The ultimate goal of all self-improvement is to reach the point where you no longer feel the need to improve yourself. Self-improvement is therefore, in a weird way, ultimately self-defeating.
The only way to truly achieve one’s potential, to become fully fulfilled, or become self-actualized, is to, at some point, stop trying to be all of those things.
It’s fine to indulge in self-improvement material as long as you understand your relationship to it. And as long as you make sure it’s a relationship where you control it, not the other way around.
Part I: Using the mind .vs. Entertaining the mind
When on the path of self-mastery it is important to know when you are actually improving yourself .vs when you are merely committing ego masterbation.
For example, you do not want to read your self stupid.
“When we read, another person thinks for us: we merely repeat his mental process. In learning to write, the pupil goes over with his pen with what the teacher has outlined in pencil: so in reading; the greater part of the work of thought is already done for us.
This is why it relieves us to take up a book after being occupied with our own thoughts. And in reading, the mind is, in fact, only the playground of another’s thoughts.
So it comes about that if anyone spends almost the whole day in reading, and by way of relaxation devotes the intervals to some thoughtless pastime, he gradually loses the capacity for thinking; just as the man who always rides, at last forgets how to walk. This is the case with many learned persons: they have read themselves stupid.”
\~ Arthur Schopenhauer
You can read a book and feel good (masturbate) that you are becoming a better person, with no actual results to show for it.
Critically think for yourself about what you read and critically analyze your own thoughts, are they even your own?
Part II: Working towards a goal is meaningless unless you know it is the right goal.
Most people work hard, but they are working hard at the wrong things. They improve themselves, but are aiming for the wrong goals. These people are merely doing what is expected of them - their goals are not their own. Their ambitions and dreams are those placed upon them by our culture.
Do not better your own livelihood for the sake of others approval. One will never be happy with acting in accordance with other people’s approval.
Do not be a lion in a cage at your local zoo.
Is strong but ultimately still a slave.
This is why self-actualization is more important than self-improvement.
Do not improve the slave, BECOME the master.
Learn to think for yourself.
Learn to trust yourself.
You got to actively experiment with life and find out what you want out of it.
Find out who you truly are, what you are truly capable of, then fulfill your true potential.
It’s not about the achievement of your dreams that matters, but who you become in the pursuit of your goals.
Part III: You are not special, You cannot avoid pain.
You are not special, you are human.
The path to your best self does not come from reading books or gathering knowledge. It comes from destroying your ego, the sense that you are special, and realizing that comfort is not the ultimate goal of life.
Self-improvement junkies want to improve before the action even begins because they want to avoid the pain. Doing things for the first time makes you feel uncomfortable. So your response will be to avoid it as much as possible.
We should feel the pain. We should be comfortable with it. Because that is the way forward. Real growth happens when we are in this state. You are destroying the parts that did not serve the person and creating a new self that could in fact better serve your potential.
Getting rid of fear, anxiety, shyness, hate...etc.
True Confidence comes from experience
To truly benefit from self-improvement is to arrive at a place where you no longer need it.
Like a cast for a broken arm. Or a bandage for a deep cut. You put it on, let it heal you. And then you take it off and move on with your life.