Is Self-Improvement a Waste of Time?

self strengths and gifts
What is “self-improvement”?

What does “self-improvement” mean?  Actually, the better question to ask yourself is “who” exactly are you trying to improve?

As a soul, we are created perfectly.  There is nothing to “get better”.  Our souls are peaceful, joyful, complete, and all-knowing.  Therefore, when we talk about self-improvement, we must be referring to the human and/or ego self.

How can I make my mind shut up?  How can I not feel anxious all the time?  How can I control my ego?  How can I get better at doing XYZ?

I’ve even seen people state around social media that they are working on eliminating their ego to live in a “higher realm” of existence.  Um, I hate to break it to you, but as long as you are a human being, your ego is with you for the long haul.  If you have no ego, you are dead… or a robot.

 

Taming the Mind & Ego

At the ego/mind level, the problem is that the ego doesn’t want to get better.  That’s not its job.  Its job is to protect, make sure you aren’t stepping outside your comfort zone, ruminate over the past (so you don’t repeat mistakes), and worry about the future so that you don’t risk failing.  There is no improving or getting rid of the ego…ever.

You can start to become AWARE of the nonsense that goes on in your mind, but that’s about it.  And you don’t need a coach or week-long Eat, Pray, Love experience to do this.  You just need to slow down a bit and pay attention to the thoughts that are going through your mind.  It takes some practice, but soon you will notice how most of them are fear-driven and rooted in nonsense.

(Ever notice how you can plan out an entire conversation in your head with someone so that you can prove that you are “right”, yet that conversation never happens?)

Once you gain awareness of your internal dialogue, you can then make the conscious choice to not pay attention.  I will often thank my mind for trying to care for me (albeit in a back-asswards kind of way), and then shift my attention to the present moment.

It’s like ignoring a toddler’s bad behavior.  You certainly don’t let your toddler make all your life decisions for you!

 

Learning a New Skill

Sometimes when we think of “self-improvement”, we are referring to learning and adopting new skills.

Your brain is an amazing tool, it’s like a computer.  When we use our brain as the tool it was designed to be, we can do great things with it!  However, the success of your skill-based, self-improvement ventures will depend on what you value and your intention.

I belonged to Toastmasters for several years because I wanted to get rid of my “but’s, you know, and so’s.”  I thought this would make me a more professional speaker, and that it would help me get rid of my speaking bad habits.  So I paid to join Toastmasters and got to studying and practicing.

A couple of years into Toastmasters while driving home from one of the meetings, I had this flash of enlightening in the form of a deep inner voice that said, “who gives a f*ck?”  Why are you investing your time and resources to improve yourself in this area?

I then checked in with my intuition to get a feel for if I was doing this to make myself feel better or more important.  To look better to others?  If this was an ego thing?

Sure, if I aspired to do a Ted Talk or get paid for speaking on stage to large audiences, then that’s one thing.  But I teach yoga, I create content and courses, I read energy, and I write, much of which transpires at the moment without any planning.  (Take this article for instance. I was sitting down to do one thing yet got a “download” and just started typing away.)

I had this soul-level A-Ha moment where I just didn’t give a sh*t anymore if I used filler words when I speak.  If someone doesn’t like my but’s and so’s, and is super turned off by them, then the reality is that I am not the right practitioner and/or yoga teacher for them.  They can go find someone else with perfect grammar that doesn’t annoy them. I am totally good with that.

I was spending my time trying to improve my speaking because I thought I “should” as a business person when I really wanted to delve into formulating new yoga sequences.  There was a mismatch between the skills I told myself I wanted to learn, and what I truly valued.

 

Invest in “Self-Improvement” Wisely

People spend A LOT of money, time, and energy on self-help and self-improvement books, courses, coaching, and/or retreats.  The questions are:

  1. Are you consciously aware of “who” you are trying to improve?
  2. And are you being smart about your investment?

 I completely changed my diet and lifestyle back in 2011 when I was struggling with physical illness and didn’t buy into popping pills for the rest of my life.  I invested in a functional medicine practitioner and worked with a health coach.  I read a ton of books on cholesterol, Paleo, and Keto lifestyles.  I even purchased an online course all about leaky-gut syndrome and what I could do about it.

That, in essence, was self-improvement.  I valued feeling better, I valued my health, I valued my body… and still do.  So the investment I made to learn new ways to eat, learn how to breathe properly, expand my yoga practice, and support my digestion was well worth it.  These were new skills and habits I needed to incorporate into my daily routine.

Ultimately, you want to make improvements in areas that you VALUE, that are important to you.  If you are self-improving because you feel like you “should”, or are trying to impress others, then you are spinning your wheels and wasting your time.

 

Where I Believe REAL Self-Improvement Should Happen

Because our soul-Self is the wisest and smartest Self we've got, I personally believe that most of our self-improvement efforts are best spent learning to connect and listen to that inner voice within versus trying to banish or fix a part of us that simply can’t be fixed.

It’s learning to become a witness to your ego and your endless stream of random thoughts – most of which are truly unhelpful.  This allows you to be aware of what the mind is saying to you but gives you the discernment as to whether or not you want to listen to or act on it.

If your goal is indeed to increase your awareness of your thoughts and learn to quiet your mind, then an investment in a meditation course or program might be super helpful.

I feel like I am much more creative, productive, and focused, and make better decisions when my self-improvement work revolves around listening to my soul Self. (Remember, your soul is perfectly unique just as it is.  You don’t need to fix the REAL you.  You may just need to get better at LISTENING TO and BEING the real you.)

This kind of self-improvement work looks like creating a morning routine that includes movement and meditation.  Slowing down my activity to be more present and to pay attention to my thoughts.  Using yoga or Qigong and the breath to quiet the nonsensical mind chatter and find stillness.

You don’t necessarily need to invest a lot of money and time into this.  And you can do it from your own home.

If you would like some support with learning to listen and connect to the SOUL part of you, which doesn’t require breaking the bank, I invite you to enroll in my SOULutions membership program.

Yes, we do yoga, but we also incorporate breath work, meditation, mantra, and sound vibration to really open up the communication channels to that intuitive voice within.  Start listening to that perfect, all-knowing part of you and be witness to the magic that happens!

CLICK HERE to learn more.

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