Do you always need to be working on yourself?

spiritual journey Sep 08, 2020

In the spiritual and self-help worlds, we often hear encouraging words to strive for more, to change for the better, to edit out our messes and flaws...

But – and this is a big BUT… it’s important to remember that not everything needs fixing.

And not everything is a teachable moment in the cult of self-improvement.

I had to remind myself of this the other day.

I was out at a store. I saw something I wanted to buy for myself: It was something that I very much wanted, but did not need.

And as I picked that item up off the shelf, a very clear thought went through my head: “I really should work on buying myself fewer things.”

And then I followed that up with a big why: “Why should I stop, when it makes me happy?”

Why is it a problem – or perceived as one?

There is a major tendency to pathologize our behaviours these days. To self-analyze, and over-analyze. To self-diagnose ourselves as problematic.

To decide that everything about ourselves could be better, or different.

To believe that if we have a desire, a routine, or a pattern, it must be something that needs to be looked at. Even when it’s not something that actually needs fixing:

“I really should work on getting up earlier (even though I really need a full night’s sleep…)”

“I really should work on being more outgoing (even though it’s not really who I am…)”

“I really should work this, that, and the other thing (even though I’ve had a stressful year and really just want a break…)”

Those of who are drawn to practices like tarot and astrology, to spirituality and self-help, tend to be striving towards growth, self-awareness and betterment.

And those things on their own are great. They have their time and place.

But we have to remember to honour ourselves as well, not to constantly look at our behaviours, personalities and preferences as things that are broken.

Just because you have an awareness of something doesn’t automatically mean it needs to be evaluated as worthy.

Not only does it get exhausting to pick apart everything about yourself, but it’s also not necessary.

If something brings you pleasure, then why is that a problem?

If something is just part of your nature, then why not embrace it instead of trying to fix it?

For years I wanted to be that friend who was ready for anything: Always down to hang out, always available with an open door or time to talk.

But the truth is, that’s not me. I need a lot of alone time, and having a highly extroverted life would frustrate me. It wouldn’t leave me with the time I need to work on my writing, build my business, or focus on other hobbies.

In an ideal world, I would be able to do it all. In the real world, I have to learn to work with what I’ve got – and learn to accept myself as how I am, and what I am able to bring forward as a result of that.

Unless it’s hurting someone, holding you back, or keeping you out of reach of a true goal, then it probably doesn’t need to be fixed.

There is so much pressure in the world to be constantly productive, to use every moment of your life striving to do more, achieve more, or be more – and that feeds into this idea that whenever we do something pleasurable – take a break, binge a TV show, have a nap – that we should be working that part out of ourselves: “Why can’t I do more? Why can I only do so much in a day?”

The answer? Because you’re a person, not a robot. You do not need to be repaired. You need to be rested.

The same goes for our own goals and dreams. So often people sit down for a tarot reading with me and talk about how guilty they feel for wanting what they want – whether it’s a life on their own, a career, a family, a house.

People who have big goals question whether they should be working on themselves to want less. People who are satisfied with where they’re at wonder if they should be pushing themselves for more.

Whenever I find myself picking apart my own desires or dreams, I ask myself these questions:

Is this actually a problem?

Is it holding me back?

Does it make me happy?

As I said earlier, not everything needs fixing. And if the answers to the above questions come back as no, no and yes, then that tells me right away that I need in that moment is self-acceptance, not self-improvement. 

Until next time,

Liz xo


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