To BE and to DO. The two most important verbs we use everyday.
We are not human “doings”, we are human beings.
I read this as a quote somewhere, the source of which is now forgotten, and it made me laugh so much. Never the less, it is a profound truism I think!
We give great importance to “doing”, and think of “being” as a form of laziness or only ok at holiday time, as if being were somehow less important. But eastern philosophy shows us that, as with so many things, these two activities are connected and a balance needs to be achieved between them.
The self improvement category is often perceived to be all about doing. But being is equally important I believe, and that is why On Being Human tries to cover the whole spectrum without focusing in on one thing or another.
As with most dualism, it’s fully reversible. On Twitter or Facebook, or in normal conversation, you are unlikely to be asked “What are you being?” although “What do you want to be?” might be acceptable, but is generally asked only of children followed by “when you grow up”.
In fact this question is better phrased as
“What do you want to do?”
I have never answered this question definitively for myself. I didn’t have a calling. No one profession seemed better than another. I could list lots of things I didn’t want to do all day, like type, or stand in front of a cash register, or clean, or cook. But making a decision on what I do want to do all day has continued to elude me. Maybe what I want to do is something new everyday, at least more often than something I have already learned how to do and then must repeat endlessly.
As such, I am a project personality rather than a maintenance personality.
I could not describe myself as a doer, although I am pretty good at getting some things done. I actually prefer to learn new things and work out how to do things. I like to create and enjoy filling my senses with colour, or music or the scents of nature.
So I have done work as a painter and a decorator where I could take a blank sheet or a place and transform it. I have been a writer and a poet, and as a hobby I play guitar, and I love to listen to music. Now I create websites.
I have worked most of my life in bookshops, where the day by day work was consistent but many different types of tasks needed completing and the influx of new books changed every month. I loved interacting with people here and talking about new books and concepts. No one genre appeals to me, they all do! I enjoy finding out new things and then I often forget it and move on to something else.
I could have earned more money working in a bank or teaching, or perhaps being a health worker, but the lure of a better wage was less enticing than what I was doing. Logically I know I could make better money doing other things, but something stops me from doing them.
What you want to do relates to who you are
As such, the being and the doing are an integral part of who you are. Whereas being is all about the NOW, doing requires a bit of planning.
Doing can be a spontaneous thing, but as any event planner will tell you, it can take weeks or months of organization for a single perfect day.
What do you want to do all day? What work will please you?
What do you want to do for relaxation?
What do you want to achieve? What would you like to own or use?
Is there somewhere special you want to see?
Start by finding out who you are. Your first journey should be a journey of self discovery so you have a clear picture of what you want. On this journey you need to make a few decisions about what you want. I call it a journey because these will change over time, but make a few good decisions now or your life will be all being and no doing!
If you have gone along with a parents plan for your life but are finding it heavy going, if you have gained weight or have an addiction of some sort and cannot bring your actions under control – your body, mind, emotion & soul are not working as a team. One of them is a traitor!
If you are having trouble with procrastination, then it may be because some aspect of yourself does not want to do what your logical mind is telling it to do. This is called self sabotage.
If you continue to do things that appear to be bad for you, you need to work out which aspect of yourself is gaining the reward for sabotaging your efforts to improve. Many self improvement books on their specific topics will help you by explaining what this might be.
For example, many of us are slow to shrug off childhood after years of allowing parents to make our choices for us. Decision making seems difficult, scary, and risky. We may still hear a parents voice internally telling us we are not capable of making good decisions, of looking after ourselves, of staying safe.
We get into the habit of repeating these things about ourselves as if they are set in stone. “I make bad decisions. I keep getting into trouble.” Your inner child is rewarded here by manipulating someone else to do things for you, just as a parent used to. If your brain is asking why you can’t do something, it’s time to stop indulging that emotional child who is spoiling your adult life.
Yet what do we do? What can we do to effect change?
Well, first start by reading about positive thinking, positive statements, affirmations and neuro linguistic programming.
If changing what you say about yourself consciously does not work, talk to a friend, a personal trainer or a therapist, some people need a parent figure to react to.
If you are still self sabotaging try contacting the subconscious using self hypnosis or with the help of a hypnotherapist. Keep at it, change doesn’t happen because you read one book. It grows, just like muscle does when you exercise.
Learn as much as you can. Knowledge is power. Other human beings have been having the same problems, and they write about their solutions. Maybe one will work for you. I remember being blown away by the woman who lost so much weight by simply walking around her washing line everyday. She felt too embarrassed to walk or run or exercise outside of her home because of the way she looked. You’ve got to admire that kind of problem solving!
This whole genre of self improvement books is filled with wonderful authors who started out to solve their own problems and ended up inspiring others to solve theirs.
If you have the determination to do something, if you want it badly enough, you can plan it and achieve it. You can do it.
So find out what you want to do – and do it!
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