Most people miss the necessary forces for improvement to grow. Even though we have an abundance of material wealth and a free democratic society, most people are unhappy and they chase improvement. Ultimately, they become even more dissatisfied, frustrated and unhappy when books, retreats, Yoga and pursuing a “better self” don’t provide the results that were initially overpromised.
People don’t fail to enjoy permanent improvement because they lack information. They’ve fallen into patterns of behavior from which they are unable to overcome. You can’t overcome deep-seated, conditioned patterns and develop and grow your character out of hope and inspiration alone.
Forces for improvement
The force that pulls
Most people readily work on what pulls them toward a higher vision of self, becoming a better version of themselves. We read hopeful, motivating, inspiring articles and books. We look for examples to follow such as people who have gone where we want to go and / or talk to coaches, counselors. We attend retreats, do Yoga and meditate….this is all good, all inspiring. It’s enjoyable and uplifting. It seems natural, easy and enjoyable to work in this “positive arena.” Why isn’t it more effective?
While you are trying to pull yourself forward, there is an unspecified weight holding you back. This weight is sometimes called the “inferior function” or the “shadow.” It is largely unconscious. We don’t direct it. But it is very useful and productive to reveal it, specify it, name it and manage it. Then it becomes a force that pushes you.
The force that pushes
The effort needed that will push you toward improvement is not intuitive or doesn’t come as natural. In fact, it’s usually avoided. That’s because it is uncomfortable and riddled with misalignment. It’s not an easy, quick-fix task that delivers results within the hour.
Here’s how it works. As you enjoy the effort that pulls you toward improvement, ask yourself and reflect deeply on what your life would be like if you did nothing.
- What if you just stayed on the couch with a beverage, seething about your “idiot boss?”
- What if you did nothing to maintain your relationships?
- What if you allowed yourself to become resentful, cynical and arrogant?
- What if you decided to work as little as possible on everything you possibly could?
What would your future be like if you adopted the “to hell with it” attitude?
The force that will push you to improve does so out of the effort to outrun or stay ahead of the miserable existence that is chasing you. The gnashing unhappiness that would be if you did absolutely nothing will push you if you reveal it, specify it, name it and manage it.
Life is difficult, frustrating and disappointing. People tend to be irrational and fickle. Without direct attention, negativity such as small injustices, grievances, resentments and anger build and compound.
Some people will erupt in the “grip” of the inferior function or the shadow, like in the latest road rage instance as a result. This was a monstrous return of pent-up frustration, anger and resentment.
You can’t move forward and create the happiest, most valuable life possible for yourself if you are subconsciously seething, angry and resentful. If you fail to stay on top of it, you end up carry a sequence of resentful memories everywhere. It can shadow who you really are.
This negativity is damaging. If not recognized and managed properly you risk taking it out on yourself, your partner, your family or coworkers.
If you’re not aware of and managing your negativity, it will surely manage you.
A small evil becomes a big one through being disregarded and repressed– Carl Jung