The pitfalls of self-development

We are in relationship with everything in our lives and all relationships require some amount of effort.

There is something very enticing about self-development. “Yes, of course I should be moving forward and growing!  It’s called being an adult!  I want to be my best self…”

Sound familiar?

And for most of us, most of the time, that is a healthy, natural thought that propels us to learn and make healthy changes.  It is especially powerful when we consider that many of those changes were previously running on autopilot and not working out so well.

The hitch in the program comes, though, when we are constantly seeking improvement, constantly stuck thinking about trimming off a little more of our least-best.  This can become a habit, a twitch almost, and leave us constantly unsatisfied… with ourselves.

Try this on for size:

You are a rock climber looking for a partner.  You settle on someone who is available and tolerate them only so you can get better and no longer have to climb with them anymore.  In the meantime, you are spending many days and experiences with them, but never invested in them or the connection you are sharing.

This is an example I gave my partner today while climbing, and I asked how that would feel.  His face immediately scrunched,

“Eww.”

Yet, that is what we can slowly slide into with self-improvement. 

I am only tolerating this Least-Best Self as a means to an end of my Perfect Self.  I am not present in the experiences she is having or care about caring for her and loving her strange, funny, endearing imperfection. 

Eww.

In this gap in our relationships with ourselves, self-care often fades away.  If improvement is the glaring objective, behind which nothing can be seen, we forget to nourish ourselves mentally, emotional, and spiritually.  And then, in that starved state, we look around and see a lot of our Least-Best Self and wonder how the hell we got there and how to make it stop!

Well, my love, you are enough.  Right now, in that strange, funny, endearing imperfection. 

Give that an inhale and exhale. Let it settle around you like falling leaves.

Because, in fact, you are pretty fricking spectacular, over there living your complex human life and trying to figure it all out.

Blake