Probably the biggest roadblock to our personal development is simply habit. Human beings are creatures of habit. Our brains are literally designed to seek routine – even if that routine is detrimental to us.
A habit is anything we do so often that it becomes almost an involuntary process. To our brain, there are no “good” or “bad” habits. It is just the familiar. We can even become addicted to our own brain chemistry and it’s response to certain stimuli. This is what we commonly call addiction. The serotonin and dopamine that our brain produces spell PEACE to our bodies. We will so often choose the familiar, simply because it is what “feels” peaceful. It is what we know.
From the outside, we stand in astonishment when we look at the choices other people make. Why does someone smoke, or drink, or eat to excess? Why do they stay in abusive or loveless relationships? When we are not pointing fingers, however, we must ask those same questions about ourselves. Why must we wait until circumstances are unbearable to begin to build a new path? The good news is, we don’t!
This is the beginning of personal development. We must be willing to admit the truth about ourselves and any given situation and seek a new and higher reaction. We must build a new process around a familiar experience.
A simple example is day-to-day negativity. How often do we complain in a day? We spend so much verbal energy vocalizing our physical aches and pains. We endlessly highlight our frustrations with our workplace and our disappointments in others. In fact, we spend so much of our voice on the negative, that we will distract ourselves from the positive. Negativity is like any familiar unproductive habit – with awareness, desire and action we can learn a new response to an old and familiar pattern.
One of the basic tenets of Positive Psychology is gratitude. Learning to simply close our mouths to negativity and to speak only words of appreciation is an easy tool in personal development. It is also, however, a paradoxical tool. It is very difficult to learn yet when practiced it is the MOST rewarding skill when acquired. It is the key to all other development, and it magically unlocks doorways to who we may choose to become.
As human beings, we are born with tremendous assets. These assets are our strengths. What we choose to build with those traits is our birthright. It is our life journey. This IS, literally, our “personal” development. Personal development is when we begin to understand we are not our unproductive habits, our net worth or our circumstances but our strengths. Now that is good news.
That is a thought worthy of contemplation.
To your success!
Dr. Success, Andrea Goeglein, Ph.D.