The Myth of Self Development

How many times a week do we hear people saying that they need to work on some aspect of themselves; fix something; make something better; grow as a person?

In the context of developing new skills, such as a new language, learning a certain aspect of history, or choosing a new career path that requires adaptability, these all make sense in developing our understanding of the world.

However, when it comes down to us thinking that we need to become a better person, as apposed to developing news skills, we come unstuck. Subsequently we can end up spending a lot of time and sometimes a lot of money in the pursuit of this ‘better person’ we hope to become.

What is interesting to note is that most people usually feel they could be a better person, not because it is a natural desire, but because someone else suggested to them, at some point in their lives that they weren’t good enough just the way they were. Often leaving them with an unconscious feeling of inadequacy, born of the repeated thought that they are not good enough and need to be better in some way. Hence, the constant drama of continually needing to work on oneself without any real defined goals or plans other than: “If I keep practicing this”, or “if I just get over that”, then I will be a better person than I have been.

A lot of life can be wasted in this chasing the rainbow of becoming something more. The irony of this pursuit is that all human beings are born with the innate capacity for goodness and a limitless potential for psychological well-being. In other words, we all have a healthy core inside of us, to which we can return at any point in our lives, and it is from this healthy core that the best life is lived.

When we truly start to see that beneath the surface of our everyday thinking, the conditioned thoughts that we innocently inherited are not who we really are. We are so much more than the sum total of our lives so far. We have innocently become victims of our personal thinking – in other words, what we think in any given moment becomes the reality that we experience, and some of those thoughts have been around for so long we no longer even notice that they are part of our everyday thinking. They simply run beneath the surface of our conscious awareness.

However, if we start to see that it is all thought, we stop taking our conditioned thinking so seriously, and stop taking other peoples words (thoughts) so personally. This creates a great deal of relief for us when we see the power of Thought, and how this power is continually generating thoughts in our mind. It helps us to see the transient nature of our experience that one thought follows on from another in continual succession, and there really isn’t anything we can do to stop this process or change it, but we can know that it will not last. States of mind arise in accordance with our thinking, and shift as quickly as our thinking does.

This tells us something extremely important about the experience of our lives; that each moment is governed by the content of our thinking in that moment. If it is an experience we are not enjoying we can be certain that it will end. If it is an experience we love, we hardly give it a second thought and simply enjoy the moment. What is interesting about this example of our experience is that it points towards the fact that all experience is coming from the same source, i.e., the power of Thought itself, and is therefore neutral. Not ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

Thus, self development in anything other than acquiring new skills, is an innocently created myth, which is essentially a red herring and a never ending rabbit hole through which we fall. The answer to living a beautiful life lies in relaxing away from our conditioned thinking and relearning to trust our own wisdom and common sense, which will always guide us, if we but listen to the quiet still voice within. 

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