#47 Self-Improvement vs Self- Acceptance

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As moms (and humans) we have big goals we want to fulfill. Often it can feel like our goals are constantly foiled and that it’s a struggle to accomplish all that we want to while simultaneously running a home. It can be easy to get down on ourselves and give up. Read this post on selfimprovement vs. self-acceptance to find out how to both accept where you are now and constantly strive for more.

Self improvement vs Self Acceptance.  It seems like these two ideas work in opposition with each other, but what if they actually work hand in hand? If you are struggling to meet all your big goals as a mom, this post might be just the thing you need.

Every time I deviate from food related content I feel the need to explain myself.

This post/episode is a mindset episode to help you move forward with big goals without getting down on yourself.

I hope that it’s helpful for any and all aspects of your life.

The reason I sometimes deviate from food, is because I want you to have success in your goals (especially your food and meal prep goals ahem ahem) and in order to be successful you absolutely have to have the right mindset.

So hopefully this episode makes you think about how you can find more success in all your goals by learning to accept where you are.

Self-Improvement vs. Self-Acceptance

Self-improvement vs. Self-acceptance.

Seems to be a big paradox right? I often feel like most people are one or the other.

They are either accepting of themselves but they never strive for more, or they strive for more but are never truly happy with where they are.

My recent experience has taught me that that’s not true.

In fact. I’ve learned recently that in order to move forward with my goals that I need to accept where I am right now.

Cool right?

Accepting where you are now doesn’t delay your goals. It actually propels you forward towards them.

So in order to help you decide when you need to work on accepting yourself more, or push yourself for progress in your goals I’ve got 10 questions to ask yourself to decide whether you should pursue a goal or not.

10 questions to ask yourself to help yourself decide whether or not to pursue a goal or acccept where you are now

Ask yourself if you can accept both the situation, and how you feel about it?

Sometimes accepting something is easy. I injured my knee after pregnancy. Accepting that was easy. In fact it was so easy that it became my excuse for everything.

What I couldn’t accept?

How I felt about that hurt knee. I constantly felt frustrated at my inability to do things I used to be able to.

So I knew I needed to accept that my knee was hurt and also accept a reasonable starting place for recovery (which was not where I wanted to be)

In this case, my knee was healable (and is now totally healed) so it was healthy to not accept that I would just have a hurt knee forever.

But what if my knee injury would have had permanent consequences?

In that case it wouldn’t be healthy to work toward improvement. That would cause endless frustration. In that case I would need to work on both accepting the injury and changing how I felt about it.

One of my favorite quotes says “If you don’t like something, change it, if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” This is like my life mantra and so useful when deciding whether or not to pursue a goal.

Another question to ask is where is the desire for change coming from?

I talked a few episodes back about marketing and how damaging it can be. 

We are bombarded with messages telling us that something is wrong, and they have the product to change it and make it better.

But is it actually wrong to begin with?

An example from this is kind of silly but I’ve been caught up with the curly girl hair movement for ages.  I absolutely love watching people’s hair transformations when they use this method (look it up if you want to see something awesome!)

The problem with me embracing this movement? I don’t have curly hair.  I used to have curly hair in high school, but multiple pregnancies and it’s almost stick straight.  So, this method is probably never going to work for me.  Shocker.

Again, I don’t totally like to demonize marketing, but remember that you are an individual.  Not all marketing is for you and not every product is for you, and the only person you need to change for is you, if you want to.

So when you are trying to decide whether to change or accept, ask yourself, is the desire to change coming from an innate place within you, do you believe that a change in a certain area will actually be beneficial or is that the message the world around you is trying to tell you?

If the desire to change is the world, then all the improvement in the world will never be enough.

There are benefits to getting organized, minimizing your belongings, starting an exercise program, eating more mindfully, but none of these things are the magic solution that’s going to make you happy….and it can be easy to get trapped on the self-improvement rollercoaster where you improve but you never feel satisfied because there is always more to improve.  This thought actually segues perfectly into the next question.

Can you find joy and success in the journey?

There is no end to self-improvement, so if you are embarking on your journey only looking for a specific end goal, you are likely going to be disappointed. 

You have to be willing to equate success with showing up every day, not where you get because you show up every day. 

The end result is a bi-product of the improvement not a destination.

Is your goal worth your precious resources?

It can be easy to think that choosing acceptance is choosing to be complacent. That’s not true.  Choosing acceptance is choosing to be content.  And choosing to be content actually drives ambition.

