Want To Become A Better Person?

In the People Development field, many hours are spent on people wanting to gain skills, strategies and knowledge to enable them to get what they want.  The desire to learn is endemic as a report by NIACE showed a conservative estimate of some £55 Billion spent on life-long learning in the UK alone.   People are motivated for many different reasons to learn, either for jobs, hobbies or creating a business for example.  This is all good, and commendable, except when people commit to learning to become a better person.

Wanting to become a better person starts you off on the wrong foot.    At the core of who we are, is a human being. The real spirit of humanness is love, kindness, abundance and prosperity.  What we may have to do is to unearth and get in touch with the person who already exists. It is hidden amongst the layers of limiting and/or destructive beliefs, learned behaviours and ego thinking.

When  I hear someone say they want to become a better person I understand they mean they want to like themselves better. After all, if they didn’t, it simply wouldn’t occur to them to attempt to become a better person.   This does not mean people with egotistical big personalities like themselves. Often a big inflated ego is in place precisely because they don’t like themselves deeply within. Then the ego comes to the fore to compensate and attempts to show themselves and the world they are great people.

Simply wanting to become a better person doesn’t always work

  • The person doesn’t like themselves
  • They judge themselves negatively
  • They want to live up to other people’s expectations
  • The starting point is often away motivated and negative
  • They think I am not OK as I am
  • They think they are not good enough

The whole premise of wanting to become a better person means they are in the completely wrong paradigm. Whatever they do will always filter through that paradigm.  The result is often needing to do and change more and more. Whatever they do or change, they never feel different about themselves.    The only way to make lasting meaningful change is to change the paradigm first.

The rot starts early

My 4-year-old grandson was with us at the weekend. Since having to share his life with his baby sister, he has almost literally grown horns.  He is exceptionally tuned in whenever anyone is praising and cooing over the baby.  At those times he starts acting up. Saying inappropriate things and taking destructive action.  Knowing that intrinsically his whole little world has changed and that he is no longer top dog,  he is obviously feeling insecure and perhaps even angry that things have changed, despite all the assurances to the contrary from the family that he is loved and important.  And so it is with many children, where they are acting badly because they don’t understand their emotions and they don’t have the rational ability to manage their emotions.

The most common reaction to “naughty” behaviour in a child is to label them as naughty.  This is often when the rot starts because most children will accept the label as the truth.  How many carers will say in response to inappropriate behaviour from a child, “You are naughty”, and how many times does a child internalise that and believe at the core of them that there is something wrong with them?  When their behaviour stemmed from confusing and unidentified feelings within.  Many I believe.  In response to my Grandson, I told him that the behaviour had to stop otherwise there would be consequences, but that I knew he was a good boy who didn’t understand why he felt he had to do those things.

Our experiences can perpetuate the negative self-image

My son was always a spirited lad, brought up without his dad around, and surrounded by nurturing females in the form of me and his sisters.  At school, he was able to get the attention of many male friends because of acting the goat and being the class clown. A sign of his insecurity around males.    He also dared to shout out answers in class when he should have been putting his hand up.   Was his behaviour inappropriate in class?  Yes.  Was he a bad child?  No.

After a couple of meetings with teachers where I promised to talk to him, (and did extensively), I thought things had calmed down.  He always loved school, even counting the days down until he went back when he was on school holidays.  But this particular year he stopped wanting to go, like any mother I gently coaxed him and at times pushed him to go, but I was unduly worried.  That was until one day I found him sobbing on the armchair, saying he didn’t want to go on.

He didn’t mean he didn’t want to go to school, he meant life had got so bad in this 8-year-old boy’s experience that he wanted to end things altogether.   Alarmed, I immediately sought some help from the GP.  What he told the GP was that he hated school and didn’t want to go back.  He also confirmed he was only happy at home.  When asked why he hated school, he really couldn’t articulate an answer.  The GP suggested I contact the school and start a dialogue with his teachers, to get some help there.

