If it doesn't feel natural don't force it
If you are reading about self improvement and personal growth or even just talking with a friend about a particular personal issue you're likely to encounter many varying ideas and methodologies pertaining to what you are trying to accomplish with yourself. Some suggestions may even contradict others which can make it hard and frustrating to figure out exactly which is the right one.
Well, for what it's worth I would like to tell you to not sweat it. If it does not flow naturally and you feel like you're forcing it, don't do it. The best way to evaluate suggested ideas and methods for achieving your goals is by observing your own reaction to your attempts to apply them. It's your self, your life and your observation to make. You sense, feel and think for yourself. Who else can then better evaluate if something works for you or not?
The best growth is natural growth. A flower doesn't force itself to grow. It just does so by nature without effort and without any kind of self repression.
What is "natural"?
For a change (in actions or thoughts) to come naturally you must be genuinely motivated to do what it takes. You would desire to do it and feel positively about it. You might feel eager, excited and curious about the results.
The opposite would be feeling like dragging yourself through it by force, telling yourself "I must" or "I have to" rather than "I want to". You might feel anxiety and frustration and may be tempted to give up and give in to thinking of yourself as a failure or deny your desire to change by trying to convince yourself that you might be just alright as you are and maybe accomplishing what you wanted wasn't such a good idea after all.
Giving up and giving in would however not be the good ways to react to the feeling of such change being unnatural, but we'll get to that in a moment.
Sometimes it might seem like there is no other way but to force it and you may think it's just a matter of discipline, but I tend to doubt that. There is always a way to make yourself want something you currently do not. It's only a matter of finding the right "stimuli", the right incentive or inspiration, or putting yourself in the right circumstances. In the worst case you may simply need to change some other aspects of yourself, ones which may currently come more naturally before you again get to the one you were trying.
Everything can be done by incentive (because you want to) rather than by force (because you "must").
What if it feels unnatural?
If particular personal change does not come naturally and feels forced either one of these two things is the case:
- The idea or method you're trying to apply may be flawed.
- You're personally just not ready for that kind of change (which is perfectly fine).
I believe the right thing to do then would be to evaluate both the idea you're trying to apply and yourself in terms of your readiness for a change that it demands. In other words you'd want to detect which of the above two cases is true.
If the first is the case the most reasonable thing is to learn more about it or the related concepts to see what exactly is wrong with it. Only this way can you get to what actually might work.
If second is the case then it may be that the advice, idea or suggestion in question was quite valid, but you simply are not at a personal stage where you can naturally apply it. You're currently incompatible with that kind of change and need to find out what you need to do to become compatible (if it is something you really want to grow into).
Still, it's not an excuse to give up.
You might be tempted to use this idea as an excuse to do nothing as soon as you hit a snag. I want to clearly emphasize that this is not what I'm suggesting. I'm suggesting that you don't force yourself, that you don't ram personal change down your own throat when it clearly doesn't feel right.
But if you do have a genuine goal of particular personal change then realizing a particular idea or method doesn't feel right for you at this point doesn't justify throwing in the towel. Instead, evaluation is the key. As mentioned above, find out what is at fault, the idea or the current state of your self.
Shield yourself from manipulation
Thinking this way also inoculates you from manipulation by others because it becomes that much harder for someone to make you do something that could actually make you powerless and dependent on someone else.
If you feel it's unnatural you have some reason for doubt which calls upon critical thinking and evaluation of both the advice you took and your self. This can only make you wiser and more independent and therefore more powerful. Instead of taking advice on trust you apply your own faculties to the issue thus remaining your own master.
This article was inspired by the "New Age Bitch".