I know that some people will react to this title like: but we need more people who work on themselves and this text is not about those people. This text refers to those who follow all trends in personal development, buy all books, attend all courses, all possible therapies and healings…
Oh yes, they work on themselves.
They start the day with yoga and mindfulness meditation, eat rich nutritious meals every morning, listen to progressive podcasts while walking or in the car on the way to work, have only assertive and meaningful conversations, in the afternoon they attend a course to connect with their inner child, female energy, go to therapy where they unpack their traumas, and in the evening they set goals with their business coach. Along the way, of course, they also manage to exercise, raise their children mindfully, and end the day with a gratitude journal. Maybe I’m caricaturing a bit, I admit, but that’s what everyone strives for (sometimes they succeed in half of this list, and sometimes even all of them – and the problem arises when they fail!).
It’s admirable, it’s healthy, and it’s healing, but when is enough? Is there a limit to lifelong learning and working on the best version of yourself?
My answer is: oh yes there is! Maybe not completion, because I think we all learn for the rest of our lives, but definitely yes to breaks! In that pause lies our greatest growth and wisdom to find the right moment when it is necessary to stop and simply live life.
From working on yourself to obsessing over the perfect image
What I caught myself in, and others who are on a similar path of development as me, is that we all had good and noble intentions when we ventured into the world of personal development, psychotherapy or coaching. There’s nothing wrong with that and I wouldn’t want anyone to misinterpret me! What I’ve lost myself in is recognizing when a it’s enough… that is, when it all becomes torture instead of learning.
It is admirable that you want to be a better person, wife, partner, parent…there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But what often happens in one moment of that journey…? It happens that we become obsessed with improving and digging into our own psyche and finding all those things that we need to fix. It’s never good enough. It can and should always be better. There is always one more wound from the past to heal, one more course to complete, one book to enlighten us…
Working on yourself actually becomes disguised perfectionism. The way we secretly shame ourselves every day for NEVER being good enough. That we are never good enough and that we can and should always strive for our majesty – OUR BEST VERSION OF OURSELVES. That version becomes a magical persona that, when we reach it, we can rest and be happy and satisfied with ourselves and our life. Until then, you should roll up your sleeves and work hard (read: criticize and judge yourself) because we are still not that glorified version of perfection.
I know many women who told me that they only really started to enjoy life when they stopped and took a break from “working on themselves” in order to finally take a breather and simply be satisfied with themselves and their life as it is at that moment.
Upcoming webinar Tuesday, 21 March
Mastering Workplace Focus:
Practical Mindfulness Techniques for Greater Productivity
Webinar thought in both English and Serbian!
A comfort zone can be healthy – especially if you fought hard for it!
Personally, I have been actively “working on myself” for the last 8 years. It’s not that I haven’t done it before in the form of various soft skills education, but in the last 8 years I’ve gone pretty deep. My sister and I often joke about everything that I’ve tried to get one step closer to that ideal version of me. Let’s face it, I did a lot of things out of curiosity, that is, curiosity and a simple desire to gain experiences and learn something new, but at one point I realized that it all started to tire me out.
Everything was constantly so profound, serious, constantly focused on something that has not yet been mastered, that needs to be learned, healed… constant focus on one’s own shortcomings, traumas, flaws, things that need to be improved, changed… All this was followed by numerous private difficulties, major life transitions, and I admit that in those moments the knowledge from personal development helped me. At one point, when the “storm passed” and I felt that I was finally getting secure ground under my feet, I simply wanted to enjoy it. I wanted to go to coffee shops and watch
Hallmark movies (instead of listening to podcasts and reading personal development books), I don’t always eat 100% healthy, I skip some workouts, I read weekend novels late or I don’t analyze eternally all my unhealthy patterns, mechanisms, childhood memories and traumas…
Things were finally fine the way they were. I am ENOUGH just the way I am. Not perfect, not the best version of me, but just me. In that simplicity and acceptance that right now my comfort zone suits me perfectly, it seems to me that I am a few steps closer to the “personal growth” that I so frantically strived for.