There are moments in life when the roller coaster takes a sharp dive, or maybe comes completely off the rails. In those moments we don't feel as certain as we'd like to be, so we freeze up. We hold ourselves back, unsure of our footing or direction. We tell ourselves that we need to be fixed and then our lives will begin.
The only productive result from this thought is that it keeps thousands of self-help books on the shelves. If you're spending a lot of time making notes in the margins of self-help books and searching for the most recent one-size-fits-all solution to your problems, you'll likely end up more exhausted than inspired. Becoming obsessed with self-improvement but never feeling that you've improved enough is a cycle without end.
Here are five reasons you can stop worrying so much about trying to fix yourself.
1. There's nothing wrong with you.
That's the first and most obvious reason you don't have to obsess over self-improvement.
2. Messiness is fertile ground.
Our drive to fix ourselves becomes particularly strong when life feels chaotic and messy. When bills, family, thoughts, goals etc. are not orderly and neat the result can be stress. We mistakenly believe that if we feel stress, there's something wrong with us that needs to be fixed. Both the premise and the prescription are wrong. You're not broken if you feel stress; you're living a life you care about.
3. There is no universal right or wrong.
There's always something to improve, but there isn't anything inherently wrong with being human. It's part of the human experience, and completely OK, to occasionally feel wrung out, to let the laundry pile up and to not know your life's purpose. Feeling like you aren't ready, aren't good enough, or don't know enough only serves to hold you back. If you wait until you believe you have everything you need to avoid failure, you'll be sitting in neutral so long you'll likely miss the opportunity to even try.
4. "Nobody's perfect" is a lie.
This concept is about as constructive as the idea of original sin. It leads you to believe you will never get it right. When you feel there's something wrong with you, or that you're broken, you're starting from a perspective of unworthiness. This is the lie that keeps you from getting what you want because it's based on the misconception that you don't deserve it. You are, in fact, perfect.
5. Self-help books aren't a type of drug.
When you see someone self-medicating with gin, you know that what they're looking for won't be found before they get to the bottom of the glass. Moving from one self-help book to the next like a chain smoker won't get you there either. If you're healthy, you don't take medicine. If you're not broken, you don't need to take anything, read anything or do anything for the express purpose of fixing yourself. Life-enhancing disciplines like meditation, yoga, martial arts, self-improvement books, etc. can feed your soul, heal wounds and reconnect you to your innate power. The irony is that these benefits will elude you if you're trying to fix your broken self. Self-improvement for the sake of fixing yourself can become an addiction with no final destination.
Trying to fix yourself is a total waste of time. Your ROI will be much higher if that energy is invested into creating the life you want through trial and error, risk and failure, clarifying what works for you and what doesn't. When we fully take on the roller coaster's ups, as well as the downs, it can get messy and it will not be perfect. However, when we avoid getting sidelined focusing on what we "should" be like, we liberate a sense of enthusiasm for being ourselves.
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