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self-growth trap

Hello everybody, welcome to episode 200 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's question is on a self-growth trap to avoid.

I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com

Listen to Greg narrate this post on avoiding a self-growth trap in Episode 200 of the podcast Optimal Living Advice.

200 episodes! My word. Folks, it’s an absolute privilege to be here with you 200 episodes later. I think I mentioned in our 100th episode that OLA was originally supposed to be a 20 episode trial and stood a legitimate chance of being nixed after that point. It really is a dream come true to have made it this far – this job really is an incredible gift and I’m so thankful for it. I can honestly say that at no point during my time on this show have I wished I was doing something else.

Quick History of Optimal Living Advice

A very quick history lesson before we get to our question today. Back in October of 2019, Justin had been reading my work on OLD for a year or two. I had been an actor for many years before that and while it was going very well, I was really growing tired of it. I had gotten into life coaching a few years in to feel as though I was contributing a bit more, and that just ended up feeling like a lot more fulfilling work at the time. But still I wanted a team to be a part of.

So I was officially out of Hollywood, only coaching people and writing stuff for my own site. I decided to call up Justin and his business partner Lee who, for those who don’t know, is the co-founder along with Justin. I asked if there was some way I could partner up with them because they’re really just the best guys, I figured they trusted my work, and all of our exchanges at that point had been fantastic.

After some back and forth, the idea was that I was going to start by hosting a new show they were planning called Interesting Facts Daily, which was in development at the time. It’d basically be a show on which interesting, rare facts would be shared each day. I said “Ok, but if you guys are looking for new show ideas anyway, I have an idea for one that could maybe be interesting”, and I pitched an advice column style show like what we have here today. That was one of most exciting days of my life – they loved they idea, decided to stop in their tracks on Interesting Facts Daily and Optimal Living Advice was born a month or two later once we’d registered the show and Justin put the word out in the newsletter to start garnering questions from you guys.

Definitely felt a bit of pressure due to how quickly it happened and how much faith they had in the idea, but here we are and it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. So thanks so very much to all of you for making this all possible and continuing to show up, be vulnerable, and really help others in your openness, cause each question we get helps far more people than just the person who sent it in.

Our Listener's Question (Episode 200)

Speaking of which, we’ve got a show to do, so we should probably do that. Our asker today is looking for ways to have more faith in people. She’s mastered a lot of other stuff through some self-work, but that still eludes her. Let’s do what we do here, everyone, and help her out.

QUESTION: “I’ve tried my best to work on myself a lot. I’m so thankful that I’ve gotten to a place in my life where I forgive myself, give myself second chances, am kind to myself and others. I mention this because I don’t want to shame myself for what my question is really about. There’s one thing I can’t get past, it’s seeing the bad and the ugly in people. I’ve gotten good at seeing the beauty in me, what will it take to see it in other people? I always jump to bad conclusions and assume the worst. I really try but I just can’t see people putting in the effort they usually need to. This is something I can’t get past and would love some pointers.

Self-Growth Trap: The Problem With So Much Self-Work

On the path towards constant growth and improvement, eh? Good for you! This is nice question to receive. It’s especially nice to hear you be honest about how you feel you’re coming up short, too. Glad to be answering this. Let’s see what we can do here.

Now don’t flinch at what I’m about to say, ‘cause I’m proud of you and this is could maybe come off the wrong way:

Sometimes when we do so much self-work, we actually become rather self-centered…in the best of ways.

Think about it. We spend so much time dissecting our own struggles. We dissect what we’re going through. We dissect how we react to it. We dissect our instincts towards it. We look at these turbulent situations and how we can make the most of them, and when our pursuit to make the most of them and become better versions of ourselves is so driven, we really master all angles of the problem at hand.

But we master them from our own perspective. We repeat the process through and through so we can sharpen our response.

Is It Others Who Are Lazy?

The hangup is that once we’ve done that and we come out on the other side really having a good sense of ourselves and how to be the best we can be, we forget what these situations can look like for other people.

We go through such long cycles of seeing things from our own perspective, that we get more and more distant from the fact that the way things unfold for us is rarely the way they unfold for others. Of course, though, the truth is that there is an endless network of other circumstances and possibilities that extend past our perceptions of any given situation where you feel someone might be acting out of line or giving you a reason to not see the best in them.

