// The space between thoughts – A key to personal development //
Personal development is one of the most sought-after topics today and has awakened a transformation that is characterizing the 21st century. It has become an essential tool in our society for its members to increase their human capacities.
Today, technology and information that was not available to us before is reaching out to people in ways that help them understand and develop themselves in many areas: improving self-awareness, leadership, developing self-strength, improving wealth, social abilities and health – just to name a few.
Business-to-business markets also include these programs and in the UK, personal development took a central place in university policy providing students with personal tools for motivation, personality ethics and self-reflection. Personal development is also accepted as a legitimate field in higher education and can include becoming a coach or mentor to help other people develop their abilities.
Everyone wants a better life but, how to get there?
In order to understand the power that lies within every person, it is important to first recognize three areas that are the foundations for any successful development. These include our ego, our thoughts from the past, and our beliefs. All three take a space between one’s thoughts, a space that is essential for setting clear intentions and organizing life effortlessly. When that space is occupied with negative thoughts, people will experience a very hard time finding good results in anything they intend to do.
The ego is the image that you have about yourself that gives you a sense of identity. This seems to be the normal and natural way of living, but the ego is actually the first obstacle to true happiness and success. Socially, the ego can trigger reactions towards others in ways that are not truly desirable or helpful to one’s goal. Anyone who achieved a bigger success did not do it on her or his own, but with an alliance and a friendly cooperation with other people.
At a personal level, maintaining a healthy relation with others brings us the clarity and peace of mind that we need for focusing on what really matters to us. By allowing negativity to gain space in our brains – poor judgment, gossiping, negative mental labels about people, shouting or screaming, and not far from this line, physical violence – our ability to create becomes clogged with negative sensations. Non-objective complaints or criticisms are also the favorite nourishment for the ego, and whether it is mentally or verbally exercised, the result is resentment for those complaining or criticizing. Even if it may appear to make us feel better, complaining or criticizing hides the resentment that triggered the critic or complaint in the first place. That resentment means feeling bitter, indignant or offended. Allowing those feelings to occupy the space between our thoughts blocks our intentions, creativity, and action.
In a state of inner openness, we expand our capacity to welcome situations and circumstances from a higher perspective, allowing this free space to be devoted to creation, a process where cooperation comes along and coincidence happens.
Another aspect of the ego is the attachment to material things and social status. The ego can make people want things that are not truly aligned with their true desires. This is because the ego seeks satisfaction in the wrong places, looking always at what is next for more satisfaction. For the rational ego mind, social labels and material things become part of a person’s identity. The paradox is that the satisfaction of the ego lives short and keeps looking and looking for more. Letting go of this attachment is not possible, but when you no longer seek to find yourself in them and become aware of your attachment to things, it drops away by itself. You become greater than the need for identification through material things.
2. Thoughts from the past
Thoughts from the past can have a great influence in the way we make our choices today. And it is important to be aware of how the brain assimilates and programs this information. While the left brain hemisphere deals with past memories, analysis, logics and empirical evidence, the right hemisphere is experiencing a vast consciousness of all there is in the present moment and it will rate the quality of the present experience, as good or bad, as it relates to the information from the left brain. But much of the information accumulated in the left hemisphere can be inaccurate, outdated or driven by the ego as explained in the previous part. Being aware of this communication between the two hemispheres is very practical for setting intentions from a clear perspective, allowing the two hemispheres to work cooperatively and respond positively to an opportunity or a present circumstance.
I recently watched a TED Talk with Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist and author. Her extreme example helped me understand the functions of the brain hemispheres. She explained that after suffering a massive stroke, her brain functions shut down and she lost her language ability, motion and self-awareness. She slowly regained them after an eight-year period. Jill says: “Our right hemisphere is designed to remember things as they relate to one another. To the right mind no time exists other than the present moment and each moment is vibrant with sensation.” I started looking for similar stories where people, after losing the left part of the brain, were able to step out of their usual way of knowing and instead experienced something expansive and huge. And something similar had occurred to the author of “Proof of Heaven,” Dr. Eben Alexander, where a type of meningitis ate the top layer of his brain, which is where cognition takes place.
Both of them studied at Harvard for long periods of time, suffered from brain injuries and recovered, coming back with a complete new message and new ways of seeing the world. And it is not a coincidence that their experience captured the attention of authors, researchers, scientists and thousands of other people who are practicing ways to raise their level of self-awareness and detach from a thought and habit identification.
Happiness, joy and embracing opportunities as they come is the result from total acceptance of living in the present moment and it cannot be interrupted as things we desire come and go. When we let go of worries and find shelter in a space of our own consciousness, we begin noticing changes all around and shifting circumstances of adversity into an advantage.
It is really pivotal to know what you believe about yourself and what you believe is truly possible for you to achieve, because you are where you are right now based on your beliefs. And this is not only about the beliefs that are on the surface, but also about the unconscious beliefs that are holding you back from moving into the life you believe you are meant to live. And if you are not looking at what is subconsciously running like a tape in your mind, then you start acting out of that belief system. This refers to thinking, for example, that you are not good enough, not worthy enough, not smart enough, simply not enough.
You do not become what you want. Because so much of wanting is living in the space you don’t have. You become what you believe. You made your choices based on what you believed true.
You can cultivate ways to eradicate any limiting belief that is working against you as a self-sabotage and find practical ways to measure not only the way you feel about certain thoughts but also the level of belief that you have around that thought. By doing this exercise you clear space for your imagination and welcome acceptance, compassion and love to that thought and as a result, true power arises with vision and strength.
The Buddhist says: “The finger that points to the moon is not the moon”. Words can take you to a concept but not to an experience. By practicing, you learn more and your problems and ego will melt out of the way, allowing your true desires to come forth, uncovering the science of attention and focus in all its varieties. Personal development is for many people a lifetime practice where, while reaching their purpose in life, the road to heaven is heaven.
Rodrigo Allel was born in Chile. He studied communications at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. He has worked as an artistic director and commercial producer in Canada and Spain. Currently, he is studying various aspects of personal development and ways to achieve a more entrepreneurial society. He works at Deutsche Welle, a public broadcasting network in Berlin.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / Twitter: @rodriallel
Manuel Cabrera was born in Mexico City in 1986. He studied graphic design at the Universidad Iberoamericana. He currently works as a graphic designer and illustrator while he pursues a degree in architecture.
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