Today I want to talk about a very subtle, but extremely important distinction to make for anyone who is on a personal growth path. I have noticed a trend of a misunderstanding in the self-improvement field that I observe many of my clients and readers buying into. My invitation to you is to get brutally honest with yourself about what is truly motivating your desire to work on yourself.
So here is the basic misunderstanding: "If I work on myself, I will get more of what I want in my life." Now you may be wondering why in the world that would not be true especially since you probably understand that our external world is a reflection of our internal reality. Yet this direct correlation that many of us make between self-work and results is creating unconscious roadblocks of attachment. I said this was subtle... hang with me.
In my work as a coach and spiritual counselor, most people come to me because they want something in their life to be more, better or different. Most clients do not begin working with me because they feel totally happy and fulfilled already. Often it takes a rattling catalytic event or reaching a level of unbearable discontent to stimulate us to reach out for help. We look around for help because we are not taught the principles of spirituality, emotional development and healing in school. Wouldn't it be nice if classes that taught us about ourselves appeared next to algebra and economics on our school syllabi? Since they don't we are conditioned from a young age to be achievement and outcome-based. Therefore, when we finally do get around to putting understanding and healing ourselves on our curriculum, we often attach an objective to it because we are so used to being goal-oriented. We begin working ourselves so that we can get the health, job, relationship, etc. that we desire.
It is totally natural to have your initial spark to embark on a personal growth path be a desire for something more, better or different (especially if you are experiencing pain of any kind). And sometimes we use, or perhaps even need, some kind of external end goal to motivate us to go through the pain. Your higher self knows that certain things or the lack of certain things have to be put in your path so that you begin to wake up. But the point of personal growth is not to get something in return for all our work. We may know this yet have trouble releasing the idea that all our hard work will "pay off" in the form of having what we want. Sooner or later in our evolutionary process, we realize it is not the having of things that fulfills our soul.
Let's look at a common example. Say you working on yourself because you want to find your "soulmate." You understand that we attract people that are at our level of vibration and awareness so you are trying to sort out all your issues so you can find "the one." I acknowledge that level of ownership and agree that we are better partners for others and tend to attract better partners for ourselves when we do our work first. However, when the driving reason for doing the work is so that we can get the result we think will make us feel better, our ego is still in the driver's seat. Confusion then sets in because we begin to measure our progress by whether or not the goal we set is manifesting. And when it doesn't, we believe there is even more we have to work on and never reach a point of peace until the goal is met. This is why attaching goals to your sacred spiritual work can be dangerous and blind you to the progress you are actually making.
Let me clarify that manifesting things in physical world reality that we desire may be a wonderful result of our work. My encouragement to you is to let go of allowing it to be the primary purpose or reason to do your work. Stop letting someone or something else motivate you to show up for yourself. Shift to a more authentic place and clean up your intentions. If you resonated with the example above of seeking a soulmate, consider totally letting go of any attachment to ever being in partnership and make your relationship with yourself so incredibly juicy and fulfilling that it doesn't feel like anything is missing!
A goal or desire is a great reason to get your growth groove on but don't let it be the reason you keep going. Surrender is a major component of growth. When you are attached to a specific outcome, it is more likely that your mind will continue to lead. And when your mind leads, you will be more likely to evaluate your progress via your life checklist rather than truly enjoying the life lessons you are learning. As you detach from results, you can hear the whispers of your soul and your true heart's desire... which is often different than what you think you want.
As you mature in your work and grow in your consciousness, make experiencing increased levels of peace, love, joy, oneness and acceptance a higher priority than any other external goal. Life is not about checking things off a list, it is a continual series of lessons and opportunities to be more loving each day. Your life lessons are not graded by the results you create in life, but rather how you live your life. Allow how you feel to be your report card. Show up for yourself and surrender the rest to God.