Around the web lately I’ve seen this topic around self-improvement being toxic.
That personal development causes people to strive to be their best self but really leaves them unhappy.
That it makes people think they’re not good enough.
Well, as someone who heavily writes about personal development, is on their own forever journey of personal development, and lives by the motto, “Never stop improving,” obviously I don’t agree.
Nothing is toxic unless you make it toxic.
When I write my blog posts or share my journey, I’m not here to make anyone feel bad about themselves.
I recently listened to a podcast titled, ‘A Life Well Lived with DocG’ by Grant Sabatier of Financial Freedom. They actually touched on this and I love what Doc G said:
“You’re good enough already, but maybe a little meditation will make you a little happier, or take away that anxiety you have, or help you do something you want to do. Maybe the cold shower will make you feel more invigorated in the morning, maybe it will, maybe it won’t.”
He goes on to say, “It [self-help] becomes a playground for picking and choosing those things that add extra value and benefit.”
Personal development doesn’t have to be toxic if you don’t want it to be.
Personal development actually makes me a happier person. Developing positive habits has genuinely increased the quality of my life. I strive to be a better version of me on a regular basis.
When I eat healthy and exercise I feel confident and clear minded. When I’m productive and get through my to-do list I feel satisfied and proud. When I meditate and journal I feel grounded and ready to take on my day.
Working on yourself and your habits can literally turn your life around.
Here is how self-improvement can become toxic:
You feel like you always need to be doing the “right” thing
If you feel guilty/like a failure for watching TV, taking a rest day, sleeping in, eating junk food, etc., then you may be taking things too seriously.
There is nothing wrong with aiming to live a well-rounded life, but if you don’t allow yourself to slip up from time to time, you’ll drive yourself crazy.
You don’t feel good enough now
Like what Doc G said, you are good enough now, but personal development and all that comes with it sprinkles good things into your life.
If you are expecting to feel better or happier once you achieve a certain thing, guess again. If you don’t feel good enough already, you still may not feel good enough even after years on your personal development journey.
You force positivity
Some people choose to force positivity and good feelings via affirmations or self-talk. That can be a good thing to get through certain situations, but it’s also important to recognize that you don’t need to feel positive all the time.
We are human and we all feel emotions. That is the point…to FEEL the emotions. Blanketing your negative emotions and thoughts with positivity is like placing a band-aid on a large open wound.
Sometimes you’ve got to experience the pain of clearing things out and waiting for things to heal.
You compare your journey to someone else’s
I never want my posts or my experience to make anyone else feel inadequate. My personal development journey looks different from everyone else. We all have different timelines too.
If you don’t have certain habits or thoughts established yet, don’t worry about it. You’ll get there when you are supposed to.
You expect others to be how you are
While self-improvement is a huge and growing area, not everyone has or will ever start their journey.
A lot of people are OK with who they are even if we think they have many things they should work on.
As people who do strive to become a better person, we can sometimes expect everyone else to do the same. Even people close to us. The more you improve yourself the more you will start to notice things in others.
However, it’s not really our place to change anyone else or to expect anything from others.
You may lose friends or feel more isolated, but that can be up to you.
You keep trying to find the magic answers (lack of action)
There is so much information out there around personal development. It involves exercise, productivity, healthy habits, meditation, focus, confidence, communication, and so much more.
If you get trapped in the idea of improving yourself rather than actually taking action, you might not experience any change that you had hoped for.
There are no secret or magic answers for the things you keep searching for. There is no need to read hundreds of articles and subreddit posts on the same topic, just start.
There are no rules in personal development, that is what is so great about it.
Make it your own journey and it will never feel toxic.