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Are you even SMART enough for Self Improvement?

9 04 2007

by Aaron Potts

Depending on what your definition of “self improvement” is, you probably have some informed – or uninformed – ideas about what it is going to take for you to make positive changes in your life.

In fact, you may even have wondered to yourself if you truly have what it takes in order to attain your goals. After all, if it was easy, you would have already done it, right?
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Picture the following scenarios, if you will:

1) You put your hand on a hot stove and get burned. It hurts bad, so you do it again.

2) You get into a car accident and receive fairly serious injuries because you didn’t have your seatbelt on. The next time you get in your car, you DON’T put your seatbelt on.

3) You go out partying with your friends, drink too much tequila, end up getting in a fight, spending the night in jail, getting violently ill, and leaving the whole experience with several scars and a healthy court fee. The next night you go out again, and order…tequila.

4) You fall asleep in the sun and get a worse sunburn than you have ever had. You actually have blisters on some parts of your body. You go back to the beach the next day, and don’t even wear any sunscreen.

Okay, by now there may be a certain term that is running around your head that would describe the actions of the person who would do any of the things that were just described. Something along the lines of… STUPID.

You might rephrase it to be something more politically correct like “misguided,” or “confused,” but regardless of which term you decide upon, the end result is the same:

Doing things that cause unpleasant circumstances to come into your life, and then repeating those things over and over again is simply not very intelligent.

If your neighbor’s dog bit you the last time you went into your neighbor’s yard, would you walk into your neighbor’s yard again?

If a certain substance caused you to have a severe and almost deadly allergic reaction the last time you used it, would you use it again anyway?

Those are obviously extreme examples, but by now you should be starting to see the point.

As intelligent human beings, we have the ability to look back on the experiences that we have had in our lives, and to not repeat events that have brought us negativity.

Which brings us to the million-dollar question:

Why do we continually repeat the behavior that in the past has been shown time and time again to not get us what we want out of life?

You don’t have to use the word stupid at this point if you don’t want to, but you do have to admit that repeating ineffective behavior is not the most intelligent way to be effective.

Why do you keep doing it, then? If starting and then stopping your weight loss program has repeatedly not led to permanent weight loss, why do you keep starting and stopping it?

If working at the type of job that you are comfortable working at has not brought you the career and/or financial success that you want, why do you keep working at that type of job?

If dating the same type of people has continually resulted in failed relationships and broken hearts, why do you keep dating those types of people?

Do you see the pattern here? Can you clearly follow the logic that by doing the same things that you have always done, you will simply continue to get what you have always gotten?

Yet here you are. You are reading this article because you are interested in self improvement, yet you have most likely repeated behavior similar to the patterns described earlier.

Are you thinking that the “human condition” is going to change in some manner that will allow your previously ineffective methods to somehow magically now have different results?

Do you think that without changing your inner-thoughts about weight loss, financial success, or relationships, that you will be able to find success in those areas where you have previously been unable to?

No, is the obvious answer here, and unlike other self improvement articles, this piece is probably not leaving you feeling very uplifted or empowered.

That’s okay! Were you looking for an article that was going to tell you what you wanted to hear, or an article that was actually going tell you the truth?

Well, here is the truth: If you want to make positive changes in your life where you have been unable to in the past, you are going to have to do things differently than you have done them in the past.

If you will allow a quote from the James Bond movie Casino Royale, chew on this:

“You have a choice. Just because you’ve done it before doesn’t mean that you need to do it again.”

You’re smart. Does that quote make sense to you?

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3 responses to “Are you even SMART enough for Self Improvement?”

12 04 2007
Charlie (04:47:01) :

Mistakes are clear enough to be learned. The only problem is if you didn’t recognized it. I think that people who don’t recognize the obvious mistakes in their life just need more to learn the real meaning of their error.

13 04 2007
Pamela (00:53:48) :

That’s right, nobody got successful because they can’t identify the mistakes that keeps them from moving on to another stage. It’s like a blind person having no idea where to go.

13 04 2007
Aaron M. Pottsa (07:20:49) :

We have two teenagers at home, and we have a very specific, very effective way of dealing with them when they make mistakes.

If it’s a mistake that they’ve never made before, they receive little if any punishment, and instead are educated about why that mistake was something that they don’t want to repeat.

However, if either of them does something that has already been discussed - or worse - something that they have already been punished for in the past, then they receive no leeway whatsoever.

Our philosophy is that it is okay to make mistakes, but it’s NOT okay to keep making the same mistake over and over again.

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