The Self Improvement Trap
Updated: Feb 8
I love personal growth stuff, as you can tell..
Growing feels amazing and fulfilling.
But, let's not get too hasty here.. It can also be a big trap leading to self loathing and way more stress than you need. Dun dun dun!
Here's the thing. Anything can be used badly.
Let's take food as an example. Food nourishes your body and keeps you alive! It can be a huge source of enjoyment and bonding (isn't sharing a good meal with your loved ones the best!). But it can also be a source of stress, hyper control, overindulgence, and self loathing. If you're unhappy with your body/life, food can quickly transform from a good ol' friend to a foe.
Here's the lesson: Life is about relationships. It's not just about what food you eat. It's about what your relationship with your food is like.
The question we should be asking is "Is this a healthy relationship?"
Does this relationship make me feel more whole and independent? Or does it make me feel worse about myself and more dependent on the relationship to meet tons of needs that it's never going to.
Same thing goes with personal growth. Are you pursuing growth in a way that really lifts you up? Or are you feeling rushed to be a more-grateful-10-pounds-less-heavy-30-min-a-day-meditating-picture-of-perfection kind of person? Sometimes pursuing growth can be self loathing in disguise.
I like when my relationship with growth makes me feel I'm whole just the way I am. From this place of self acceptance and love, it just so happens positive change is a lot easier anyway. (I'll have some articles on self acceptance soon!)
Growth is not about trying to climb the mountain of perfection and then finally reaching the summit. There is no finish line or end. So don't rush it! It's a process, a journey. Something to be savored and taken slowly.
I want my journey to be fun. And for me that means approaching growth with curiosity. I think to myself "How would I feel if I practiced gratitude every day for the next month?" and then I try that. I'm curious to see if I'll feel happier or healthier. That's my motivation. I try hard not to pursue growth out of a feeling of lack (example: I need to fix my ungrateful self. I'm so negative, etc). This is never going to get me anywhere. Love inspires growth. Sitting in guilt and shame just cause pain.
The truth is there is nothing you need to change to be whole. You are whole right now (it may just take some time and self compassion to see that more clearly). Practice inviting growth because it's fun, it's fulfilling, and it's challenging, and it's a way to support and care for yourself. Don't pursue growth from a place of needing to fix yourself. You are not broken.
So to you my lovely reader, I say, take it slow and savor the journey.
Take a break. You don't always have to be trying to improve yourself. You are whole now.
Once you're inspired, curious, or wanting to care for yourself, try shifting one thing at a time, enjoy the process, and have fun!
This is your life after all