The 4 Cs of Personal Progress
by Andromeda Healstone
Another cycle of suns has traversed the sky, and 2018 is upon us. The cosmic lull provides an opportunity to assess the preceding year and create, or alter our trajectory in the future.
For me, 2017 was extremely stressful. The rigors of academia kept me supremely busy, and we suffered 3 family deaths in 3 months. These events left me deeply saddened, shook the core of my presumptive cosmology, and made me rethink my future.
So here I sit, pondering how to best break with practices and habit that no longer serve me. The first thing I had to admit was that I wanted to make some changes. Then I had to develop a cognitive framework on which to build a rationale and plan for change, such is the nature of my mind.
Over the course I my journey, there have been a number of breakthroughs. Hopefully these insights will prove useful in your emotional evolution.
Change is the only constant, and yet we still resist its’ pull. Creatures of habit, we plod along on tracks we may have laid in a distant past. Instead of moving thru life with divine intent or a specific purpose. Then, when we run face first into a problem, we’re stunned. How did I get here? How do I get back on track? What was my track again? So, there you have it. Failures and challenges provide the most tangible motivation to change. However, the mere desire to change is often insufficient to actually producing change. Below are the elements I’m incorporating and applying to my New Year’s resolutions.
Consciousness is defined by Merriam-Webster as 1) the quality or state of being aware of something external or especially within oneself 2) the state of being characterized by sensation, emotion, volition, and thought.
Consciousness is the first and most essential element for any type of personal development or constructive change. Without it we have no ability to identify and define the internal elements we wish to change. Before we can alter our behavior, we must acknowledge it.
One way to develop our consciousness is to “tune in” to ourselves. By that, I mean paying intentional attention to how you REALLY feel about specific activities, relationships, or circumstances. Are there areas where we are being less than honest with ourselves? Are there thoughts or emotions that we are ignoring? Without internal honesty, or authenticity, we cannot fully benefit from the deepened awareness of a conscious existence. In order to progress personally, we need to become more self-aware, so that we can parse the beneficial from the harmful, bringing us to the second C- criticism.
The word criticism has gotten a bad rap and that’s unfortunate. If consciousness is the path to change, then critical thought is the doorway that open to it. Once we become aware of what we seek to change, criticism allows us to differentiate that which serves us from that which can be relinquished. For example, if the change you want involves more exercise, but you have a mental block against working out, critical thought helps to identify which cognitive frameworks are in line with your goals and which ones are counterproductive. The truth is this part is a bit sticky, if you’ve never practiced self-critical awareness. You may find many things that need to be addressed, but the truth is that taking a frank assessment of yourself is ultimately beneficial.
One you have used consciousness to define your ideal self and criticism to identify the disparities between your ideal self and your actual self, then the third c-congruence comes into play. Congruence, in this case, is the degree to which your thoughts, words, and actions are aligned with your conscious goals. In order to really achieve our aspirations, we must often alter longstanding behaviors. It can take time to develop and practice new, better habits. As challenging as it is congruence requires that our behaviors are consistent with our ambitions. Critical thought makes this possible by helping us identify what needs to be changed. One cannot walk forwards and backwards simultaneously. It is by pointing our head, or heart, and our feet in the same direction that we move forward
Consistency is the C of personal progress, and it requires the most focus. Usually by the time we have decided we need to change something it’s because negative outcomes have become so painful they can no longer be ignored. Unfortunately, by this time there is little chance of a single isolated faulty characteristic. Usually there are layers of thoughts and habits built up over a lifetime that suddenly need to be addressed. We may have our bad habits on auto-pilot. Consistency is the regularity with which we can apply our new direction to our deeds. This often means completely reassessing our own identity and modifying our thoughts about ourselves and personal paradigm. The number one ingredient for consistency is patience. Forming bad habits may have taken a lifetime. It will take time, focus, and self-forgiveness to change ourselves for the better. Presence in the now can be optimally useful in maintaining consistency.
In closing, consciousness allows us to become aware of what needs to be changed and why, criticism allows us to identify what serves us and what does not. Congruence is the degree to which we can align our thoughts and actions with our conscious will. Consistency allows us to build and cement new, functional habits in place of rote living. In my experience personal progress is best achieved the same way our bad habit, with time, repetition, and social support. Invest in healing your mind and body and take the time and energy in becoming your best self. We’re here to help.