People don’t typically stumble on a path of spirituality and self-improvement because everything is going just fine and dandy in their life.
If you’re like me, you usually go through a slew of events in your life that force you to realize that you need to make a serious change or see a new perspective in order to move through the challenge. You’ve gone through all your usual behaviors that used to work, and now they don’t. You start to realize the problem is you.
So you start to look within and see what’s going on beneath the hood that is causing you to repeat the same unhelpful behavior over and over. You start to learn, either on your own or with the help of a coach or therapist, that you’ve got some areas of your personality you need to work on. It’s difficult work because you have to come face to face with your demons.
But at the same time, it’s empowering. With this work, you realize you have the power to change your reality from a negative one to a positive one by changing yourself. You realize you have control over what you can do to change your life.
Then, once you do move past your demons and your challenges, on a hero’s journey, you feel what it’s like living without these demons. And it feels incredible! It’s like removing grime covering your glasses for most of your life. You didn’t realize that you could live in a world where you could see so clearly.
What happens when you start to change your beliefs and to value yourself more is that you start to create more positive experiences in your life. You start to experience life in the way you always dreamed you would, and everything is in technicolor.
And this is the best part about self-development. The more effort you put into it, the more benefits you will receive. It’s incredibly rewarding. On the other side of healing is joy, creativity, and freedom of expression.
The dark side of this work is lurking underneath. What happens when you start measuring your current self against your future self? This is a slippery slope because the work you do on yourself is never going to end.
Healing is a continuous journey. Now that you’ve experienced the freedom on the other side of pain, you want more of it. That’s when it becomes dangerous to your self-esteem if you’ve had an experience of shame in your upbringing and ancestral lineage. Shame is a driver of perfectionism.
Needing to have everything perfect in yourself in order to succeed or be accepted is actually just shame dressed up.
When I was going into a shame spiral recently and seeing myself as not enough, the first thing I thought to do for some reason was to search for a solution on YouTube. I typed in ‘ feeling not enough.’ I don’t know why I was called to do this, but I quickly realized it was because I was being led by my higher self to find a new perspective to get through this.
Right away a video with the title “Love Yourself — There’s Nothing Wrong with You” stood out. I clicked it. I saw that it was made by therapist and relationship coach, Alan Robarge. What I would hear next would truly shift everything about how I view myself and self-improvement.
With absolute accuracy, Alan proceeded to describe the exact process that I went through with my own shame spiral and exactly how to transcend it.
Alan started off by saying, “You follow the healing path based upon your suffering, it gives you direction and insight, and you go on a journey.” This is the process I described at the beginning of this article, the high you feel from the positive results of healing.
He then went on to describe a shame spiral as, “Now I’m in the rabbit hole and looking for healing modalities outside of myself because I’m not enough.” Check. You can easily detour into a detrimental way of healing yourself because you only see how much left there is to heal in yourself.
Can you relate? You’re constantly working on improving (which is a good thing), but you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Through the lens of the ‘not good enough’ self.
When you heal because you feel shame, it’s because you don’t feel enough as you are right now. As Alan says, this is actually a form of aggression towards yourself, and I couldn’t agree more.
The underlying belief is: There’s something wrong with me. You can so easily stay in a loop of thinking there’s something wrong with you and set off on a never-ending quest of finding a way to fix it.
With this behavior, you start to see yourself as a project and you no longer see yourself as a human being. It’s like you’re renovating a house with no end date in sight, constantly working and fixing.
This distorted thinking is basically saying that you’re less than human because you’ve got shame, anxiety, depression, or trauma. It’s saying you’re broken and need to be fixed. That is not okay.
This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Even when you do have these afflictions, you still have basic goodness, as Alan says. That’s an important reminder.
You don’t need to disparage your worth.
You don’t need to shame yourself.
If you’re a self-improvement project, you’re not living your life. You’re living your life waiting to become the shiny new version of yourself, thinking you’ll become that person in five years. At that point, you’ll be acceptable. You’ll be loveable when you’re the ‘healed’ version of yourself.
Alan affirms that you’re a lovely and wonderful human being right as you are right now. He even gets so emotional that he almost starts to cry — he explains this concept so well because he’s experienced this too.
Reminder: As a human, you have a right to be okay with who you are.
Stop treating yourself like a self-improvement project, because this skewed view won’t allow you to accept and love yourself as who you are right now.
There’s never going to be a day where you wake up and think “I am 100% healed of my upbringing and every traumatic event in my life.” I used to aim for that type of healing, and quickly realized that it doesn’t work that way. You just get better every day.
Yes, you will need to change in order to move through life and while you’re doing this you can still love yourself. You can get better at working with what you’ve got, instead of trying to ‘fix’ yourself.
As you do this you don’t need to tell yourself that you’re broken or not enough. Instead, you can affirm to yourself that you embody basic goodness no matter what and that you’re okay. Ironically, when you start to accept yourself as you are, that’s what allows you to take the next step to heal. You don’t do it from a place of self-loathing but from a place of self-love.
As Alan Robarge says, “Honey, there’s nothing wrong with you.”