Why do we always focus on improving ourselves? Are we really that bad to begin with?
For a long time I thought of myself as a work in progress.
Tinkering here, fixing there, always striving to do everything better.
There’s nothing wrong with being the best person you can be. But that’s usually not what we’re doing. We’re usually comparing ourselves to some ideal that very few people fit into (if anyone really does).
But with all the striving and working, when do we ever just appreciate who we are in this moment? When does all the tweaking stop and the acceptance begin?
We get stuck trying to fix what’s “wrong.” Meanwhile, we ignore what’s right with us. We ignore our gifts and our strengths. Instead, our inner dialogue is one long diatribe about what we’re not and will never be.
I love to write and communicate. That’s what I’m great at. But I remember in high school being completely frustrated with Algebra I. Frankly, I couldn’t understand why I needed it in the first place, but at the time I was told that it would hone my analytical skills.
Well, all it did was piss me off and make me hate doing my homework. After that, I decided that I hated math because I was obviously bad at it.
Well, imagine my surprise when I took Trigonometry in my senior year and loved it. What happened? It wasn’t until years later that I realized that I could visualize the concepts in Trigonometry, and that made it easier for me to understand.
If a visual person isn’t taught using visual examples, it’s kind of a problem, isn’t it? Even more to the point, I didn’t learn critical thinking from math. I learned it from analyzing literature in my college English classes. So much for a one-size-fits-all world.
Instead of focusing on what we’re not, we need to appreciate what we are. Our strengths are everything. They have value. They shouldn’t be ignored so that we can work hard on trying to fix what we’re not.
When you’re ready for a break from constant self-improvement, try this:
1. Create a self-love affirmation. Try something like, “I love myself as I am” or “I value myself.”
2. Take stock of yourself and what you’ve accomplished. Give thanks–even for the things that you’re not totally comfy with right now.
3. Forget being perfect. If you love and care about yourself, you’ll want to be the best version of you that you can be.
Here’s the thing, if you’re in a constant state of improvement, you’ll never appreciate your strengths. In fact, you won’t even see them.
And if you don’t love and appreciate you, who will?
Copyright © 2014 Deborah A. Bailey
Photo Credit: Nick-K (Nikos Koutoulas) via Compfight cc