Self-development is a lifelong process which involves improving all areas of our life to the best of our ability. It also involves being completely honest in your own abilities and realizing where you need help. This could be the most difficult for some people because it can be very bruising to your ego to realize your own flaws. In fact, most people don’t even make this first step. Nonetheless, this is an important step to self-development. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t even realize you have one.
Also realize that you don’t have to have a problem to do self-development. Maybe you are comfortable in your own life but there are always certain areas where you can expand upon and leave your comfort zone – whether it is wealth, health or your relationships.
Self-Development is for everyone even the kings and queens of our society. Think of it more as a journey, not a destination. You never reach your authentic self, you can only align your behaviors toward that self. You never stop growing. There are always different aspects of your life you can improve upon. The only time you stop growing is when you’re dead. So until then, live the life you want and don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise – even yourself.
How do you ‘do’ Self-Development
Earlier in this article I mentioned ‘doing’ self-development but what does that even mean? How do you do self-development? In order to explain this I want to draw a distinction to what I believe are two ways you ‘do’ self-development. There is the unconscious self-development and the conscious self-development.
What is Unconscious Self-Development
Most people are doing unconscious self-development. The primary reason for this is because they have not made that first step in the self-development process. That is, being completely honest with yourself and realizing your flaws. This could be very difficult for people because we all like to protect our egos from harm. When we are completely honest and open minded about our flaws, this causes a person to make the first step and go from an unconscious self-development state to a conscious self-development state.
I call it unconscious self-development because even if you are not aware you may still be improving your life without consciously doing so. It’s like when you get a 9-5 job for the money but what you don’t realize is the amount of things you learn on that job as well as the life experiences. Most people get a job because it’s the ‘thing to do’ and they get promoted and whatnot to earn more money. This is fine but what you also need to do is take a step back and see the big picture. Ask yourself, where am I going with this? Is this what I want to do? Where will I be in 10 years?
These are important questions because most of the time our jobs don’t even align correctly with our true personalities. What we actually like to do doesn’t pay well so we don’t even pursue those things. We essentially follow a path in life that everybody else follows, for the most part its chasing money. They may learn lessons from this journey but it is unfulfilling because it is not aligned with their identity.
Some people get lucky and they find the right path and follow it at a young age. However, other people follow a path and they may not even be self-improving, because the path that they are on is so outside of their personality that they hate what they do. This causes a person to begin to have negative thoughts. If you are not aware of these thoughts or where you are going in life you might actually be self-deprecating.
People can go downhill in their psyche as well as uphill. This explains why some people lose control of their lives because their life is going downhill and they don’t even realize it until it’s too late. In order to explain this a bit better I’d like to make a quick generalization.
For the vast majority of people this is how their lives pan out:
- They go to school and get an education.
- They go to college
- They find a 9-5 job
- They get married
- They have kids
- They retire
For the most part I think we can all agree this is the life many people will follow. This system works for the large majority of the masses. If you think about it, for that job these six steps are completely reasonable and does a pretty good job of keeping most people happy.
In order to accommodate 7 billion people on this planet we needed to come up with a path everyone could follow in order to have some order in this society. Unfortunately, this ‘system’ we’ve created doesn’t fit everybody’s personalities, goals or passions perfectly. In fact, it doesn’t fit perfectly with anyone’s personalities, goals or passions.
Unconscious self-development are those people that follow these 6 steps that society has laid out in front of us. For most people, the system makes people happy enough to not need to move away from it. People can certainly be successful in their career, find a wife or husband, eventually retire and have enough money to live the rest of their lives. For many people this is okay and most are not miserable.
To these people self-development is this path. Without even opening a self-development book, as long as they are getting the raises, moving up the ladder, finding girlfriends/boyfriends they are self-developing. To these people self development are the raises and relationships. It’s not meditation, controlling emotions, visualization or incantations.
But what about the people who don’t fit this mold at all?
What about the person who had social anxiety and struggles to talk to people? How would this person have a relationship? Do you think he would fair well in a job interview? Or a date?
What about the person who doesn’t learn well in classrooms or these standardized tests? How would he or she fair in college?
