There is nothing wrong with self improvement, I wouldn’t be coming from an authentic place if I said that I don’t focus on it a lot of the time. In fact, much of my day is taken up by it, by conscious choice of course. But what I mean by focusing on self-improvement is I’m currently spending a lot of my time letting go of the stuff that no longer serves me and makes me feel disempowered and inauthentic. Because I honestly think only when you’re living from your place of authenticity can you become truly empowered.
However there does come a point where too much focus on self-improvement eventually becomes self-torture and it’s for a very simple reason. By focusing so much on improving ourselves, we are constantly sending a signal to our subconscious mind that we are not enough as we are. That we are inadequate in some way.
And while all of us (yes all of us) have weaknesses in some way or another, it’s clearly not a good signal to constantly send to your subconscious mind.
And this ties in nicely with the next point – Too much self improvement leads to avoidance of actually solving our problems in the first place. We can actually delude ourselves into thinking we have solved our problems when in reality we haven’t. Self help books to a really good job of this.
In my opinion, a lot of self-help is about letting go of the baggage that is holding us back, that also includes letting go the need to constantly improve. It’s important that you come from a place of acceptance of you’re current life situation and of who you are as a person.
Accept that you have weaknesses and are not perfect because the sooner you accept that, you can start to focus on real change rather than just deluding yourself with constant self improvement which just aims at covering up your pain.
I used to do this all the time when I first got into self-help and I felt like I was suffocating myself because I was putting all of these high expectations on myself and that’s really not how you benefit from self improvement.
True self-helps works (in my opinion) by focusing on what truly matters to us, accepting we have weaknesses and not trying to cover them up or escaping them. Accepting that some (most) things are not in our control… and being okay with that. The ability to surrender to our authenticity, that includes not being embarrassed and fearful of what other’s think of us as a result of letting ourselves be authentic.
I think that’s where you’ll be your most happiest, when you allow yourself to be true to who you are.
Taking the pressure off
Let me tell you something you already know. Focusing on self-improvement all of the time puts unnecessary pressure on our shoulders, and while there is an abundance of life-changing, empowering information out there in books (which I love), it can really mess with your head and turn you into a tense, neurotic mess who cannot for one minute just let go and relax and be acceptable for who they are in that moment.
This is a passage from a book I really love called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson:
“After all, the constant pressure to be something amazing, to be next best thing, will be lifted off your back. The stress and anxiety of always feeling inadequate and constantly needing to prove yourself will dissipate. And the knowledge and acceptance of your own mundane existence will actually free you to accomplish what you truly wish to accomplish, without judgement or lofty expectations.
You will have a growing appreciation for life’s basic experiences: the pleasures of simple friendship, creating something, helping a person in need, reading a good book, laughing with someone you care about.
Sounds boring, doesn’t it? That’s because these things are ordinary. But maybe they’re ordinary for a reason: because they are what actually matters.” – Page 62, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.
The point is, you will be in a much grounded and empowered place to achieve whatever it is you’re aiming to achieve without that constant pressure on yourself. Without trying to be something you’re not. But you might think well how can I ever achieve what I set out to achieve if I don’t try to be that person I envision myself to be? On my journey I’ve found that by still having the same vision but not obsessing and beating yourself up over it is the most important part of the journey.
You don’t drop your aim/goal, you just come from a different place inside. A place that isn’t all knotted up and tense about not “making it”… whatever that thing is. Doing this is really liberating because you don’t feel suffocated anymore. You can still have that aim and work towards it, even extremely long hours each day, but you don’t have to come from that place of NEED or TENSION.
This of course doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t focus on self-improvement, quite the contrary. It’s just more effective when you feel it’s right to rather than just for the sake of it. Because if you focus on it for the sake of it then it will just feel meaningless.
What I’ve also come to learn is that a lot of self help teachers tell you that you MUST focus on this stuff otherwise your life will get washed down the drain. You then get tense because you’re forcing yourself to focus on it even if you don’t feel it’s right to. You also feel imprisoned by what they’re saying because you come to depend on it.
This is a trap and is something I would highly recommend keeping out of from my own experience.
Just read the self-help books, listen podcasts etc when you feel it’s right to because there is so much amazing advice out there from people are lived before us and who are alive at present. But whatever you do, study because you want to, not because you think it would be cool or you have to.
Okay, that’s enough for this article. I feel like I’ve waffled on again and that’s because if it’s something I’m passionate about, I get carried away.
As always, take what you find helpful and ignore what doesn’t…
Until next time
Peace, love and empowerment!