If you’re venturing further into your journey of self-acceptance and self-love whilst simultaneously trying to step into new dreams and realities for yourself and your life, you may sometimes wonder if these two things are actually in conflict.
That conflict might sound something like:
Self-Love vs. Self-Improvement acceptance of things as they are just giving up on all that?? Doesn’t being happy with here and now mean I will stop striving and dreaming and creating?? Doesn’t dreaming and striving and creating mean that I am NOT accepting where I am and I’m not where I want to be yet, and I SHOULDN’T accept it until I am?? I’m confused?!”
The truth, however, is that these two things are NOT actually in conflict—unless you believe they are. And there’s one defining thing that makes that difference…and that thing is: motivation.
If you believe that fear, shame, guilt and “not-good-enough” is the only thing that motivates change for the better than you will definitely NOT see how self-love and acceptance could possibly lead to better things.
People who believe this believe you should tell yourself you’re not good enough until you shape up. They believe in using fear as force for change. And they do it to themselves and to everyone around them, not because they are bad people, but because it is all they know how to do.
And it’s a choice! It’s not better or worse, it’s just one choice. But the majority of people choose this unconsciously, because they simply do not believe there IS another choice that would be effective at creating change. They are just repeating what they’ve learned without questioning it.
If, however, you believe that love, acceptance and “good enough AS and WHERE you are NOW” actually DOES create change for the better, just as an absolutely natural by-product of feeling loved and supported instead of ashamed and like a piece of trash… then you will not see any conflict between trying for more, and loving yourself as and where you are.
Because you will see how love absolutely naturally leads to growth and change for the better. Just by looking at how a baby, or a plant THRIVES when it is loved and/or fails to thrive when it is denied love.
The truth is that growth, change, “better” and “more” are a totally natural by-product of unconditional love and acceptance. But when you have been raised to believe that the way to grow and be better is to guilt, shame, push, pull or force yourself or others into submission, you will sometimes get confused and think that self-love and self-improvement are totally incompatible and at odds.
This will sound something like, “If I just love myself as I am I will just lay on the couch and turn into a slob and lose everything because I’ve stopped pushing and punishing and controlling myself with consequences and threats and so everything will just fall apart!!”
Rather than arguing with this, let me ask you a question… have you been pushing, punishing and controlling yourself with consequences and threats all your life? yes?? are you “perfect” yet? No?? Ever made any mistakes even though you were doing that? Yes?
And how does living that way FEEL?
Have you ever had the experience of someone encouraging and loving you and it energized you and inspired you to do something different, new and good, even if it was small? yes?? Have you ever given yourself compassion instead of shame and seen it restore you and enable you to be with others and actually do more than you could have before that? yes??
And how does living THAT way feel?
Do believe how you feel matters?? Because it does. But you may still believe on some level that it doesn’t. As long as you are “hitting your marks” who cares how you feel right?
How you feel is all you have. It matters.
There’s no right or wrong choice here. YOU get to choose. But how do you want to live? How do you want to feel in this lifetime you have here on earth? How do you want to connect with others? What message do you want to pass on? (Because what we do to ourselves we automatically pass on to others)
The reality is self-love IS self improvement.
Because punishing and hating and beating yourself up for stuff is self-degradation, plain and simple. Real love will ALWAYS be an improvement to that. Though many would call self-degradation self-improvement. And many do.
But just begin to be more aware of how you motivate yourself, and how others try to motivate you too. Be aware of where those motivations are coming from. Are they rooted in fear and shame or love? And begin to choose love instead, if you dare.
And it WILL indeed require some daring. Because that is not how most of the world operates. But I know you can do it. And when you do, the results will be a change you actually FEEL instead of just see and project for other peoples approval.