Author Topic: Motivation Monday #25  (Read 438 times)

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Offline CLains

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Motivation Monday #25
« on: October 26, 2015, 02:52:16 pm »

Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.
— Henry Miller

I am reading Steve Pavlina’s Personal Development for Smart People that Bytemaster recommended on his blog. This is the first of several posts that go through the fundamental principles of personal development that Pavlina outlines:

We primarily grow as human beings by discovering new truths about ourselves and our reality. We certainly learn some important lessons no matter how we live, but we can accelerate our growth tremendously by consciously seeking truth and deliberately turning away from falsehood and denial.

When we deny our problems, we turn away from truth. The lies we tell ourself spawns more lies, infecting our mind with falsehoods that weave themselves into our identity. We become disconnected from our true self, living as a mere shadow of the brilliant being we were meant to be. We aren’t here to endure such an existence. We’re here to learn how to create a life of our own choosing.

Let’s begin with an exploration of the key components of truth, then we go on to some obstacles to truth.


Perception is the most basic aspect of truth. If you want to improve some part of your life, you have to look at it first. Perception is a key component of personal growth because we react to what we perceive to be true.

The first step on your path of personal growth must be to recognize that your life as it stands right now isn’t how you want it to be. It’s perfectly okay to be in this position. It’s okay to want something and have no idea how to get it, but it’s not okay to lie to yourself and pretend everything is perfect when you know it isn’t. The closest you’ll get to perfection will be to enjoy the experience of lifelong growth, including all its temporary flaws.


Prediction is the mechanism by which you learn from experience, thereby enabling you to discover what is true. As you observe any new situation or event, one of two things can happen: either the experience will meet your expectations, or it won’t. When an experience meets your expectations, your mental model of reality remains intact. But when an experience violates your expectations, your mind must update its model of reality to fit the new information. This is how you learn from experience and discover new truths.

There are two powerful ways you can apply your mind’s predictive powers to accelerate your personal growth. First, by embracing new experiences that are unlike anything you’ve previously encountered, you’ll literally become more intelligent. New situations shift your mind into learning mode, which enables you to discover new patterns. The more patterns your mind learns, the better it gets at prediction, and the smarter you become.

The second way to apply your mind’s predictive powers is to make conscious, deliberate predictions and use those predictions to make better decisions. Imagine that a very logical, impartial observer examines your situation in detail and is assigned to predict what your life will look like in 20 years, based on your current behavior patterns. What kind of future will this person predict for you? When you become aware of your mind’s long-term expectations, you bypass the pattern of denial and stare truth straight in the eye. This gives you the opportunity to reinforce your positive predictions and to make changes to prevent negative predictions from occurring.


The closer your internal model of reality matches actual reality, the more capable you become. Greater accuracy means greater fitness for life as human being. With an accurate map, you’re more likely to make sound decisions that will take you in the direction of your desires. With an inaccurate map, you’re more likely to experience setbacks and frustration.

You can try to gain as much clarity as possible about a given situation, and that’s generally a good idea, but you can never eliminate all uncertainty. So you have two basic options: deny the unpredictability of life and create your own false sense of security, or accept the vagaries of life and learn to live with them. In the first case, you’re drawing your map of reality the way you want it to be, regardless of what the actual terrain looks like. In the second case, you’re striving to make your map as accurate as possible, even though you may dislike how it looks. The second option is better. When you accept the inherent uncertainty of life, your decisions will increase in accuracy.


Once you’ve identified what’s true for you with a reasonable degree of accuracy, your next task is to fully and completely accept the truth. This includes accepting the long-term consequences of your predictions.

One of the most important skills to develop in the area of personal growth is the ability to admit the whole truth to yourself, even if you don’t like what you see and even if you feel powerless to change it. When you face unpleasant truths, you often encounter strong internal resistance. This resistance pushes you to avoid facing the truth, running through endless cycles of distraction, escapism, denial, and procrastination. Only by staring directly into these truths can you summon the strength to deal with them consciously. A simple rule of thumb is this: whatever you fear, you must eventually face.


