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Self-improvement is a trap

Self Improvement Turtle

I once had my doctor tell me that there are people who are worse than me and people who are better than me. It’s fine to want to improve yourself, but you are good enough as you are. It was a surprising lesson to learn.

Today I read an article titled How to be enough Our obsession with self-improvement is making us miserable. I agree with most of the points in the article and it got me thinking about this topic again. Had I uncovered a truth with my doctor and didn’t think about it enough?

Self Improvement Turtle
self-improvement turtle

Many times we see very highly skilled and accomplished people feel worthless and kill themselves. The names are too painful to mention. How could they go down this road of feeling that life isn’t worth living when they have brought so much joy into others’ lives? It makes me wonder if we do enough to take care of those who take care of us. We don’t.

On a larger stage though, self-improvement while it sounds intuitively worthwhile and is, can lead us to be excessive about it. We are told by parents, and society if we just practice and dream anything we want can happen. Perhaps if you have the right connections, money, or are lucky. That fact is that science has shown that the zip code you were born in often says your success in life. There is a lot of wishful thinking that is manipulated to give people the illusion of upward mobility.

Am I saying that educating yourself or improving yourself is useless? No of course not. I am saying that excessively doing it, has some downsides we need to recognize. It causes poor self-esteem when you compare yourself to social media. It causes internal doubts of a way that didn’t exist pre-internet. It causes a focus instead on performance rather than just being. Life is many things, but it is not just a performance for your job and relationships, but also an exploration of who you are or your being.

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Anything in life can be toxic when we take it to extremes. Have you taken your self-improvement to an extreme?