One of the most significant things I've taken away from the book True Purpose is the following: The ego resists growth and transformation. Since you filter and interpret all information based on what you already believe to be true, it can be challenging to change anything about yourself. Often, attempts at new behaviour feel "wrong".
I've been reading personal improvement books for as long as I can remember. I had read How to Win Friends and Influence People before I was in my 20's, and was an avid follower of David Allen's book, Getting Things Done, and the website Lifehacker, for most of my 20's.
Each month I would read through another book on how to make myself a better person, live a more fulfilled life, experience life in greater ways.
Then I'd turn around and see how much better everyone else's life could be, if only they'd take on the same stuff.
Through all of that genuine desire to have people live better lives (mixed with a not-so-healthy dose of righteousness), I couldn't see any of the ways that I was unhappy in my life.
I couldn't see that smoking marijuana not only had me out of integrity in my life, but was actually a symptom of something missing. I couldn't see that a lack of intimacy in any of my relationships (friends, family, marriage, my pets, etc.) was actually causing me harm. I couldn't see that the life I was living was one in which I was tolerating an awful lot.
I had it all figured out. If I could just develop one more system to enable and enhance more of my productivity, then I could really have it all.
A coach told me something heartbreaking last week:
"I notice that your belief system actually perpetuates your need to keep striving"
It was heartbreaking because he was right; and because I don't know what to do with it.
It is so hard to transform. All of our stuff — ALL of our stuff — is set up contrary to our transformation.
My ego really really really wants to remain right about everything I hold to be true about the world. It really really really wants to believe that I'm perfect (after all, I'm reading all of these self-help books) and that it's actually you that needs to change.
And what's more, my ego is way better at arguing and creating airtight arguments than you are. Don't bother arguing with it, because as soon as its got you arguing, you've already lost, and it's already won. Arguing is part of my ego's sense of identity as well.
This is why I say I loved the idea of personal growth. I didn't actually love personal growth, because I never actually took any of it on. I created incremental changes within my existing context — within my existing stories and beliefs about the way the world worked.
That's all fine and good, but it's not actually going to create anything new or different — only more of the same (perhaps on a slightly larger scale).
Until I started to really take things on that felt flat out wrong, I didn't even appreciate what transformation looked like.
It wasn't my fault — the ego resists transformation and growth.