There Is No Self-Improvement if You’re Not Already Pretty Good

If you clicked on this article, odds are you’re interested in self-improvement — personal growth — whatever you like to call it. You want to get better at whatever it is you do, or you want to start doing something new in order to make yourself better.

You’ll find numerous articles around the web that will give you numerous tips, tricks, and hacks with the promise of self-improvement. Many of the tips are really great. Putting them in place and following them strictly can really have a great impact on your productivity, mindfulness, or whatever it is that they promise to improve.

But there’s a catch. There’s always a catch.

The more focused you are on improving yourself, and the more you consume this self-improvement literature, the higher the risk that you will fail to realize the benefits of all that time and energy.

The reason is simple: the more time you focus on what you need to improve, the more time you’re spending looking at what you’re not satisfied with. But here’s the paradox: if you only focus on what you’re not satisfied with about yourself, you give yourself very little reason to put in the effort to get better.

Why is this? Well, think about it in terms of a house. If you were to inherit the home that you grew up in, and it was in pretty bad condition, and you had the choice to restore it or sell it and avoid all the work required to get it back in shape — what would you do?

Your answer depends on how you feel about your childhood home. Did you have a good childhood? Are the warm memories attached to that house? Is it a house that you really love? Or do you just see all of the things wrong with the house, and want to wash your hands of it?

That house is an analogy for you. If you don’t feel good about yourself already, it’s difficult to muster up the energy necessary to put work into improving. Anyone who has ever skated on the outskirts of depression can attest to this.

So here’s my simple suggestion: spend some time celebrating yourself. Not necessarily a huge celebration, but just a quick pat on the back for what you’ve done so far, who you are, and the good heart you have. Just a quick thought or two while you’re driving to work, or cleaning up. Think of what you’ve overcome, think of your strength. Remind yourself that you’re a good person, that you mean well, and that you’re doing the best you can.

After that — after you’ve acknowledged that you’ve done well so far, and that you are already good, then you can get ready to throw all the work into personal growth. You can read the books, look at the courses, and start the new morning routine you read about. You can begin unleashing the giant within, and all that.

But without that first part — without a little self-love — you can’t really hope to make yourself better. So take it step by step. Give yourself a hug.

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