Why it’s hard to do what’s best for you

My personal development journey, that is, my conscious and focussed attempt to understand myself and my mind to achieve my potential, began more than twenty years ago. It is both what led me to the coaching work I do and the reason I continue to coach. Helping others continues to teach me things about myself. One of the things I was always asking myself was: “Why don’t I do what I know is best for me?” I used to think I was just a broken and flawed individual until I realised that this was simply part of the human experience. Most other people have the same problem and they ask me the same question. For some, it is only in specific areas and some have learned the skills to manage this impulse to avoid what is best for them. Many still struggle and blame themselves.

Our brains and bodies are not wired to necessarily succeed individually. Generally speaking, we have drives that are meant to prolong the species. Add to this the strategies and habits that we developed to deal with our childhood perceptions and traumas experienced in our formative years. When you combine the hormonally motivated physical drives with the dysfunctional behaviours we developed to cope with the complexities of our modern social systems it is no surprise that our actions do not always support our best interests in our current situation. 

Unfortunately, as children, we may perceive our imperfections and assume there is something wrong with us. This may come from feedback given by parents, teachers or peers, or simply from our inner narrative about the meaning of events we experience. The first step is not to blame yourself or to see yourself as broken. To overcome the dysfunctions of the mind therapy may be needed but coaching can also help along with some kind of a mindfulness practice like meditation. Overcoming physical drives is a matter of increased awareness and developing new habits of behaviour. For example, when I first started intermittent fasting, also called time-restricted eating, my body experienced hunger in the morning. Over time my habit of eating my first meal around noon changed my bodies desire for food in the morning. 

When I work with people to change the culture in organisations or to improve internal processes I don’t blame individuals or situations. I look at perceptions, beliefs and behaviours to understand ideas and processes that are driving peoples actions. This is how to get organisations to work in their best interest. You can do that same for yourself. When you recognise that you are a complex system you can then adapt and change your programming and your processes in order to begin doing what is best for you.