Some could say that the biggest barriers in life can't be seen. Many more could say that the biggest barriers in this world is not beside us, away from us, or around us. They are inside us. Most of what holds us back in this world is ourselves. The fear, the doubt, the regret, and the self-pity....all examples of self-made barriers that can cripple you as you journey through life. What happens when we break those barriers? What happens when nothing holds us back? Life. Life happens. You see, in overcoming many self-made barriers, I have noticed a few common requirements. No, you don't mean money, experience, or even skill. Rather, personal development. Personal development is the key....the ART, of breaking barriers. In this article I will discuss the five requirements for exhibiting a successful personal development journey.
"The root of suffering is attachment" is a quote I read years ago and to this day still resonates with me. Some interpret this is attachment causes the suffering of the ones attached. My perception of the quote is a little more complex. You see, attachment is a "coping mechanism". We attach to things that help us escape our suffering. In the pursuit of escaping, we leave the world which makes us suffer, unchanged. We fill the void and that's it. The problem itself is not fixed, it is masked. So, what happens when we bring ourselves back to reality? We continue to suffer. It is only when we have masked the issue, that we feel some sort of peace. Even then, we still have a gut feeling of emotional discomfort. In order to push past where we have been in life, we must detach from what makes us "just cope", and pursue what makes us strive.
Risk And Reward
Too often we tend to lean towards activities, conversation, and subjects we are most successful in/knowledgeable about. We like the feeling of success. I mean, who wouldn't? The only problem is as we get comfortable with having low risks, we don't push further in life. We settle for the low risk/low reward actions. Perfect examples would be a free-throw shot versus a "three-pointer" in basketball, as well as a 1 point conversion versus a 2 point conversion in football. The shorter distance is much easier and has a lower risk of completing. Due to it being easier, you get less reward for being successful. Even though you have an option for a greater reward, many pick the option with less difficulty. The same can be said about life. Many people decide to stay with low requirement (and paying) jobs, break up with their partner and find a new one when the relationship gets tough, and never try new experiences. In order to push and break the barriers you place on yourself, you must chase that risk factor. Nothing in life worth having was attained without risk and struggle.
In order for adaptation to take place, we must provide a stimulus. This is true for every aspect of life. In order to build muscle we must exercise, in order to get better at sport we must practice, in order to speak better we must speak to more people. Without a stimulus is without an adaptation. How does that tie in to failing? When we fail what do we do? We learn to re-adjust and try again with more efficiency/effort. We learn our mistake, though it may take more than one try to do so. We learn that something worth having in life requires struggle. Failure makes us grow, physically, mentally, and emotionally. As mentioned above, risk is required for a greater reward. Failure CAN BE a result of pursuing a task that has a higher risk. So why are frequent failures a good thing if you could just succeed with a lower risk/reward option? Because the more you fail, the more you learn to succeed. As you grow with your failure, your risk of failure decreases. When you first started practicing your "three-pointers" you maybe made 1 out of 5 shots. As you keep failing, you learn to adjust your shots along the way. Each failed shot provides another analysis of how you should shoot the ball. Later on, those "three-pointers" become as easy as the free-throw shots. With failure, you have allowed your higher reward option to have the same low risk as the lower reward option. In life we go through interviews that do not result in you getting the job, getting a job that you later are not successful at, and go through break-ups with long and short term relationships. As we fail, we pick ourselves back up, realize what we need to correct, and try again. We shouldn't settle for less, rather we should perfect our learning from these failures. The more we fail, the more we learn to succeed.
Reaction, Not Action
In order to place stimulus on your own development, you must place yourself in an environment of reaction AND REACT. It's easy to take action. Action goals are objective, predictable, and honestly....easy. Example of action goals are to go talk to the girl you have a crush on, jump in a pool if you are scared of water, or even put yourself in a social environment if you have social anxiety. You "completed" the task even if you fail at moving forward. You may have only said "hi" to the girl you liked and that's it. You could have jumped in the pool and decided to jump right back out. You could have decided to stay quiet in the classroom when the teacher asked for a volunteer. Just because you took action to get yourself there, did not mean you completed what you needed to. I have experienced others and myself doing the same thing in the past. How many times did you text or talk to your crush, just to not progress the conversation further when she replied? How many times have you put yourself around your fear in the hopes of getting over it, without actually reacting to the fear itself? How many times have you put yourself in a situation, just to back out when something unpredictable happens? We tend to always take action that is objective, but never accomplish the reaction. Why? Because the reaction is unpredictable, unknown, and is difficult. Life is almost all reaction. And if we keep trying to take action and forget we need to react, we can never break the barriers life places on our self development journey.
Looking Past The Barrier
One of the most instinctive things that we do when pursuing a goal, is that we look at the obstacles and barrier...rather than what's on the other side. Time and time again our focus is not where it should be. Those fighting social anxiety always focus on what the other person thinks, rather than the connection being made. Those scared of driving and learning to drive always focus on what NOT to hit, rather than where they should be going. Those insecure in relationships always worry about what the person may be doing, rather than what that person puts forth in the relationship. I know, because I was that way. I have also had countless conversations with those the who went through the same thing. Fighting social anxiety is easiest when you focus on the connection being made. Overcoming your fear of driving is easiest when you focus on your destination, not where you are trying not to hit. Feeling secure in a relationship is easiest when you take a step back to look at the other person's point of view and how they handle the relationship. When we look at what's past the barrier, and spend all of our time looking at it, breaking the barrier becomes a habit.
The biggest barriers in life are all inside us. They are self-made and they are self-broken. To break any barrier you must detach yourself from the idea that anything is of your possession, take the risks required to gain better reward, fail frequently to come back stronger, react to the world, and look past any given barrier you seek to break. Life is full of barriers. They separate those who are just living from those who are living life. These are the five requirements....The five tools, to the art of breaking barriers.