Thursday, April 9, 2009

An End to Personal Development

--mind + body + spirit--

Here goes...I confess - I am calling for an end to "personal development" as a movement and more so as an intentional pursuit. In the least let's get a little perspective on it...a theoretical inventory of sorts. Let's not keep it all so sacred. I have found people taking more license criticizing Jesus then they do Yoga as of late. And I am getting scared.

The whole concept of personal development seems so lofty and self important for one thing. Why are we all taking ourselves so seriously and making our journey so holier than thou ? Who said it was meant to be so ? What scripture has modern day spirituality subscribed to,where we have become our own vaticans?

I also wonder about the labor piece of the whole thing. There is a whole lot of "work" involved in working on yourself. I am too young to cite the 60's from personal experience - but from what I have heard and seen second hand, by God those folks looked like they were having a good ole' time connecting to their higher selves (no pun intended). Somehow getting in touch with our inner selves has become very serious stuff. I am sure many folks out there are doing it "for the fun of it," but it sure isn't marketed that way. Maybe a new campaign "Possibility is a Blast" might do it. Who knows.

Personal development guru's try to spin it like it's all easy - once you just "get it." But with all the reading, workshops, conscious control of thoughts, and a sort of persistent policing of ones actions, I have found personal development seeming more like a back breaker than a life shaper. I need a "better me" recess. I found myself missing the old relaxed disfunctional me - she was more fun, and easy going and I found she did just as much good and was just as kind as the "better me - out there."

I have gone through the mill. I have read most of Marianne Williamson, Esther and Jerry Hicks, Carolyn Myss, and Jack Canfield (amongst dozens of others). I have done yoga, meditation, "intention/prayer" groups, I have explored Landmark Education and the Kabbalah and so much more (than even I care to admit). In all that - what is left is a sense of accomplishment, no more or less different than learning tennis or how to knit. There is no pot of gold at the end of any of those rainbows (as much as it might be promised). You become good at "it " and attain new skills, but at the end I am not so sure how much more genuinely happy or more effective you become in your life. All this "personal development" becomes a crutch, not so much different than smoking or eating for millions of others. I know folks who do yoga retreats and meditation groups on a religious basis. Much like my serious church going friends, they guilt themselves into oblivion over missing a session. This dependency makes me nervous. Something is awry.

I learned one important thing in all my journeys through the wild west of personal awareness - that could have been summed up in two words. Simply - "Be happy. " Perhaps the only advice I wish someone could have given me - is choose only those things that bring you joy, moment to moment - day to day...and that will be the sum of your life. There is no magic wand for any of this. It starts and ends in simple choices; what you choose to eat, who you choose to love, how often you choose to laugh. I believe the power to choose joy is in all of us. Like fruit hanging from a vine...some dare pick it, while others will read instructional manuals on the proper technique. I'm not knocking all those working to inspire others to find their way to the vine, nor those leafing through the manual - I suppose what I am saying is, let's keep it all in perspective, let's all be light about it, and let's (as they say) keep it real.


Evan said...

Fritz Perls (from memory): There is a difference between self-actualisation and self-image acturalisation. Most of the self-improvement world is self-image actualisation. And our image is usually grand - not much giggling involved.

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