People have turned to Self Development to find happiness, success and fulfillment for a very long time.
In fact, a while back when bookstores were still popular, before Amazon came into being, they all had Self Development sections with hundreds if not thousands of titles dedicated to ‘How To … Improve – please insert your own particular malady here’.
But, regardless of the particular malady being researched in the Self Development section of the bookstore, the ultimate goal for each searcher was far simpler:
they just wanted to be Happy.
Self Development books can be helpful. Some were written by self-proclaimed experts. Others came into being as the result of the hard work of real-life, well-schooled individuals with much value to add to society.
Many books in the Self Development section, (also known as Self Help), were written by those in the psychological or dietary fields. People are always looking for new ways to be happy and psychologists have great insight into this, but losing those extra 10 pounds was equally important and, not too coincidentally, also falls into the category of being happy.
To me, the most interesting books in this section were about Spirituality. Beginning at a very early age, (relatively speaking… I was in my early 20’s), I was drawn to these and devoured lots of them on various topics and perspectives, including those written by truly Enlightened individuals.
While most books in the Self Development department had good intentions, and some did contain valuable, actionable information, others… well… not so much. They fell a little short.
I came upon Self Development books that seemed more to be a get-rich-quick scheme for the author. (Sorry for being blunt. A more gentle way of putting this didn’t come to mind at the time of this writing.) These were filled with lots of nonsense and phony advice and had nothing of real value to offer.
Regardless of intention, though – good or bad – titles such as these proliferated: “Improve this Now!” “This Can Be Effortless!” “Get Rich Today!”
But, and I ask the following with the understanding that many people have been drawn into this type of superficial self-improvement lifestyle: Is self-development really about these things?
Taking a deeper look at the term – ‘self-development’ – would suggest not.
Self-development should be about developing (improving) the Self (as opposed to the self) – that is: The True Self – and not the Ego’s ‘sense of self’, which is a false reality, a false identity.
It seems a misuse of valuable time, which is limited for all of us, to examine ways to build the Ego’s sense of self. The reason being: the Ego and its world is an illusion.
Further confusing this issue – and this should be noted by all – the True Self already is perfect. It needs no improvement. So why address it in the first place?
And, if that is the case – and it is – then why spend time on self-development at all?
What really is beneficial, and important, and what I’m really talking about is Self Realization and/or Self Actualization, which are terms describing the actions needed to locate, contact, and build a relationship with the inner True Self.
While I understand that not everyone is ready to take this infinitely more valuable path, it does behoove all to make this effort. Make the commitment to dedicate some time to look beneath the surface of perceived reality for life’s bigger power, for its true meaning and purpose.
Focusing on the higher aspect of self-development, which is finding, connecting with, and building a close relationship of sharing and Trust with the True Self, is the most useful and valuable way to spend time.
That is the process of Self Realization and/or Self Actualization. That’s what it’s all about.
You might be wondering about my motivation for this writing. And I hope it is not coming off as being critical. I am not being critical, as I have walked in the shoes of those who were led astray by their Ego selves, and understand its clever trappings.
The motivation for this writing is a promotion I saw today for a program presented by someone who, apparently, is very well known. (I mean no disrespect when I say that I had never heard of him before. I will not mention any names, as I am not looking to disparage him or his work.)
He was selling a program which purports to help one ‘upgrade your operating system’. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but the stated goal is to make people Superhuman.
This is exactly the type of information and hype which can mislead.
You see, no matter what you do or how bad your life may be right now, your are enough just as you are. You already are powerful. You already have the capacity for unlimited Joy, Success (even financial and material success), and Love. That’s already inside you.
And, you don’t have to be Superhuman to use this power. An even bigger reality: you never will be Superhuman! While we are here in the 3rd dimensional plane of existence we all know as Earth, we are only human, not Superhuman.
To say that we can be Superhuman is the same hyperbole as when people say give 110%. One cannot give 110%. One can only give 100%. That’s all there is. 100% is all that one has.
And, not being Superhuman is not a bad thing. It’s who we all are.
If the purveyor of this program was alluding to the reality that each of us – even you – have far more power to create, to build, and to be much more than we realize, then I agree with his sentiment.
Being human is the experience each of us chose to be born into. (Yes, we each chose it, even those who are living very difficult lives. And there is purpose for this.)
And, it is not wrong to want to become and to experience all the possibilities and extraordinary powers the human condition offers. That is exactly our purpose for being here: to experience all these things. Earth is an experiential place.
