t come up to my standards for quality), and I’ve occasionally thought of making a new post with that title. I don’t like being quite so provocative nowadays, but maybe this post can stand in for it as its spiritual successor.
Think about yourself now. Are you willing to do what you’ve always done, to do what everyone else does, knowing you’ll likely get the same results? Or are you going to try something new?
If you want to take this step into the unknown, I’m here for you. Just start browsing the site. Do some Googling around too, and check out Steve Pavlina if you haven’t already.
As I said before, practically every aspect of your life that matters can be improved by going against the herd.
For sure, others will be there to tell you that it’s wrong or stupid. But that’s why they are the herd. It’s their job to try and make sure everyone copies each other and does nothing original or groundbreaking.
If you look beyond those people, you will find a small but significant community of people who are challenging the norm regularly in their lives. They will show you the sorts of possibilities there are out there. Let yourself get inspired, and when you are ready, go and do something daring.
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