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The 7 Deadly Sins Of Self Development

I don’t suppose there really are any deadly sins with self development, I was being overly dramatic with the title.

But there certainly are areas where I see people make the same mistakes again and again and again, and you don’t have to be one of them

If that is, you avoid the following 7 self development deadly(ish) sins:

1: Thinking Being Hard On Yourself Is The Best Way Forward

I have been beating this drum so long I’ve had to have it re-skinned six times, but I shall never stop while there’s strength in my arms and some breath in my body, so let’s get it over with.

You simply cannot be the best person you can be by being hard on yourself 24/7.

I’ve never had a client tell me beating themselves up achieved anything other than feeling shit about life and hammering their self-esteem.

The usual refrain at this point is, “But if I go easy on myself I’ll never achieve anything

Bollocks, bollocks, and thrice I say bollocks.

I’ll tell you what, let’s make a deal.

You go easy on yourself for a week, and if at the end of that period you feel worse about things, I’ll happily Tweet than I’m the worlds most incompetent Life Coach.

Treat yourself as you would a younger family (preferably one you like and no the brat of a nephew who picks his nose all the time and you could happily punch in the face) and demonstrate compassion and empathy.

Self-compassion is not self-indulgence, it’s not self-centered and it’s not selfish.

It is sensible, productive, and the right thing to do however. And the huge upside is, people who feel good about themselves are far more likely to be successful.

2: Thinking Stability And/Or Security Are Achievable

Working with clients through their values is the most important work I do (which is why I wrote (Aligning With Your Core Values) and it’s crucial that I understand what really, drives them from the ground up.

I see the values of ‘security’ and/or ‘stability’ regularly on the lists clients send me before we go through the process.

Even though I will leave them in for the purposes of the exercise I will always explain afterward that they aren’t really values.

And the reason they can’t be values is because they’re completely unattainable.

Rich people go bankrupt, healthy people get sick, successful businesses get shut down and good marriages go wrong.

Not only that, but we all die no matter how stable or secure we think we are.

I’m not saying be reckless and never plan for the future.

I am saying though, don’t chase security and stability because you won’t achieve them for anything but a fleeting moment in time.

All you will do is make dealing with negative situations like a job loss, marriage break down or serious silliness harder when they do arrive.

It is possible to be secure and stable in the fact that you can never be secure and stable.

Amazingly enough meditation will help you on that front, so check it out.

3: Thinking There’s Something Wrong With You If You Don’t Know What Your Goals In Life Are

If I read one more time on a self development blog or hear from one more Life Coach that everybody should know what their big goals in life are and what they are passionate about I may well just put a gun to my head.

Or better still, their head.

At least half of my clients have no clue as to what they want out of life, they just know they want more.

And guess what?

That’s ok.

It’s my job to help them get clarity on what they want, not sit back and refuse to work with people that aren’t half way there.

The reason I give away a comprehensive book on goal setting to people who subscribe to my newsletter, is because goal setting is easy.

I can teach you how to set goals in half an hour and you really don’t need to hire a Life Coach to do so.

Knowing what goals to set is another matter altogether though, and that can often be the tricky part.

If you are feeling down on yourself because you don’t know what you want to do when you grow up, see sin #1 and chill.

Maybe you’re not meant to know yet, or maybe you just need some help?

The one thing I know for sure though is that there are hundreds of millions of people worldwide just like you, speaking of which….

4: Thinking You’re More Weird Than Everybody Else

On a fairly regular basis I see the, “You’re not going to believe this” look on a clients face.

It’s the look that tells me they think they’re about to tell me something that will have me scrambling for the straight jacket and pepper spray.

When (as is always the case) I don’t bat an eyelid, there is a moment of doubt that I heard them properly.

That’s followed by uncertainty about my mental state because I’m not looking a lot more concerned at their obvious confession of raging insanity.

And finally, they look relieved when I explain I’m not worried because I’ve heard it a hundred times before and they’re nothing like as nuts as they presumed they were, because they’re just a Human Being with Human being type issues.

You may well think you’re a bit weird and that your problems are a tad worse than others, but you’re almost certainly wrong.

