Finding A Path: Self Development for Personal Evolution

Character building begins in our infancy and continues until death.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Be yourself is a phrase that we hear all the time, but what does it really mean? The self can be revealed by asking, “Who am I?”. For most people, the answer is their name. You are more than just a name. To be yourself is to be authentic. It is to accept yourself for who you are, flaws and all. The self is more than just a name. It is the sum total of our experiences, knowledge, values, skills, and abilities. The identity of the being that we are. It is our existence. The path towards true meaning within our mundane lives.

Self-improvement is a journey of becoming the best version of yourself. It is about identifying your strengths and weaknesses, setting goals, and taking action to achieve them. It is about growing and learning, both personally and professionally. There are many different ways to approach self-improvement. Some people focus on developing specific skills, such as communication or leadership. Others focus on improving their character traits, such as honesty or compassion.

Just Do It: Building Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

“I wish I had muscle like that bodybuilder” “So workout bro…” Have you ever wondered how some people can reach the success they want. How do they do it? Quite simply, they have built their own self-motivation. Motivation is the reason or reasons why we do the things we do. It is the force that drives us to take action and achieve our goals. There are two main types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation comes from within. It is the desire to do something because we enjoy it or because it gives us a sense of personal satisfaction. For example, we might be intrinsically motivated to play a sport, learn a new language, or write a book. Examples include:

  • Playing a sport because you enjoy it
  • Learning a new language because you are curious about it
  • Writing a book because you want to share your story

Extrinsic motivation comes from outside of us. It is the desire to do something in order to receive a reward or avoid punishment. For example, we might be extrinsically motivated to go to work, get good grades in school, or clean our house. Examples include:

  • Going to work to earn a paycheck
  • Getting good grades in school to get into a good college
  • Cleaning your house to avoid getting in trouble with your parents

Everyone’s motivations will differ and be a mix of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Motivations also change over time as we satisfy our wants and need

Character Building: Using Adversity for Growth

Character is the set of qualities that define who we are as individuals as perceived by others. It is shaped by our values, social interactions, and relationships. Character makes people feel safe around us because it gives them certainty. For example: Dominic is such a bully. That tells you that Dominic may be aggressive or impolite. When we have a strong character, we are more likely to make good decisions, build healthy relationships, and achieve our goals. We are also more resilient in the face of adversity.

Background: How does it Define You?

Examining Your Core Beliefs

Core beliefs are a person’s central ideas about themselves, others, and the world. Your perspective is a camera, and your core beliefs are the lens through which you experience life. It’s why we think, feel, and act differently in the same situations. Core beliefs are incredibly powerful and dangerous. They can either limit us, or empower us. To change your path you will need to modify your core. Some examples…

“I’m big and strong” provides you with feelings of protection. You know nobody can hurt you easily unless they are bigger and stronger, know how to fight, or come in numbers. It provides you with the confidence to go out in the world and face danger. This increases your sense of control.

“I’m weak and helpless” provides you with feelings of scarcity and fear. You begin to think that life is dangerous and you are just a punching bag meant for others. It makes you afraid of going out into the dangerous world. It reduces your sense of control.

It largely depends on whether you attach your core belief to yourself as a fixed trait or whether you attach it to your ability to do something. For example, if you say “I am a failure.” you attach the belief to your innate self. Then you feel depressed because you believe this ability to be unchangeable. This prevents you from making any changes to improve yourself. When you instead say, “I failed because I didn’t try hard enough.” you attach the belief to your skill. Skill is something you can get better at, so depending on whether you are motivated enough, you try harder to get better at it. A lot of people have negative cores

“I’m a loser”, “No one likes me”, “I am worthless.”, “I’m evil.”, “I am trapped.”, “The world is dangerous.”, “people can’t be trusted.”. All of these beliefs are learned and can be unlearned. More importantly, they don’t even have to be true for you to feel that they’re true. Work on your core beliefs.

Determining Your Values

Values are important beliefs and/or principles that are important to individuals and shape how we think, feel, and behave. All of our decisions involve values whether consciously or unconsciously. That is why it is important to recognize them consciously so that you can eliminate feelings of discomfort. They aren’t set it stone, so don’t be afraid to slowly change your values as conditions change. A few common values are

Integrity: Provides morality and meaning. You stick to your beliefs, keep your word, and are honest with the people around you. Integrity is important for positions of leadership because people can trust you to do what you said you were going to do. That makes it both valuable but also makes you vulnerable. You will have to be very careful with what you agree to, because people will expect you to follow through.

Family: Provides love and belonging. You view right and wrong based on what your family views right and wrong. Most people who hold this value defend their families in all disputes disregarding any evidence. You protect each other and won’t rely on external systems of behavior to guide what you do. If you are going to adopt this value, be sure that your family reciprocates the effort you put in. Support can quickly transform into enablement and leave you stressed and overwhelmed.

Loyalty: Provides safety and security. To be loyal to someone means to trust them with everything. You give them complete responsibility over you and protection, and in return they will provide you direction and purpose when you need it the most. Loyalty is both incredibly rewarding and dangerous. If that person makes the wrong decision you must adhere to it and accept the consequences for it. Truly loyal people will give their lives for their leaders, make sure you give your life for the right person.

Skill Identification: Have vs. Need

Everyone has skills. Something that they can do well and achieve a desired result. Whether that be cooking, writing, or problem-solving. Part of the self-discovery process is identifying what you are good at and what you want to be good at. This will improve your value. Your ability to use your abilities to earn what you want through trade or otherwise. As you improve your value, your confidence will grow and you can keep exploring and evolving these talents. Practice makes perfect. So make sure you practice well.

The Culmination

Know thyself before embarking on any journey. Just like a warrior cannot go into battle without a sword, a hero cannot save the day without being prepared for danger. The same is true for life. Before you can set out on your path, you must first know who you are and what you are capable of. This is not an easy task. It takes time and introspection to truly understand oneself. But it is an essential one, for without self-knowledge, you will be lost and directionless. Remember, this is a lifelong journey. You will be shaped by new experiences and be tested to explore yourself a lot more.

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