Monday, July 31, 2017

How does one improve at self-improvement?

Self-improvement can be an act of self-love, but it often involves actions that border on self-rejection. In order to improve myself in some aspect, I need to use self-critical analysis-- to assess what I’m currently doing, to judge that against some standard, and then to apply effort to do better. A lot of negativity can come out during that process-- the assessment can descend into nitpicking and negativity, the judging into inadequacy, and the efforts into perpetual dissatisfaction. The toxicity of self-critical analysis can lead to: anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, poor self-care habits, self-injury, poor relationships, etc. (There’s toxicity in lack of self-critical analysis, too-- just off the top of my head, narcissism and being an asshole).

Which is to says that one can be bad at self-improvement, and thus the question: How does one improve at self-improvement?

I’m having trouble organizing my thoughts, so I’m going to just provide some bullet points, grouped chronologically (in terms of my thought process);

Set I
  • Let yourself be bad at some things.
  • Let yourself be mediocre at some things.
  • Never judge yourself as a whole because of some aspect of yourself.
Set II
  • If you’re not getting satisfaction from the effort itself, you’re not going to find satisfaction at the end of the effort either.
  • As much as possible, set your own standard for excellence, and set it based on the intuition I’m calling “just feels right.” In this regard, one can choose freely among the standards that appear to be set by others.
  • Related to this internal standard, establish an intuition called “enoughness,” one which signals satisfaction (and thus the end of striving after success) or asserts acceptance (and thus the end of striving because effort has turned into punishment).
  • What’s needed is the development of a safe ‘place’ of self-love and acceptance. Without this anchor, efforts at (and attitudes regarding) self-improvement can veer towards the toxic. Just as I need to practice the thing I’m trying to improve, I have to balance it with practices of self-love and acceptance.
Set IV
  • As always, discernment and rhythm are the keys here. Discernment to tell the difference between contentedness and complacency, and between self-criticism and self-abuse. Rhythm to alternate between the striving and sitting needed to make changes while practicing self-acceptance.

No comments:

Post a Comment