When you choose to be content you are taking the morality out of choosing to be better.

No longer are you working towards a goal because you NEED that goal to be happy right now.

You have chosen to accept and be content, so what do you have to lose from trying for more.

It’s important though to realize that your resources as a human are limited. 

Your time is limited, your willpower is limited, your knowledge is limited.
This isn’t a bad thing.

Part of self-acceptance is accepting that you can change, if you want to, but it’s okay if you don’t want to.

You have to weigh the cost of valuable resources.

An example here, is that sometimes I see a woman who is super put together.  She usually has her nails done, her hair highlighted, her eyebrows microbladed, and her makeup perfectly in place with a stylish outfit.

Often when I see a women like this I feel inferior and I feel like I would like to be like her.  Maybe for a week or so I’ll put an extra effort into getting ready, but inevitably I fall back to my old self which is clean, dressed, hair done sometimes, makeup done even less often.

…and that’s okay.

Because while I COULD achieve that level of put-together-ness if I want to, ultimately there are things that I value more so that’s where I have to put my valuable resources.

No judgment if your values are different than mine, we all have to choose where to use our resources and what we are okay with accepting from ourselves.

Is achieving this goal going to add more resources to my stockpile?

My husband and I are super into playing board games.

One common type of board game on the market today is resource management.

The idea is that you start  the game collecting resources and then build a sort of engine through cards/other means to be able to get more and more resources, and thus buy more and more goods which equal more and more points at the end of the game.  It’s a lot of fun.

Sometimes when you are playing these games, you have to invest a lot up front in something that’s going to get you more resources in the long-run.
It’s the same in life.  Sometimes you may choose to invest time in a goal that you don’t necessarily value (think cooking, cleaning, laundry, planning) because you will be rewarded with more resources.

So sometimes it’s advantageous to choose not to just accept, if the temporary discomfort or investment is going to reward you with more time, willpower, or other resources later.

Can you give up perfectionism for this goal?

Perfectionism is literally the thief of both self-improvement and self-acceptance.  The debate of self-improvement vs self-acceptance means nothing if you can’t let go of perfectionism. Perfectionism means you will never be able to improve because you can never accept where you are right now today, and because none of us are perfect, we will constantly fall short.

When you spend all of your time judging yourself, you diminish your ability to grow and you are spending all of your energy wishing you were perfect instead of accepting that you’re not, but that you can make small steps to become better.

So this question is one that you just have to be able to answer yes to, no matter what the goal!  It’s hard for all of us.  It’s hard for me.  But recognizing how damaging it is and how it’s killing all my goals helps as I work to give it up.

Another question to ask along with this is Can you change how you think about failure?

How we think about failure is paramount to our ability to improve ourselves while simultaneously accepting ourself.

It’s so cheesy, but I love to think of failures as information, tools to use to succeed next time.  A failure is a blessing of knowledge of something that doesn’t work, and you can jump right back on the bandwagon of what might.

Does this goal line up with my other values?

When I first started working out, my goals were less noble than they are now.

Now my goals look like, do a pull-up, run a spartan race, things like that.

But when I first started my goal was to have a flat stomach before I got pregnant again (I’m not proud of that, but it is what it is)

I did a lot of research on what I would have to do to make that goal happen, and ultimately, I do actually believe it’s possible. 

I could change if I want to.

But I have other values.  Values like rejecting the diet mentality because it causes women so much harm.  Beliefs in intuitive eating and trusting and listening to my body to tell me what it needs rather than focusing on some diet. 

These values were in direct opposition to what I would have to do to “get a flat stomach”

A flatter stomach might come as a result of my life style (it’s already flatter than it was before just because I exercise regularly and eat well)

…if that happens, remember it was the journey that mattered and the flat stomach is a byproduct not a destination….

But I ditched the goal to get a flat stomach because ultimately my other values were more important to me, and that’s okay.

You’ll run into situations like this too.   Sometimes you have to choose and that’s okay.

Okay so those are the questions.

What it comes down to is you have to learn to accept where you are right now this very moment to ever make forward motion on your goals.  The good news, is that you learn to do this you will feel more peace now, and you will be propelled into a successful future as well. 

It’s not self-improvement vs. self-acceptance

You can have, and in fact you need, both self-acceptance and self-improvement.

Next week we’re talking about creating a positive dinner table environment through dinnertime conversations.  It has helped smooth out dinnertime so much in our home, so I’m excited to tell you about it.
All my best and happy planning!


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