Self Help: Coping With Setbacks In Your Progress

When you are engaged in a process of self help personal development, there will be many times when you feel that you are making no progress, or actually becoming worse.

For example, you may have a temper and a tendency to blow up at people under provocation, and then fume about it later. However, you are pursuing self help teachings and working on yourself and seemingly making excellent progress.

There eventually comes an incident where, doubtless under much stress, you explode with someone and use all kinds of harsh language. Later, in retrospect, you look back upon the incident with shame and despair. How could you, with all the progress you thought you had made, throw it all away like that? It is as if you had learned nothing in all this time. Why not just admit you’ll never succeed and give up? Stop being a hypocrite!

And so on.

Did this sort of thing ever happen to you, and did you entertain such thoughts of dire despondency? It may not have been for the specific situation described. Maybe your problem is gossip, or speaking ill of people behind their backs, small acts of dishonesty, or whatever. You think you are making progress and becoming a better person…. and then, the relapse!

You need to understand a key point about this. It is normal. Every person who is engaging in a self help program of personal improvement goes through this sort of frustration. It is actually part of the process.

In fact, what is really happening is that you are developing Awareness. This awareness is regarding your own behavior for sure, as well as how to improve it. However, the awareness is also about the person you really are deep down, below all the nice levels of civilization we have been tempered with, and all the masks we have created.

The truth is that we hide ourselves even from ourselves, to the point that we do not really know who we are deep down or what we are capable of. Yet, when you work on your own personal growth, you are digging deep into your own psychology and re-writing your mental programming in a new and better way.

Self help improvement is like a process of travelling a spiral, not going round in a circle (although it may feel like that at times). The spiral widens out and we become more expansive and better over time, although sometimes it may seem like we are back at exactly the same point. You have to keep faith at times that you really are improving. You may be back at the same place in some ways, but you are seeing it differently, with a new and heightened awareness. Remember that.

Actually, if you think about it for even a moment, the fact that you even see your fault and repent of it is a major merit on your part.

Most people don’t see their faults at all. They are completely blind to them. Rather, they act like automatons and go through life forever bumping against hard objects, injuring themselves, wondering what happened, and then heading off in a new direction to do the same thing again.

The very fact that you even lament your fault or despair of not improving has implicit within it the fact that you are trying to improve in the first place. It also implies that you recognize that you have gone off of your self help tracks.

Remember that what you are attempting is not an easy task. Indeed, 99% of the population have no significant interest in bettering themselves, apart from perhaps getting a better job for more money or better health (and even these remain just a vague hope for most people). However, you are engaged in the noblest task of all: mastery of yourself and control of your mind.

The mere fact that you are attempting such a feat at all is worthy of congratulation. Do not think for a moment that any work you do in this direction is wasted. It is not.

You are making progress, even though most of the time, that progress will be invisible, especially to yourself. The tallest trees begin as seeds, growing underground, invisible to all.

In any discipline, especially sports, there is the concept of the plateau; long periods of sideways movement where no improvement seems apparent, followed inevitably (provided that the person has not given up by this time!) with a sudden dramatic spike to a new level of excellence…

… and then another plateau, but at a new higher level!

Learn to persist on the plateaus of life. Feel encouraged that you are on a worthy pursuit and that it must yield rich results in the end. Review what happened, see where you went wrong, make a note of it in your journal, and resolve to learn the lesson and do better from this point on. Do this every time you falter, but never ever give up. Persist until you reach the goal.

In conclusion, whenever you are despairing that your self help techniques are not bearing fruit, remember these points, turn your mind around, encourage yourself once more, and persist until you succeed!

Copyright 2011 Asoka Selvarajah. All Rights Reserved.

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About Asoka Selvarajah

Dr. Asoka Selvarajah is a writer and teacher of personal growth and spirituality, and the author of numerous books and courses. His work helps people achieve their full potential, deepen their understanding of mystical truth, and discover their soul’s purpose.Subscribe to the Aspire To Wisdom list to receive more articles and resources to your inbox.

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