It’s natural, right? To do so much self-work, improve upon oneself in so many ways and prove to ourselves that changes can be made.

And because of that, it’s hard to not think less of those or look down upon those who aren’t doing the same – who aren’t putting in the same effort and grit to change that we’ve put in. They’re somehow lazy, right?

Listen to J. Money's thoughts on how to stay smart and be lazy at the same time on Episode 279 of the podcast Optimal Living Daily.

Don't Fall Into This Self-Growth Trap

It’s your job and the job of anyone else out there who seeks self-growth to not fall into this trap. You mustn’t develop this holier than thou attitude and separate yourself from others – that’s not the next step.

The next step of your growth isn’t perfection or being put on a ladder above those who haven’t overcome their problems to the same degree.

Instead, make your next step about helping others who you know can do better; bringing out the best in them. Take action and get involved so you can understand them and reacquaint yourself with the fact that everyone’s wrongdoings look different and have a lot going on beneath the surface.

Guide these people, don’t judge them.

How Do You Start Guiding Others?

You can start this process by looking back on yourself and your history. My gut tells me that if the you of today ran into the you of yesterday, you’d have a hard time forgiving her or seeing her side of things when she could’ve done better. But here you are. You’ve changed, haven’t you? Why then, wouldn’t there be a reason to believe that others won’t someday improve upon themselves the way that you did?

And mind you, you could still be doing better yourself. You said yourself that you’ve gotten a point where you can forgive yourself and give yourself second chances. That means you’re still making mistakes the same as others are. Think about their mistakes; I’m sure they’re some of the same mistakes you make.

Hey, others may look at you and see someone who doesn’t see the best in others and think, “what’s her problem?” But you’re here trying your best, aren’t you?

So what’s the difference between you and other people; your potential to get better and their potential to get better? Surely you’re aware of your own intentions and your own efforts. So who’s to say others aren’t trying just as hard? Why assume that they aren’t when you’re living proof that they very well could be?

Self-Growth Trap: Conclusion

It might be a good exercise to also consider the wrongdoing of people you love and whose character you trust. What are some situations they’ve been in that could’ve been interpreted as them not putting in enough effort or not being good people? We’ve all got stories like that. And we’re also all loved. So certainly all of these people and their relationships are just as layered as you, your friends and your relationships.

Maybe trusting others is foreign to you. Maybe people have betrayed you in the past or not come through for you when they promised to. Don’t get frustrated by this. But also don’t let this prevent you from putting in these reps and getting into a rhythm of at least entertaining the possibilities of others and what they’re about. Everyone has their own unique story that prevents them from delivering on areas of life that they’d like to, just like you.

You’re well on your way. Your effort is very inspiring, and you’re right on the cusp of this next level. Stay patient with yourself and try to do the same with others.

Ok, everybody. Whether you’ve worked a lot on yourself a lot or not, I think it goes without saying we could all do a good job of seeing the best in people. But if that sounds too flowery for you, it’s ok because this is really about seeing the possibility in people. It’s about acknowledging the countless amount variables in any situation and within any person. We just never know what’s going on beneath the surface and leading to even the most egregious of actions.

This is not a way of making excuses for people, but it is a way of understanding people, the many pressures we don’t understand, and putting ourselves in a position to help those people if we’d like to. – and mind you, you can help others while also holding them accountable for their actions at the same time.

Time to get out of here now, everyone. Once again, thanks so much for helping us get to 200. Hoping this show has a lot more legs and never ends. It’s up to you guys, though, so keep sending those questions in, keep showing up, and I’ll keep doing my best for you. You guys are the best. I love you all. And I’ll see you in 201 for the next 200.

Listen to Greg narrate this post on avoiding a self-growth trap in Episode 200 of the podcast Optimal Living Advice.

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Greg Audino

Greg Audino is a Rhode Island-born certified life coach, actor, and graduate of Goucher College. He is the host of the mental health podcast Optimal Living Advice and narrates dating, marriage, and parenting content over at Optimal Relationships Daily.
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