Thought of the day – self-improvement;
A common theme in my life has been self-improvement. I always strived to be a better version of myself because I don’t want to settle. That’s what I’ve told myself all my life. I’m afraid of not evolving and staying stagnant. But where does the line between not wanting to settle and not accepting who I am cross? The line seems very thin.
I have gone through different areas I didn’t like about myself in my life and worked on them. I had a binge eating disorder and instead of solving that I “lifehacked” myself out of it and became a high carb vegan = I am not overweight anymore. I worked on my discipline when it comes to working out and now I have it under control = I work out regularly, maybe five times a week and my main motivation is the feeling afterwards but it’s also fuelled by self-taunting. It sounds dark but it’s not really. I just know if I don’t, I get feelings of guilt. It’s not the most healthy way to think but It works. Running though, I do because I love the feeling. But going to the gym regularly that is mainly out of guilt. There are also certain bieffects from working out that motivate me. Superficial reasons motivate me, like wanting to be fit for a number of reasons. The beauty standard of womens body being slim, for my future business, for my body dysmorphia and for my self-confidence/worth. Etc.
Personality wise I worked on my introverted side. I hated the shy side of myself and wanted to be extroverted and liked by all because that’s what I thought I needed to be in order to receive love from other people. That thought has always been in the back of my mind and since growing older (and a tad bit wiser) I have gone from feeling resentment to my shyness to less and less. If I think about that today I can still feel that the longing is still there. But the longing i can pinpoint more clearly now. It’s not that I want to be extroverted and loud but it is more the feeling of freedom and not caring what people think. I think that is always what I wanted and still want but couldn’t put my finger on. I just knew I liked people who where themselves unapologetically and I thought I needed to copy that. I felt fascination towards someones personality and analyzed why. What did they have that i lacked? I think i subconciously thought if i knew everything they did and why they did it I could get myself to act like them. But I couldn’t, because it wasn’t me. It wasn’t genuine. But the dislike of being quiet and shy drove me to push myself to do things and move to different places. And for that, I am grateful.
These different changes ive done in my life felt like a way to work around the problems, even though semi-effective, they didn’t solve the issues.
The path of self-improvement is not a straight line. It’s easy to get caught in the idea that you need to do one thing then your problems will be fixed. That’s also the way consumerism work. Society brain washes us with marketing and it’s not odd that we feel that way. One more beauty product and then you will have that glass skin that will make you look young and fresh and boys will love you, girls will wanna be you. Buy a lash serum and you will have long lashes and people will adore you Etc. That’s no way to live your life. Always striving to get something, attain something, and then what. You will look outward again. And look at make up instead. Spend more money. Spend more time on bullshit. I have done that, it doesn’t work. It is useless and shallow and leads to nowhere. And on top of that, it fuels self-denial. You need something more then you will be enough. BULLSHIT. It’s a toxic negative cycle that makes us unhappy. Don’t buy in to it (literally) But that is a different topic all together. Back to the self-improvement though; the concept of self-help books have similarities with consumerism. Authors have a theory about how to be happy and they want to put it onto paper. How can they sell you on a lifetime of knowledge that they themselves have experienced, felt deep within, discovered different things and met different people at the right time for them, when they were ready, to expand as people. But now they are trying to bottle that up and sell a magic recipe so you don’t have to do the “work”. It doesn’t work that way I realized, ten years later. Don’t get me wrong, self-help books have given me a lot! But seeing the distinction between “having hope that this book/concept will fix all my problems” and “this is someone elses journey and you need to take from it what fits in your life right now” is important. There are so many times where I read a book in a few days and gotten so excited because I felt like “wow, this is it!” and a few days later I’m back to my normal patterns and relatively quickly I forgotten about it. Then in a few weeks I reach for a different book and a different approach from a new person. These books have given me a consciousness of why I react or do a certain thing which expands my mind, and that Is always the first step to break a negative pattern. But it’s not a quick fix.
So, reading books on how to improve different areas in your life should, in my opinion, be looked at with curiosity! I have a few things I’ve discovered.
My tips for how to read self-help books:
- Make a list of the things you would like to improve about yourself. Take a moment – Look at them a day later and break it down, what is really the core issue here? Is it lack of self-love or is it lack of motivation? Is it that you know you need to work on your self-compassion then look at different books in that area. There are so many books and knowing what you keep coming back to as a reoccurring issue then maybe address that first? For me: My main issues seem to be not feeling good enough and lack of self-compassion.
- Remembering that changing your way of thinking is like a muscle you work out at the gym. You need to be at it or else the muscle weakens.. I read that somewhere and it’s so true. If you thought a certain way for x number of years, one book that takes you say maybe a week to read won’t change your way of thinking. That feel obvious when you read it like that but it’s good to remind ourselves. We need to keep at it. Keep being motivated to work on ourselves. For me: It comes in waves. Sometimes I have weeks where I don’t read any books or do any work on myself then it comes a point where I realize I have to. I need it. I always come back. And thats not just reading – it can be any relaxing mindful practice, like yoga or meditation for example
- Read a book slowly and really think about the words. What do they really mean? It’s not a race. If you catch yourself speed-reading ask yourself why am I really reading this? What’s the purpose? And sit with that for a second. Be honest with yourself. Maybe questioning your true motivation for reading will help steer the motivation For me: I have had many of these thought when I read on autopilot and everytime I realize I try to attain something. It’s good to remind yourself.
- Read a chapter and write down notes on what stood out to you. Take a pause after the chapter and let that be it. Read back your notes on different occasions. For me: I try to do this often. Me and a friend have a book club were we read a book and talk about it every other week. We take notes as we read if something stood out to us then we discuss the content with each other. It’ a great way to digest what the book is actually trying to say and it’s also a good way to connect with a friend.
- Reread the book. If it’s a book I really liked I will reread it in a few months time. Helps process the information better and repetition is key. For me: I have reread a few books but still have a lot I want to reread. So many books so little time 😉
Books are great to stimulate thoughts and get a reality check. It offers insight into yourself and a better understanding. Understanding is important to strengthen the relationship you have with yourself but understanding life is also not the most important thing. Too much in your head is not good. We need to live life too; in order to feel a connection to earth and to other living beings. Connection is love and humans thrieve on love. We are social animals.
THREE KEY POINTS: 1. question the area you don’t like and you want to improve – why do you want to change? For what reason? What would happen if this changed?
2. Remind yourself that you are not trying to attain something. Selfimprovement should be called and thought of as self-curiousity 😀
3. not taking life too seriously!! The journey is the destination ❤
In conclusion, with self-improvement (self-curiousity) have patients with yourself and cut yourself some slack ❤