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Self-Improvement or Self-Sabotage?

Learning to let go of things not meant for you.

For positive change to happen in our lives, we must first make positive changes within ourselves. Being a better human is the path to having a better experience on this earth. I believe wholeheartedly in working every day on becoming a better version of ourselves.

So how did self-improvement become self-sabotage for me?

I worked hard for years trying to find myself and my purpose. I woke up early so I could spend time meditating in silence and reflecting on how I could be a better mother, partner, sister, friend and daughter. I wrote my morning pages, read inspiring words from Brené Brown and Pema Chӧdrön and I put these words into practice daily.

Yet, I felt like I was failing. No matter how many self-improvement books I read, I felt that I would continue to fail because of my many shortcomings.

I was not improving myself, I was losing myself. 

I did not believe in myself. Sure, I read the books and practiced positive daily affirmations, but it always felt silly chanting “you are worthy, you are loved” to my reflection in the mirror. I did not believe these things at all. I believed that the missing pieces of myself existed externally, in books and poems. This was a mistake.

When we look outside of ourselves we may never find the pieces we are looking for and if we do, they will always feel uncomfortable and look silly on us because they are not ours. Getting lost makes us feel like we are not worthy. When we feel unworthy, all we are left with are our inadequacies. Eventually our flaws begin to define us and we tumble through the trees getting more and more lost.

Finally, I realized what I needed to do.

What I needed was to travel inside myself, find the place where I got lost and help myself to get back on the right track. 

For the first time, I felt what it was like to hear my own voice and let it guide me. It felt like floating on a river facing the sky, not knowing where the current would take me, but letting go and trusting it was the right way for me.

Improving ourselves means we believe that the impossibly wonderful person we want to be is who we already are. All the stars we are searching for are already within us, waiting for us to acknowledge them so they can shine. When we give our stars space, they explode from within and show us the way.

What I learned about self-improvement is that it can quickly begin to feel like we need to improve because we’re not already good enough. We have extraordinary role models and we can’t understand why we can’t be just like them. 

This is self-sabotage, not self-improvement.  

Self-improvement is knowing we are enough as we are. The only thing that is required for us to shine, is to believe in our light and trust our own voice.

Trusting our voice is a life-long practice and we all need a little help sometimes. I still wake up early to meditate. I still read all those beautiful words. The difference now is that I can feel what’s meant for me and what isn’t.

One of my favorite quotes says it perfectly:

“You are the sky. Everything else is just weather.” – Pema Chӧdrön

Perhaps self-improvement should be replaced with self-belief.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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