What could be construed as the foundation or the ultimate fundamental of self improvement? It all boils down to two words: Personal Responsibility.
It's when you take FULL responsibility for everything that has happened to your life up until this very second and in conjunction with that, taking FULL responsibility for everything that will happen to your life in the future.
The first part of that sentence is the hardest pill to swallow. It's when you realize that it is YOU that brought about everything that's occurred in your life up until this very second. If that realization hasn't hit you yet, I want you to stop reading and think about your current situation. All the choices you have made so far in your life have all blended together to put you exactly where you are today. You are where you are today not because of your parents, not because of your brothers or sisters, not because of your friends, not because of your mean teachers, not because of your evil boss, but because of YOU and YOU alone. I cannot give you examples here just because I don't know every reader's life story, but really stop and think about this and I guarantee you that this realization will hit you like a ton of bricks.
I'm sure everybody knows at least one person in their social circle who is like John Smith. John Smith hates his life. He is the kind of person who will latch onto a person who shows the slightest bit of interest in a conversation and proceed to vomit negativity for what seems like eternity.
"My teachers hated me in school so I got bad grades. I flunked out. I work at a grocery store. My boss never gives me a raise even though I ask. No girls like me. All my friends hate me. My mother never showed me any love while growing up." In other words, what he is really saying is, "Please feel sorry for me and empathize with me so that you can validate that my life sucks because it's everyone's fault EXCEPT mine."
It's first instinct to not blame ourselves. It's the easy way out. On the surface, it certainly seems that way. However, some will rightly point out that there are events in our life that we cannot control. That is absolutely true. It's not my intention to say that you caused ALL the events in your life because there ARE certain events and circumstances that are out of your control, but the way you reacted to them contributed to the life you have now and the way you chose to act in your life up to this point has contributed to the life you have now as well.
You have the power to choose how to react AND how to act (if you even choose to act for that matter). If you choose to react negatively to everything around you, then that is exactly what you will bring about in your life. If you choose NOT to act by giving your power away in the form of blame and excuses, your ability to be proactive becomes weaker and weaker as time goes on until you find yourself not being able to do anything at all.
You have the power and the responsibility to react AND to act and the truth is you always had that power within you. You just didn't know it until you realized the fact that it was this very same power that is responsible for the life you are living today. When that hits us, we tend to focus on the fact that all the bad things in our life were not the fault of others, but the fault of ourselves so we become overly depressed. Never despair because with that being said, it leads to this realization.
It's up to you...
If you want your life to change, it's up to YOU to change it and you CAN change it.
Use that same power which has gone out of control that has given you the life of today, seize it, and use it to create the life you want. Nobody can change your life except you. Stop pointing the fingers. Start pointing them to yourself. You have the power to act and create circumstances and while you can't control circumstances and events that are out of your grip, you can control and choose how to respond to them. When we take responsibility for our lives and realize the power that resides in choosing how to react to circumstances and choosing to act in order to create new circumstances, we realize that within us is everything we need to change our lives.
Whenever something bad happens, we are quick to point the finger at somebody else. It's like you're inside a brand new Mercedes Benz and all you do is push the accelerator and refuse to grab control of the steering wheel. You're so busy yelling at the people outside to move out of the way and blame them for all your troubles when all you have to do is look down a little and see that you are in control and once those hands go on the steering wheel, they never come off. You can feel the power of the car surge as you grip your steering wheel and for the first time in your life, you have that moment. The moment that's unique and special for each one of us and one that we will never forget for the rest of our lives. The moment of feeling in total control of our own lives.
So you start controlling how you react to circumstances and how you act and you begin to see the positive subsequent changes that result. This brings us to a second realization.
As within, so without
When you undergo a program of self improvement to change yourself, you realize the truth of the old maxim, "As within, so without."
You realize that your outer world is created by your inner world and that YOU are in control of your inner world, in the sense that you control how you choose to react and act, and that in turn creates your outer world. You cease to think that anything outside of you can change you for the long term.
The changes you make yourself will seem small at first, but I guarantee you that the long term changes will be remarkable. Each time you consciously choose how to react to a situation, each time you choose to act and take your power back rather than give it away in the form of blame and excuses, you start going off on very small tangents which results in you going on an entirely different path than before. You well know the difference between one man who has accepted complete responsibility for his life as opposed to one who hasn't because you see their attitude and actions are as different as night and day.
One looks for the quick fixes on the outside and the other stops looking for the quick fix and starts working backwards; he starts working on the inside first, THEN having the outside naturally follows in time. I think the component of time is there to test us to see if we will go the distance and reap the benefits of lasting change.
Many people don't want to pay their dues. They think life will be harder and boring as they get older so they frivolously spend their time, money, and energy NOW and the result is that the exact prediction they held for the future becomes true. Those who spend their time, money, and energy on a program of self improvement now will find that their life gets easier down the road.
This leads to the third sub component of personal responsibility. You develop the virtue of patience.
I think the most important thing that people fail to realize when it comes to personal responsibility is that they don't see the long term effects of it at first glance. When you start taking control of your own life, all sorts of things start to happen. You start making small changes and like dominos, this affects everything around you, and your whole world starts to change. It's remarkable. It's like being reborn again. The thing is that you realize just how much potential there is and you want to change your life 180 degrees. But first you'll need to do some learning.
Most people sadly think that school ends when you get the diploma. School never ends. School has conditioned us to think that other people will educate us. Other people will tell us what we need to learn. Other people will be there to teach us. Other people will assign us books and homework. On top of that, we've been conditioned to associate pain with studying so it's no wonder why few adults ever read or study again after school.
Once you adopt the fundamental of personal responsibility, you'll realize it's up to YOU to find the teachers. YOU to figure out how to educate yourself. YOU to find the books you need to read. YOU to take the time to study because nobody's going to be there to force you to do it.
There's a reason why it's called self improvement and it's because nobody can do it FOR you. You, and you alone must undertake this journey and I promise you, from the bottom of my heart that this is one journey you will NOT regret taking. Once you go on it, there's no going back. There's no going back.
The road of self improvement
Each of us need to personally experience that moment, where we are fully conscious of the concept of personal responsibility. The funny thing is once we understand it and start reaping the rewards of it, we realize as we look around that not many people go down this road of self improvement so we try to encourage them, but inevitably it's all in vain. We can try and tell them as much as we want, but that person must have that life changing experience themselves. They must connect the dots themselves and have the concept of personal responsibility dawn upon them in their own way. One of the best things you can do to encourage them is to show them how fulfilling going down that road of self improvement can be and when they see the changes that happen in your life, they will follow in line.
Develop your full potential because in the end, you really owe it to yourself and to those around you to do so. By first changing yourself, you will encourage change in others, and who knows: by changing yourself, you just might change the world.