Personal development, achievement, and freedom
Following up on freedom from yesterday’s post, I wanted to share a perspective so useful, I almost can’t believe it wasn’t originally written for the context of personal development.
Michelangelo, when asked about how he created David, said
I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.
As I mentioned yesterday, the greatest improvements we can make are to free ourselves from constraints that inhibit us from being ourselves. We know when we see other people constrained and unaware of it that we know they are living below their potentials.
I find our greatest developments are to remove these constraints to reveal what’s underneath, so we can be ourselves.
The constraints tend to be rules and beliefs others imposed on us — school, government, church, family, etc — that we didn’t realize was there. We act on them not knowing we don’t have to.
Sometimes the constraint is obvious — you wanted to pursue some dream and your parents corralled you into studying accounting, for example. But such obvious cases usually don’t constrain you because you know to challenge them. But some you don’t, like somehow you believed you didn’t deserve to be loved or you thought you had to suffer to be happy or something like that.
Those bits of remaining marble that aren’t you that haven’t been chipped away imprison the angel within you. Finding them requires knowing yourself better and better to discern the difference between yourself and something someone slipped in that isn’t you.
I find Michelangelo’s model helpful. When most of us begin improving ourselves we can safely and effectively chip away at the big chucks imprisoning us. We need more and more skill to identify the bits still imprisoning us. Some people don’t bother getting to that stage.
We also need more and more subtlety to chip away those bits without hurting ourselves. But those last bits reveal more and more of the angel within and let us move and live more effortlessly, freely, and beautifully, like a master like Michelangelo could achieve with his sculptures.
Also, being more free and exposed lets you connect more intimately with others, with less other stuff from life getting between you — in your personal , family, professional, or whatever parts of life.
Though you risk getting hurt more deeply too.
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