The Number One Reason Personal Development Doesn’t Work

Reflection in mirror

I have been interested in self-help and personal growth for over a decade. It is an ever growing industry that promises us change and improvement.

How many books have you read about the subject? How many courses did you take? Did it work? Are you a developed person now?

Reading a good insightful book can be inspiring; it moves us to take action. But, unfortunately, the results are short lived. Before you know it, you’re back to the same old routine.

Even if you spend a month or two working on a course and doing the best you can, you will get results but they won’t last. Why is that?

You can’t be fixed

The whole premise with which we approach self development is that there is something wrong with us that needs fixing.  It is not the content of the advice offered, but our intent when we start reading and using the information.

The simple truth is you can’t be fixed because there is nothing wrong with you; you don’t need fixing.

Most of the self improvement work we do deals with the symptoms and not the root cause of what we are trying to improve. We go after advice seeking love, success, wealth and happiness.

The thing is, achieving all of the above won’t mean a thing of you don’t accept who you are. The biggest obstacle to personal growth is your limiting beliefs about yourself.

If you feel you are ugly and not worthy of love, you can do all the work in the world, and even if you find someone who genuinely loves you, you will eventually find something to push them away.

If you feel you are not worthy of wealth, you won’t get wealthy no matter how many seminars you go to or how many books you read and try to do what is offered.

The bottom line: if you don’t accept yourself, you won’t get any lasting results.

The cause of self limiting beliefs

I am no psychologist, but from what I’ve learned and read, your limiting beliefs and self image issues start at a very young age. By the age of 5 you have absorbed from your parents (or main caregivers) a lot of their views, thoughts and behavior.

As children we internalize and personalize everything. Life is all about us. So we blame ourselves for every negative situation and family dysfunction and carry it for years.

At that age, thoughts and feelings go in unfiltered and straight into the vault of your subconscious mind. They become the foundation of how you experience life.

Some of the most common beliefs and self image ones:

  • I am not good enough
  • I am not worthy of love
  • I don’t have any value to offer
  • I don’t deserve to be happy
  • I am ashamed
  • I feel guilty

It is a vicious cycle

Everything you experience in life is a reflection of your beliefs. In turn, your experiences reinforce and validate such beliefs. We go through life perpetuating the same beliefs and same experiences.

The way out of the cycle

In order to move forward in your life, you need to examine what are your habitual thoughts and beliefs about yourself. These guidelines can help to get you started.

Recognize: that you are not your beliefs. Your beliefs are only selective interpretations of certain events in your life that can bear other meanings. You can change your beliefs and thoughts. As an adult, you have a choice; you can believe anything you want to believe.

Responsibility: take responsibility for your life. Blaming others will not improve the quality of your life, nor give you a way out of what is causing you pain. Parents do the best they can. None of us comes with a user manual :).

Awareness: whenever you are faced with a situation that you feel stuck or brings in you the same pattern of negative emotions, stop and observe what is going on within you. Just go through with the experience; don’t question it. As time goes by you will be able to see the pattern and then you can deal with it.

Question: when you identify certain beliefs about how you perceive yourself, question them. Find evidence of the opposite.

If you believe you are not smart, find examples of things that you did well.  Or find successful people that you believe have the same level of intelligence as you do. There is always more than one meaning to anything we experience.

Be kind to yourself. You don’t need to force something out of you or beat yourself up to start believing in something different. If you create resistance to your old patterns, they will stick with you even more.

Be willing to change. One of the most difficult things to do is to acknowledge who would we be without our story and pain. We form a strong bond with our history and it becomes a huge part of our identity.

Stepping out of this identity requires courage and willingness to change. Please note you are not changing who you are, but you are reframing your experiences and replacing negative painful feelings and beliefs.

Release: any negative emotions and painful thoughts. Allow them to go through you. You can write about how you feel and allow the emotion to show on paper or just simply sit and let the emotion take its course (don’t take it out on other people; it doesn’t help). What you allow will be released with ease.  It is what you fight that sticks to you and prolongs your suffering.

The purpose of this post is to increase your awareness about what’s really holding you back. The transformation begins the moment you become aware of self limiting beliefs and recognize that you don’t need to be changed in order to be worthy of love, joy and success. Where there is self-acceptance; growth and development become inevitable. _

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