Yes, this is a thing. I see articles like this all the time. Self Improvement is big business. Self Improvement is also the largest share of blogs. (Cats are the biggest part of the internet, but not blogs). Unfortunately, it all relies on one thing:
Making you feel like crap about yourself.
Want to know how to be great in 24 hours? It’s simple.
Quit being so fucking hard on yourself
There. I said it. The one little sentence that makes most of the ‘10 steps to a better you‘ articles obsolete.
Most of our desire to improve ourselves comes from a feeling of inadequacy. At any given point in my life I was sure that I was not:
- tall enough
- thin enough
- pretty enough
- smart enough
- sexy enough
- good enough
Where do we get those messages? Our family of origin, high school, our friends, the media, and the self-help industry. I’ve spent a small fortune on self-improvement over the years only to realize that I’m still me. I just feel lousy about myself sometimes.
There was a time in my mid 20’s that I quit watching TV and reading magazines because I was being bombarded with ‘you’re not good enough as you are‘ messages. A few months away from all of that and my self esteem improved immensely. I watch less television nowadays, but I spend an enormous amount of time on the interwebs. Now, instead of being assaulted by commercials telling me I’m not good enough, I’m assaulted by bloggers telling me I’m not good enough.
Then there’s Facebook. Ever noticed those perpetually cheery people on Facebook? Life is awesome. This meal is the best. Their significant other is without flaws. It’s all motivational messages and smiling, happy people. And it’s leading people to feel bad about themselves because they don’t have that life.
Facebook is to personal happiness as Photoshop is to beauty
They are both manipulated, manufactured, and unrealistic. No one is that fucking happy. No one. But then, no one ever posts their dirty laundry up on Facebook. “My husband and I just had a huge fight over how to budget” posted no one, ever. “My kid just got arrested because she got caught dealing crack out of her school locker” has probably never been posted.
What you normally see on Facebook are things like “My life is amazing” and “My husband is my very best friend” and “My kid just scored all A’s, saved a puppy from drowning, built his own treehouse, and wrote an iPhone app that will cure dysentary”. And here the rest of us are being single, living with a slob, struggling with illness or sick family, juggling bills, and wondering what that weird noise coming from the refrigerator is all about.
If all you post is how Amazing or Awesome your life is, I’m ignoring you
So, I’ve started cutting down on the blogs I read. I’ve quit reading those articles on HuffPost and Cosmo that are ’10 steps to improving ….’ and I’ve quit buying self help books. Done. My reading now is mostly WordPress related, my friend Dale’s poetry, and Facebook. But only the Facebook peeps who make me laugh, cry, or care. If you’re ‘motivational only’ on Facebook, sorry, but I’m just not that into you.
I want to feel good about myself
So, if you really want to be great in 24 hours, here’s my advice
Quit listening to the people telling you that you’re not great
I still struggle with this. Most of us do. But frankly, it’s all bullshit. If I quit obsessing about the things I’m ‘not enough’, then I actually realize that I’m already great. We’re all so busy comparing ourselves to the people around us, we never seem satisfied with who we are.
Photoshop. Personal assistants. Publicists. These are all resources that the rich and famous have to polish up their public image. No matter how hard you try, you will never be as beautiful as the airbrushed version of a celebrity who has had an army of hair and makeup people, great lighting, a brilliant photographer, and hours of photoshopping to make them look inhumanly beautiful. So quit trying.
I am tall enough. Tall enough that my feet touch the floor (hat tip to Abe Lincoln for that). I could be thinner, but I’m kind of tired of obsessing about my weight. Measuring each morsel of food, logging each morsel of food, and going to meetings to weigh myself and listen to hungry people obsess about food is no way to enjoy life. Fuck that. I’m tired of letting my self image be dictated by other people and making myself miserable doing it.
Quit trying to be better and just accept that you’re already great
I’ll be reading fewer blogs. No more self help books (is it unethical to sell the ones I own?). No more Fakebook peeps. Dale’s poetry is still on the list, though.