We’re all a bit weird!

Of course I can’t say for sure you’re not beyond the pale, but I’m fairly sure. In 7 years of Life Coaching hundreds of clients I can only remember working with one client who genuinely had me thinking, “WTF!!! Please somebody help me”

5: Thinking Somebody Else Can Tell You How It Is For You

I’m a Life Coach and as such some people when they first contact me think it is my job to tell them what to do.

It isn’t.

My job is to ask great self development questions and help them to think about things differently so they can hopefully use that new perspective to make beneficial changes.

I’m really happy and grateful you read my blog, but please understand this. I don’t know now, and indeed never will know, exactly how it is for you.

I know how it is for me, and I can guess how it may be for you based on my experience in working with others, but that’s as far as I will ever go.

You have to make your own path in life.

Sure you can read, you can watch, you can gather advice from people who you respect and you can even hire a Life Coach if you’re a wise soul.

But, in the final analysis you have to take full responsibility (and see #1 if you think that means being tough on yourself) and decide what’s right for you.

And yes, before you ask, that does apply to this post. If it doesn’t resonate or make sense to you, then ignore it, and me for that matter.

6: Thinking That Next Thing Will Make You Happy

Do you exist in the 20% world like so many people?

People who believe 20% more money will make them happy. Or a 20% bigger house will finally allow them to be content. Or maybe even 20% more qualifications means they are smart enough.

You’re intelligent (don’t argue, see #1) and I’m going to presume you know that happiness comes from the inside out and not vice versa.

Research in positive psychology  suggests 10% of your happiness levels are dictated by your environment, 50% is genetic and 40% is your attitude.

Knowing that as you do, what would stop you fine-tuning your attitude to be happier (presuming you want to be happier that is) rather than busting your balls trying to change your environment.*

Do the math. An attitude adjustment is not only easier, it’s way more likely to be successful.

* Note: Even if you do change your environment unless it’s something serious like getting out of an abusive relationship hedonic adaptation will soon kick in and you will be back to square one wanting more.

7: Thinking You Have To Have All The Answers

Are you the kind of person that has to read one more book before you can start your own business, or attend one more workshop before you can start to implement the self development advice you already have?

You probably don’t.

Sometimes you just need to get up off your ass and do it. Sometimes you have to be relaxed knowing you don’t have all the answers and that you never will have. And I do mean never!

So there you have it. I’m sure there are lots more deadly sins and if you have some please let me know in the comments.

NLP Training

My next post is going to be purely and simply to advise you about some amazing training that is coming up soon in Colorado and Washington DC.

Even though it’s NLP, it’s not just for coaches and people who work in the therapeutic fields. It’s also for people that take their own self development very seriously and it being conducted by some of the best trainers in the field of NLP.

If that’s not your kind of thing, feel free to ignore, but if you do want to read about some ground breaking training, then check back on Wednesday. And if you have no idea what NLP is, check out my post, NLP: Science Or Magic?

22 comments to The 7 Deadly Sins Of Self Development

  • I love #6. I find that as long as people remain convinced that something must change in order for them to be happy, it’s pretty hard to get there.

    There is always something worth appreciating and celebrating. Allowing those things to create our attitude while working towards positive change in other areas, seems far more likely to produce what we really want in the end. It may never be 100%, but that’s no excuse for failing to enjoy life.

  • 1) I so agree. I can personally testify that when you stop criticising yourself, you get a great boost to your self-esteem. I’ve started annoying my wife by suggesting that she reframes whenever she calls herself lazy etc.

    2) Again, I agree 100%. When I start to worry about bad shit happening, I just remind myself, “If it happens, I’ll deal with it”

    3) I heard second-hand that the Buddhist philosophy on goal-settings is to just identify your natural talents/interests and take delight in using those to the best of your ability. That sums up most of my current goals. (Correct me if I’ve got this wrong).

    4) Spot on. The book “How To Get A Grip” really helped me to stop worrying about what other people think of me. I love the freedom of just being myself, even if I do behave like an idiot sometimes. And I love it when I confess some slightly weird fact about myself to someone else and then realise it’s something we have in common. I feel sorry for people who feel they need to put up a “perfect” front. I gave up on this a while ago.

