So, I've kind of been on this 'self improvement kick' for the past few years. After decades of being intellectually interested in self improvement, I started to act, employ strategies, change behaviors. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it's true, the power is within action. You can read and think and dream about self improvement for your entire life, and it won't improve you much if you don't DO anything. This includes habits of mind, thought patterns and things others cannot see. Ruminating endlessly about the changes you wish would happen is its own bad habit.
Fast forward to now. I'm not only "improved", but totally transformed. As part of that, I've stepped out to do various mentoring related activities - I spent a year and half leading a Facebook group of thousands, I still help run a Facebook group of tens of thousands, and I've written two books related to the self improvement process. So it feels like a really inopportune moment in my life to reach self-improvement overload. And yet, here I am.
I'm figuring out: it's because I am working out the balance between the extremes.
I lived for a long time in a state of stagnation. Nothing changing, at least not for the better. I was doing the same old thing and expecting different results until, EVEN WORSE, I was doing the same old things and not expecting different results. Not caring, just sort of drifting through the days and existing. I ate food that I knew was terrible for my body because it made me feel awful, but it was the path of least resistance. It required the least effort when I felt like I had nothing to give.
Contrast that to now, when I've become interested in fasting for physical and emotional/spiritual health.....walking for physical and emotional/spiritual health......superfoods.....fermented foods.....vegetarianism.....sleep hygiene.....formal gratitude practice......time in nature.....visualization......meditation....yoga (a dabble that's on hold).....so yeah, I'm in to the health thing.
Lately, and social media is a huge part of it, it has started to feel overwhelming. You're improving yourself, but are you doing it enough? Is good enough ever good enough? Someone is promoting a book or podcast at every turn. Someone is selling a course or webinar when you try to run in the other direction. Even people who have achieved amazing things are pushing harder for more, more, more. You may feel great, but couldn't you be slimmer, fitter, stronger? Couldn't your health markers be bumped another notch into superior? Couldn't you do MORE?
There are moments when it all feels like pressure and I'm tempted to retreat to my old life. I need to get back to center and ask the guiding question, does it feel like freedom? People who are stagnant in their lives don't feel like freedom. Old habits and familiar patterns don't feel like freedom. Pushing and forcing and self-improving-to-the-max doesn't feel like freedom, either. People who are obsessed with improvement to the point of never being satisfied feel like the polar opposite of freedom. The magic is in being present, satisfied with yourself, and fully engaged in the moment. The freedom is there. I know it.
Where self improvement is concerned, I'm going to become like Goldilocks - recognizing instinctively what isn't enough and what is too much - and willing to reject both equally.