There is a concept in the rooms of recovery that is about right sizing yourself. This means that you are probably not the worst or best person on the planet. You are likely somewhere right in the middle.
No matter your achievements, contributions, career status, salary, or relationship status; there is room to grow and assets to be proud of within yourself. And you can demonstrate a healthy balance of both.
Extreme or black and white thinking can keep you stuck.
You may either feel superior to many people or not good enough. These reactions can come from the same wound and impact your mental health leading to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, frustration and overwhelm to name a few.
Perspective taking can be helpful in order to realize your part in certain situations and contribute to personal growth or personal development.
This means that you take a pause. You look at the way you are showing up, patterns that you are repeating, and you take action to show that you can do better next time.
With social media, it is easy to compare yourself to other people consistently.
It has been mentioned many times before; comparing your behind the scenes with another person’s highlight reel is not effective.
It can lead to over consumption, dissociation, jealousy, and sometimes even loss of friendships or relationships.
Despite the pull to scroll, it is difficult to be authentically you when you are comparing yourself to someone else. You can balance the need to compare with social media accounts that inspire you too.
Comparison is part of being human because it helps you survive, and you can balance it with healthy habits too. No matter what, you won’t understand every piece of a personal life that is not yours.
Social media also offers resources and free thinking by professionals that can be easy to digest in your everyday life. Constant approval, validation, resources to improve may be at your fingertips, so why wouldn’t you want to be better and do better?
This is when moderation comes in handy. It is helpful to look within, and keep in mind that healing is a process.
Otherwise, you may endure chronic stress with the feeling of needing to be better and do better rather than facilitating a life balance that can improve your stress level.
Healing is not something that will happen over night for you, no matter how many resources you tap.
When it comes to self-improvement, doing too much and too little can lead to results you weren’t expecting. There is no quick fix for learning and growing.
Sometimes, you may need to slow down in order to speed up. Improvement can take time, and you are worth the effort.
Here are 3 signs that you may be doing too much when it comes to self-improvement:
A common sign that you may be doing too much is being constantly tired. You may sleep enough, eat healthy, and still feel fatigue. This is a sign that you are overworking your body and mind when it comes to self-improvement.
At a certain point, you may not be able to take in more information because you may be at capacity.
An efficient way to resolve some forms of fatigue can be to delete any or all social media apps from your phone you find yourself scrolling on too much. You can take a pause from scrolling or watching a streaming channel. These forms of dissociation are ways to numb out instead of tap into the feelings that are beneath the surface.
Another way to help mitigate some fatigue is by choosing to rest over going to an extra work out class that day. Listen to your body.
2. Cancelling Plans.
When you begin cancelling plans that are important to you with a loved one or friend, it can be a sign that you may be doing too much. Prioritizing the things that matter most to you is part of healthy exploration.
Identifying what is important to you can be the first step. Friendships, relationships, career goals, and work/life balance may have shifted during the pandemic.
It’s okay to re-examine what you care about right now and keep plans that fit your current interests while putting energy into your career.
3. Prioritizing Self-Improvement Over All Else.
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When you feel like you don’t have enough time to set aside for meal planning and consumption, you may be overdoing your self-improvement.
There are only so many hours in the day, and despite popular memes, you don’t have to use all of those hours for production.
Spending too much time meal planning can become all-consuming and take over, possibly leading to disordered eating or obsessive thoughts about food.
It is not helpful to constantly engage, digest, and regurgitate information that you found online even if it is from a reputable source or highlighting self-care.
This can lead to negative thoughts, low self esteem, unhealthy boundaries, and prevent you from making an achievable goal.
Too much of anything can be detrimental to living the life you want to live. Too much self-improvement or self-care can be a sign of avoidance and worth looking into.
Sometimes, settling into yourself is when the healing happens. Self-improvement can become a full time job when you don’t allow yourself to do anything else.
It can be easy to fall into avoidance of doing things that are important to you or have consequences with the excuse of engaging in self-improvement. Check in with yourself to see how balanced you are.
Here are 3 signs that you may be too little when it comes to self-improvement:
1. You Haven’t Adjusted A Pattern.
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It does take time to unlearn old patterns and relearn new patterns. It’s also possible to help this process along when you acknowledge, accept, and act on what you notice.
If you know that you give the silent treatment to people you care about as part of conflict resolution; speak it out loud, be open to learning something new.
Once you know better, you can start taking action to adjust a pattern. Patterns are what keep us stuck and are the most difficult to change. Self-improvement involves looking at unhelpful and self- and other-damaging patterns and making changes. One at a time.
2. A Change In Eating Habits.
Boredom can lead to overeating when you are not hungry.
There is a time and space for boredom because it has been shown that it leads to creativity, and if you are consistently numbing out with food due to boredom, you may need to tap into tools that you have within you.
Understanding your relationship with food can be an integral part of your healing process. Your body may be telling you that it needs a shift once you tune into yourself.
Mindless eating can feel supportive and nurturing in the moment; however, in the long run, can become a less healthy way of coping with stress and boredom. Intuitive eating is a powerful way to learn about your relationship with food and find freedom with food.
3. You Lack Coping Skills.
If you consistently feel emotionally dysregulated, you may decide to focus on self-improvement.
Being quick to a reaction, loss of relationships, consistent turbulence or drama, alcohol use and thoughts of suicide can all be signs that you are leading a fear-based life that is causing emotional dysregulation.
It’s okay to keep learning as an adult to promote a healthy habit and set goals. You do not need all the answers to go in a new direction.
If you are tired of getting the same results, it may be a sign that you are ready to increase your self-improvement time and put in some hard work to reach life goals and maintain a balanced life.
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You understand your true self better than anyone – what you need, want and hope for.
When it comes to self-improvement, you get to take what you like and leave the rest.
Sometimes, improving yourself can be an avoidant strategy so that you don’t have to focus on the feelings beneath the actions.
Sometimes it is easy to fall into defensiveness and avoidance when it comes to looking at patterns that, if changed, would make a positive impact in your life, aligned with your values.
Knowing that the healing process will last a lifetime can be a difficult expectation to switch for yourself, and you have the tools you need within you.
If you want help exploring self-improvement, or looking at unhelpful patterns, behaviors and habits, therapy can help. In fact, a lot of what therapy is, is looking at just this.
Regardless of whether you experience mental illness or not, therapy can help you live the life you most want to.
Written by: Randi Thackeray, MA
Clinically Reviewed and Edited by: Julie Reichenberger, MA, LPC, ACS, ACC