-The Myth of Self Improvement-
Pop psychology, You Can Do It! books, glossy magazines all about Self, along with an endless progression of television commercials pound out the message that we can have it all. You can be happy, successful, attractive and vibrant. You can have passion in your work, all the while tapping into an effortless, endless, wellspring of energy. It sounds sooo good! Yet if you can’t do it, after trying really hard, you end up feeling like a self-help failure. All of this can leave you wondering, “What’s wrong with me?”
Sometimes the quest for self-improvement, rather than making us feel better, leaves us feeling worse. At first exhilarating, as we continue to search for self-improvement, it can increase our stress and feeds the belief we’ve been trying so desperately to get rid of. That awful belief – I Can’t.
Part of the self-improvement mantra is manifestation. If I really believe, if I sharpen my intent I will manifest whatever I desire. When it doesn’t happen in the way you expect, what gets sharpened is a personal agreement of – Somehow I don’t get it. This will never happen. I must be…. defective. Or maybe we rationalize that all the “You Can Do It!” stuff out there is just a quick way for some folks to make barrels full of money, and that for most people it just doesn’t work.
If the Self-Help path we attempt doesn’t work out as expected, we can be devastated. Devastated because adopting the strategies found in personal growth manuals is a great strategy to avoid past pain. Thinking that you have finally found something, after all this time, that will fix that real, yet unnamed fear is intoxicating. Yet if you adopt the idea – I Can! without ever changing the real beliefs you have about yourself, then the road to disappointment is well marked.
Buying into the myth of self-improvement is a protective story we tell ourselves that is a thin veneer easily torn at distress, disappointment or perceived failure. The myth of self-improvement is self-rejection because it’s seed is the belief: I’m Not. (I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not fast enough, I’m not thin enough, I’m not…..….you fill in the blanks.)
To create lasting, enduring change, change that self-punishing I’m Not belief. Rather than be obsessed with improvement, try cleaning up the stories you have about how you should be. Sure, you want to make some changes but what if you view the changes you’d like to make as a gift to yourself rather than a condition that must be met before you can accept yourself?
What I have learned from working with hundreds of people who want to change their limiting beliefs is that the most effective motivation to change that I’m Not belief is: I love myself in this moment, rather than I’ll love myself when I change.
The ideas, practices and advice that are found in personal growth writings are often wonderful and inspiring wisdom. Use them as a gift to yourself, not because you need to be better, but because you pledge to treat yourself with compassion rather than criticism, kindness rather than self-loathing, and extreme care rather than self-abuse.
Ray Dodd, author – The Power of Belief