The need for self improvement and motivation is often one of the big starting points in the whole business of “how to change your life”. But, before we go any further with the subject of self improvement and motivation, let’s pause and reflect for a moment.
What is really implied here?
Firstly that “I have a self”, and that this “self” that I have is incomplete, not fully functional, or in some way in need of improvement.
Secondly, that I need motivating to improve myself and change my life, and this is often because there is a part of me (or maybe several parts of me) that don’t actually want to see any “self improvement” and are actually quite happy with how things are right now thank you very much!
Let’s briefly deal with second point, why do you need help on how to motivate yourself? Why can’t you just decide to do something and then just do it? What’s stopping you?
There is an “elephant in the room”!
The internet is awash with “self-help” materials – articles, books and courses on “how to motivate yourself”. Endless advice, tips, tricks and lists of “self motivation tips”.
However in my view, and based on my own direct lived and observed experience, most of this completely misses the point.
Who and how do you think you are (and why)?
Let’s look a little more closely at the “self” bit of this business of self improvement and motivation.
If you were able to dedicate sufficient time to the enquiry of: “Who am I?” – or if you don’t have the time but are prepared to take the word of those who have pursued this enquiry – at least as a working hypothesis – what you would find is that ultimately there is no separate “I” in the sense of an ego as a “stand alone entity” that is distinct from everything and everyone else.
I have been down this line of enquiry myself – as a by product of some extremely testing situations that have persisted over many months and years – and it is quite scary (but ultimately liberating) to see all the layers of who “I” am peeled away.
So if I asked you right now: “Who are you?” What would immediately pop into your head: “mother of”, “wife of”, “ex-husband of”, “manager at”, “director of”, “free thinker”, “free spirit” etc?
The thing is, if you persist with this and look deep enough in your never ending quest to try to “find yourself” (does this sound familiar?) all you will find is a large amount of ideas about me, thoughts that I have, concepts, ideas and images of me – all the stuff that makes up “how I see myself” and that defines “my self image”.
At the crustacean rock bottom sea-bed level of your THINKING mind, what you will find is that there is nothing there except an “operating system” of largely automatically pre-programmed thoughts and responses that runs the bag of bones that we like to THINK of as “me”.
There is no thought based self to improve!
There is just a large bunch of software that we can upgrade, tweak and re-install!
As with any computing system it is very useful to have some degree of insight and understanding into how the hardware side of things functions, how the software runs and also some understanding of the operating environment.
Or to put it in more conventional language, it is helpful and resourceful to have cognitive insight and to become informed and educated about the processes and mechanisms of “how to change your life”, and to have access to some transformational tools and processes that can facilitate that change.