The most important part of any self-improvement plan is a healthy dose of respect. Very often, I approach this teaching through a discussion of self-love. I talk about how important it is that we love and care for ourselves in a deep way. However, I am going to focus this discussion through the lens of respect.
Respect is a deep acknowledgement and honoring of the totality of who we are. It is a critical component of self-love. Personal development work will not really begin to shift our life until we do the work with a fundamental respect for all of who we are, rather than a desire to fix, improve or change who we are.
Respect for ourselves keeps us on the path of doing our work and helps us to do it in a way that honors our deep nature.
It is too easy to approach personal development work with the mindset that something needs to be fixed. We might be left feeling this way because of the emotional pain or life event that motivated us to start this work. Along the way you will most definitely meet parts of yourself that you do not like and be tempted to go in directions that do not really serve the true you.
But what if instead we were to move forward on our personal development journey with the belief that the process of growth is an honoring of who we are and who we can become. Honoring who we are in every way implies a deep respect -deeper than perhaps you have ever known.
Respect is both respect for the process and respect for each and every aspect of who you are. Additionally, respect for ourselves translates into respect for others. As we learn to treat ourselves with respect we begin to see how we can do this for others.
Two of the central things that keeps us from growing and changing are the limitations and rules that we put on ourselves because of how we think that we should be. How we think we should be is without respect for who we truly are. It negates rather than strengthens. It distorts rather than clarifies.
Respect holds you and cares for you in the cauldron of transformation. The more you can respect yourself and your process, the more you will connect with your deeper nature and unfold into the totality of who you are, achieving a profound sense of fulfillment.
When we approach our work with respect, it brings strength and clarity. It helps us see where to work and where to yield to something greater than us. It makes our transformational process more gentle.
It is all too easy to go through large or small chunks of life not really knowing exactly what you want in life. From early on in our lives, many of us learn to prioritize the wants and needs of others. Years go by and we can wake up to discover that we have yet to truly step into our own lives. Facing this reality and finding our way to what is truly meaningful can feel like a daunting task.
Where do we look to find what we truly want? How do we learn this skill of connection to our core when we have only been taught to measure our happiness in terms of material success or the happiness of those around us?
If you have been asking yourself these types of questions , you are not alone and you can learn how to listen to your deeper nature and live it more fully and in a more fulfilling way each day.
There are three practices that, when included in your daily life, will help you open up to what you truly want in your life: Permission, Space, Desire.
Let’s dig a little deeper into what is meant by each of these terms and how you can bring them into your everyday to achieve exactly what you want in life.
Permission is found in each and every moment that we say yes to ourselves and our process. Permission is the deep honoring of who we are and what we need.
Permission is not a one time affair. Permission is something that we need to give to ourselves each and every day, hour, and moment. Too often, we limit ourselves to living by the rules of what we perceive as possible –what we think we can and cannot do. These often arbitrary rules are major obstacles to our happiness.
When we do not give ourselves permission to feel what we feel, act as we see right, and pursue the things that truly make us happy we remain stuck in either large or small ways. The message that we send to our deeper self when we do this is that we do not value ourselves. It is like trying to have a conversation with someone who is distracted. Our deeper self will give up trying to communicate with us because we are not helping the dialogue along.
Conversely, when we step in fully, such as when we join a personal development program, start a hobby that makes us truly happy, or just give voice to our inner experience, we begin to hear the voice of our deeper nature. Permission makes it possible to create the space that we need in our life to do this most essential work.
Space means creating the time to do our work. Both the time to focus on it and the time it takes for it to unfold. We need the space to put ourselves in new situations, the space to not know, and the space to feel more deeply “into” ourselves.
Chances are you have been living without this space in your life. The pressures of work, family, and friends can leave us with too many obligations, too much input or too many rules. We become full with outside agendas and forget the quiet voice of our deeper longing, which requires space, quiet, and time to truly be heard.
Many people finally create space in their life after a crisis. They join a program, take a trip, or just spend some quiet time at home questing after what will make them deeply happy. It is in this space that we can truly hear the rumblings of our deep desires and where we have a chance to follow them in the direction of our bliss.
The truth is that who we are at our very core never leaves us. We cannot lose it or break it. However, the degree to which we respect and honor all that we are is the degree to which we derive a deep sense of fulfillment. And, we can show this respect and honor by acknowledging and following our desire. Knowing exactly what you want in life is just about listening to yourself.
Our desire shows us the way to our own heart. We naturally quest after and have an affinity for what supports our deeper nature, even if what we are seeking seems counter-intuitive or counterproductive. If what we are drawn to seems odd in this way, it is likely that our desire is showing us something that needs to be realized or released in order to be truly happy.
Our desire leads us in the direction that we need to go. It helps us connect with and unfold who we truly are. Feeling our desire and acting on it puts us in the flow of life. It brings energy, connectedness, and a dynamic feeling to each and every moment.
Permission, space, and desire work together to help us create happy, healthy, and more fulfilling lives. When we pay attention to how we are acting and interacting with each of these practices, we automatically begin to open up a deeper connection with who we truly are. We are able to feel the joy of connecting with our true self and we step into the beauty that is a part of each of our existences. The truth is, you always know exactly what you want in life, it is just a question of whether or not you go and get it.
It’s a journey not a destination: Think you are going to do a little personal development work, fix yourself, and then go back to life as usual? That is not how it works! Personal development is a lifetime journey! While it can be challenging at the beginning, you will soon notice that the rewards make the effort well worth it.
Let the past be the past: While learning about what shaped you is an important part of personal development, once you understand the past’s influence on creating where you are currently, it is time to let it go. We only heal after we have let the past be the past.
Every day is a new day: Frustrated because you fell off your personal development wagon or forgot for a moment (or many) that you were trying to do things differently? Remember that this is part of the process too! As soon as you can, remember that today is a new day and nothing needs to hold you back from moving forward in the way that you want to.
It is all perfect: Was it not supposed to look like this? Did you think your relationship was your last one, that you would feel more excited now that your kids have left home, or that your career was supposed to really fill you up? Regardless of whether things look like you thought they would, or not, it is all exactly as it should be. What do you have to learn from your situation, and how can you use it to be more, rather than less, of who you are?
It is all for you: Does it seem like some days the world is conspiring to take you down? It might feel that way, but, in truth, every little bit of what happens is helping you in your process of personal development. See if you can see the gift in the challenge and open up to a more generous and benevolent world.
P.S. Feel free to download this handy-dandy reminder of my five tips for personal development.