As you strive to bring more truth into your life, you must cultivate a high degree of self-awareness. This includes becoming aware of your strengths, weaknesses, talents, knowledge, biases, attachments, desires, emotions, instincts, habits, and state of mind.

As human beings, we’re often filled with conflicting desires. One part of us wants to be healthy, happy, and highly conscious. Another part wants nothing more than to eat, sleep, have sex, and be lazy. Without the presence of consciousness, we fall into reflexive patterns by default, living more like unconscious animals than fully sentient human beings.

A good way to build your awareness is to make your important decisions from the most reasonable thinking you can muster. The best point to make new choices is when you feel alert, clearheaded, and intelligent.

Learn to trust those higher states of consciousness. Put the decisions in writing and fully commit yourself to them. When you inevitably sink back down to lower states and lose sight of that higher perspective, continue to act on those decisions even though you may no longer feel as committed to them. Over time, your external circumstances will change in ways that reinforce those higher states. Living consciously gets easier with practice.

Recognize that when you make choices from a place of anger, fear, sadness, or guilt, you cannot be aligned with truth because your predictions will be negatively biased by those lower states. Self-awareness is really truth-awareness. When your awareness is high, you’re closer to truth than when it’s low. If you aren’t aligned with truth, your decisions will produce inferior results.

The key is to use your self-awareness to recognize when you’re aligned with truth and when you aren’t, and strive to make your important decisions only when this core principle is on your side.

Blocks to Truth

Media Conditioning

Media companies generate profits largely from advertising, and for advertising to be effective, you must eventually buy something. People who hold and accurate model of reality only buy what they actually want or need, so advertisers frequently promote half-truths and outright falsehoods to boost profits. This can distort your perception of reality if you are not careful, so try to stay vigilant or try to avoid advertising altogether.

Social Conditioning

Social conditioning is a close cousin to media conditioning. The society in which you live -.- including your family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances - contributes heavily to your understanding of reality. Through your interactions with others, you’re continually influenced by social, cultural, educational and religious ideas. Unfortunately, such conditioned beliefs often place other values ahead of truth, so you may feel compelled to do the same. In the long run, this disconnection from truth leads to self-doubt, causing you to give away your power out of weakness and confusion. Aligning yourself with truth enables you to reclaim that power.

False Beliefs

False learning occurs when you adopt a belief that’s either partially or completely untrue. Such beliefs may be acquired accidentally or installed deliberately by others. The effect is that your future decisions become more error-prone, and your results are sabotaged.

Emotional Interference

Strong emotions can corrupt your ability to perceive reality accurately. Feelings such as fear, anger, grief, guilt, shame, frustration, being overwhelmed, and loneliness block you from thinking clearly, causing your to mistake falsehood for truth. Similarly, positive emotions can make you overly optimistic, encouraging you to take unreasonable risks and make overaggressive promises you won’t keep.


Addictions such as smoking, drinking, or excessive Web surfing make it harder to accept reality because these behaviors reinforce ignorance and denial. For example, if you smoke cigarettes every day, your pattern of behavior makes it difficult for you to accept evidence that smoking is hazardous to your health. If you fear that quitting will be too great a challenge, you’re likely to avoid seeking the truth about smoking because it will compel you to face your fear and attempt to quit.


A certain degree of maturity is required to fully accept reality, and this comes from experience. The more fresh experiences you acquire, and take responsibility for acquiring, the faster your thinking will mature. The more you seek shelter and comfort through diversion escapism, and fantasy, the longer you’ll suffer from immature and inaccurate thinking.

Secondary Gain

Secondary gain is a common problem that occurs when you temporarily benefit (gain) by embracing falsehood. For example, you may tell a lie at work in order to avoid being fired, you may deny your relationship problems in order to preserve the peace, or you may eat unhealthy food for the sake of convenience.