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Self-Development as Balm

Self-Development as BalmTake the toughest challenges you have to tackle at work, at home or with extended family and friends:

– Bosses who seem clueless to your job requirements; colleagues who can’t relate to you (or vice versa); the stress of deadlines and dissatisfaction of being in a job you are not even sure you belong in.

– Family members who throw plans into disarray, disregard you and have you questioning your commitment (as well as your sanity). Perhaps adult siblings who ask for money or come to you for advice, only for you to soon find yourself involved in maddening family triangles, or aunts and uncles who pull you into long-entrenched but silly feuds.

– Then of course there are friends who you would like to shake to knock some sense or self-reflection into.

Get the picture?

How do you cope with the trials and tribulations of being human and having to live and work among others? Laugh it off? (That’s a good element, actually.)

Acceptance, compromise, courage when really required — these are all noble and important and at the far other end of the spectrum from laughter.

But the balm that beats all, for the problems that really plague us interpersonally and professionally, is self-development. Nothing sends challenges packing quicker than a little introspection and self involvement. (No, not narcissistic self involvement.)

All the above-mentioned challenges and more can temporarily vanish, periodically dissipate and just plain lose their grip on what you see as as your life and identity with some sense of self worth. Simply finding ourselves behind the mess that often is the outer world — our chaotic office space, our cluttered family room, our ugly political arenas — can make all that other stuff take the side or back seat that it really should be occupying.

If your life really is a big mess due to situations beyond your control, then you can create an internal space that can stimulate you, be your harbor and even guide your larger path professionally.

What calms you? Woodworking, walks in the woods, gardening, hanging with your dog or cat, playing music, painting, delving into family history, learning another language, exploring new sites? Figure out what is your balm. You’ll probably find your self in the process, and be on the way toward alleviating the messes of life and much more.

What fascinates and passionately motivates you? Maybe it’s one of those items mentioned above as calming agents. Or maybe it’s tinkering with mechanical systems, live theater, jogging, studying the stars, writing poetry, working with youth, coming up with new theories for work challenges, organizing spaces, coordinating people and projects.

What makes you tick is what takes you away from troubles. Go toward it. You will be going toward a larger sense of your life and self.

You may already know what grounds you and what energizes you but apply them far too infrequently in your life. Increase it, if even in small increments.

Surprise may come. Did we forget about all that described dysfunction and trouble? No, it is still there, likely. But you have assigned its place in the larger sense of who you are. By going toward calm and captivating experiences, you’ll be shocked to discover previous personal pain alleviated in the moment, stings of rejection at work or indecision on home matters lessened, the itch quieted of desiring something more but not knowing what in your career. By this new “escape” from the mess, you just may find solutions to those larger matters at play in your life, as well — all by reflecting and acting on your self.

Self-Development as Balm

Lisa A. Miles

Lisa A. MilesLisa A. Miles has been uniquely blending her expertise in self-development, mental health and the creative arts for over 25 years. Based in Pittsburgh, Penn., she is a coach/ consultant who advises individually and for business, author of two books (one about an institutionalized artist), professional speaker, and composer/ performer on violin and mandolin (including collaborative work with Jungian therapists). Also available as a coach working virtually, Lisa is included in the international Life Quality Improvement directory. Please check out her webpage at

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APA Reference
Miles, L. (2018). Self-Development as Balm. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 5 May 2013)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.