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A gentle approach to self improvement

Why is it that sometimes we can be overly critical of ourselves and other times, we are so shy to call out ourselves on our nonsense? It is so interesting to me to see how much of a double standard we impose not just on others but also on ourselves. In my opinion, while the most obvious forms of self love garner attention, the subtle forms of self love often go unnoticed. However, what I am about to discuss is less related to self love and more related to integrity. I am not referring to how you show up in the world, no. It is different. I feel that it has more to do with how you show up to yourself. “And why does that matter?” , you might ask me. Well, we owe it to ourselves to not be afraid of striving to improve as a person, every single day. We owe it to ourselves to want to be better humans. “Isn’t accepting all parts of you is what self love is all about?”, someone might ask me. True, absolutely! I am all about it! Compassion starts with self but the reluctance towards self improvement or change of any kind in the pretext of practicing self love is what I intend to discuss here.

I am not trying to say that we must yell at every person who doesn’t want to follow the path of self improvement. Change is very hard for humans. No, no, let me rephrase that. Change is very hard for human Ego. We, humans are definitely capable of positive change. Many might disagree with me. We are a part of this wonderful planet and the fundamental nature of a human is to love and be love. When we are born, we are this cute little blob of giggling, hairless, pure being, with heart full of wonder and good intentions for others. When we start to get into the conditioned environment around us with the help of our parents, teachers and relatives, we start to very quickly mimick and learn from others in order to adapt to this life on Earth. With time, the Ego develops a pretty good model of how to behave in order to survive in this crazy place. While our Ego is basically trying to protect us, it’s no surprise that Ego can cloud not just our world view but also our perception of how we must operate on a daily basis and that is why we need to self-assess gently.

Self-assessment can feel like self criticism but when you do it with love, you literally soothe your crying baby, your Ego. Over the years, I have had countless moments when I have said to myself, “Girl, nope, you can do better” and “Girl, this totally contradicts what you preach and it’s time to make amends”. It was not easy and there were several years when I was pampering this stubborn child within and covering my act with a label of Self love. I guess, for me personally, there came a point in my life when I stopped caring about others but I started to drive that energy inwards and care about what I think about myself more. This was a game-changer for me and perhaps, some people out there could also relate to it when I say we often say we don’t care about others’ opinion of us but secretly we obsess over every little detail. I did for a longest time of my life. When I drove that attention inwards, I started to see all of my “ugly” or might I say, dysfunctional coping mechanisms I had developed over the years which I had labelled as self love. This realization liberated me in a way that initially made me pass a high level of judgement on myself. However, thanks to all the wonderful resources out there, I learnt how to work through them with love and to continue to be open to the process of self-assessment without being hard on myself.

To self-assess gently, we must first address the thought that often comes up in this context: “Something is wrong with me”. Believe it or not, it is possible to change without being your worst enemy of all, your inner critic. There is a very fine line between feeling inadequate and feeling accelerated towards levelling-up your game. That very fine line is made up of a solid foundation of self worth and an eye to identify opportunities for improvement. When your idea of self worth is tied to doing something and not doing something, it is problematic because this is where the thought of not being a perfect person comes from whenever you take any form of criticism. When you know that you are worthy regardless of how “perfect” your life is, a little bit of effort towards self improvement doesn’t feel so threatening. Recognizing the potential to improve in a certain aspect of your daily life is often initiated by inspiration. Inspiration can very quickly turn to envy and I believe that for however small amount of time, we do get inspired first and then it triggers our “Something is wrong with me” web of thoughts and this probably shuts down our desire to get inspired to actually do something about it. This source of inspiration doesn’t have to be external. You don’t have to adapt a morning routine from an Autobiography or a money-making strategy from a book on Business. You could! However, I believe the simplest of changes is the one motivated by intrinsic factors. Ironically, many of us are most stubborn to it as opposed to making changes that are driven by the lives of our favourite famous personalities.

The most important aspect of self-assessment gently is to get an understanding of who you are as a person. I am not talking about what you tell others who you are and what you THINK you are. Getting to know who you are is an undertaking that’s totally worthy of your time and this is going to take some deep journalling sessions. You tell people and you tell yourself what you like and what you despise but is that all true? How have you been feeling lately? Have your priorities changed? In this age of social media, it is very easy to lose touch with self awareness because we are constantly trying to project a version of ourselves that is deceptively convincing. Somewhere along this journey, we lose sight of the true version of ourselves and the version we project onto the outer world. All of this might sound like a lot of work but think about this: there is no person in this world you have been with long enough in this lifetime than YOU. I feel it makes total sense to constantly check in with your beautiful self and be your own accountability partner. If I buy a new iPhone, I would do everything in my power to maintain it to the extent I can. Human mind is a complicated and highly intellectual machine and while we operate it, we forget who we are. We think we are our mind. If we start approaching this as an act of maintenance and care with an open heart and love, the shame associated with the act of dissecting aspects of your living is dissipated.

When there is no fear or shame associated with change, introspection and improvement, the obstacles of self-assessment is removed. But the final component to this process is LOVE. When I say the word Love, I imply that there is no space for judgement. Whatever comes up when you review your life, it is important to treat it with love. What do I mean by that? I want you to use your power of love to heal whatever needs to be healed. You are a spirit having a human experience and the biggest tool in your toolbox is Love. Whatever comes up when you go through a review of your life, you accept and you look at them for what they are. If the moment calls for it, you can get excited about this new set of challenges. You are a well of infinite power and solutions. When you believe in your ability and inner wisdom to find solutions for literally anything conceivable. In your own eyes, you become invincible. You cry, you wipe your tears and then you tell yourself, ” Okay, this is new, let me find a solution for this”. You are the coach you get a lifetime access to and hence, no amount of self-assessment is going to scare you.

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