The most commonly accepted piece of sage advice is to “Be Yourself.” Sadly, it is probably the worst advice you can give anybody because it is completely meaningless. You are yourself at all times anyway.
If you put on a French accent and stick a fork up your nose, you are still being you. You didn’t switch bodies and personalities. If we are to draw “ANY” use of the advice, “Be Yourself,” then you need to spend a lot of time getting to:
- know yourself,
- growing values,
- challenging your values,
- growing morals,
- debating and switching morals,
- and pushing yourself to test your own beliefs because what was right yesterday may not be right tomorrow
Getting to know yourself and developing yourself in this way is what some like to call, “Personal Growth”. There is no defined course or road map for personal growth, but here are five stages that you may like to consider.
1. UNDERSTANDING YOUR PERSONAL MOTIVATIONS
You don’t understand your personal motivations. You think you understand them because you can explain them, but you don’t know your personal motivations at all. You do not know and understand why you act and react in the way that you do. Only people with full control over their actions and thoughts are fully aware and in control of their personal motivations.
People think they know their personal motivations because it is easy to lay blame. For example, I have low self-esteem because my father was not supportive. Or, I have had kids, so I didn’t have time to study and become a doctor.
It is easy to say, “I turn to food for comfort” and feel like you “KNOW” and “UNDERSTAND” your personal motivations—but you don’t. If you truly knew and understand them, then you wouldn’t keep making the same mistakes.
Stage one of personal growth is this: If you keep making the same mistakes and/or doing the same destructive things, then you have not yet understood and gained control of your personal motivations. This means you need to work on knowing and understanding your personal motivations so that you may better control your thoughts and actions.
2. LEARNING THAT ACTION IS NOT ENOUGH
There are people in this world who are “Doers” and people who are not “Doers.” To what ratio is each group successful? About 50/50 (1:1). The action is not enough; a group of motivated people is just as unsuccessful as a group of unmotivated people on occasions if direction and control are lacking.
The most productive people in the world are just as unsuccessful as people who are the laziest. Some of the most driven people in this world will often become frustrated addicts because they have an excess of energy that they cannot devote to the projects they wish to complete.
Saying that “Action is enough” is like saying a car is usable with just an engine. Your life, your efforts, and your enthusiasm need direction. Finding that direction and mastering your own mind needs to take priory before you have a chance of being successful. The better you become at directing your energy and thoughts, the more productive you will become.
3. LEARN HOW TO THINK CRITICALLY
Just recently, packages of chicken have the words, “Do not wash before cooking.” The theory is that the splashing from washing your chicken will contaminate the rest of your kitchen. Think about that critically for a few minutes.
Washing a dead animal before you cook it is common sense. Also, if you have washed every chicken you have ever cooked and you were fine, why would you stop now? Also, just how many toxins and preservatives are you washing off when you wash your chicken? You always wash a chicken before you cook it, but should you stop?
A critical thinker looks at the printed instruction on the chicken packet, that person thinks critically and then makes a decision. A critical thinker doesn’t follow such an instruction for the sake of following. A critical thinker gives it some thought and maybe some research before making a decision.
To grow as a person, you need to hone your critical thinking skills. You need to take all available information and analyze it. Taking all available information means more than reading an article on Facebook; you need to use what you have already learned and experienced in your life.
4. BECOME MATURE ENOUGH TO RECOGNIZE THAT PEOPLE YOU DON’T LIKE MAY BE RIGHT
As Rick from Rick & Morty said, “Everyone wants people they like to be right. That’s why popular people are dumb.”
You may hate a person for one reason or another, but you need to learn to look past that to grow as a person. You need to learn how to set aside your dislike for the person giving the message because you can be easily manipulated if you won’t.
When a media company has an agenda, they often spread the opposite message and use dislikable figures to spread the message. That is why reporters seem to target the dumbest and most reproachable people during marches and demonstrations.
Instead of seeking interviews with the intelligent and well-spoken people in a march demonstration, they seek out the drunk or most ignorant people.
There are times when dislikable people are right about something, and it is up to you to grow up and learn to accept that fact. The person/company may be wrong about a lot of stuff, but they may also be right about a few things too.
You need to learn to set aside this bias, so that you can watch a video about racism from a black woman and from a white man, and judge them on their merits rather than on what you feel about the speaker.
5. LEARN TO ACCEPT THE FACT THAT YOU ARE JUST AS WRONG AS YOU ARE RIGHT
The final stage of personal growth is the ability to thoughtfully come to a conclusion, and then challenge that conclusion at every opportunity.
Spend as much time proving yourself wrong as you spend proving yourself right.
For example, you may have decided at a young age that God doesn’t exist because the bible has some pretty “far out” stories in it. As you grow older, you may figure that the bible was written by man and is ergo man’s interpretation of God, and so you may start looking for God again.
The older you become before you learn about evolution and conclude that God simply cannot exist. You age a few more years and conclude that evolution may have been the “How” rather than the “Why.”
You age again and learn about the chaos theory and how being an omnipotent creator is almost statistically impossible. You then learn about absolute infinity and realize that all statistics equal 1, and ergo God must have existed, exist, and will exist.
The god issue mentioned above is just one example of how a person has knowingly grown through life, which has led to him/her believing in God, not believing, believing, not believing, and so on.
In this case, you matured enough to realize that each belief needs to be tested, revised, and even changed as new information is discovered. It may not sound like much, but very few people in the world ever reach this stage in their personal growth, but most people (such as you) honestly believe they have.