The Downside to Self Improvement

downside to self improvement

Photo by Julie De Waro

The mind that constantly seeks self improvement creates disconnection with living in the present moment … which is the only place where we experience life fully.
If we go through life trying to make ourselves better, wanting to improve, then we can miss out on living fully.

It’s a bit like searching for your camera to capture the moment, but missing the moment itself because you were looking for the camera.

When we focus on what we want to achieve in the future, we so often miss out on the present. And even when we reach the goal, the ego-mind will judge what we have achieved now and compare it to what we had before… or what might be better next.
We become preoccupied with thoughts about the past and future and forget to live in the here and now.

I’m not saying it isn’t worth setting goals or working towards a vision of the future. The key is to remain aware of each moment as we move forward with our lives.

Taking time for pausing and self inquiry is a powerful practice. I call it finding your middle ground.

So set aside the books, videos, blogs and TED Talks for now, and slow down. Get to know your inner world, and learn to love your self.

Your relationship with yourself lasts a lifetime. Take the time to understand and appreciate your quirky, imperfect and wonderful self, and enjoy the journey together.


85 thoughts on “The Downside to Self Improvement

  1. It’s a conundrum especially for us Type A folks. I injured my back this week which has required me to slow down considerably. I’m working on not complaining and taking the time to enjoy the stuff I don’t normally see. It’s a constant struggle for me but I’ve enjoyed the blooming dogwoods more than ever. Each petal is so perfect but together they make quite a show. Little stuff but so powerful.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I think your first few sentences really nail it along with the comment about searching for one’s camera and missing the shot. There is so much “I’ll be happy when…” People miss a lot with that thinking.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Excellent post, Val; I think this neurotic obsession with becoming is why generosity (i.e. helping others) is a necessary and vital part of the spiritual or self-help path. No matter how much we may improve and hone our supposed ‘self’ and self-image, we benefit no one a jot without kindness and generosity. H ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree Hariod. Thank you πŸ’›
      There must be a balance between self absorption, and kindness to others. Being honest and compassionate to oneself however, can be much more difficult. I know many “spiritual” people who are generous to others, but still beat themselves up for not being everything they want to be. ❀️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Instead of feeling like a Pushmi Pullyu headed in two directions at once, or a perpetually late rabbit unsure of which direction to head, we can heed our inner wisdom and allow the path to unfold before us as we allow ourselves to JUST BE:

    Practice doing nothing * Slow down * Be Here Now * Enjoy quiet contemplation* Watch your breath * Pause and Reflect * Meditate * Relax * Contemplate the bottomless ocean or the infinite night sky * Allow inner peace to surface * Don’t Worry. Be Happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love this perspective. I just did a post on self improvement being a creative process, which is intimately related to getting to know yourself, what works for you, and what doesn’t. It’s not so much about getting better, it’s about becoming the full expression of that which one is. Thank you for sharing this, Val! πŸ™‚

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    • You have said this so well, Kayla. Growing is about fuly expressing oursleves and being true to oursleves, yet many think they have to be someone else, and lose touch with themseves in the process. The word”improvement” suggests there is something lacking or wrong….

      Liked by 1 person

      • So true! I actually misspoke and my post was on self-development instead of improvement (I got mixed up when I was looking at your title! Lol) – which speaks more on growing *into* ourselves rather than changing or fixing. πŸ™‚ we are perfect as we are, though it is totally important to embrace the full extent of who we came here to be! Always love when I have the chance to sit down and really deepen into your thoughts! Brings me to a whole new space πŸ’œ

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  6. Lovely post, dear Val. We are who we’ve been waiting for. When we realize that no one will save us; that we have the power to care for and “save” ourselves, we find peace. Self help books, videos, etc. can be helpful signs on our respective paths. We must also know when to heed your suggestion to put them away and be still and reflect on who we are…in this moment. πŸ’•

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “It’s a bit like searching for your camera to capture the moment, but missing the moment itself because you were looking for the camera.” This is the perfect analogy, Val. I feel many people who are obsessed with their iPhone are missing the moment. Great post!

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  8. Interestingly enough, I haven’t really planned or looked towards the future since I first was laid low with intermittent severe pain in 1980 and then, with permanent chronic pain & fatigue around 1996. Then there were multiple surgeries including my 1st back surgery in 2008 (and the second in 2015).

    All I concentrated on was, (usually), getting through my work day (despite my chronic health symptoms).

    I guess that was the start of Living Mindfully. And now, 2017, seven years after being forced to take early retirement from full-time work, living Mindfully is a lifestyle I awaken to every day. I have gradually, over many years practice, learned to live simply and slowly. I move slowly, think slowly, and never attempt to multi-task.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes, good points, Val. Funny you mention cameras. I have been known to take some extraordinary photos. But sometimes I tire of it and just want to sit with the experience, with the sunset, sunrise, what is happening. We took a sunset sail a few months back, and some spinner dolphins were riding the wake of the boat. At first I tried to photograph them, then quickly put the camera aside. “Screw this!” I thought. “This is way too cool to miss out on simply experiencing!” And hence does life dole out her cleverest of lessons πŸ˜‰ xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes, I’ve also seen it as a bit of a tangled contradiction when “self-improvement” books earnestly advise reciting mantras about accepting oneself as perfect in the here and now… honestly, I think it’s often more useful just to go for a quiet walk πŸ™‚

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  11. What is the ultimate achievement? Is it money? No… Is it career growth? No.. . I think the answer is happiness.. Because we are running after money, career, positions etc to make ourself happy. So maintain a happy mind and enjoy your life. 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wonderful post Val and understand totally after I bring my self to a quiet place to just be with me… nothing else matters and in my quietness I allow myself to shine that radiates out… much love, barbara x

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  13. I find this meaningful in a sense such as when we constantly look for the next solution we lose track of whats in front of us. And as a result, we feel out of harmony, unsatisfied and confuse. Great post! Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Interesting view on self-improvement. I myself just started a blog where I will start blogging about this very subject. I see how you ‘don’t live in the moment’ when you continuously are working on self-improvement, but I think this doesn’t have to be the case.
    I have spent too much time not growing as a person at all, sitting still in the moment. I feel a lot better now that I’m working on improving, challenging myself. I can ‘live in the moment’ while also working on myself.
    These are just my thoughts, thanks for showing me opening me up to the other side of self-improvement!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by and sharing πŸ’› I like to use the word Growth, rather than Improvement. Improvement suggests that there is something lacking, or wrong. Personal and spiritual growth are worth aspiring to 😊


  15. That is a lesson i learned myself. I actually mentioned it in my very first blog post that went up today. you have to keep an eye on your intentions. once you start changing and improving because you think it will make others happier, or because it makes you conform to what is considered normal, you have lost your way. It is so difficult to not get lost in the whole self improvement thing, that i decided to just embrace my flaws, quirks and all that stuff i would have wanted to “improve away” before and manifest it in a post one quirk per day.
    I would love for you to check it out if you’re intersted, because i’m just getting started

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I really like this post. It’s short, but right to the point. I spend a lot of time thinking about where I want to be. The things I want to move towards. Ways in which I want to improve.
    This post is a great reminder to not forget about where I am, in favor of where I hope to be. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Very nice post. I really enjoyed the camera analogy, not only because that exact scenario has happened to me, haha! It is so easy to get caught up in chasing this goal or that, and not appreciating the journey you’ve already made.


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