What Does it Mean to Self-Improve?

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By Dr. Margaret Paul
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Self-improvement has become mainstream. In the last few years that I’ve been writing articles and submitting them to Web sites, I've noticed that articles related to “self-improvement” have been showing up more frequently. To me, this is good news.

But what does it really mean to self-improve? What are we really improving when we self-improve? And what "self" are we improving?

We each have two "selves"—our wounded self and our core self. Our core self is our true self, our natural soul self—our essence. Our core self is our passion, our joy, our gifts and talents, our ability to love, our creativity. We come into this life as our core self, and when this self is loved and valued by our parents, we continue to naturally grow our inherent gifts and talents and manifest the fullness of our beings. This self wants to improve by learning the skills necessary to fully express itself.

But when this self is not seen and valued in the way we need, we create an alternative self—a self we hope will have control over getting the love we need and avoiding the pain we can't handle and a self to help us feel safe. This is our false self, our wounded self, our ego self. This self is filled with the false beliefs that we absorbed as we were growing up. These beliefs end up limiting our true, core self. This self does not need improving—it needs healing.

The term "self-improvement" can sometimes be a bit misleading because we do not want to improve our wounded self. We do not want to improve on the way we lie, manipulate and avoid in our attempts to have control over getting love and avoiding pain. We don't want to improve on our many addictions to substance and processes. We don't want to improve on our anger, our compliance, our withdrawal and our resistance.

We want to heal it.

Healing and improving is not the same thing.

We can certainly self-improve when it comes to skills. We can improve in sports, in art, music, writing, cooking. We can improve our health and well-being by improving our diet and exercise program. We can improve in the knowledge we need to be more successful regarding work and money. We might be able to improve our relationships by learning new communication skills. But what if acquiring new knowledge and skills does not improve our health, or our ability to earn money or our relationships? And what if learning new skills does not bring us more joy and inner peace? It may mean that we need to heal the underlying fears and false beliefs that cause us to be anxious, depressed, stressed, guilt-ridden, shamed, withdrawn, angry, blaming or sad.

Sometimes self-improvement just means practicing a skill, and other times it means that we need to participate in a deep healing process. For example, many people try to improve their health by losing weight and exercising. But if their food addictions are masking unhealed pain, they might not be able to just change their diet. They might need to open to a healing process in order to eventually improve.

If you are really trying to self-improve but find yourself stuck and unable to progress, or find that you have no joy or inner peace, you might want to open to the possibility that unhealed pain and beliefs are blocking your progress and causing your pain. It is easy to improve yourself when there is nothing blocking the way. But if you have old false beliefs about your adequacy and worth, these beliefs may be blocking your ability to take loving action on your own behalf. All your efforts to self-improve will not bring you the satisfaction you are seeking if you have beliefs that are keeping you limited in fully expressing your true, core self. If you are stuck, then you need to seek out a healing process—such as the process we teach at Inner Bonding—that will move you out of the fears and beliefs that limit you. Healing these fears and limiting beliefs will open the door to improving your life in all ways.

For more information, contact: Inner Bonding Educational Technologies, Inc. PMB #42, 2531 Sawtelle Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90064 (310) 459-1700; 888-6INNERBOND (888-646-6372)