Recently I’ve been pondering on the question above…maximizing your potential and accepting yourself seem to be opposing forces. So is there a way of life to balance the two?
Maybe the answer lies in the space adjacent to your comfort zone; a wide, vast space you can grow into if you just push yourself. But before doing anything, you start by accepting yourself, and the pre-requisite to that is experiencing no dissonance between your values and your life. With an emotional/ethical dissonance, the foundation of your life’s structure is pretty much broken from the start so moving forward would just be difficult…
Then you have to see and treat yourself the way you would treat a friend; by being aware of your own personal imperfections/struggles, by accepting that such imperfections/struggles are normal and most importantly, by treating yourself with self-compassion and self-kindness.
There’s a Japanese art called Kintsugi where broken pottery is repaired using gold, so that cracks are highlighted instead of hidden with shame. If we treat ourselves with the same philosophy, we’d admit that the broken us is more interesting than the whole us.
So even if you feel bloated from having a red velvet cheesecake the night before, tell yourself in the morning, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
Even if you’ve spent an entire day procrastinating on youtube when you should have been working, tell yourself, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
But don’t stop there…
That’s the area within the fence of your comfort zone. Just because you accept your unproductive behavior doesn’t mean you shouldn’t change it, and the first step to change is to understand where your behavior comes from. As Charles Duhigg writes in The Power of Habit, habits consist of three main sections, the trigger, the routine and the reward. Maybe you work on changing the trigger or the routine in order to get a similar reward. Maybe you put systems into place and experiment with changing your environment in an attempt to change your behavior. Maybe you get an accountability partner…Whatever it is, perform personal experiments and take action to make some change…this is how you attempt to maximize your potential.
But don’t stop there…
Record your results and go through the self-acceptance ritual again. If you’ve fallen off the wagon, dust yourself and get back up on your feet. Try again and again and again…everytime going through the same three steps;
2. Make changes to step into that space outside your comfort zone.
And I would end the way we ended a lot of engineering exam papers across the years [especially when the computations are too laborious to attempt by hand], “Solve by iteration…”
What are your thoughts on this? Feel free to leave your comment below and tweet me @ahechoes
Also, check out my short story collection, “All Bleeding Stops and Other Short Stories from the Kenyan Coast,” and the non-fiction book summarizing a lot of ideas in the personal development field if you want to change your life but don’t know where to start, “Mine your inner resources”.
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