HJ: Here on the Healers Journal we cover a lot of topics which would fall into the self-improvement category and so we are posting this article to help our readers understand self-improvement in context. Self-improvement, or as we prefer to call it, personal development, is the natural impetus of the soul. We are here to learn who we really are — to know ourselves and evolve our consciousness. Therefore there are innate biological, mental and spiritual drives always pushing us towards growth. It is a natural part of life and the evolution of the soul over time.
However, what most of us struggle with even more the self-improvement or personal development, is self-acceptance and if we are denying ourselves in any way, over-focusing on self improvement can actually be a symptom of this problem. This happens because we do not believe we are whole or good enough as we are right now. We believe there is something that is missing or not up to our standards of what we should be, or worse yet, what we see in others that we don’t feel we posses in ourselves. Therefore the pursuit of self-improvement becomes an extension of these feelings of inadequacy — we tell ourselves if we just work on ourselves a little more, we will eventually reach that ideal version and then we can accept ourselves. However, this is a fallacy and a viscous cycle. It is the carrot on a stick paradox — it is always out of reach. As you achieve at higher and higher levels, you will find new things wrong with yourself because the underlying issue of denial of self (lack of self-acceptance) still exists and has not been dealt with.
You are perfect now, just as you are, wherever you are. And you could also use a little improvement. But that desire to improve your life and grow consciousness and achievement does not mean you are not perfect now, it just means you are seeking to understand yourself at a higher level, which again, is the natural impetus of the soul. So relax and stop seeing yourself as anything less than whole. Accept yourself just as you are. When you shift to this perspective and begin to follow your passion in life, you will naturally evolve and improve the self in a healthy, whole manner.
And so, when you see an article here on the Journal that is talking about self-improvement in some way, just know that we assume you are coming from a place of self-acceptance. Any one article is not the definitive word on a subject or matter. It is a little guidance on the path to self-realization and full self-acceptance. Take what you need and leave what you don’t.
Fixated on Self-Improvement? Self-Acceptance Is More Like It.
Why we resist who we are?
By Mike Robbins | Heal Your Life
I HAD THE HONOR of meeting author Robert Holden recently when we both spoke at the Hay House IGNITE event in San Jose, CA (which was an amazing experience, by the way). Robert is someone whom I’ve admired for quite some time. It was wonderful to get a chance to meet him in person and hear him speak live. In his talk, he said “There’s no amount of self-improvement that can make up for a lack of self-acceptance.”
This statement really struck me and as I started to think about it more, I realized that so much of my life and my work is focused on self-improvement. And while there’s nothing wrong with me or any of us wanting to improve ourselves – too often we go about it erroneously thinking that if we “achieve” the “improvement” we’re after, we’ll then feel good about ourselves. As Robert pointed out in his talk (and most of us have experienced this in our lives many times), it doesn’t work this way.
We live in a culture that is obsessed with self-improvement. We turn on the TV, look at magazines, take classes, read books, listen to others, surf the web and more – constantly getting various messages that if we just fixed, changed, and improved ourselves a bit, we’d be better off. How often do you find yourself thinking some version of, “If I just lost a little weight, made a little more money, improved my health, had more inspiring work, lived in a nicer place, improved my relationships (or something else), then I’d be happy.” Even though I “know better,” this type of thinking shows up inside my own head more often than I’d like.
The paradox of self-improvement is that by accepting ourselves as we are, we give ourselves the space, permission, and opportunity to create an authentic sense of success and fulfillment. When we insatiably focus on improving ourselves, thinking that it will ultimately lead us to a place of happiness, we’re almost always disappointed and we set up a stressful dynamic of constantly striving, but never quite getting there.
What if we gave ourselves permission to accept ourselves fully, right now? While this is a simple concept, it’s one of the many things in life that’s easier said than done. One of the biggest pieces of resistance we have regarding self-acceptance is that we erroneously think that by accepting ourselves, we may somehow be giving up. It’s as if we say to ourselves, “Okay, I’ll accept myself, once all of my problems and issues go away.”
Another reason we resist accepting ourselves is the notion that somehow acceptance is resignation. It’s not. Acceptance is acceptance – it’s about allowing things to be as they are, even if we don’t like them. As Byron Katie says (and I often quote), “When you argue with reality you lose, but only 100% of the time.”
The paradox of self-acceptance is that when we allow ourselves to accept who we are, where we are, what’s really happening, qualities about ourselves, aspects of who we are, and more – we actually set ourselves up and give ourselves the opportunity to make changes, improvements, and enhancements to ourselves and our lives in an authentic way. When we obsess about and/or demand these improvements or changes “in order to” be happy, feel good about ourselves, or think we’re successful, it almost never works.
If you take a moment right now to think about some of the most important improvements and changes you’re attempting to make in your life, ask yourself this question, “What would it look like, feel like, and be like for me to fully accept myself in these important areas of my life?”
Most of the time it’s our own self-criticism, perfection demands, and impatience that are actually getting in our way of making the changes, creating the success, and experiencing the fulfillment we truly want. What if we changed our approach and with as much love, compassion, and vulnerability as possible, just accepted ourselves exactly as we are, right now?
Mike Robbins is the author of two books, Focus on the Good Stuff and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken. As a highly sought-after speaker, Mike delivers keynotes and seminars around the world, to audiences and groups of all kinds: within organizations (like Google, Wells Fargo, Twitter, and Gap), at universities (like Stanford, NYU, USC, and UC Berkeley), for government groups (like the US Department of Labor, the State of Florida, and the City of San Francisco), and for pro sports teams (like the Atlanta Braves, the Vancouver Canucks, and the San Francisco Giants).