Personal Development Should Suck

Show of hands who hates public speaking?

Both of mine—and all ten fingers—are firmly in the air. The thought of it alone makes my testicles retreat—which is precisely why I signed up to the three-day intensive public speaking and improv workshop recently.

Paying money to do shit I don’t like is not my idea of fun. However, this was not about fun. It’s about growth. And to grow, we must step out of our comfort zone, which by definition, is uncomfortable.

It’s a step into the unknown, your danger zone, a place where uncertainty and unpredictability flourish—a place we must visit to experience true comfort.

One of our biggest problems when it comes to growth is that we want it to be easy. And because we lack patience, we often give up at the first sign of turbulence. The consequences of which can be catastrophic.

While many brand it as laziness, I’d argue it’s anything but…

It’s a combination of many psychological factors which give rise to fear, comparison, a lack of commitment, and indecisiveness. Fear that if you try and fail, you’ll look stupid. And indecisiveness as well as a lack of commitment caused by the offering of far too many solutions claiming to be easy.

Even though deep down, we know it can’t be, the intoxication of “simple” and “easy” is too difficult to ignore—especially when navigating the obstacles of life.

What happens when we are presented with too much choice.

Before long, you’re bouncing around like a fucking gummy bear from one solution to the next convincing yourself you’ve tried everything when in reality, you’ve committed to nothing. Because when the going gets tough, we’re conditioned to believe there has to be an easier way.

Is that not what we’re told? That we should love it all—every step of the way?

When it comes to personal shit, easy is not the way. It’s avoidance, which often translates to self-inflicted torture.

What do you think is easier? Having a conversation with a loved one you’ve been holding resentment towards because you believe they messed you up? Or getting Reiki to realign your chakras?

The desire for instant gratification in the age of Internet marketing is destroying us.

I mean that quite literally…

A study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology found that rates of suicide among young people jumped 56% between 2007 and 2016. Anxiety and depression growth report similar trends.

What am I getting at?

If the solution were simple, then how could we be faced with such a catastrophe in the first place?

Simple should be supplementary to the hard stuff. A reward if you will. But personal development, for real growth, will almost always suck—especially starting out, until you break through that barrier where belief is suffocated by doubt.

You don’t learn French in the classroom—you learn it by speaking it. You don’t get better at dating by swiping right on Tinder—you do so by going on dates. You don’t grow your business by reading every single business book—you do so through action, failure, and learning. You don’t cure your anxiety with Google—you do so by taking action. And you sure as shit don’t talk like TED by reading the book—you do it by standing up in front of an audience and speaking.

To have a chance at winning, you have to risk losing. You have to be prepared to fail. But we’re brought up to fear failure like it’s cancer.

Why are personal development books more popular than ever, and still, our problems continue to scale? Is it possible we’re reading too much with not enough action? Polluting our minds with conflicting solutions which give rise to more stress?

Without action, it’s all pollution. Pollution that often leads to mounting stress and anguish. One good book can solve one problem if used correctly. 60 books cannot. But it’s easier to read 59 more than taking the course of action required to solve the problem in the first place.

I’m not preaching. I’m learning this shit as I go. I always assumed life would just work out. Always avoided what felt uncomfortable. And then one day it blew up in my face.

For context, I’m referring to a panic attack, which subsequently grew into a panic disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and depression.

I know it sounds like I’m bragging. I’m not. These dudes are incestuous pricks, and that’s just how it went. Anyway…

I hated public speaking long before my first panic attack. When I was eight or so, I had one line in a school play, and I nearly pissed myself. After panic set in, MY GOD! I once had a panic attack presenting to clients with my boss in the room. It was the worst. One minute I was talking, the next I may as well have been having a stroke. And if you didn’t know, you can’t simultaneously present while having a stroke. That’s a tap out. And not a fucking convenient one.

Any anxiety disorder will ensure your comfort zone implodes like a farting whoopee cushion.

The rebuild is rarely fun. However, it’s a far better option than avoidance, or worse, looking for an easy way out—which is exactly what I did for years.

This is not all about mental health. It just so happens that we roll the dice with our mental health.

We all have shit in life to deal with that we’d rather not. My shit is irrelevant. You only need concern yourself with yours. The reason you’re still reading is that you’ve got some shit of your own that you believe is holding you back in some way. Or you think I’m a dickhead and you’ve nothing better to be doing with your time?

All that matters is the meaning and significance you give it and how much you allow it to impact your life.

I know don’t want to spend my life being uncomfortable. Therefore, I must volunteer to experience discomfort in the name of growth on occasion. I’m assuming you want to avoid discomfort also? Therefore, you must seek it out.

Growth can be baby steps. You set the pace. The important thing is that you keep moving.

We have a tendency to get caught up in the comparison trap where we judge ourselves based on those we perceive to be better than us. This usually results in us stalling or looking for a shortcut. Both of which send us backward, stunt our growth, and give rise to more chaos in our already chaotic world.

Growth is a process with many steps that are different for us all. You can push yourself too far. And you can push yourself not enough. You’ve got to keep pushing for that sweet spot.

My biggest wins in life were always on the back of doing something I thought sucked at the time. Paradoxically, more often than not, it’s the build-up in the mind prior that sucks. Not the actual doing it. And it’s on the other side of that action where we can find the comfort we’re looking for.

Now, I don’t necessarily want to talk like TED. The goal was to play with the edge of my comfort zone. To do something I think sucks for a weekend so I could feel that sense of accomplishment we can only get when we push ourselves beyond that which we perceive to be comfortable. From that standpoint, it was mission accomplished. And there were some laughs, great people, and learnings along the way.

Personal development being easy is some bullshit fairy-tale. If you want to grow, you’ve got to push yourself beyond YOUR comfort zone. Nobody else’s. And if it that doesn’t at least suck a little, then you’re probably not doing it right.

Thanks for reading.


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