Does “Self Improvement” Make Any Sense? Evolution. Acceptance. And the Most Important Thing…
Many years into the process, I realized, the most important part of “personal evolution” is “unconditional self acceptance.”
HOW DO WE START
It seems that in the first part of life, we are presented with a buffet of limiting beliefs, insecurities, and traumas to choose from. Thanks to something, or someone, you bought into an idea you are not good enough or lovable. We all did.
And then the time came when you really wanted to make things work. Maybe you were 16 or in the middle of a midlife crisis… you messed up already couple times and you started to search for prescription how to live. We all did. I still recall me and my friend in high school: we just wanted to be “perfect stoics” as a remedy for any upcoming drama, haha! He used a lot of hair gel. I started sun salutations.
DESIRE TO FLY
We want Happy. Easy. Light. True. Finding our identity, overcoming pain is a do-it-yourself project. We get lost, we get rescued, we raise, we fall…
HOW DO WE MAKE IT WORK
a. WE TRY. We are on a mission to change others. Marianne Williamson says: our ego is very good in checking the spiritual progress … of other people. If you are very convincing, and find the right partner, you may even get away with this for few years… later you will of course get divorced and your partner will seek therapy.
b. WE DO THE INNER WORK. We discover there is no other way but to roll up the pants and enter the messy process of transforming OUR OWN attitudes, insecurities, reactiveness, and habits that ruin relationships or keep us unhappy.
AND HERE IT COMES:
Your first personal development course, “manifestation” workshop, counselor, the right self help book you use for self diagnosis, spiritual retreat, yoga studio, meditation class…
We start the exhilarating process of “personal development.” Ambitiously.
DON’T CHANGE. EVOLVE.
Is there value in being into “personal development” if there is no evolution happening? We all met people who talked a lot about love or spirituality but they were the very people who could benefit from change. But not all of them (us) are created equal. Many of us truly do the work and it’s really deep work. The saying goes: you teach what you need to learn. It’s a process.
WHY CHANGE? WHY EVOLVE?
We don’t discover ourselves, we don’t get more peaceful, courageous, considerate, compassionate only for others – we do it for ourselves. The rewards are in how we feel inside about ourselves and our life. The rewards are in a new way of seeing life. Our own peace and self respect and anything that stem from them – become easier and easier to experience.
Before we can give something to others we need to have it ourselves. “You can’t give what you don’t have” a Course in Miracles says.
CAN WE CHANGE?
Many people strongly believe we don’t change. I, on the contrary, believe we can and we do. But we can change only:
- If we discover that our beliefs are not getting us what we want. First we rationalize and justify why we don’t have it, but if we no longer can believe our own words – we change, kicking and screaming.
- If we are honest with ourselves about who we are and we don’t really like it.
- If we are willing to see ourselves in a new light
- If the benefits of our old beliefs are in conflict with our new values.
- If our life was shaken, fell apart, and we had to put together the pieces in a new order.
PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT GONE WRONG
You started with good intentions and then:
- You spent $3,000 for self improvement and you improved someone else’s bank account.
- Your bookshelves look impressive.
- You sound more more educated about your personal mess (I’m laughing but I did it too)
- You joined a meet-up group for people who have similar problem: you now have more messed up acquaintances who vent to you about their life, but never ask what’s your dog’s name.
- You fall into the numerous traps spiritual people fall into and sometimes stay there.
- You use self improvement as another tool of self criticism
THE MOST IMPORTANT PART
Yes, the process of self evolution will be painful for our ego. It will bring us to tears. It’s not always fun: some things need to fall apart before new things come together.
At the same time: it is easy to lose yourself in it especially if you desperately want to achieve something. You can overdo it.
You can get too ambitious in “creating the better version of yourself” – term I rather dislike. I associate it with performance and achievement. Doing instead of being. I read it as: ”you are not enough now.”
Tell me if you think it works differently for you but…
I think the most important in the whole process is…
- to realize that we can depend on ourselves. That we can trust ourselves.
- to stop waiting for permission to be free or to dye your hair electric blue.
- to stop asking others about their “honest opinion” what we should do. Just do it.
- that you peel off the layers that are in conflict with your authentic self.
- to be ok with who you truly are.
- to practice self acceptance (this can be a lifelong process…) no matter what we want: lose weight, find love, earn more money – it is all about self acceptance.
Doing that we discover: there is not much to improve. It’s like chopping off the pieces of stone to get to the perfect sculpture hiding inside.
- to have self compassion. Because we can’t give what we don’t have.
- It is important: to make it all LIGHT. And fun. Whenever possible.
How is your process of personal evolution going? What did it change for you? Were you burned? And if you never tried – why?