The book

What I found astounded me.  The Head Teacher informed me that my son’s behaviour was unacceptable, and they knew it was because they were keeping a record of all his bad behaviour.  Without my knowledge, they had been keeping a book which he had to carry from lesson to lesson.  Whenever he did anything inappropriate, the teacher made an entry in the book and signed it.  Every evening Dan had to take the book back to the Head Teacher who would inevitably read him the riot act for all of his misdemeanours.  One entry was that his crime was digging up a worm in the school garden!

Luckily I managed to persuade the Head Teacher, with a letter to the local education authority as reinforcement, to call in an educational psychologist.  The psychologist was equally appalled at the daily reinforcement that my son was a bad person and asked the Head instead to keep a book about all the good things my son did during the day, to get it signed and to take it to the Head for praise.  With some initial resistance, she reluctantly agreed.

We all carry a book

The results were transformational.  Within a week, Dan had reconnected with his zest for school.  Over the weeks and months, his confidence returned.  He came home with certificates about being good at this that and the other, and credit to the Head Teacher for being open, she agreed that praise and positive reinforcement were better than her original idea of “discipline”.

And so it is for many of us, we have a book of good deeds and bad deeds and every day we sign it and reinforce it with our beliefs, experiences and encounters.  When we come from a belief that we need to become a better person, we have simply signed the negative behaviour entries in the book and have read ourselves the riot act often and emphatically.

The alternative

We can always learn something about ourselves that we might like to do better.  We can always find ways to like ourselves more.  Mostly this is not because we need to become a better person, it is because we need to get in touch with our true selves.  This is a very different proposition:

Getting in touch with our True Self means

Embracing “I’m OK, You’re OK”

Understanding the principle of “I’m OK, You’re OK” involves recognizing that everyone, including ourselves, is inherently valuable and worthy of respect. This perspective fosters a positive outlook towards ourselves and others, helping to build healthier relationships and self-esteem. It encourages us to view mistakes not as failures, but as learning opportunities. By adopting this mindset, we can overcome judgmental attitudes, enhance our empathy, and create a more accepting and supportive environment for personal growth.

Overcoming Limiting Beliefs

Limiting beliefs are often ingrained thoughts that hold us back from realizing our full potential. These may stem from past experiences or societal messages. Overcoming them requires identifying these beliefs, understanding their origins, and actively challenging them. Techniques such as positive affirmations, cognitive-behavioural therapy, and mindfulness can be effective in breaking these mental barriers. As we dispel these limiting thoughts, we open ourselves up to new possibilities, increased confidence, and a greater sense of freedom in our choices.

Shedding Negative Self-Image

Discarding a poor self-image is crucial for personal growth and happiness. This involves replacing self-criticism and doubt with self-compassion and acceptance. It’s important to recognize that our worth isn’t defined by our achievements, failures, or how we’re perceived by others. Regular self-reflection, affirmations, and surrounding ourselves with positive influences can aid in building a healthier self-image. This transformation enables us to approach life’s challenges with resilience and confidence.

Accepting Imperfections

Accepting ourselves “warts and all” means acknowledging and embracing our imperfections. It’s about understanding that flaws are a natural part of being human and do not diminish our value. This acceptance leads to a more authentic and less stressful existence, as we no longer feel the pressure to be perfect. It fosters self-compassion, allowing us to be more patient and kind to ourselves during challenging times. Embracing our imperfections can also enhance our relationships with others, as it encourages honesty and vulnerability.

Cultivating Self-Friendship

Being our own best friend involves treating ourselves with the same kindness, understanding, and support we would offer a close friend. This includes forgiving ourselves, celebrating our achievements, and being compassionate during tough times. It also means prioritizing our well-being, setting healthy boundaries, and nurturing our needs and interests. By developing a strong, friendly relationship with ourselves, we lay the foundation for improved mental health, self-esteem, and overall life satisfaction.

Fostering Self-Love

Learning to love ourselves is a vital step in our journey towards self-acceptance and happiness. This means appreciating our qualities, forgiving our shortcomings, and taking care of our physical and emotional needs. Self-love also involves setting healthy boundaries, pursuing our passions, and making choices that align with our values. By nurturing a loving relationship with ourselves, we enhance our capacity to give and receive love from others, leading to more fulfilling and meaningful connections.

