Do You Know Your Own Self?
Answering The Personal Philosophy Paradox
Article by Dr. Pratik P. SURANA
Chief Mentor and Founder
“Most of the things you think you know may not be so.” ~Ralph W. Emerson
From the beginning days of Philosophy and Psychology to the billions of sources of information we have today trying to answer this question, it may be time to pause and reflect upon the answer we think we know for sure. My nagging question is this: Have we really made any remarkable progress in finding an answer to this question? Or put in other terms, how much success is enjoyed by the majority of people, in carrying out the main purpose in life—learning, growing and improving in reducing the gap between their real and ideal selves?
After studying, reading and applying all I have learned to try and make progress at this gap reduction process with myself and others, I am somewhat sad to admit the progress has only been mediocre. And I think I am dead in the middle under the big part of the Bell-curve with many others on this one. My only consolation is that I might at least know why this is so and that may just be a very good starting point in helping myself and others close the ever-widening gap between just surviving in the desperation no-where zone and thriving in the dreamland of good and plenty.
In the beginning of psychology, clinicians, researchers and practitioners over-focused their time and energy in studying the dark side of people and their pathologies. The goal was to explain why and how unconscious processes created such bizarre behaviour, so that the people plagued with such problems could be cured and the world would become a better place with such hope. But sooner or later people become bored with studying pathological problems, diseases and failures and they want a change.
After those efforts, came the positive psychology movement, which began to look at the positive side of life and the common denominators behind success and happiness. Unfortunately it was the elite success shadow-makers who were the subjects of all this study, and that left the middle part of the Bell-curve, or the vast majority of the rest of us, shooting for lofty goals way beyond our reach. This was especially true with the tease of super techniques even when based on sound wisdom of the ages and good intentions, like The Secret and The Law of Attraction.
What I suspect is about to happen is a major paradigm shift from the current success addiction to one somewhere in the middle of failure and success. That would stand to reason because it is just following the great creative process that drives the whole universe. What is most likely to become the focus is finding out and understanding what keeps us from closing the gap between our real and ideal selves which will take us from the end of just surviving to the beginning of thriving, maybe just before the point of no return comes and goes for some.
In trying to buy into the value of this new focus point, stop and think about something that describes most of us—we are more driven to avoid loss with fear of failure in over-protecting what we have rather than risking losing it for the hope of achieving a really good success. Equally skilled golfers will always be much more successful putting for par than putting for a birdie, even from the same distance. The applied principle is that if we focus more on managing what we can better, in order to avoid probable failures, rather than going for the gold, we might just get closer to it. Of course some people go for it and get it just enough times to know it is possible. But the same lure tempts us at gambling casinos and playing Power ball with super big jackpots.
Why is developing an effective personal philosophy so significant? Well, if your personal philosophy is not helping you succeed, that could be one good reason for developing a more effective personal philosophy. One of the major ideas I have picked up in studying self improvement, has been that in order to make a successful personal change, I had to start with my personal philosophy. Jim Rohn, one of the best, if not the best business philosopher of our time said that. It all starts with our personal philosophy, or as Mr. Rohn termed it, “the set of the sail”. I began to look at what I had done to create the current results in my life, especially the one’s I didn’t like. Some results I was happy with, some not. When I really thought about it, I noticed that I created all of the results, whether good or bad in my life by applying my own personal philosophy first. If I had not reached the results I wanted, surely a change in philosophy was needed? Why? We create results in our life that are consistent with our own personal philosophy.
Someone can want to have good health for example, but do they perform the disciplines of a person who seeks to have good health? If not, that persons philosophy needs to be changed in order for desired results to come about. After all, the old saying goes, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” right? It’s not a can of coke and a candy bar a day…no way! That won’t work. Obviously, the personal philosophy here in this example is at fault.
As a life coach, I think the best way to change our personal philosophy, is to make it a goal. Take anything you want to improve on in your life – that you may not be producing desired results in. You already know what does not work. I would suggest that you no longer follow that pattern. What does work? That’s what we have to find out. If we are in trouble financially, we may be overspending. If we are overweight, we may be overeating. If our relationships are suffering, chances are that we are not giving them enough care. You see, by pondering what does not work, we can make some great distinctions and then work on getting some answers on what can work. What’s next? A change in your philosophy to include taking disciplined action, daily, to improve each area of your life, one by one. This shift in your philosophy can make all the difference!
