Our ability to grow into more than what we currently are is truly one of the defining traits of human existence. It is the foundation of most of our ambitions, dreams, and drives. Without it, the human race would never make significant steps forward. Learning how to engage in constant self-improvement and personal development is something that has enabled us to take ourselves and the entire human race to higher levels.
However, as with any activity, it can be overdone. There are downsides when you engage in too much personal development and constant self-improvement. That is what we’re going to discuss today—how constant self-improvement can, at times, harm us.
Where Does Our Need for Self-Improvement Come From?
Although self-improvement and personal development, in general, are excellent things to seek out in our lives, when overdone, they can begin to take a negative toll.
Think about why the vast majority of people engage in personal development. It’s often because they feel as though they aren’t currently enough, or that they could be more, or that something is wrong with them.
Whatever your reason is, it’s important to retain positive feelings towards yourself. This is because constant self-improvement can sometimes reinforce the idea that there are many things wrong with us or that we’re not good enough, so we need to force ourselves to improve.
And if you’re continually trying to improve simply because you believe something is wrong with you or because you’re not good enough, you may begin taking yourself down a negative road.
There is a massive difference between being realistic about yourself and saying, “I am not good at this particular thing, but I can get better if I keep trying” and saying “I need to get good at this thing because otherwise, I have no value.”
So, keep an eye on your mindset throughout this process. Because, yes, self-improvement is good in moderation while constant self-improvement can at times reinforce some negative mindsets.
Don’t let your insecurities come into play, at least not too significantly. Don’t start saying things like, “when I accomplish this, then I’ll be good enough to have real value.” Those are dangerous phrases to include in your self-take in regards to your mental health.
This type of harsh and overly critical self-evaluation can form the foundation for many negative emotions and personal issues that we develop in our lives.
Don’t allow yourself to eventually dislike the person you see in the mirror because you’re constantly not meeting the increasingly higher standards that you’re setting for yourself. The scary part of constant self-improvement is that many of us do, at one point or another, fall into this trap.
You Always Have Potential
Here is something that I want you to take to heart.
When you begin to feel yourself falling into the trap of constant self-improvement because you’re not enough, repeat the phrase, “I may not be good enough, but I have the potential to get myself to where it is that I want to be.”
You should never feel unworthy. You always have value. You are always capable.
Remember that any change you want to make in your life is voluntary. You are in control of how your life goes. Very few changes we make to our lives are mandatory.
So, stop being overly harsh on yourself. Remember that we are human, and 100% of humans have flaws and make mistakes.
It’s important here to make sure that engaging in constant self-improvement isn’t preventing you from accepting yourself.
It’s important to retain your self-care practices as that self-acceptance is one of the most valuable personal traits you can ever develop on your path to self-improvement.
Don’t Set Unrealistic Ideals and Live Your Own Life
Another trap you can find in a lot of personal development books is setting massive goals—the “if your dreams don’t scare you, then they aren’t big enough” mentalities.
For some of us, this might be okay. However, if you constantly set massive goals, live up to unrealistic standards, and have unachievable expectations for yourself, chances are eventually your drive is not only going to fade, but it’s going to turn negative.
Don’t get into the trap of trying to lead an unattainable lifestyle. Because that is where constant self-improvement can get dangerous because inevitably, we will fall short of the mark.
That being said, don’t let anybody tell you what’s realistic and what isn’t. You have to take the time to reflect on what a realistically achievable and positive life means to you.
Don’t go out and try to live the ideals that some book or motivational speaker told you to do. They are paid to say those things—to say what is popular because that’s how they build audiences.
You need to live YOUR ideals, not theirs.
Practice the Attitude of Gratitude
Here is something else that I’ve noticed in a lot of people who don’t fully understand personal development. When they are engaging in constant self-improvement because they believe there is something better out there, they get selfish, and obviously, that’s not a good thing.
Don’t let this practice devalue the amazing things that you’ve already done and accomplished with your life.
Sure, there is always more out there. You could be the more productive, smartest, and most efficient person that this world has ever seen and live that way for 100 years, and there would still be more out there when you die at the end of your life.
Don’t get so caught up “trying to get more” that you forget to appreciate the things you already have.
Don’t fall for the trap that just because your life or a situation isn’t perfect right now that means that it can never be fixed or improved and that you should abandon it entirely for something else.
Don’t become obsessed with the mentality that your life always has to be perfect and that you always need more because if you live that way, inevitably you’re going to end up disappointed.
It was Victor Frankl, psychiatrist and best-selling author of Man’s Search For Meaning who suggested that success should never be our sole goal, instead, he believes that:
“Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue.”
If you want to engage in constant self-improvement, then be my guest. But be careful.
Make sure you never begin to adopt the mindset that you’re doing it to fix yourself or because you’re broken. Remember, you’ve done a lot of amazing things already and you’re simply looking to improve on some of the accomplishments you’ve already achieved.
Also, remember to be realistic. No matter how hard you try, you’re not going to be good at everything. But just because you aren’t good at something right now doesn’t mean that you don’t have the potential to get good at it.
And more than anything, remember that you need to accept yourself. Never let this constant self-improvement lower your opinion of yourself. You’re doing this so you can be more impactful in your everyday life and so that you can develop a stronger understanding of yourself.
Best of luck!
More About Proper Self-Improvement
- How to Know Yourself and Seek Self Improvement
- 15 Simple Ways To Make Self Improvement That Will Change Your Life
- The Importance of Self Improvement No Matter How Old You Are
Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com