NICHE Magazne - - Romantic Fantasy - by Heather White

The world of self-help and self-im­prove­ment is at an all-time high. Add the in­ter­net, a 21st cen­tury perk to the in­dus­try, and you could spend 24 hours a day work­ing on tweak­ing your ex­is­tence just ever so slightly to be more… well, im­proved. But here's the fun­da­men­tal prob­lem with the self-help and self­im­prove­ment space, and this is com­ing from a poster child for the in­dus­try:

YOU are per­fect. Yes, YOU.

With all your im­per­fec­tions, quirks, flaws, and shadow side. You don't need to be fixed and you don't even need to be helped. Frankly, what you re­ally need is to be re­vealed. It's sub­tle, but trust me when I tell you there's a big dif­fer­ence be­tween im­prov­ing and un­veil­ing.

From the self-help lens, we be­gin on a jour­ney of ex­plo­ration to dis­cover the things about us that need to be changed in or­der for us to be happy and ful­filled. The trou­ble is, this model has a fun­da­men­tal flaw. It per­pet­u­ates the mal­ware in our in­ner soft­ware which is pro­grammed to be­lieve our start­ing point is de­fi­cient. In the­ory, it sounds great; you're not quite right, you need im­prove­ment. Here - read this, learn this, then change that, and voila, you will be new and im­proved AND this new and im­proved ver­sion of you will be end­lessly happy, happy, happy.


And it's a big but. When we pop this blue pill and sink down the rab­bit hole of self-help with­out up­grad­ing our dos soft­ware pro­gram­ming, re­gard­less of what we learn, or how we change or what in­cred­i­ble im­prove­ments we are able to achieve, we are still run­ning the old sys­tem with that pesky lit­tle be­lief that will still be rob­bing us of our true joy. The one about “who I am is de­fi­cient and there­fore I must im­prove to be wor­thy and ca­pa­ble of hap­pi­ness.” WRONG!

I am a huge fan of self-help and self-im­prove­ment. But, we must be­gin at the be­gin­ning. Miss­ing the first and most fun­da­men­tal step is the true cul­prit that robs us of our hap­pi­ness. The first thing we must change, be­fore we do any im­prov­ing of self is the point of view from which we are look­ing at our­selves.

Here’s what I mean...

In­stead of think­ing you have to im­prove to be wor­thy and happy, what if, your wor­thi­ness and hap­pi­ness were ly­ing dor­mant in­side you. In other words, they were not things you had to go out and get. They were not re­wards for your hard work or gifts for be­ing an es­pe­cially good hu­man. In­stead they were birth rights, un­equiv­o­cally yours for the ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. What if your

job was less about im­prov­ing, and more about re­veal­ing your essence? Kind of like when Michelan­gelo would go to the quarry and get a slab of mar­ble. He ex­plained the statue was al­ready in­side. He de­scribed his role as re­mov­ing all the ex­cess mar­ble that was block­ing the view of this ex­traor­di­nary piece of art locked in­side.

What if you are an ex­traor­di­nary piece of art al­ready?

What if you were to start from that premise? When we en­gage in per­sonal de­vel­op­ment from a place of cu­rios­ity, ver­sus our usual stance of harsh self-crit­i­cism, the en­tire dance changes. We choose dif­fer­ently.

• In­stead of self-dis­ci­plined, im­posed changes that rigidly block us from en­gag­ing in bad habits, we choose life af­firm­ing, soul stir­ring, joy­ful ac­tiv­i­ties that light us up from within.

• In­stead of a calo­rie re­stricted diet, and no food af­ter 7pm, we choose a nu­tri­tional 7-week cook­ing class where we learn to buy, pre­pare and en­joy, de­li­cious, healthy, life af­firm­ing meals.

• In­stead of man­dat­ing a 30 minute sit­ting med­i­ta­tion prac­tice, be­cause ‘that' is the path to en­light­en­ment, you stop at the beach on the way home from work ev­ery day, be­cause those 10 minutes in na­ture tune your in­ner rhythm to a place of peace and harmony and you walk through the door with an open and gen­tle heart. Which by the way, was what the med­i­ta­tion was sup­posed to do, ex­cept it left you with a sore ass and a stiff back and even more up­tight than when you started.

The truth is no one knows the path to your hap­pi­ness, ex­cept for you. Peo­ple write books about the method that worked for them. Al­low that to be an af­fir­ma­tion that hap­pi­ness, joy, and ful­fil­ment is alive and well in the hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence. But, be­fore you read one more book, take one more course, go to one more re­treat, con­sider, you are al­ready who you want to be; an ex­quis­ite work of art. In­stead of try­ing to ‘im­prove' your­self, what might you do to re­veal even more of your ex­quis­ite essence into the world?


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