I think there’s a difference between self-improvement and internal work.
Self-improvement is improving your:
- Routine and habits
- And so on…
But then the internal work is more about the heavy stuff. It comes from the Gunk inside of you laced together by trauma, failure, shame, fear, resentment, loss, confusion, mistakes, and so on.
I think it’s important to know which one you need to focus on, self-improvement or internal work. Because each requires a different approach…
Self-improvement means discipline and taking action and saying “I want to be my best self so I must integrate XYZ into my life.” S.I. is about looking forward, making goals and plans and holding yourself accountable. No one can change or improve your life for you, so you must do it for yourself.
But the internal work is very different. This is about looking backwards. Backtracking to past experiences and finding your truth. Finding what happened and why that led to the Gunk inside of you that is affecting you without you realising it.
It’s finding where core beliefs were created. It’s finding the root of our emotional reactions and our fears and our tensions and limitations and pain. Then owning the stories, feeling what’s necessary, learning from them, accepting them, and working on a new narrative (taken from Brene Brown’s Rising Strong).
“You either walk into your story and own your truth, or you live outside of your story, hustling for your worthiness.” – Brene Brown
This, of course, takes hard truth, emotional turmoil, vulnerability, openness, and wholeheartedness. It takes compassion and love and courage. This is about rebuilding our foundations, so that we may have a more stable structure for our home; whereas S.I. is more about putting on a new coat of paint or adding some interior design to your home.
Internal work is about:
- Self-love/ self-care
- Emotion work
- Mental work
- Spirit work
“We can’t chart a brave new course until we recognise exactly where we are, get curious about how we got there, and decide where we want to go.” – Brene Brown
Knowing the difference between the two concepts and which one is for you right now can be very important.
Just some food for thought there.
As for me, I’m a natural improver. I like to keep learning and growing naturally and I often don’t have to push myself to do it. But I really DO need the internal work. I actively and consciously try to do that, because I know how important and liberating and life-changing it can be when done right.
The only way I can get to my true self is to knock down all of the blocks that have been in my way. It’s not just “I have low self-esteem, and so I will work on my body and my wardrobe and my intellect to make myself worthy and improve my self-esteem.”
It’s “I have low self-esteem, but why? What’s the root cause of it? What blockage has it placed in my life? How can I remove these blockages?”
Because trust me, no amount of clothing hauls and vision boards for style and image has helped me. No amount of habit trackers and to-do lists. But once I started looking for my whys within, I’ve felt less heavy. I’ve felt more me with each roadblock that I face and chip away at.
“How do we come to aha moments if we’re not willing to explore and ask questions?” – Brene Brown
I think my site is more about internal work, too. Now that I see the difference, I’m no expert on how to lose weight or read more books or changing your habits etc. I can give advice but it’s not from a place of success in these areas or deeper evidential knowledge. It’d be “this is what I’ve learned and what I am trying; you can do the same if to choose to.”
But the internal work is something I’ve been doing. I’ve learned so much about myself and worked through (not yet to complete healing) hard truths and experiences that I’ve held on to and been affected by for years.
I can share with knowledge, personal experiences, the accounts of others, and study what I know about internal work, the mind, behaviours, and emotions. So, that is more of a strength of mine, matched with my innate high level of empathy and sensitivity and intuition.
So, what needs work for you? Is it really self-improvement like you thought it was, or does it go deeper? Be mindful of your approach, your needs, and your intentions. Good luck!
If you need any help in bettering your mental health, or better coping with anxiety, depression, and stress, then my book “You’re As Mad As I Am” may be for you. Check it out here, and download a free sample to see what it’s all about.
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