Many of us are interested in self-improvement, self-help, personal development or whatever you want to call it. But how many of you fallen into the self-improvement TRAP?!
This trap is the fine line between self-improvement and self-degradation. The fine line between ‘I want to be better’ and ‘I am not good enough’. Although these statements sound like they are pointing at the same thing, there is a subtle but important difference.
Some examples of the self-improvement trap
- I should fix my negative thoughts because they are messing up my life
- I must stay in the present moment otherwise I’ll never be truly happy
- I have to love myself more because I’m so unconfident
- I need to banish my insecurities because they hold me back
What energy do you feel from those statements? They are the kind of statements that I have said to myself. They are laced with a negative undertone, an uphill battle, a dis-ease and a dislike for myself as I currently am.
Many people come at self-improvement from this angle. It can be a catch 22 because we need to see what’s ‘wrong’ before we can see what’s ‘right’. And feeling the negative energy of what’s wrong is a totally normal part of our emotional guidance – so we’re not going to banish that, we don’t want to banish it.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is that we become trapped when we carry a prolonged and greater affinity with what’s wrong, than with what we want to achieve in terms of improvement. Unknowingly we put more energy into fighting the old, rather than building the new.
That sense of ‘I must fix myself because I’m not good enough’ becomes the predominant undertone of our life. It carries a weight of powerlessness, shame, weakness and struggle, which makes self-improvement much harder.
To start with, let yourself off the hook!
It’s totally OK to have psychological challenges, to be hounded by negative thoughts and to feel insecure. IT’S ALL OK!
It’s not your fault, it’s normal and it’s how the human race has evolved. I’d love to interview the 7 billion people on this planet and see if there’s more than a handful who have NEVER felt these sorts of things. I really do think it’s inherent in the human condition and if you can’t see it in others it’s only because they hide it well.
Be still with that for a moment… that acceptance, that confirmation that you are not alone, that there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with you and it is all ok. Feel this deep inside and let it dissolve your tension of ‘not being good enough’ and ‘needing to change’.
You’re doing great as you are.
Does that mean we should stop improving ourselves?
It’s up to you, but in a word, no! I’m a huge advocate of self-improvement.
Letting yourself off the hook is about letting go of the energy that doesn’t serve you, not the desire to grow. If we are going to improve ourselves we must do so from a place of power and love.
Try these statements on for size:
- I want to decrease my negative thoughts because they no longer serve me
- I love to improve my ability to stay present because it’s a beautiful state to be in
- I’m learning to love myself more because it makes me feel good
- I can lessen my insecurities because I know I’m worthy of feeling secure
What energy do you get from those statements? For me they are inspiring, powerful, faithful, loving and nurturing. From this space, self-improvement is a wonderful, expansive and much more successful journey. Consciously reframing statements in this way helps us to get out of the self-improvement trap.
So next time you’re thinking of things that need ‘improving’ check in with yourself – your energy, emotions, language. Have you crossed the fine line between ‘I want to be better’ and ‘I’m not good enough’?
If so, let yourself of the hook, reframe the situation, and enjoy the journey of growth.
About the author:Pinky Jangra creates blogs, videos and cartoons about all things spiritual, psychological and emotional, teaching what people didn’t get taught in school – inner wellness. Her experience, knowledge and inspiration come from everyday life, 10 years of personal growth and her work and study in behavioural and biological science. To see more of Pinky’s work, visit pinkyandherbrain.com