Monday, 27 January 2014

Self-improvement, self-induced guilt, and what really matters

I suck at self-improvement.

I can't stick to things when the only reason I do them is to 'be better'. Be a better blogger and post more often? Exercise daily? Roll on Janathon! Except, I didn't roll with it for long.

Just sitting around being good enough today.
Clearly, commitment isn't a problem. There are lots of commitments in my life which I regularly keep: I'm holding down a job, walking the dog daily, keeping my home clean. Loving my husband, of course. Eating vegan.

I do none of these things just for myself, though: and that is the difference. After thinking long and hard about why I failed at Janathon - and I will point out that the exercise was mostly a daily thing and I've even started running a bit! It's the blogging that didn't work out because I didn't have enough to say... - and the answer is, I did that to 'be better'.

A drive to be better [thinner, fitter, ...] = self-induced guilt.

This drive comes from an assumption: I'm not good enough. Why do I have to be better, in the first place? And, if I commit to something and I become [better, thinner, fitter] then will I be good enough?

And who is the judge of good enough, anyway?

  • I'm already good enough for my husband. He is delighted with me. 
  • I'll never be good enough for God, that's why he sent Jesus and because of him, I am completely acceptable to God. A delight, even.
  • My dog thinks I'm the best thing ever, I'm his favourite person.
  • Those I work with assure me they think I'm doing a fine job.

So if those who matter in my life all assure me I'm good enough - a delight, even! - then why do I keep trying to self-improve? What matters: that vague sense of not-good-enough or the true, tested, sincere assurances of those who matter to me?

Of course I'm not saying it's a bad idea to try and be the best you can be. I just know that for myself, I have to carefully examine the motives behind any drive to 'self-improve' - because it's giving in to the not-good-enough assumption, and when I fail at the self-improvement effort of the month, I've signed up for self-induced guilt.

No, thanks!

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Thanks so much for sharing!