Why Self-Improvement Takes Time

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Self-improvement takes time?  I hear you; you don't have time for this crap...OK but tell me - do you have time to be tired, drained and miserable?  Didn't think so.  So, stay with me sister - there are no shortcuts to being a better version of you and you know that old adage; good things take time...well it's never truer than in this moment.

Self-improvement or personal mastery is something I strive for and will probably be a lifelong work in progress.  There is no end goal with personal mastery - you get to one vantage point and you see something else that needs working on, tweaking or totally shifting gears.  You keep climbing those mountains not aiming for the top but to take one step closer towards your truth - whatever that may be.

For me personal mastery is my journey towards continuous growth, seeing life from a different perspective and connection to who I truly am within that brings me joy and purpose.  I'm not interested in how things have been done before, I'm interested in possibility and potential.  But my God, it's hard, some days it's tiring, some days I throw my hands up in defeat.  I have a number of clients say to me "why can't I get over this", this being some thought or emotion stopping them from moving forward or moving on, a blockage on their path to growth or freedom.  I myself have questioned the hours of work I have done on myself only to come back to the original concept that me, as I am, as I truly see myself and want to live am not enough, I'm not worthy and I'm not loveable.  That's all we really want isn't it.  To be enough.  To be loveable.  To be worthy.

I’m not interested in how things have been done before, I’m interested in possibility and potential.
— Moni Barry

So why is personal mastery SO. DAMN. HARD?  Programming my friends.  Years and years of programming; thoughts and beliefs passed on from your family (inherited or learned), the friends you associate with, the culture you are brought up in, the society you live in.  Each experience you have creates a thought in your mind and that stream of thoughts is developed into your own personal belief system.

Let me give you an example of my own programming and my current work in progress; my relationship with my body.  I have years of programming and thinking the same thoughts about my body to undo.  I recently dug up a box of my childhood things and found a poem I wrote when I was around 13 years old about being "fat", lamenting my disatisfaction with my body, feeling ashamed by my imperfections, equating food with being evil and considering myself to be of weaker disposition because of my inability to overcome my challenges with food.

Twenty years ago I wrote this.  Twenty years of programming I have to undo.  Twenty years of a deep seeded belief planted within my subconscious that;

  • My body is distasteful (let it be known I was actually a pretty skinny scrawny teen)
  • That not being able to control my eating is seen as a character flaw; I am both weak and/or a failure
  • That I do not have control over my eating, that emotional and/or binge eating is beyond my control
  • That who I am as a person is irrelevant if my external body is not "perfect"

So looking at it from this point of view you can see why personal mastery is an ongoing practice.  Why change for the better takes time.  But it starts with a choice and enough is enough, that choice is that you want and deserve better.  You are tired of silently screaming for help and not being heard, and you are over trying so damn hard to break free from the destructive cycle that sucked you in.

I was tired of complaining about my body.  I was tired of not being able to wear what I wanted.  I was tired of hating on the reflection in the mirror.  I was tired of not seeing myself as beautiful.  I was tired of being tired.

So what is my game plan?

1. Start with small changes

You can't jump from A straight to Z…you have to go through the full alphabet for permanent lasting change.  Aiming to feel too good too quickly doesn't work because you don't believe it.  Start with small incremental changes in your thoughts.  For me I'm not trying to lose weight just yet (consciously anyway).  The first step for me is practicing body positivity; becoming comfortable in and of the skin I live in and not having negative thoughts about myself when I eat bad, don't exercise or look in the mirror.

2. When times get tough, lean in

There will be days when you fall off the self development wagon, you will probably feel sorry for yourself, think what's the point and blame someone/thing else for your pain.  These are not days to give up, but days for you to LEARN more.  Girl, get out of that victim mindset, I get it, it's a strategy you use to deal with your life because you feel powerless to confront your circumstances and you are not powerless.  Take responsibility for what's happened (this doesn't mean accepting it) and how you're letting that story affect your present-day life. 

Lean into those shitty feelings and see what you are missing here?  Ask yourself the following questions; What can I learn about myself from this? What does this really mean? Where does this thought come from? Is it true?

3. Practice makes perfect 

A positive mindset is a muscle you have to exercise.  Your brain wants to default to what is comfortable and what it knows.  Unfortunately often what is comfortable for our mind is to focus on what you don't have rather than what you want and why  Write down what your goal is.  Write down your why.   And then practice it every single day (just like a workout but for your mind).

4. Find your why

Don't let pain and suffering be your motivation for change because it will be hard work.  Instead, find a reason compelling enough that taking action is inspiring.  Be honest with yourself.  For years I told myself that being skinny was acceptable (WRONG), that I wanted more energy and to lead a healthier lifestyle (important yes but not enough to motivate me to put down that bowl of icecream).  What is important to me is being able to wear whatever I want

I'm not into fashion by any means BUT I am into expressing myself by what I wear.  It really upsets me not being able to wear whatever I want, I miss the freedom of being able to share clothes with my friends or waltz into a shop and buying without trying because I know it will fit.  Don't worry about what everyone else says is important, just worry about what's important to you.

5.  Don't play small

Where in your life are you playing small?  Setting goals that you feel safe and doable because you can't bare to deal with the disappointment of failure.  But deep down you are afraid because you want to achieve far more but you don't think it's possible, you don't think you can actually do it.  Let me tell you girl - you can.  Because guess what, failure is inevitable so why not fail at something huge and awesome.   Set that big scary goal, take on greater challenges and step out into the spotlight.  

Once you've had a chance to read, I'd love to know:

Have you struggled with personal mastery and what tools, routines or practices helped you on your self-development journey?

Leave a comment below and let me know. Remember, share as much detail as possible in your reply.  I want to create a space where people can come here each week for insight and inspiration, and your story may help someone else have a meaningful breakthrough.

If you have friends, family or colleagues who are trying to make lasting changes in their life, share this post. The world needs more happy, engaged and passionate peeps!