    5) I’m with you on this one too – we’re all individuals. A very good mate of mine tries to never directly give advice. He will, when pressed, say what he would do in a particular situation, but he’s careful to caveat it by saying that this may not be the right thing for me to do too.

    6) I’m so with you here. I’m loving the suggestions in “Buddha’s Brain” for improving happiness/contentedness and mindfulness. BTW, I’m also already seeing benefits from meditation too.

    7) Yep! You helped me realise that I was delaying starting my own business because of this faulty belief that I needed to have all the answers. Thanks for helping me get unstuck!

    My only suggestion is actually a subtle variation of Number 7 – “Know When To Take Action”. So many people get stuck analysing a situation (analysis paralysis) when they just need to get on and deal with it.

  • I agree largely Rob, but sometimes it’s really tricky to know anything for sure. So how do you know when you know as opposed to just pushing through ;-)

  • Lynn Hess

    I couldn’t agree more with all of these! And we SHOULD JUST STOP doing them all immediately, a la Bob Newhart (you’ve seen that video, right?)

    As far as #1…I wonder what it is that makes most of us think that beating ourselves up is going to help? Because as far as I can tell, it’s a near-universal belief, at least until people learn it doesn’t work (and even sometimes then!).

    And #6 made me think of something I heard Michael Neill say once: He said that the really, really poor people and really, really rich people he has coached tend to “get” this concept more easily than the rest of us. Because the down-and-out are ready to surrender to what is because they’ve got nothing to lose, and the people who are super-successful in the eyes of the world have had everything and truly understand that fame and fortune aren’t the things that make you happy. It’s the rest of the vast majority of us in the middle who think if we just had a LITTLE more we’d be happier…

    • No I haven’t but as a kid I loved BN, especially the drunk at the bar sketch! For years after seeing that me and some mates would regularly say when under the influence of a beer or two, “Let’s buy a bar and live together!!!”

      Anyway back to planet earth, and yeh we’re weird suckers Lynn. That’s why I’m loving Buddha’s Brain because it explains why we are so weird.

  • Wow! This one hit me right between the eyes. I have spent so much time with personal development…reading, studying, practicing. Yet, I have often violated these principles.

    The one I still struggle with most, I think is the principle of allowing others to tell me what my life is (or should be). This is so damaging, yet we often do this without much thought because we are conditioned to devalue our own intuition.

  • Beautifully written again, Tim, thankyou. Seven relevant points that weird people can sometimes think. I’ve even thought it myself, god forbid until I came to my senses.
    be good to yourself

  • This biggest clue that real happiness doesn’t come from external things, is that after one has got whatever they thought would make them happy, they want something else, and are dissatisfied until they get it. Surely real happiness would be more constant, and not dependent on getting that thing, then that thing… And on and on! :-)

  • These are such great points! I find myself doing some of this — beating myself up over “failures” and so on — but you’re absolutely right that feeling horrible isn’t going to help with the motivation, it’s just feeling horrible.

    One week when I was feeling particularly down on myself, at the advice of another blog I follow, I listed all of my accomplishments for the week — things that I could feel proud of. It was a huge eye-opener! I hadn’t stopped to recognize how much I had accomplished in my work and person life, and the positive feelings from reviewing my week did more in the way of motivation than any self-abuse ever has.

    Thanks for a great post!

  • Curt R

    Yikes…guilty x 7. It is almost difficult to read each of the 7 sins and discover that you are, to some extent, committing each one.

    Just ordered you eBook, How To Be Rich and Happy, look forward to reading it. Exploring hiring a Life Coach and so far really impressed with your thoughts and approach to working with people.


    • How you enjoy HTBRAH Curt, and if you ever want a chat about life Coaching, let me know!

      • Curt R

        I decided in lieu of watching 18 hours of “pre-super bowl” analysis that I would dive in to the book – 1/2 way through it – great stuff!! And I will chat soon with you about some coaching – I have a major disconnect between “reading/learning” and “taking focused action” to reach my goals, assuming I ever determine what exactly my goals are :)