Radical Self-Improvement: Stop Trying to Improve Yourself

“Remember to proceed with self-love and self-acceptance at all times, as this is the only path to real and lasting change” – Don Miguel Ruiz Jr.

I finally realised I’d been going about it all wrong. I’d been trying to improve myself, when I was already enough. All the fulfillment we could ever need is already inside us.

All my life, if I was honest with myself, I felt like a weed. There might’ve been good days, when the weed seemed less weedy, but on a fundamental level I felt flawed. So I put a lot of energy into trying to control and maintain the weed, trimming it here or there, or trying to change the direction of its growth, or even sticking pretty flowers on it to pretend it wasn’t a weed. I never realised that all I had to do was to source it out at the root.

What was the root? Fear. The fear that I was just a weed, and the fear that I was not, for if I was not at least a weed, surely I would not exist at all!?

Meditation was like directing the sunlight of awareness through a magnifying glass. The closer it got to the root, the more apparent the ugliness of this weed became, but then some sort of miracle occurred. As the main body of the weed was uprooted, I realised that I was never the weed at all, but the fertile ground in which it grew.

I was the earth of limitless possibilities, and that meant I was free to grow tulips, daisies, lilies… whatever the hell I wanted! I could have a full garden for the different seasons! It could be wild or it could be nicely kempt, what did it matter!? Sure, each plant would eventually wither and die, but the possibility of growth was always there. There was no point holding on to an individual plant, for they were all in their basic nature ever-changing and impermanent. This also meant that I could happily invite people in to see my garden, and it didn’t matter if they didn’t like what they saw. After all, none of these flowers were really ‘me’ anyway!

I had spent so long focusing on changing the weed, that I had forgotten the sun was always shining.

Right now, I am in the process of uprooting all the rogue weeds, but it’s okay, because none of them are ‘me’ either. The weed of self-doubt, the weed of social anxiety, the weed of anger, none of them. I also know there’s no point in trying to fight them with chemicals or garden scissors, or masking what they are. All I have to do it direct the sunlight through that magnifying glass once they sprout their heads through the soil, and they are gone forever. In other words, feel them fully. Until they sprout, I can’t know they’re there.

Maybe one day I’ll be completely free of weeds. That’s not to say I’ll be immune to them, but at any rate they’re easily dealt with. And what’s the point worrying about them anyway when you’ve got a beautiful, ever-changing garden?

Are you trying to improve yourself? Why? Who is this ‘you’, this ‘self’ you feel isn’t good enough?

Susannah had a remarkable experience five months ago that changed her life. To read more about spiritual awakening go to her recent blog www.thetimetoawaken.com.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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