So you want to know how to better yourself. You’ve read all the personal development books, all the self-help articles, listened to the all ‘experts’ advice. They’ve told you all the things you need to do. All the next steps to take. The improvements that must be made. But there is one thing you should really do first. It’s nothing really. But it’s the hardest ‘nothing’ of all. Accept who you are.
By accepting who you are right now. That person with all those flaws and failures. That person who you think you want to change. You have already become better. You have figured out how to better yourself by doing nothing. The only action you need to take is mental action.
Look, I get it. I’m one of you. I’m always on this quest of being better. Just look at my tag line. Being Better: From Pothead To Providence. I’ve turned my life around from being someone who used to smoke marijuana daily for over 20 years. I’ve become someone who exercises regularly. I am constantly trying to improve upon myself day after day.
I’m always trying to grow, to learn, trying to figure out the best ways in how to better myself. Better my life. I’ve read, and listened to, a lot of personal development books at this stage. Books that have helped me become the person I am today. Books that have helped me to see there is a better and brighter future ahead.
But always looking and building towards a better tomorrow, a better you, isn’t all there is to it. You can’t live in tomorrow as much as you can’t live in the past. You need to learn to accept the ‘you’ as you are now. Because right here. Right now. You are all the ‘you’ you will ever have.
How To Better Yourself When You Are Always You
Here’s the thing. As much as I have changed, I’m still me. My habits might be different. My attitude improved. My outlook more positive. But I still have the same thoughts to deal with.
If you’ve read any of my other posts you will know that my ‘wife’ moved out on our son and I almost a year and a half ago. That I used to smoke lots of marijuana. That I used to be very lazy. That I’m not exactly doing a job I love.
I’m still dealing with the fallout from that. There are times where my son is desperately unhappy, when I’m unhappy, when I would just love to say ‘screw this’ and start smoking and just be lazy again.
As much as I know that I will never allow that to happen. That doing nothing and smoking just isn’t an option. That the sadness will pass. I still have to deal with those thoughts. They are still there no matter how much improvement I have made and will continue to make.
I can see that while a lot has changed I can also see that a lot hasn’t.
Better Yourself Through Acceptance
You see it doesn’t matter how much you better yourself. It doesn’t matter how much more success you get in your life. It doesn’t matter about the hurdles you have overcome. It doesn’t matter if you attain all your goals and wealth. At the end of it all you are still going to be you.
All those things will only matter after you have learned to accept yourself. When you’ve learned that you have strengths and weaknesses. When you have learned that you won’t always get things right. When you’ve learned to accept that you are not perfect. And never will be.
By the way, don’t worry about being perfect. No one is. If someone was claiming to be perfect (which I really doubt they would) they would either be lying, deluding themselves, or an aberration.
Perfection is a flawed concept. The perfectionist gets nothing done. They get too caught up in the details, the fine print, to ever get going. The need for perfection will, at best, stop you doing what needs to be done, at worst, will have you constantly beating yourself up trying to reach an impossible and unattainable goal.
There’s nothing wrong with striving to do the best you can. The best you can do doesn’t have to be anywhere near perfection. It just has to be good enough. Do you know that the people who succeed, the ‘winners’, aren’t perfect. They were just that little bit better than everyone else.
The Better Yourself Paradox
The thing about trying to better yourself. The same thing about life. It’s all paradoxical. It’s about seemingly contradictory opposites working in unison. You can strive to better yourself but that doesn’t matter if you can’t appreciate who you are now.
You’re still going to have certain thoughts about things. Positive thoughts and negative thoughts. No matter how much ‘better’ you are.
This reminds me of a part of the latest book by entrepreneur, investor, and personal development guru, Rob Moore. In his ‘I’m Worth More’ book he was talking about a discussion he had with his business partner regarding reality. Mr Moore was saying how reality is what you make it. That it was about your perception. Science even backs this idea up. The idea that reality only exists when you perceive it.
His business partner, Mark Homer, argued the opposite. That there had to be a base reality. Something we all agreed on. A concrete reality that is the same for everyone.
I remember thinking at the time that if one punched the other on the nose they would both agree on that being the ‘reality’. One would have a sore nose. The other a sore hand. Not much to perceive about that. It’s pretty self-evident.
But then I thought maybe they are both right. Maybe those realities exist in unison. Maybe the difference in their perceived reality is what would lead to the imaginary punch on the nose.
The discussion reminded me of a symbol that is instantly recognisable to a lot of us. The yin yang symbol. It represents the concept of dualism in ancient Chinese philosophy. A concept of opposing forces in harmony. Like the sun and moon, dark and light, male and female.
Maybe there is no right or wrong answer. Maybe both answers exist in union with each other. Maybe they both have a part of the other, in each other. Maybe reality isn’t just a case of black and white.
The Paradox Is Everywhere
The paradox is everywhere. It’s all around you and within you. Like the fact that the only certainty is that nothing is certain. That the more you are afraid of death, the less you will enjoy life. Like how the more you learn about something, the more you realise how little you know, or how the more you fail, the more likely you will succeed.
The point of highlighting the state of paradox that we exist in is to let you see that, yes, striving to be the best version of you is a worthy task. But you have to accept that the ‘you’ now is already a part of that ‘best’ version of yourself.
We are always changing and we should try to change for the better. But you are not the end result. There is no end result.
You are the journey. You are the footsteps taken every day. Not the finish line. There is no finish line except death and even that’s debatable for some. You need to appreciate and accept where you are now. Right at this moment. And then move on from there. Accepting each step along the way.
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”Carl Rogers
Once you have accepted who you are. Once you have realised that you won’t always have the right answers or do the right thing. That your quest in finding out how to better yourself is an ongoing, life-long adventure. That it’s ok to make mistakes. To fail. To fall. To get back up again. To succeed. You might just find that you are already better than you ever imagined yourself to be.
Just keep going. Keep pushing. Keep moving forward. Accept where you are. Accept who you are.
It’s the person you are now that is going to help you get to where you want to be. The ‘you’ now is the best, the only, version of ‘you’ you will ever be.
Embrace the paradox. That seeming contradiction in wanting to be better whilst still being good enough. Stop being so hard on yourself. Stop thinking the future ‘you’ is going to be any better than the ‘you’ now. They are one in the same.
So find out all the ways you can on how to better yourself. Improve upon yourself to improve your life. Just don’t forget that by accepting who you are now you’ve already taken the biggest, most important step. You’ve learned that you are enough and always will be.