Last week at work, I was consuming yet another self-help podcast.
About half way through, I made a quick decision to turn it off and stop consuming so much self-help material. It wasn’t anything particular to the podcast itself, I just realized that I’m sick of feeling like there is always one more lifestyle change I need to make in order to be my best self. I’m exhausted from parsing out all the contradictions in the self-help community.
I’m tired of thinking that I’m not quite good enough, yet.
It’s great and noble to strive to be a better person, but it can come at the cost of losing who you really are.
If I notice an undesirable trait in myself, I want to fix it. A trait that has been very apparent to me lately is that I’m a quiet and reserved person. I don’t like how being a quiet, reserved person leaves me feeling left out in social settings and so I want to stop being quiet and reserved, but when I do, I feel unnatural and ashamed of myself for being someone I’m not.
It’s one thing to want to be a better person, but it’s entirely something else to strive to be a different person.
Not liking who I am or wanting to be someone else has plagued me for as long as I can remember, and it’s an emotional battle that I keep ignoring. I ignore it because it’s uncomfortable to acknowledge it, and acknowledging it only makes me feel worse. It reminds me of the pilot episode of my favorite animated show, Daria, where Jane and Daria meet in a self-esteem class, but test out three weeks early and are honored with a school-wide assembly.
Recognizing that I don’t like myself makes me feel pretty rotten. I wonder why, and I try to figure out what it is that I don’t like, and then I end up in that loop of trying to fix myself.
There are ways in which this inclination to “fix myself” has been good for me. For example, I’ve overcome paralyzing social anxiety, I’ve learned to ask questions about things that I don’t understand and I’ve learned to keep trying even when things get hard.
I’m glad that I strive to improve myself, but I’ve been walking a fine line between self-improvement and self-flagellation.
I want to start honoring who I am, instead of resisting it.
When I was a young girl, I hated my body, but I eventually overcame that. I learned to stop saying mean things about my body, and I learned to like what I see in the mirror. I can do the same thing for my mind, spirit, and heart. I can learn to love all the parts of myself, all ways, always.
What’s an emotional battle you’ve been neglecting? How can you start tending to it? What freedom could you receive from addressing it?