The Self Improvement Myth

Unconditional BeautyThere is a myth in our culture that we need to effort to become better people. Or better workers. Or have better relationships. Essentially, many of us don’t feel worthy or good enough, giving rise to numerous self help programs for low self-esteem.

We can also become attached to our self image which is unworthy or unlovable. When we encounter messages from the external world that match our self image, we take them on to strengthen our belief in our unworthiness or unlovability. At the same time, when someone reflects back to us who we truly are, our magnificence, there is no place for that to land within ourselves. Almost like wind passing through, those reflections either breeze through in the moment, or even worse the wind seems to stir up our negative self beliefs to resist or fight being seen.

Ironically, who we truly are is pretty present in a quiet sort of way. It’s a constant way of being that is so natural to us that we don’t quite notice it and may even take for granted. We may even dismiss our natural gifts assuming that everyone’s baseline way of being involves what we most natural give. Even more, the efforting and not self part of us can be so loud that it simply drowns out the softer inner voice of the self.

Hidden BeautyPartly, this efforting, not self part is a childhood defense. When those who loved us were themselves disconnected from their own magnificence, they weren’t able to mirror our true beauty. As children, we found this confusing as we were not only in touch with our own true self, but were also able to connect with the true self of our parents and loved ones. Eventually though, with repeated experiences of not being mirrored, we slowly end up believing that something is wrong with us.

Thus, our lifelong attempts to prove our worth and lovability ensues. And, we fail continuously because we keep thinking we need to become something other than we are. For some of us, we even fool ourselves into thinking that we are improving and our accomplishments provide us with self worth and value. Trying to feel our worthiness and value from accomplishments is an effort to prove endlessly. The deepest sense of self love and worthiness arises when we fully allow ourselves to become who we actually are.

In those moments of recognizing who we are, self love can spontaneously arise. We start to notice that who we are is actually not personal. Similarly, who others are is not personal to them or to us either. We start to open to our inner freedom. We begin to notice how much more we truly give in this universe when our giving is authentic, flowing, and effortless. As we do this, we start to notice our own inner value as our unique presence.

ShineHow do you experience that repeated reflection of yourself so that you can build a relationship with your true self? What tools do you use to notice moments of dis-identification with the parts of yourself that are loud and effortful and very easy to give your attention to?

Take a moment to breathe fully for a few breaths. Allow your thoughts to be as they are as you bring your focus to breathing in fully. As you continue to breathe fully, what do you notice? Just this simple practice of noticing our breath can build our relationship with who we truly are and let go of identifying with parts that aren’t truly us. The reason for that is when we pay attention to our breath, we are already loosening the grip of our stories and coming back into presence.

May we all know ourselves, our authentic selves. May our gifts in this universe be who we truly are. May our being ourselves fully support others in being themselves more fully.

May you shine in your loveliness.





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