Perspective of Self Development and Self Centeredness
Is self development self-centered? Simply answered- yes and no. The answer is yes when merely analyzing the short-term and no when taking a long-term approach. When focusing on oneself for the purpose of self development, you may need to be rather isolated at times. Nonetheless, this isolation should be viewed as temporary with the ultimate goal having meaning that extends beyond the self.
For instance, we often hear how Olympians lose contact with friends and family when their training ramps up in the pursuit of a podium spot. This strain on one’s relationships is caused by the “self-centeredness” of the Olympian. It may be hard for the athlete’s more average counterparts to understand the absolute focus that is required for success at the highest level, but the athlete knows what is required and is encouraged by their coaches to pursue excellence above all else. In this example, the athlete may even be shunned by the people closest to them due to a lack of understanding. However, the athlete must do what is required to achieve their dreams and cannot afford to get wrapped up in the misguided expectations of others.
As can be easily seen, self development requires a degree of self-centeredness, at least in the short-term. Nonetheless, the long-term benefits are hopefully much more altruistic. Using our prior example, if the athlete were to win a gold medal, a generation of athletes and civilians alike may be inspired to achieve their dreams. Furthermore, at this point the ‘hero’s journey’ is complete, and the hero can reunite with the friends and family that were temporarily neglected, assuming no bridges were burned too severely.
It is important to remind ourselves that being labeled as “selfish” is not the end of the world. You must remind yourself of your motives for pursing what is time-consuming/isolating. As long as seeking approval is not the underlying internal drive, maintaining perspective of the meaning will prove beneficial. Self development is incredibly rewarding for not only the person on such a pursuit but also for society! A person that has overcome the obstacles in their way to become a greater version of themselves can be an inspirational force for others. Digging even deeper, a person who has emphasized personal development becomes stronger and is thus more able to resist the forces that bring down a society. It is ultimately the weak-minded individual who will fall prey to peer pressure/the mob. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and it is up to each individual to ensure the weakest link is not the one they see when they look in the mirror.
If you are still wondering how to apply self-development principles in your life and assuming that you are not training for a spot in the future Olympic Games, you may simply want to practice incremental changes. If you are aspiring towards a promotion at work, instead of going out drinking with friends on the weekend, consider devoting more time to your professional development. This can take the form of additional coursework or anything else that would directly contribute to on-the-job success. Your friends may not be thrilled with this decision of yours initially, but hopefully they will come around when you get the much sought after promotion. With this promotion you may have the opportunity to lead others on a broader scale and have your positive vision enacted. This can benefit your company and your company’s contribution to society. You are also setting a higher standard for your friends and are gaining commendable strength in the process, which will pay dividends in many ways.
Finding a good therapist can be the first step in making these tough decisions, as a good therapist can help the client gain in self-confidence by gaining the skills that will be necessary in the pursuit of self-actualization. There are many techniques that can be utilized in therapy, and I encourage you to find a therapist whom implements the modalities that you desire.
About me: I am a psychotherapist in Denver, CO. I have been in the field for twenty years and have extensive experience helping individuals and couples help realize their goals and become who they really are and all they can be. I hope you enjoyed this short article of my thoughts as a professional who knows that living true to oneself is the answer many are searching for.