What about the person who wants to pursue art, or history? Do these people make enough for retirement?
Often these people struggle to find themselves because their identity is so far off from the norm; they need to do Conscious Self-Development to find themselves. This is an amazing realization for them because many of these people will come to realize how unconscious they had been.
They start to discover that they can actually control their emotions better or get over their fears. When they go from this unconscious, helpless state to this conscious, more aware state they begin to discover they actually do have complete control of their lives which is an extremely powerful thing to realize.
This is why there are so many success stories of unsuccessful people who become so successful. They are forced into this conscious state of awareness where they have to take control of their lives. They start breaking bad habits, setting big goals, doing incantations because they may not be happy with their current self or situation and they have to change. With this power can they move mountains and everybody looks and wonders how they did it.
Unfortunately when people finally realize that this standard lifestyle everyone else lives isn’t really for them and they slowly begin to wake up and shift their mindset. They can’t help but feel out of place, judged and just different. I know, because I was one of these outliers. I had a lot of social anxiety growing up.
Unfortunately for me, what attracts a lady is the thing I lacked most, confidence. I went on my first date when I was 22 years old. When I told people this all I got were looks of surprise. One person even asked me if I was religious. I didn’t even know what to say. I thought something was wrong with me. It wasn’t just with girls, I had trouble speaking to guys as well and I hardly had any friends. Even though nobody outright made fun of me, I still felt judged and just different because everyone else had no trouble speaking to one another. I realized something was a bit different about me from an early age.
Me, as well as other people discover a problem and begin to consciously take their life in the direction they want to take it. This is conscious self-development. Often times, conscious self-development involves finding a problem in your life and relentlessly improving on that aspect of your life.
For me, it was social skills and relationships. Often times people doing this type of self-development do things that most people will see as ‘weird’ and this is okay. I remember when I was in college I would literally follow people into parties because I didn’t know where they were. I googled ‘how to talk to women’, ‘how to hold a conversation’. Things that often came naturally to people, didn’t come naturally to me. I even ended up in the pickup artist scene for a while – which was also filled with a bunch of frustrated guys just like me who discovered they needed help in their dating lives.
For others, it could be realizing how much they hate working for other people and getting into entrepreneurship or how to own a business.
Sylvester Stallone pitched his script on Rocky to producers across Hollywood in the mid-70s. The producers liked the idea but didn’t want Stallone to star in it because of his accent. They wanted Hollywood stars. Rocky had $106 dollars in his pocket and turned down a $300,000 offer – about $1,000,000 today. Rocky has made over a billion dollars in box offices to this day.
Everyone thought he was crazy at the time but Stallone was conscious – not crazy. When you’re conscious you see the matrix, you set goals for yourself and you believe in yourself more than any other person. Simply because you have to, you have the mindset to do things like banish negative thinking or not back down unless you get what you want.
The Trap of Society
People on this path of self-development know they are a little different and need to find their own way. What’s worse is when an outlier isn’t honest enough with himself to admit that he is different and he does need help.
He tries to follow this path that society laid out in front of him that fits most people other than him. This person often feels like a victim, blames other things, is extremely negative and ultimately puts a blindfold on and hopes for the best. Most of the time this person ultimately ends up unhappy.
Because of a mistake during Stallone’s birth a nerve was accidentally severed which caused paralysis in parts of Stallone’s face. This gave him a snarling look and slurred speech. He also scored poorly in school and his parents eventually got divorced. Stallone was an outlier who wanted to star in films and not work in an office. Where would Stallone be if he took a 9-5 job instead of pitching his idea?
Conscious vs Unconsciousness Self-Development
For the most part, we are all in self-development mode. However, if you are consciously self-developing yourself towards a goal and purpose you ultimately get more out of it.
The main difference between unconscious self-development and conscious self-development is that conscious self-development is more focused. There’s one area in your life that you want to improve upon and you go for it. It involves tweaking the things like your thoughts, emotions and habits.
Unconscious self-development is when you might be learning but you’re not really focused on it. You’re kind of moving through life and if you learn something or improve on something then that’s awesome. But you’re not going to go out of your way to do so. You would rather do other more stimulating things.
