Obsessed with Improving?

“Perhaps it’s impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.”
Ender’s Game

So many of us with an affinity for life-improvement techniques and self-help books have heard the advice: growth happens outside of your comfort zone.

Yes, this is true. There are plenty of circumstances that scare us. We face our fears, take action, and often time come out the other side changed for the better. And, if we read self-help books, we equate this change with goodness.

But, we must beware.

When we constantly pursue experiences that we think will change us, we’re functioning from a place of fear. We believe that we need to change.

We believe we are not enough in this moment, and so we seek out experiences that will (hopefully) transform us into a more stellar version of ourselves.

When we chase change in order to become somebody else, or to achieve goals that don’t align with our core values, we waste valuable time. We could spend time in loving relationships, pursuing our true interests, or having fun. Instead, we force ourselves into situations that aren’t meant for us.

In trying to force a square peg into a circle, we forget the strength, stability, and power of the square. We spend precious time trying to earn admiration of others and abandon ourselves in the process.

We may start doing new, uncomfortable, scary things so often that we forget to do all the things that make us grounded, calm, and happy.

We get caught up in doing “scary” things because of an ego-driven desire to grow (equating growth with being “better,” and thereby insinuating that we need to be “better,” because deep down we don’t actually believe we are good enough right now).

Insecurities and self-doubt manifest themselves in a host of different ways (some more obvious than others). When you’re a human who wants to be liked, because only once you are liked can you like yourself, you find ways to manipulate others into liking you. Because, if you are accepted, you can rest easy knowing because you’ve placed your self worth in how much others value you. But, without your own acceptance, you will spend your precious life chasing the approval of others.

We must nurture our natural qualities: our core beliefs, values, and skills. Perhaps we can shift our attention in the self-help world away “growing,” and more towards “blossoming.” We might be obsessed with growth, but maybe we should be more concerned with blossoming, with opening ourselves to those around us. After all, what good is the tallest flower in the garden if it’s too tall to be seen?

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