What you need, and how you experience the world, is going to be substantively different than perhaps anybody else you meet or know.
That may seem obvious. Why is it so important to acknowledge?
Because as you’re attempting to improve your life, you’re going to encounter many people offering various philosophies and technologies that may or may not be helpful to you…but these people might be pushing them in such a way that your brain can’t really register or take advantage of them.
Remember that, whatever tools you use to improve your life and move closer to your goals, you’re probably going to have to adapt, either a little or a lot, to how you think, how you perceive, how you function.
I wish somebody had told me this when I was beginning my journey into self-improvement.
I’ve had the experience of, very often, encountering an interesting idea, tool, or philosophy, something that might have been helpful to me…but then discarding it or not learning more about it because the way the person presenting it was not resonating with me.
For example: many teachers these days advocate the healing properties of meditation in self-improvement paradigms. There is mounting research to suggest that consistently taking quiet time for awareness and calm can have beneficial effects on attention span, anxiety, and even our physical bodies. Therapy modalities such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy draw on mindfulness as an important touchstone of their techniques.
Meditation may be useful to you. But the way meditation is presented by various sources may be a complete turnoff to you— and you might be tempted to discard it as a result.
Does the idea of sitting crosslegged, eyes closed, listening to Zen-like flute music make your skin crawl? It kind of does mine. Which is one of the reasons why, for a long time, I eschewed the idea of incorporating meditation into my daily rituals.
It was only LATER that I found out that that traditional idea of meditation was only ONE way to go about it.
Because of the way I had been presented with the idea of meditation, I didn’t realize you could, you know, choose a more comfortable position, or listen to music that was more your speed. I didn’t realize that there were many ways to meditate— and that the really important thing was that it provide a time and space to feel good, comfortable, and clear…and that my version of this might look different from anyone else’s.
Don’t discard an idea just because of the way it’s been presented to you.
For many people, the very idea of psychotherapy or personal development makes their skin crawl.
The reason for this is, again, primarily because of the way it’s been presented to them: they think that self-help, personal development, or improving their emotional and behavioral health necessarily means getting touchy-feely, weepy, uncomfortably vulnerable, and/or becoming a functional marshmallow.
This might be true for some people. But I can tell you, both as someone who administers psychotherapy for a living and somebody who has been on my own personal growth journey for quite awhile now: that’s not what it looks like for everybody.
People who come into my office at The Doyle Practice routinely remark about how my office “doesn’t look like a therapist’s office.”
The truth is, there are allllll kinds of ways to do therapy and personal growth. And the way that’s going to be most effective for you is exactly that: the way that is most effective for you.
You have different sensibilities than anyone else on the planet.
You respond to different metaphors than anyone else.
You’ve had your own unique experiences, positive and negative, which impact what you respond to positively…and what you absolutely can’t stand.
When you’re charting your own personal development journey, keep your uniqueness in mind.
Trust me: there are lots, and lots, and LOTS of ideas out there in the world of therapy and personal development. And many of them are presented in ways that are highly identified with the specific people who are teaching them.
Do yourself a favor, and try to look past the teacher or the way an idea is being presented.
Ask yourself if the CORE of the idea is something you might be able to adapt to your life.
Ask yourself if you can see taking the ESSENCE of an idea, and molding it into something that you can and would use.
Your idiosyncrasies matter. This is, after all, YOUR life that you’re looking to manage and change.
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