Personal Development for Parents: Our Worst Enemy

Personal development and self improvement are topics that really resonate with me, because I struggled for many years with trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be, and I always felt somewhat inferior as a result. Becoming a parent brought those feelings to the surface, and has forced me to constantly take personal inventory and evaluate what I do and how I act.

One of the most powerful realizations I’ve had is that I’m my own worst enemy.

When things aren’t going our way, or life seems unfair, a common impulse is to look for something or someone to blame. Preferably something out of our control.

This serves several purposes for us: one, it lets us off the hook; two, it gives us a focus for blame; and three, once we’ve done the above, we can then sink back into our sleep – the sleep of the ‘just’. We no longer have to feel responsible for our life, because our suffering has been giving a cause.

For example, I can say that my income isn’t as much as I’d like, and it’s because of the recession, or because of taxes, or because my boss is cheap, or because I’m not lucky. Then it seems as if there’s a good reason for my income being lower, and it has nothing to do with me or the quality of my work. Even if it bugs me, and I complain about it, I’ve determined the cause and decided there’s nothing I can do.

But who is it that’s truly controlling our life? Like it or not, it’s us. Our own habits and belief systems directly influence our happiness, our sense of self-worth, and our place in the world. And realizing this is a major step toward transforming ourselves from helpless souls, at the mercy of the the universe, into powerful, self-aware beings, in charge of our own destinies.

Not convinced? Take a day (a week is better) and listen to your internal dialogue throughout the day. What are you telling yourself? Jot down the messages that you’re thinking and saying to yourself, and at the end of the day, go through the list and try to see the connection to your habits and life patterns.

Perhaps they go something like this: “I’m not smart enough to go into business for myself.” “I’m too old to learn how to surf.” “I’m too fat to be attractive to him (her).” “It’ll never work. I don’t have enough time (money, connections) to start chasing my dream.” “I wish I was more like so-and-so.”

What effect do you imagine those messages have on us? Remember that your brain is the most powerful tool on the planet, and that when we need to memorize something, we repeat it over and over. Once memorized, it becomes part of us, and we no longer have to try to remember it. It just pops in your head instantly.

So once we’ve spent 20 or 30 or 40 years reminding ourselves of our faults (reinforcing them each time), or wishing we were more like so and so, or telling ourselves “I can’t” and “It’ll never happen”, we’re programmed to manifest those messages in our physical reality.

To change your life, make a point of catching your negative affirmations when you notice them, and turn them around to be positive. Just that little step alone will work wonders in your life.

Go from being the most destructive influence in your life to the most constructive and positive influence.

Image: notsogoodphotography at Flickr

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

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