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The Sweet Pursuit

Former Associate editor Margret Aldrich on the hunt for happiness, community, and how humans thrive


Are You a Self-Improvement Junkie?

 by Julie Hanus


Tags: health and wellness, spirituality and faith, self-improvement, expectations, self-kindness, collaborative projects, Notes on the Written World, I Am Enough Collaborative, Tracey Clark, Julie Hanus,

a woman standing in yellow stringsBefore yesterday, I never would have thought to apply the phrase self-improvement junkie to myself. But as I was reading about the I Am Enough Collaborative on the blog Notes on the Written World, I couldn’t avoid swiveling in my chair and staring down the prodigious stack of your-life-but-better books that I’ve got stashed in my cube.

I Am Enough is the newly born brainchild of Tracey Clark, a photographer and writer who has two motherhood journals published with Chronicle Books. It’s a response to her realization that she’d worn herself out “living the hustle to become better,” always striving for improvement, never feeling she was good enough. So far she has been updating weekly on Tuesdays (“maintaining feasible expectations for myself . . . is one of my recent acts of self-kindness,” she writes) and seems to be quickly lining up guest bloggers and storytellers. As she explains:

I have been a self-improvement junkie for most of my life; vigilant about getting to the bottom of my “issues”, digging deep to better understand myself, reading every book written to inspire personal growth, incessantly working on becoming a better person, etc, etc.  Although I had let go of trying to be “perfect” I was still striving to be better. Always better. Never quite enough.

. . . I have realized that I am not alone; that being enough as we are right now, today, as is, is hard for most women to really acknowledge and yet, it’s the key to living our best lives. . . . I can only hope that by sharing images and stories of worthiness and self-kindness that we can each embrace our own enoughness.

Source: Notes on the Written World, I Am Enough Collaborative 

Image by Michael (mx5tx), licensed under Creative Commons. 

jo an gaines
4/7/2010 11:54:27 AM

I just listened to Eckart Tolle's on the NEW EARTH. He is so inspiring in his deep simplicity. He speaks of how we are totally connected to the oneness of the universe and all of creation. He speaks of outer form and inner form. As one ages, the outer form begins to be less interesting to the aging person and that enables one to spend more time with the inner form. I have spent quality time with self improvement and when I like self improvement most is when I am in conversation with others who are brave enough to look at themselves, I never thought I was 'not enough' and that was never the reason I attended classes or read books or listened to CDs...I just wanted to be more aware of how awesome I was/am. I also loved connecting!! That was and is my reason for 'self improvement'...CONNECTION. I don't find many people very interesting who don't have CONVERSATIONS THAT MATTER. I host the community group for THE INSTITUTION OF NOETIC SCIENCE and we are all about questions and group creative answers. These groups are every where for the people who feel,'not enough' and those who feel 'awesome' and want to connect at a heart level with others.


jo an gaines
4/7/2010 11:54:03 AM

I just listened to Eckart Tolle's on the NEW EARTH. He is so inspiring in his deep simplicity. He speaks of how we are totally connected to the oneness of the universe and all of creation. He speaks of outer form and inner form. As one ages, the outer form begins to be less interesting to the aging person and that enables one to spend more time with the inner form. I have spent quality time with self improvement and when I like self improvement most is when I am in conversation with others who are brave enough to look at themselves, I never thought I was 'not enough' and that was never the reason I attended classes or read books or listened to CDs...I just wanted to be more aware of how awesome I was/am. I also loved connecting!! That was and is my reason for 'self improvement'...CONNECTION. I don't find many people very interesting who don't have CONVERSATIONS THAT MATTER. I host the community group for THE INSTITUTION OF NOETIC SCIENCE and we are all about questions and group creative answers. These groups are every where for the people who feel,'not enough' and those who feel 'awesome' and want to connect at a heart level with others.


judy johnson
4/2/2010 12:35:11 PM

I think that if you have the self-awareness Patti talked about above, then growth can occur naturally as you go through life. I used to put a lot of energy into self-improvement, as in "fixing" myself. Now, I put that energy into being happy and present in the moment and the things that were "wrong" with me are falling away naturally.


patti
4/2/2010 9:40:48 AM

This poor sense of "enough-ness" that propels many to "improve our selves,is derived from the outer world - we've been told who we should be. We are not taught to look inwards and find out who the person really is that inhabits this mind, this body, this soul, this heart, and a result we end up being divided, the unconscious me is buried under all the personas I have created in order to be who I need to be for those "out there". I have been and probably still can be a self-improvement junkie, but one the of things I've learned along the way, is that awareness is key. Do I know why I say the things I say, do the things I do, think the things I think? What is it I really think about what is going on? This has become something subtle, not the frantic scramble to be my better self, but more a path to understanding the patterns and strategies I've developed since childhood and which may not be serving me so well now. It becomes more a deep-seated way to look at life and keeps me more in the moment, somewhere our culture seems terrified of being. Sure, I am striving for that better self that I know lurks deep within but that's the purpose - to know thyself and examine our lives so that we can bring our better selves to the outside world. Isn't that more desirable than the pathetic world events we see around us where some of the worst "selves" live and kill for power and greed and end up killing the rest of us and the planet, spiritually and physically, along the way?


patrick walker
4/2/2010 9:40:19 AM

In part, this is the "being" vs "becoming" issue. Perhaps one should aspire to be less exhausted in trying to "fix" oneself, and more comfortable with being a work in progress. We can accept ourselves as we are, and still embrace self-development. Be + become. They happen at the same time. Doesn't have to be either/or. And there are so many ways to self-develop. Find the path with heart, find a way that feeds your passion and gives you more energy than it requires. This is possible. We all know this, but we sometimes forget.


conny jasper_1
3/31/2010 1:11:14 PM

People are attracted to the "Law of Attraction" because it's attractive. It's easy. It simplifies things. Nothing deep, nothing too intense. Just follow this simple rule, and low and behold, everything just falls into place. Oh, but if only it were that easy. There are very few things in life that are easy. Personal development is a lot or work. If you want it to be easy, then you're going to have a rough time with it.


nate chastain
3/30/2010 12:20:07 PM

It's not uncommon for people practicing personal development to feel burned out and ineffectual, but I think these feelings are largely the product of inadequate personal development systems, not personal development itself. We often associate personal development with pseudo-spiritual garbage (the Law of Attraction) and behavioral modification. Tracey's stack of "your life but better" describes this subset perfectly. Let's not forget, though, that personal development once dealt with tangible and measurable improvement. I'm thinking particularly about works like Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People." If more authors sought to replicate this book rather than "The Secret", I think more people would realize the value of self-improvement. Personal development doesn't have to be an ambiguous and unending quest, if you know how to do it correctly. I've been trying to spread the idea of results-driven personal development through my consulting company. None of my clients pay until the 30-day program is finished, and even then I don't have a fixed price: clients pay what they feel the service was worth. If any of you are interested in that, contact me at nate [at] cumalu.com. We're working on a Web site right now, so the domain would only take you to a blank Tumblr page.