Focusing on What We Want
Focusing on what we want is important in developing an effective personal philosophy. Why? Imagine wanting to achieve a promotion at your job, but never focusing on adding value to the business. In most cases, this type of philosophy will cause you to never achieve the promotion. Imagine wanting to achieve financial freedom, but constantly spending your time in front of a television watching programs that do not help you achieve that goal in any way. Imagine wanting to look thin for a party, but overeating consistently and not exercising at all. We need to focus on what we want. Our personal philosophy will ultimately shape our destiny, so we want to create an effective personal philosophy by beginning to focus in on what we want and not the opposite.
Making a Change to Your Personal Philosophy
How can we change our personal philosophy? An effective way to change your personal philosophy is slowly. Do one discipline at a time. You want to avoid overwhelming yourself. Remember the current personal philosophy you are operating under. Your decision and actions under you current philosophy are done effortlessly. It’s already a habit. It did not happen overnight, but was embedded over the last few years, day by day. There is only one way to turn that around. If you are in financial trouble, you need to study your finances. You need to find the cause of the problem. You need to cut out the actions that are not contributing to your overall financial success. Are you over budget each month? Are you spending money poorly? Are you saving any money from your income? Focus on what you want. Change your philosophy. Instead know that your current philosophy is not generating desired results. Focus on the results you want. I want to save 3% of my income each week. I will spend my money wisely and repay my debts at 3% bi-weekly. This is just an example of course, but I know you get the idea. Your personal philosophy of how you currently operate needs to change. If you fail to make any change and continue to run the same pattern of poor judgement how will it turn out in say, 3-6 years from now? A deeper hole is harder to climb out of for sure. Don’t continue falling into the trap. It’s much easier to change your philosophy and avoid the pain.
Begin to practice the smallest fundamental principles in the areas of health, relationships, finances and career. Keep what you have to gain in your focus and make the changes. It’s just as easy to follow a principle of success, as it is of failure – the choice is always ours.
So how can the majority of people wanting to know and be who they really are—not letting their ability get in the way of their capability—be more successful? Here are seven good suggestions to help you close the gap between your real and ideal selves:
- Consider the likelihood that genuine success and happiness, learning who you really are, and closing the gap between your real and ideal selves is much more of a lifelong journey than an overnight destination. Yard by yard life is hard, but inch by inch, it’s a synch.
- Just like AA, you have to admit who you currently are by saying it out loud to others—I am so and so and I am an “alcoholic.” Look yourself in the mirror and accept yourself as an over-driven hero wannabe wanting to get everlasting recognition for achieving the perfect success with your chosen target. At the same time accept the possibility that all that you think you know may not necessarily be so, to empty some new space in your brain to fill it with more useful knowledge about how people and life really work.
- Develop a genuine desire to learn what you don’t know, especially how you may be sabotaging your own successes by being overconfident in your under-prepared abilities. Start reading some difficult and intelligent books that don’t have simple and easy solutions to difficult and complex problems to find out how to really fix things the right and lasting way.
- Shift your focus intentionally from success to failure and then see what likely failures you can manger better with a different approach to prevent them from happening. The natural result is that you get more successes from the better management. You are changing your perspective and that alone will change your results for the better. Just noticing what you have failed to notice before is a very big gain to feel good about.
- Control the controllable and let go of all the rest. Too much valuable time and effort is wasted in trying to control things that are out of your control. This change strengthens your focus and ability to see and get rid of a likely failure that is under your control, like approaching something new by being under-confident and over-prepared.
- Pause frequently to make sure you have the right perspective on trying to do what you are trying to do, remember your main purpose, and feel good about inch-by-inch progress, which may be far better than what you feel free to admit from years of past efforts at this challenging journey.
- Always hang out with people who support and encourage you and avoid the people who tend to drain you of your hope and positive attitude or who don’t recognize or support your progress.
Providing effective life coaching to you is my goal. Well, what makes for an effective life coaching session?
The answer is, that life coaching is all about you and what you want to accomplish. It’s a solid 45-60 minutes of 100% focus on your life – where you are now and how to get to where you want to be! Try it today!!