On Self-Improvement: What Do I Mean By That?   1 comment

In todays world everything is about expressing ones individual autonomy. In our society we pride ourselves on doing things on our own, largely to get a sense of accomplishment out of what we are doing. We have names for this expression of individual autonomy such as: “Do-It-Yourself” – “Self-Help” – “Self-Improvement” and so on. Even in my own article series called , “The 3-Aspects of Self-Improvement” you feel like as if I am implying [by the title] an expression of individual autonomy. You get a sense that on my own, “I will Improve Myself with Regards to My Body, My Mind, and My Spirit.”

However this is deceptive, Self-Improvement properly defined by Dictionary.reference.com means: “improvement of one’s mind, character, etc., through one’s own efforts.” Now it is good to seek to improve these qualities founded in us, but what I have a problem with is the last part of the definition, “by one’s own efforts.” This phrase implies so much, but at its root from the Christian point of view, it is rooted in Pride and Vanity, because as we know it is in God that we live and move and have our being and that without Him we can do nothing (Acts 17:28; John 15:5).

So what do I mean by Self-Improvement, if not by my own efforts? Well first of all it would be contradictory of me to say I am going to Improve Myself BY MY OWN EFFORTS while admitting that I have a Spiritual Aspect that needs improving. So by my own efforts I have learned that, things never really reach fulfillment nor do they really work out the way I had hoped. Therefore, when I say “Self-Improvement” I actually mean, Improvement of the Self and in order to Improve My Self I must admit that I need help in doing this, even at the most physical level: How can a man improve the health of his Body, WITHOUT starting off by listening to people who have improved their bodies before him? How can a man say that He Wants to Change or Improve His Character WITHOUT people to interact with? How can a man say that He Wants to Improve His Intellectual Life WITHOUT someone to teach him directly [through being a student] or indirectly [through books and other various media]? How can a man Improve Himself Spiritually WITHOUT the Help of the Source of Spirit?

Therefore, “by one’s own efforts” is an illusion, and thus filled with Pride and one will, in the end, fail miserably. Improvement of the Self is thus different from Self-Improvement, where the latter claims to be able to do it all on there own [like as if they were complete unto themselves] the former has the humility to admit that they will need help with this, and is all too keenly aware of the interconnectedness of his actions on others and visi vi. In Jungian Archetypal Psychology, The Self is the transcendent aspect in the Human Psyche, it helps to liberate us from all the other archetypes within us and that influence us, not through violent means per se, but through reconciliation. In Christianity, The Self is founded in Christ, which Christians are called to put on, since it is no longer I [the small “s” in self] who live but Christ who lives in me [the big “S” in Self] (Romans 13:14; Galatians 2:20). Therefore, perhaps it is even better to say that, one is Seeking the Self in order to Improve, rather than Improvement of the Self and certainly better than Improvement by my own Efforts. By the carrying out the work of improving these 3 Aspects of Ones Being, one will be able to seek The Self.

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One response to “On Self-Improvement: What Do I Mean By That?

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  1. Pingback: Happy New Year Continued: A Word on New Year Resolutions « Reality and Illusions

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