The Problem with Self-Improvement

 
 

by Sara Notenboom

Truth be told, I am not a fan of the idea of self-improvement. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that striving for personal growth is a bad thing. It is most definitely not. In fact, striving for growth is what fills our lives with hope founded in possibility. To know that there is always more to come, untouched avenues of us to explore, and endless opportunities to expand, is the fuel of life. It propels us forward, and inspires a sense of personal contentment grounded in the prospect of the sweet unknown.

The problem then, does not lie in the notion itself, but in the language we use around the concept personal development. Here’s why: to “improve oneself” implies that there is something that needs to be fixed. It implies a movement away from wholeness and into fragmentation. It implies lack, and can perpetuate thoughts like “I am not good enough until I ______________.” As a result, we can become easily transfixed by how far we still have to go. Feelings of disempowerment manifest, because the space between who we are, and who we want to be appears as far too vast and thus, impossible to cross.

Welcome self-judgment and criticism. Welcome hopelessness. Welcome perceived limitations. In other words, welcome all the things that keep us stagnant, and prevent us from going where we desire to be. You see, the problem with framing our personal growth as an act of “improvement” is that it places us behind the eight ball, because we start our journeys from a place of disadvantage.

Clearly then, the process of personal evolution requires a compassionate reframe- a movement from a mindset of lack and fragmentation to one of abundance and wholeness.

So, the question becomes: how can we engage in the process of personal growth more effectively?

Simple: By recognizing how far we’ve already come. By noting our successes and strengths. By celebrating our individual uniqueness. Ultimately, by recognizing that as human beings we are already whole, and perfectly imperfect, and that this perfect imperfection is enough.

Plain and simple: There is nothing about any one of us that requires improvement.

When we really and truly resonate with this notion – that we all start our personal journey as whole, and perfectly imperfect beings – pursuits of personal growth resound more deeply. We are better able to wrestle with and contemplate the various lessons available to us, because when we are starting from a foundation of personal empowerment, we are better able to weave these lessons into the patterns of our lives so that they effectively align with who we desire to be.

More simply put, our personal authenticity flourishes when we recognize that our job is to not improve but to evolve.

Self-evolution is not a timed process. It occurs naturally when you’re ready to truly feel and absorb the lessons available to you. The pressure comes off.

Welcome self-compassion, kindness, and unconditional self-acceptance. Welcome graceful forward movement. Welcome contentment and fulfillment.

Welcome your best life.

 

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Sara Notenboom

Sara Notenboom

Sara holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and English Literature, and is currently completing her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. She has a particular interest in the area of grief and bereavement, and is an experienced bereavement support facilitator. Sara regards her work as her calling, and is passionate about empowering people to embrace their lives fearlessly. Follow Sara on Twitter @SNotenboom 

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