Does self improvement have a dark side?

Does self improvement have a dark side?

In today’s society, self improvement is regarded as the pivotal goal in life; it’s a never ending list that humanity can constantly expand upon, for humans are not designed for perfection, and yet we ache to achieve it.

The constant need to push and expand ourselves can be rewarding, we learn new skills, gain confidence through practice and feel happier about how the self we represent to the world is portrayed. However, with a culture that demands a strong dosage of self improvement every day as if it were a vital supplement, one can start to feel perplexed at understanding just exactly what self improvement entails.

Simple pleasures can start to be viewed as indulgences, and make us feel guilty for doing so. This chocolate cake is not going to improve who I am, I say to myself, but I eat it anyway, with a bitter aftertaste of guilt.

Society drives us to the limit, seeking unattainable perfection in the form of self improvement. It can cloud life. Self Improvement encourages us to compare ourselves to others around us, which in turn can make us feel like failures for not “achieving” certain goals.

Furthermore, if people are constantly seeking to improve themselves, are they not just doing so to boost their own egocentricity? And for whom does self-improvement really benefit?

By becoming a grade eight piano player, I have achieved the crux of self improvement, but if there is no passion to fuel it, if one finds themselves practicing merely so as not to lose the skill of playing a musical instrument, do we ourselves even benefit from self improvement? Or are we, too, trapped in a cycle that creates misery, unable to break away.

Self improvement, of course, is not necessarily a rancid pursuit; rather, it can indeed be beneficial, if used in the right way. By becoming a better person, and becoming more comfortable with ourselves, the contentedness we receive from life is reflected through our bodies, creating calmer atmospheres, happier environments and even uplifting others.

Self improvement is about becoming comfortable with your mind, and the search for knowledge can do just that, leading to an expansion of empathy, and perhaps, even spiritual enlightenment.

As long as we pursue self improvement for the right reasons, and do not feel pressured to change who we are merely to fit in to a created stereotype, then self improvement is most certainly worth pursuing. After all, an expansion of knowledge can only lead to a further understanding of the world around us, which in turn is no bad thing.

“Live, Travel, Adventure, Bless, and don’t be sorry” — Jack Kerouac

Written by Dorothy Dunn

Photography by Dorothy Dunn: Climbing/ descending the proverbial steps to self improvement

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  • Lilian Darvell

    This is very true, I really enjoyed reading this article. It really calls into question the cycle of self blame and doubt that “self-improvement” can cause.

  • Gerry O’Neill

    “It is our duty as human beings to proceed as though the limits of our
    capabilities do not exist.”

    – Teilhard de Chardin

    I agree with the bottom half of this article. Self-improvement should only be done for the ‘SELF’.