It started to dawn on me that I was actually really tired of trying to be better, that all the things I was doing weren’t necessarily making me stronger. There was a lot of dependency on external input, what I call the paraphernalia of the new age. And it wasn’t hard to see this. But it wasn’t just me that was feeling that way. It was really me and all my girlfriends. Every time I get off stage the women would come up to me and I’d hear the same things. Basically, we’re really tired. And this is not the point, further fatigue, berating yourself. I’m pretty sure that this is not the point of walking the spiritual path. — Danielle LaPorte on The Unmistakable Creative.
Given that I’ve spent the last decade broadcasting other people’s wisdom, reading self help books and writing some of them myself, this probably seems like an odd thing for me to say. But for many of us, the fundamental premise of our personal development efforts is that we are in some way deficient or broken. Few things contribute to our misery like a sense of deficiency.
Throughout my life I’ve felt deficient in some way or another:
- While I was in college at Berkeley, it was because my grades were bad
- After I graduated, it was because I had a hard time finding a job and keeping one.
- For the rest of my 20’s it was because I didn’t have a girlfriend
- For most of my 30’s it was because I was living at home trying to start a career
Because of this sense of deficiency, I joined a cult that later became known as the seduction community, wrestled on and off with depression, and read 100’s of self help books. I could probably open a therapy practice in my living room with the books on my shelf. I’ve chased women who weren’t into me when I should have just walked away and met someone who was actually excited about having me in their life.
When the fundamental premise of your personal development efforts is that you are broken in some way and need to be fixed, you end up perpetuating that reality.
“As you label an object or situation” so it appears say the authors of the Three Laws of Performance. How do you label your current situation? Is it a problem you have to fix or is it an opportunity for growth? Our words are the building blocks of reality.
Deficiency is a Form of Scarcity
When we feel deficient in some way, our focus is on what we lack. Our default narrative is one of not enough. We don’t have enough, we aren’t good enough, etc, etc. This narrative blinds us to all we should be grateful for. It blinds us to our gifts and causes us to see the world through the lens of our weaknesses.
Freedom Begins with Acceptance
One of the strange paradoxes of personal development is that in order to make change, we have to begin by accepting the way things are, even if they are not ideal or to our liking. You can attempt to make change from a place of resistance or a place of acceptance.
When you attempt to make change from a place of resistance, everything is an uphill battle. You feel desperate and hopeless. But when you make change from a place of acceptance, experiences and circumstances flow through your life. You don’t hang onto anything.
Your realize the only thing worth giving your energy to is what you can control.
Love Begins with Loving Yourself
My friend Kamal Ravikant has famously said to love yourself like your life depends on it. Sometime last I year I started to see an energy healer. After years of skepticism about inspiration and new age bullshit, I drank the Encinitas Kool aid. Our sessions centered around one thing: my impression of myself. Truth be told, I was struggling with my impression of myself. Occasionally, I still do. I sometimes hate my brain for the fact I’ve dealt with depression and forget that it’s the same brain that allowed me to write books and interview 700 people.
Abundance begins with Gratitude
A few months ago, I was having a conversation with Amber Rae about her amazing book Choose Wonder over Worry . She was having lunch with Seth Godin and when he asked her about book marketing she laughingly said “I want to sell a million copies.” But what struck me most is what Seth said to her. He said “you’ve already won. You got the book deal, you wrote the book, and have an amazing fiance.”
In the midst of my own book launch , this is something I’ve had to keep in mind. The desire to sell as many copies as possible can cause you to overlook an opportunity to practice gratitude:
- Gratitude for the publisher who took a chance on you.
- Gratitude for the fact that you just got paid to do something you love
- Gratitude for the people who do read your work and buy our books.
- Gratitude for all the people behind the scenes (editors, agent, designers, and friends)
When you’re caught up in the round of funding you haven’t raised, the startup that hasn’t grown as fast as you’d like or the bestseller list you didn’t hit, it’s easy to delude yourself into thinking you’ve lost, and overlook all the ways in which you’ve won.
The constant effort to improve ourselves in a world driven by self help books, podcasts, life hacks, list posts, life coaches, thought leaders, and unicorn startup founders can be exhausting.
When the standard by which we measure our lives is a never ending parade of accomplishments and accolades, it becomes all too easy to prioritize what author and New York Times columnist David Brooks calls resumes values over eulogy values.
In our desperate striving for excellence, we paradoxically reduce its likelihood. Perhaps it’s time we shifted the fundamental premise of personal development from you’re broken and need to be fixed to you’re good and aspiring to be great.
Gain an Unfair Creative Advantage
I’ve created a swipe file of my best creative strategies. Follow it and you’ll kill your endless distractions, do more of what matters to you, in higher quality and less time. Get the swipe file here .
This content was originally published here.