Personal Development and the Lie of Self Improvement

From the word go, we’re programmed to believe that we need to better ourselves. If we’ve grown up in the Christian tradition, we have learned that he are damaged goods in need of repentance – that’s not, in fact, at the core of the Christian message – in fact, we are actually told that we are the children of God. In addition, as a result of society’s need for us to conform,

we are encouraged to better ourselves by getting a good education. Admittedly, there’s nothing wrong with suitably equipping ourselves for the roles we want, need or are forced to pursue in life (but to what extent does the normal educational curriculum equip us?) but, as a result, we are constantly being fed the subliminal message that we need to improve our imperfect selves.

Enter “self-improvement” – a whole industry devoted to enabling people be better – build self-esteem, improve their personality, build self-confidence, find their true selves. While this is all very laudable (I’ve been working with clients in this field for over fourteen years), the problem is the premise from which the whole process starts – that you are in need of self-improvement. You’re not! Instead, you need to unlearn the mountain of programming, or baggage, that was heaped upon you during your formative years. In those formative years, when you were young and impressionable, you formed an impression of yourself that is way wide of the mark. As an adult, you now believe wholeheartedly in your perceived faults, failings and inadequacies.

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