Since you are interested in the subjects I write about and teach, chances are you read self-help books, have maybe done the odd personal development workshop or course, and are generally wondering how you can improve your life, and yourself.
How can you be a happier, calmer person. Have more patience with others. Enjoy the moment more. Forgive those who hurt you, heal your wounds, move on, find peace. Find your purpose and live it. And so on and so forth.
There is a flip side to that, however. And that is, that you get to (or stay in) a place where you are subtly but constantly disapproving of who you are now. (And boy do I know that trap!). You are never where you need to be, never who you need to be.
And the trouble is, most of us are so used to that place.
Don’t we all know the voices of parents and educators, letting us know we need to be more, different, harder working, better performing, higher achieving? The voices that we have internalized and that are now the nagging, familiar voice of our inner critic?
There is a paradox at play here. It is perfectly normal and healthy to strive for happiness, peace, joy. Nor is there anything wrong with wondering what you could change in order to achieve it.
However, since most of us suffer some degree of ‘I am not enough’-itis, there is also this deep need for being accepted exactly as you are.
And you should be. Because you are enough. Happy or unhappy, patient or impatient, at a high or at a low: you are enough, you are a beautiful human being experiencing normal (though maybe sometimes painful) human experiences.
AND it is perfectly o.k. to want a happy life and pursue your dreams. And if you need to grow and heal in order to do that, that is o.k. too.
But in order to be able to grow and change, you need a safe learning environment. An environment of complete acceptance. An environment where you are loved no matter what, if you win or lose, fail or succeed, rise or fall. And so you should stop self-improving. Stop giving yourself the continuous subtle message that you’re not o.k. (yet).
Start with self-love, self-care, self-acceptance, self-compassion. Change will follow inevitably.
p.s. Zen meditation cements a perfect basis for acceptance and equanimity. So check out my online zen intro course here. Starts September 6.