But, it is how we define ourselves – especially the self-imposed limitations we place upon our creative powers – and how we go about accomplishing these things which can muddy the waters. These, guided by the Ego self, are the potholes in the road which can lead us astray.
I can boldly say that the solution to our confusion will not be found in upgrading your operating system.
It is found elsewhere.
Most do not realize the internal power they hold. They see the physical reality before them and choose to believe that this is all there is; that they have no power to change their reality and, thus, the world.
This is an incorrect assessment of the human condition, which has gained acceptance with the masses. Its roots are hidden within the limited group/community beliefs found in the fearful, Ego self.
This interpretation of humanity – as a victim with limited or no power over one’s life – is simply not correct. I realize this can be difficult to accept, especially when one is suffering a life of very difficult times.
I can relate. I’ve been there. I’ve had difficult times.
How one uses these is the key to personal growth, self-development, Self-actualization and, ultimately, Enlightenment. My tough times guided me to look within to find my True Self.
Doing this was the only way I was able to get results. And while the results can come quickly once this inner connection has been made, it might be a very quick process for some. It was not quick nor easy for me.
It fact, my process is ongoing – the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know – and I continually work to grow, to raise my level of consciousness.
But it is worthwhile because it is real. It is permanent.
This is a Spiritual pursuit. Not an intellectual one. This is Spirituality.
When talking about self-development or self-actualization/self-realization, what one really should be looking at is Self Awareness.
What is Self Awareness? Simply stated: it is awareness of the Self.
Now, I know that sounds a little screwy and I was not trying to be flippant. The word ‘Self’, as I was using it, is a very specific term and I used it in that context in the phrase: ‘Self Awareness’.
You see, the ‘Self’ (with a capital ‘S’) actually refers to the inner ‘True Self’. This is the aspect of you that actually gives you life. This is what keeps your heart beating. (Your capacity for life is not a physical function, as many believe. Your heartbeat is purely a Spiritual thing, and it is the True Self who makes it happen.)
When you were born, the thing which gave your tiny body life was your True Self. Still born babies, many of which had been completely healthy right up to the moment of birth, when their body’s entered the world, simply are bodies whose True Self, for whatever reason, decided at the last minute to abandon that body, to not enter the physical realm in that body.
There are many reasons why this can happen, but many times it is simply a matter of change. The situation in the lives of the parents had changed to such a degree that it would have been difficult, or impossible, for the True Self about to inhabit that baby’s body to accomplish the things it had planned.
Once the True Self abandoned the body, the baby was ‘Still Born’. It was, essentially, dead. The reason being: there was no True Self to give it life.
So, the True Self holds all the power of life. It also holds all the power for happiness, success – both socially and financially – and is the essence of Love. The Ego self, which most mistakenly identify as ‘who they are’, is based in fear.
Becoming aware of these two opposing inner forces is the key to Spirituality and is what inner Self Awareness brings. Self Awareness is the ability to recognize the True Self and to distinguish it from the Ego self.
Become Self Aware. Connect with, resonate with, share and communicate with the True Self. This is the fastest way to find real, concrete and unending happiness, success, and Love.
To become Self Aware really should be the point of Self Development. Self Development which caters to the Ego sense of self, while momentarily satisfying, will not fill the whole within, which everyone feels at some time in their lives. Programs which purport to help you ‘upgrade your operating system’ actually can be more of a hindrance. they can get in the way.
Certainly, some of these programs may hold some valuable information. I hope they do. In reality, though, none of them are needed. They are superfluous, at best. Delusional at worst.
A better use of your time and resources is to learn to look within. Make your connection. Find and begin communicating with and listening to your True Self.
We all have a True Self within, even you. If you didn’t you wouldn’t be here. It is the inner power which gives you life, and it’s there to fill your needs.
Are you happy? Comment below and let me know.
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Bruce is a published author, speaker, student/teacher of Spirituality, and founder of The Spiritual Workshop. Beginning in the 1980's, he was guided to look inside for his answers and information and is now teaching the Wisdom gained and the processes for introspective self-learning.
Understand The Self: How To Become Self Aware
Learn the Key to Happiness, Fulfillment, and Wisdom: The Self
Religion is Obsolete – Understanding Religion Vs. Spiritual
Spiritual Development/Awareness: I Almost Died in The Grand Canyon
My Meeting with an Enlightened Man: Experiences with Dr. David R. Hawkins, MD, PhD
The Day My Life Changed… Again
The Happy Place. Happiness is an Energy
Meditate For Happiness: The Actual Goal of Meditation