Modifying Behaviors

Changing behaviours that are not in our best interest is crucial for personal development. This often involves breaking old habits and forming new, healthier ones. Understanding the triggers and rewards of these behaviours is key to modifying them. Setting realistic goals, seeking support, and practising self-compassion during this process is important. As we successfully alter these behaviours, we not only improve our daily lives but also move closer to realizing our long-term aspirations.

Changing Thought Patterns

Routing out unhelpful thinking habits is essential for mental and emotional well-being. These patterns often manifest as negative self-talk, catastrophic thinking, or overgeneralization. To change them, we must first become aware of these thoughts as they occur. Techniques like mindfulness, journaling, and cognitive restructuring can be effective in transforming these patterns. By cultivating healthier thinking habits, we enhance our resilience, mood, and overall quality of life.

Learning from Emotions

Our emotions are powerful indicators of what’s happening within us and around us. Learning from our emotions involves acknowledging them, understanding their sources, and reflecting on the messages they convey. This process helps in managing emotions constructively, rather than being overwhelmed by them. Emotional intelligence gained through this learning aids in making better decisions, improving relationships, and navigating life’s ups and downs more effectively.

Practicing Self-Forgiveness

Forgiving ourselves when we fall short is an act of self-compassion that acknowledges our humanity. It involves recognizing our mistakes, understanding that perfection is unattainable, and learning from these experiences. Self-forgiveness prevents us from dwelling on past errors and allows us to move forward with a clearer, more positive mindset. It’s also crucial for maintaining healthy self-esteem and preventing feelings of unworthiness or guilt.

Balancing Remorse and Guilt

Practising appropriate remorse and ditching inappropriate guilt is about understanding the difference between healthy regret and unproductive guilt. Appropriate remorse involves feeling sorry for mistakes and learning from them. In contrast, inappropriate guilt is often about things outside our control and can be detrimental to our mental health. Recognizing this difference enables us to respond to situations with a balanced perspective and maintain emotional well-being.

Celebrating Successes

Celebrating our successes, no matter how small is an important aspect of recognizing our worth and progress. This practice boosts our confidence, reinforces positive behaviours, and motivates us to continue striving towards our goals. It also helps in cultivating a positive mindset and appreciating our journey, rather than just focusing on the end goals. Regularly acknowledging and celebrating achievements fosters a sense of accomplishment and joy in our lives.

Embracing the Journey

Accepting that personal growth is a journey recognizes that self-improvement is an ongoing process without a definitive endpoint. Everyone progresses at their own pace and faces unique challenges along the way. Embracing this journey involves patience, perseverance, and an understanding that setbacks are part of the process. This acceptance leads to a more fulfilling and less pressured path of personal development.

Uncovering True Desires

Discovering our true desires means delving deep into our hearts to understand what genuinely fulfils and excites us. It’s about listening to our inner voice and distinguishing between what we truly want and what we think we should want based on external influences. Believing in our ability to achieve these desires is equally important. This belief fuels our motivation and drives us to take the necessary steps towards realizing our dreams.

Connecting with Inner Qualities

Getting in touch with our intrinsic humility, gratitude, appreciation, joy, and love involves exploring and nurturing these fundamental human qualities. It’s about recognizing the value of modesty, being thankful for what we have, appreciating the beauty in life, finding joy in small things, and expressing love freely. Cultivating these qualities enhances our life experience, enriches our relationships, and contributes to a deeper sense of contentment and connection with the world.

The beauty of using these approaches is that we come from a positive and affirming place which develops from a belief in our positive self-concept and an understanding of our true nature.  So if you hear someone wish to be a better person, understand what they truly wish is to be connected to their True Selves.

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I help leaders develop self- mastery, helping them to become confident in their own inner guidance.

I collaborate with leadership experts, managers and HR professionals to help them get their own message and unique services and products to a wide audience.