When was the last time you felt perfectly happy with who you are and how your life is unfolding? If you’re anything like me, chances are it’s been a long while. Yes, I’m doing good in general, but could certainly use some discipline. I procrastinate a lot, spend way too much time on Twitter, and am probably the worst housewife on Earth.

It’s hard for me to feel good about myself. Even when asked directly to list the things I am proud of, there’s always a ‘but’ attached to every sentence. Yes, I did this thing I considered impossible a year ago, but the execution wasn’t perfect, and so I’m going to beat myself up for it. It’s almost as if being happy and proud of who I am was something only narcissists did. If you don’t want to become a narcissist, better stay aware of your shortcomings all the time.

Feeling good about yourself isn’t perceived well in our culture

This likely has roots in the concept of the original sin, but perpetuates even in absence of religion. From recycling to flossing to sixpack abs to saving baby seals, there’s always something you should do but are currently not. The perceived expectations of being an adult are so bloated that many people give up on this adulting business altogether.

This anxiety of never being good enough is a perfect target for all kinds of advertising. Just buy this dress, this car, or that device, and you can feel for a moment that your whole life isn’t falling apart. Even seemingly positive and empowering messages are used to guilt-trip people into buying more. If you don’t pamper yourself with a nice home spa treatment at least once a week, are you really serious about self care and love?

We all feel like we’re broken and need to be fixed

Shopping is but one of many ways to fill that void. Some people might roll into existential despair and numb themselves to that feeling through addiction. For others, self-loathing is what drives them to become insanely successful, whether in business, sports, or even in spirituality.

As much as I love to exercise and seek spiritual growth, there’s a difference between exercising to be good enough versus doing it for its own sake. There’s nothing wrong in striving for greatness, but if you don’t let yourself feel happy until you achieve it, you are never going to feel happy at all. The high from achieving even the greatest goal usually wears off after a few days.

We don’t need self-loathing to keep ourselves in check

This is what many people fear of, and I did so too. If it wasn’t for that nagging voice at the back of my head, where would I be? Laying on my couch, eating cookies, and scrolling Twitter all day. I’d never get up from it without a kick in the butt.

But if that sounds like something you’d do if it wasn’t for discipline, well, you probably forgot how to dream. Couch and cookies seem very bleak in comparison with all the other things you could do. Don’t let any self-improvement guru shame you for wanting a simple life, if that’s what you choose. But given there’s nothing to lose and we’re all gonna die soon anyway, you might as well give that crazy dream a chance.

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This is an assignment from the Future Thinkers’ Course in Personal Evolution. I’ll write more about the course on another occasion, but I’m enjoying it a lot so far.

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