Another difference is the fact that when you are consciously trying to improve yourself, you are inevitably overcoming fear in the process. This molds an iron will and allows you to do things many other people would shy away from. You are always moving out of your comfort zone, trying new things and becoming a better person even when you are comfortable with your current life. You are always looking for the next challenge.
For unconscious self-development you pretty much develop yourself as much as you need to survive. Going through this natural progression of life people will inevitably need to move out of their comfort zone – whether it is to go to their first interview, their first job or even their first day of school. All these things are self-development. But at some point once you get a steady job, or a nice girlfriend/boyfriend people tend to plateau they stop pushing themselves and stop growing simply because they don’t need to.
You might be wondering: why would I push my comfort zone and overcome fears if I don’t need to? We’re all going to die anyway. This sounds hard why wouldn’t I just stay where I am now, accept who I am and just live my life?
Abraham Maslows idea about Self-Actualization states that self-actualization isn’t an option it’s a requirement. Once you are at a certain level of self-development and you stop pushing yourself – your mind will actually start to decay. You know that you can do so much more in your life and reach a higher level of consciousness.
You may not realize it but growing yourself, pushing yourself and helping others do the same is significantly more fulfilling than staying in the same place all the time. This is where you get the deepest fulfillment in life and deep down I think you know this is true.
Playing video games or watching TV can be fun but these activities put you in what’s called a low consciousness state. A person who constantly seeks this state is called a low consciousness person.
A low consciousness person will try to find happiness through drugs, movies or other external means. They thrive on stimuli that are temporary. When the high wears off they try to look for another stimulus to feel ‘alive’.
The trap here is that not only are these stimuli often unhealthy but your actually going backwards in your self-development. You are building bad habits and you begin to depend on these stimuli to find happiness. These stimuli could be anything from the rush you get from eating cake, to the amazing feeling you get during sex. These are all temporary things.
A high consciousness state person strives to find happiness within himself or herself. This could happen in a variety of ways including meditation, overcoming obstacles set for themselves or even helping others. More importantly, a high consciousness person is more confident than a low consciousness person.
This is because a high consciousness person does not depend on external sources to find happiness. So this person wouldn’t care what others think. This person can always find happiness within him or herself.
By becoming a higher consciousness being you are much more comfortable with whom you are. You’re secure with your masculinity or femininity.
You are more open-minded because even if you’re wrong you don’t depend on your ego for validation.
A higher consciousness being spreads positivity instead of negativity because this person is in full control of his or her own emotions.
This takes a lot of hard work to become this person but when you do, it is so much more rewarding and fulfilling than being in this low consciousness state.
Reaching Your Authentic Self
As human beings our default behavior is this higher consciousness person. The reason that most people get caught in the endless loop of unconscious, and external validation is simply because of bad social conditioning.
We’re told through media to “Check out this awesome new movie!” or “Check out this awesome new video game!”. We’re basically force fed these things that were basically created to artificially create happiness by activating dopamine receptors in the brain. We like this because it tricks our brains into thinking that doing this activity makes us happy.
These activities are temporary because they attack the effect and not the cause. What I mean by this, is that the people that watch television, do drugs and partake in these activities are trying to escape their own reality. They become happy during this small period of time and when it goes away they want more. They aren’t attacking the root cause which is themselves.
They are not working and developing themselves. Maybe this person is emotionally unstable so he or she drinks to become free and escape their own head. Maybe this person is homeless and needs to do drugs to escape this reality. Have you noticed that many alcoholics are often emotional and many homeless people often do drugs?
It would be way better if they just developed themselves. Maybe they could begin to reframe their negative thoughts into more positive ones. Maybe they could try meditation. Instead, they are trying to find happiness through external means. Eventually, these people need to come to grips with what their reality actually is.
A life in which you pursue your Authentic self it is significantly more fulfilling than any other life. Simply because you can find permanent happiness within, instead of temporary happiness without.
So are you in a unconscious self-development phase or a conscious self-development phase? What are some of the things you can improve upon in your current life to become more conscious and aware of your weaknesses?