Self-Improvement ~Two Basic Principles.

From a high level perspective, most self-improvement knowledge can be summarized as two principles below:

  1. Love yourself, work on your self-esteem. Take responsibility for how you feel/think/act. Work on reducing your ego. Do not let people/situations hurt your ego, and if hurt, do not act on the thoughts when hurt. Center your mind before you act.
  2. Love others. Boost their self-esteem. Do not intentionally hurt other people’s ego.  Keep developing people skills so you will reduce the probability of even unintentionally hurting others, and increase the chance of making others feeling good about themselves and hence you. 

Let us look into these in further detail:

Principle #1:

Our ego is the single reason why we experience all the negative emotions and all the suffering.  Our ego is just a thought of who we think we are in terms of what we do, what we own, and what others think of us. The entire spiritual path is about reducing our ego. As our ego’s reduces, wisdom naturally increases, and our life gets better. Loving ourselves is very Important. Self-esteem is the critical component that determines the quality of our lives. The core teaching of self-help is that we are responsible for our lives, and that no matter what happens around us, we are responsible for how we feel. The meaning that we associate to events is what creates our feelings. By consciously assigning empowering meaning  to events, we can always control how we feel. Wisdom is in knowing that it is never others that hurt us, but we choosing to hurt ourselves by the thoughts we think.

Principle #2:

The other side of the the core self-help knowledge is to love others and make them feel valued. Although it would be great to have people around with no ego, practically speaking, all people around us have egos, just like we do. Wisdom thus lies in boosting people’s self-esteem – to make them genuinely feel good and appreciated. While it’s clear that intentionally hurting other people’s ego is not a good idea, what may not be that apparent is that we unintentionally hurt people thanks to our lack of skills in dealing with people. Much of classic self-help knowledge such as ”How to win friends and influence people” and most books on “relationship skills”  are about learning skills so that we become a master of dealing with people. There is a psychology for every situation, age group, sex, and profession. Our ignorance of human psychology leads us to untold pain in dealing with people. Becoming more and more skilled in dealing with people the right way so we do not violate principle #2 is a great asset. This part can take a long time to master, as life always leads to new situations/people in which we have not yet learnt the  proper psychology for the situation. For example, many people struggle with marriages simply because of ignorance of psychology of the opposite sex.

Many relationship problems are a result of not following these principles

Most of the relationship problems between two people, whether at home or work, happens due to people violating either principle #1 or principle #2. The patterns of all friction between two people A and B happens in one of the following ways:

1) A violates principle #1 =>  B violates principle #1

Example:

A gets angry at B due to an expectation B did not meet, and his ego is hurt. B in turn is hurt by the negative energy A is sending him, and reflects back the anger in some way. He may become hurt, depressed, sad or send back anger.

2) B violates principle #2 =>  A violates principle #1 => B violates principle #1

Example:

B unknowingly hurts A, due to some ignorance, perhaps lack of people skills. A takes that action personally, gets hurt, and sends some negative energy towards B. B in turn retalitates with negative energy.

Solution to many relationship problems lies in simply following these principles

The solution to avoiding friction between two people happens in one of the following ways:

  1. A follows principle #1 => B has no problem.
  2. B follows principle #2 => A has no problem.
  3. A violates principle #1 =>  B still follows principle #1 => no problem  (i.e B does not retaliate)
  4. B violates principle #2 =>  A still follows principle #1 => no problem  (i.e A does not retaliate)

Apply these principles on yourself, not others

The interesting thing is that even as we break one of these principles, we expect our counterpart to follow them! For example, we knowingly/unknowingly hurt the other (principle #2), but yet expect our counterpart to not act out as they do when hurt (principle #1). Or, we hurt ourselves by giving disempowering meaning to events related to what the other did (principle #1), and expect the other to make it right ( principle #2) Wisdom lies in applying these principles on ourselves, and not on our counterparts. We can only control ourselves, not others. Expecting others to comply only leads to disappointment.

 The reason we are creators of our life is that regardless of whether people around us are following these principles or not, if we follow them, we are able to completely direct the experience of our life. Not following these principles leads to negative, disempowered and painful situations, and following these leads to positive, empowered, and happy experiences.

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