I was chatting with some people in a Facebook group thread yesterday when the discussion turned to the topic of personal development and relationships.
One of the members of the group was sharing how her personal development journey was dialed in when she was single and living as a monk, but that things got a lot more challenging when she got married and started a family.
(Side note: At one point, I wanted to live as a monk for a year, but that wouldn’t go down so well with the wife now.)
What I shared with her was that getting married and having a kid has been both the best teacher and the biggest test of all the personal development work I’ve done over the years.
And I’m happy to say that it’s served me really well!
I’ve seen a lot of people in various forums and groups worrying that getting into a relationship is going to derail their personal development efforts, but these people are completely missing the point.
The thing is, the reason we do all the inner work is so that we are able to apply it in real-world situations, not simply to say that we have done it.
For example, the point of meditation is not to simply sit quietly every morning and build up a long streak. The point is to be able to stop yourself before reacting to something your wife says and choosing how you’d like to respond, or being able to focus on the present moment with your spouse or child.
It’s the same reason I get amused when I see people who brag about going to yoga or meditating, but then lose their shit when someone cuts them off in traffic.
The problem is, too many people are focusing on the practices themselves, collecting them like medals, rather than applying these practices in their daily lives.
This is the same reason why I’ve said before that it’s not about how many books you read, but how much of them you apply.
I like to call this mental masturbation – feeling good about doing all these personal development habits and routines but never really using them for the real thing.
Instead of stressing out that you aren’t able to maintain your personal development habits due to a change in your lifestyle, look for ways where the obstacle becomes the way you practice the habit.
If the baby’s crying, how can you pause to identify what’s wrong and choose your response rather than getting mad and shouting?
If you have to wash the dishes, how can you put all your focus on the task at hand instead of complaining about it (working on this one!)?
And I don’t need to explain the opportunity for improved communication that comes with being married!
Remember, at the end of the day, it’s not about collecting wisdom for the sake of it. It’s about becoming a better human being as a result of applying that wisdom.
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