IMR: The Allure of Self-Improvement
We all want to be better versions of ourselves, right? (Well, maybe not all of us, and probably not all the time… But it’s an impulse we’ve all felt, I’m sure.) In my opinion, that’s a good thing! Self-improvement requires a few key things, though, and I think that’s what some of us miss. I think these are the two most important parts:
- Real self-improvement is grounded in self-love. Some people who want to “improve” actually want to change who they are because of low self-esteem. And sure, being someone else might sound nice sometimes! But coming at your personal journey from a place of self-hatred (for example, putting restrictions on liking or speaking kindly to yourself until you’ve “changed for the better,”) can sabotage the process from the start. It’s tough to hate yourself into loving yourself! Changing the way you view and talk to you needs to come first, or at least be incorporated in the big steps.
- Meaningful self-improvement is encouraged by your environment. This includes where you live, how you live, and who you live with. It’s hard to focus on improving if you live with a draining family or a toxic roommate. While the best thing to do is to change your living situation to make your life easier, sometimes that’s not possible for financial or other reasons. Making your bedroom a safe space is one way to combat this. Having a room or space as a shrine to you and your self-improvement is a good place to start.
The thing about changing yourself is that it needs to be driven by you. So, saying that, I want you to know this whole article is biased, because it all comes from MY experiences trying to improve MYself. Maybe you’ve got different stuff going on! I still stand by self-love and positive environment as the two shiniest keys to success. They were for me.
I’m saying self-improvement should be self-driven, but what about ideas to get started? What kind of escapist would I be if I didn’t have a couple of those? Aren’t we all here for a little help escaping? So long as you’re not trying to “escape” an old self—I’ll let you in on a few secrets.
- Don’t try to escape your old self. I know I said it already! I’m saying it again! Seriously. I don’t care if you were the cringiest, most evil person in the world in your past. If you want to change your life, or your personality, or your career, or whatever… Let that go. Let the past stay the past; try not to ruminate on it. I’m sure you’ve felt bad enough about it already. That’s how you know you’re ready to change! People who are truly nasty, evil, or cringey don’t give a flip about self-improvement, because they think they’re already perfect.
- Jumping off the end of that last bit: Grow from your flaws (or perceived flaws)! I don’t mean to say you should beat the crap out of yourself for every mistake or unpleasant thought, because you shouldn’t. The core of improving yourself is a GROWTH MINDSET. If you have bad habits, recognize and make steps to change them, no matter how small. And start off defining what “bad” is, and make sure that definition isn’t shooting you in the foot.
- Start off by implementing teeny, tiny life changes or daily habits. I’m a huge champion of this approach. Try reading Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg if you have trouble with this one; as an ADHD sufferer, it completely changed my perspective and I haven’t shut up about it since I started reading it.
- And make those habits healthy! They can also replace other unhealthier habits. For instance, I cultivated a nightly routine to make myself feel better at the end of the day, and now I only drink alcohol socially. Those are two different kinds of habits, and they’ve both been good for me.
- Find hobbies to add into your life! As you’ve seen, one of my hobbies is reading, a pastime I’d neglected since middle school. (Maybe you have too?) Reading lost its sparkle, but now I’m reading more self-help books, I love it again! What hobbies did you leave behind in your adolescent years? Try it again, or try it with a twist to fit you better. Bonus points if it’s creative.
At the end of the day, we’re all flawed humans. We tend to like to escape things, and life isn’t always easy. I think focusing on myself and my growth mindset has been one of the best choices I’ve made for my well-being overall. It’s confusing, and weird, and hard sometimes, but at the end of the day when you feel better about yourself? It’s worth it. I’m still working on feeling better about myself without needing to feel I’m improving all the time, but still. Baby steps. See you next week!