Hey! I just wanted to tell you that you’re doing great. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be right now.
I’m guessing, based on the fact that you’re reading this, that you have an interest in self-improvement. I’m also guessing that you’re prone to becoming unhappy in this pursuit. You just never seem to get to where you want to go. You have these goals, these aspirations, but you find yourself failing or giving up before you reach them. Sure, you succeed sometimes, but overall you find that your past is littered with attempted changes and unreached goals. I’m with you.
Over the last 3 years, I’ve improved my life on a massive scale. I used to be a 23 year old college dropout who lived with his mom, was overweight, and had very few friends in the world. I now live in a beautiful area, have my own business, am in great physical shape, and have the most amazing group of friends I’ve ever had. I believe I found this success in part because I identified 3 limiting beliefs that were keeping me from enjoying the journey of progress and self-improvement. Here they are!
The 3 Limiting Thoughts Patterns
Focusing On the Future
I’m sure that most everyone reading this is aware that the “present moment” is the place to be. When our thinking is focused on the future or the past, we’re likely not feeling content. When it comes to affecting positive change in our life, the future can be a tempting and destructive mistress. It’s so easy to float off to the future and think about how much better our life will be when we have mastered this new habit. Using the most common example: we daydream about our beach body as we begin implementing a new nutrition and exercise routine.
Now, don’t get me wrong, positive visualization is a powerful thing. We want to remember why we’re even making certain changes in our life. However, we have to be extremely careful about getting into a “suffer now for happiness later” mindset. If we’re in this mindset, the journey of life is going to be just awful. Our quest to improve ourselves will seem like a jail sentence with nothing but dreams of a brighter tomorrow to keep us going.
The key when it comes to enjoying the journey is to constantly remind yourself to enjoy the process. For example, I recently started eating healthier and running a few times a week. Yes, I am excited about the potential to have a healthier figure in the future, but I’m even more excited about the fact that I already feel better because of it. I’m excited about all the greens I’m eating and how they make me feel so much better than eating out almost every meal. I’m excited about running and getting that runner’s high and the incredible motivation to write that usually follows my runs. Check out ‘The Practicing Mind’ by Thomas M. Sterner for more on learning to enjoy the process of learning.
Basically, it’s important to make changes because you want to live better today, not purely for some end goal that you may or may not reach. Having the idea of an end goal as the only metric for success enforces the idea that there is something wrong with your life today. Life is great today and any changes you make today are beautiful in and of themselves.
Ahh, comparison. This thought pattern has absolutely destroyed me throughout the years. In the past I’ve compared myself to entrepreneurs, self-help gurus, friends, bloggers, acquaintances, random people on the street…basically if you were a human, I was likely comparing myself to you. And I’m going to be honest, it’s such a terrible pattern to be stuck in.
When we are basing our own progress off the lives of others, we are bound to find ourselves lacking. There are 7 billion people in the world. Each person is going to be better at something than us. There will always be someone more muscular, skinnier, smarter, more successful, more talented, or more popular than you. Comparing is a lose-lose situation. We will always find a way to feed our insecurity.
However, the solution to this is actually another form of comparison. It’s a much healthier one. Comparing yourself to yourself is the best way to escape the toxic pattern of comparing yourself to others. Compare yourself to the person you were 5 years ago. I’m guessing you’ve made enormous, beautiful strides in your life. Always be working to be better than the person you were yesterday. When you look at it this way, the journey of life and the journey of progress become 1,000 times more enjoyable.
The final thought pattern is one that I’m sure everyone has dealt with at some point or another. I know that whenever I go out and attempt to make positive change in my life, my brain will almost always say something like: “You’re definitely going to fail” or “This is absolutely pointless” or “Other people don’t do this, what is wrong with you?”. Basically, self-doubt and negative thinking often pop up whenever I am on the path to improvement. It’s actually a good sign when they pop up. But until I learned to deal with it in a healthy way, they would rip me from my goals and destroy my confidence.
Here’s how you deal with self-doubt: meditation. Meditation is easily the most effective way to get in control of your thoughts. As you get stronger in your practice, you’ll be able to identify the voice of self-doubt in your brain. The more you identify it and acknowledge it for the shitty voice that it is, the quieter it will get. After three years of meditation and improving my spiritual life, I am much better at singling out the negative thoughts and ignoring them. It’s a beautiful thing.
I personally use the Headspace app for meditation and would definitely recommend it. It makes it incredibly easy to meditate, especially if you don’t have any prior experience.
Let’s Go Out and Enjoy the Journey!
Personal development is an interesting aspect of life. What’s most interesting, I think, is that it’s a journey that never ends. It’s a never-ending discovery of the best person we can be in each moment. But this so easily forgotten.
When a person is simply working to improve themselves moment by moment, day by day, month by month, and year by year, personal development can be a beautiful thing. But this journey so often becomes bogged down in thoughts of the future and regrets of the past. It gets tangled up in frivolous comparison to role models and peers alike. It gets pushed aside by insecurity and doubt.
But once we realize these impediments to our progress, it becomes easier to identify them and work on eliminating them. Good luck in your journey and remember to keep a watchful eye out for these 3 thought patterns!