From Seven Habits to Special Forces
In a very recent discourse with a friend, we swapped notes on the books we were currently reading, indulging in a bit of personal development porn if you like. She gratefully listed off a couple of money mindset titles, and despite the two-dimensional flatness of the words, the obvious absence of expressions, gestures or eye contact in the text, I could feel the transformation emanating from her.
I replied enthusiastically with a torrent of emojis and a gif, as is my favourite method of communication.
I text back again, this time to admit that my own personal development has taken a change in direction lately.
It’s all ultramarathons, sobriety, special forces training, and plant-based diets, I said … with a shrug emoji.
My mentors and coaches may well be turning over in their catacombs of self-awareness.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a self-help book.
Once upon a time, these aisles in the library used to be the hallways of shame, with their visitors skulking up and down trying to find answers, the source of their misery, and the elusive miracle cure.
You absolutely can heal your life.
It’s a bit more socially acceptable these days. Or, I should say — it’s just that with social media, and, well, modern life, it is ubiquitous.
I do love these books. I love the journey. I love the transformation.
That’s why I go straight to these sections now, I can browse them for hours. It’s where I give the bulk of my spending to Amazon. Scouring the shelves, scanning the titles to find something that I don’t own, haven’t read, heard good reviews about or have never heard of in my life.
It began with the classics: Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
A Course in Miracles.
Think And Grow Rich, from 1937.
I’d got the bug.
I went out in all directions: Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now. The Alchemist, Paul Coelho. Leveraging the Universe. The Magic of Thinking Big. The Big Leap. Daring Greatly.
Growth Mindset. F*ck you fixed ways of looking at things.
Getting Things Done. Productivity: nailed it.
Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams. Yes. Give them to me.
Rise, Sister, Rise. She Means Business. Girl, Stop Apologizing.
You Are A Badass.
Will I go on?
With every book, some new insight, some revelation, some magical explanation as to my flaws, failures, shortcomings and shitty mindset.
I got problems.
We all got problems.
After several years of plunging into this personal development world, the more-more-more, infinite possibilities approach began to exhaust me. Or — to be more precise, engaging in this endless fight against resistance and self-sabotage and self-abuse was exhausting.
It felt futile.
Knowing my self and constantly expanding my self-awareness was draining. It was a vicious cycle of ten steps forward, and twenty years back, and each time, the loop back, the fall was faster, harder, sharper.
In my pursuit of growth, I lost my self.
Perhaps that’s just part of the transformation.
Perhaps that’s just what going through the fire is like.
It’s not easy — and it’s not supposed to be.
But suddenly, I stopped searching for the broken bits that had to be mended.
I stopped craving the breakthroughs, the personal revelations and the self-reflection.
They can be incredibly powerful, but they also make really dangerous weapons — and that fire is far from friendly when you use it on yourself.
I’ve had the same vision, the same goal, the same driver for years now — three whole years plus heading towards the same thing. Working towards it, circling around it, closing in on it.
There’s a physical manifestation of it, as in, where I am and what I’m doing.
But there’s also a metaphysical version — of who I am, who I become.
And it is all coming together.
And maybe I did have to read A-L-L the books first, and maybe I will have to keep reading them for years to come.
Who knows. (*Shrug emoji.)
But after years of mentally pushing myself through limiting beliefs, mindset blocks and neural reprogramming, I feel like I’m going back to where this all began — one crappy break up, one drunken agreement with my sister to run a marathon, and then the next ten years of trying my damnedest to be that person I always wanted to be.
My own goddam hero.
Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially, energetically.
That is my life’s mission.
Sorry, but I’m really-not-sorry.
However I get there, whatever it takes, I am on my way.
It feels refreshing to take it out of the mental realm and into the physical — because maybe, just maybe, that mission also includes an ultra.
Maybe. (*Shrug emoji.)
That realization that no one else rescues you, saves you, brings you happiness, or stands in your way — no one but you, is an easy lesson to say and to hear, but it is much, much, much more challenging to implement in practice.
I’m game for it though — me, my trail shoes, my disgusting celery juice, and of course, my library of self-help books.