I used to be a personal development junkie. I say junkie because I was after a state change and I was out to fix what was wrong with me. One course led to another program which led to another retreat or coach or book in hopes that the next thing would fill me, alter me, make me adequate.
Whenever someone would give me a line about accepting myself or not having to be a particular way in order to be whole and complete it was…well, confusing.
Tell me this, why would I put myself through so much self improvement shit if I didn’t feel like I needed to be improved? Just one more aha-moment to feed those hungry ghosts please.
I finally get the joke of it and I feel completely liberated by not being so self-obsessed, checking constantly for if I’m enough, or okay. I can remember longing to feel as though I had real value, wishing it were true that I contributed something to others.
Now, I sometimes even surprise myself by how borderline arrogant my confidence is. But I know my value. I’m clear I’m loveable and worthy and a good person even when I have asshole thoughts. I know my gifts. I’m offering them. I care deeply. It shows. The things I suck at or fumble with don’t bother me. When I’m moody or weepy or resistant or in a moment of ‘developmental regression’, I’m nice to myself about it. No biggie, just bein’ a human being, you know?
Yet I’m even more engaged with and interested in personal development now than I was then. So that question again, flipped…if I identify as not only sufficient, but as a capable leader, why seek to grow?
Because I spend hours a day in intimate conversation with people navigating their deepest suffering. I need a great deal of capacity to hold them, serve them and honour them as they deserve and still have it in me to read scooby doo and cook a meal.
Because I was reading The Soul of Money the other day and in it was the retelling of a few stories of poor women from developing nations. Graphic. Horrendous. Rape. Murdered children. On and on. I was drinking overpriced organic tea, snuggled in my king sized, Egyptian cotton sheets. My safe and healthy son was sleeping soundly as I sobbed through these stories. I almost closed the book because it was too painful.
I’ve been devouring This Changes Everything and am bummed that Naomi Klein’s talk is sold out in Vancouver. I’m present to the sickness of our systems and the enormity of the problems we’re facing as a species and I feel tiny when considering what to do about it.
I don’t need to continue to develop myself so that I can be good enough for this world. I need to continue to develop myself so that I can be big enough to hold and love this world.
I want to be able to face and feel the suffering without the impulse to turn away in overwhelm. I long to be able to stay with the complexity of the problems of our times without feeling like my brain is going to explode.
Personal development is not indulgent, it’s warrior training for soulful contribution. Gone are the days when meditating in a cave is the highest order of enlightenment. Aspiring to make more money to buy more shit that’s made in China is so 1994.
My jam? Spiritual development on behalf of collective liberation. Money making to give, spend and invest in projects and people that alter our fundamental value structures from greed and consumption to taking care of each other serving the whole. Development to be able to really understand people, cultures, systems and what’s actually happening here.
When I really consistently started claiming what I stand for and what I want to contribute to, I stopped worrying about if I had it in me.
When you get your attention off yourself, you will be pulled by what you’ve put your attention on. Beware of what you put your attention on. And when you take on something beyond yourself, you’ll feel your limits.
When you bump up against limitation, it’s not because there’s something wrong with you, you’re just being shown where you need to develop in order to keep moving in the direction you’re called to go.
So please, let’s do that.