I can’t decide? Which should I go for? Self acceptance or self improvement? Self improvement implies that I am not satisfied with a certain aspect of myself. Something in my look, attitude, personality or character sucks. I need to get my act together. Grit my teeth and fix it. This can lead to a perpetual “project under construction” feeling. When I am not observing my negative thinking pattern, I am chastising myself for skipping exercise. Gets exhausting.
Self acceptance would mean that I learn to love myself despite my flaws. Let all the wobbly bits hang out. I am human after all. Deficiency is my birth right. I am supposed to be lacking. Right? Just accept that I am stubborn, lazy and no good in a bunch of ways. I suck at lots of things. Sometimes I suck at everything. Relax. Let whatever happen, happen. Why must I strive so hard? Be constantly running towards a finishing line of some sort. But, what if all this self acceptance is just a delusional side of laziness? What if I am just letting myself off the hook because it is easier?
Which is the better path?
Hard decision brings up the blue pill red pill scene from the Matrix. Where Morpheus presents Neo with a choice. Take the blue pill and go back to the blissful ignorance. Or take the red pill and realize the painful truth of your existence. Neo, foolishly, takes the red pill without any hesitation. Boy! Is he ever surprised at what he finds out afterwards?
To help me decide on this difficult question. I decided to recreate the blue pill red pill scene using shoes. Who needs pills when you can have shoes? Shoes are so much more fun to work with. Also pills bring up negative connotations for me. Let’s have a choice between wearing red shoes or blue shoes. Blue shoes for self acceptance. Red shoes for self improvement. Which ones should I wear going forwards in my life?
You can see me here holding red gold studded shoes and blue runners. The blue runners are so comfy. The red shoes are sexier but they are a torture to walk in.
Allow me to present a simple example of how blue shoe red shoe play in my life.
Stubbornness is my one of my areas of struggle. It has consistently gotten me into hot water but also helped to get through difficult situations. Allow me to illustrate with an example. When I decided to put out my first book–Don’t Shoot! … I have another story to tell you. I had this crazy idea that I had to do everything myself. I painted in acrylic the painting that would end up on the cover, even though I didn’t know how to paint. Then I proceeded to design and redesign the cover in a crazy frenzy until I came up with a version that I liked, even though I knew nothing about graphic design. It took me 2 months of complete obsessive absorption in the task until I had my cover design. Now there are much much easier ways to design a book cover. Namely to pay somebody who knows how to do it. It would have been a far less painful course to take. My end product looks ok, but not great. I realize now how unrealistic it was to undertake this task. But then on the other hand I taught myself some basics of graphic design which is handy to have. It allows me to give precise instruction to the graphical designer. A few years later I was inspired to write a novel about a graphical designer that wants to graffiti the internet. I can see both the benefit and disadvantage of the choice I made. I can also see the pain that choice has caused me. I wish there was an easier way to learn all these lessons. Should I work on becoming less stubborn? But then I would lose some of the benefits that comes with being strong willed. Do you see my dilemma?
Red shoes or blue shoes? Red Pill or Blue pill? Can’t decide. What do you think?
This is just one simple example. I have far more serious ones that are more embarrassing that I am not sharing in this blog post.
I have frequently been critical of the self help or self improvement industry. Make no mistake about it. It is a multi-million dollar industry. No different that the fashion industry or the car industry. We are constantly assaulted with the idea that we are flawed is deep and profound ways so that we would buy a self help book, a seminar or coaching sessions. “Your thought patterns are wrong. The way you feel is not how you should be feeling. You need Gucci persona, Dior mindset and Mercedes feelings and then you will be ok.” We are made to believe. Just buy yet another product and be an obedient customer.
Self acceptance seems fine and dandy. Except when it becomes a slippery slope towards indulging in destructive behavior. O hey! I am rude, unhealthy and dwelling in a ditch but I accomplished all the self acceptance in the world so leave me alone. Let me enjoy my miserable existence to its optimum self actualization.
Should I accept my nature and just go with it? Or should I work on improving my many flaws? Should I wear the red shoes or the blue shoes? Should I take the red pill or blue pill? Which one would give me better results? No matter how hard I think I can’t decide on an obvious winner footwear?
Perhaps the dissonance is resulting from the question itself. Perhaps I need to ask a better question.
Confession time again. In my younger years I was an overly logical person. In my effort to move from living inside my head to living from the heart, I rejected reason. I used to be a go getter. A woman on a mission. Somebody with things to do and places to go. And then a bunch of hardships happened. I went through a phase that I lovingly call wading through sludge phase. I decided to stop and become passive. Allow the humbling lessons to rain on my head. I even painted a painting titled “The Joy of Doing Nothing” to egg me on in a new direction.
I even placed that painting on my first business card for extra inspiration.
But perhaps I have gone too far from one extreme into another. Perhaps there is a way to live from the heart and yet be pragmatic at the same time. Perhaps what I call acceptance is really: “O My Allah! Life is hard. I declare defeat.” At my age, I should be able to look the different stages of my life and integrate lessons learned from each. Find a balance. Is moderation a dirty word? Perhaps there is a way for me to love my body completely to bits and at the same time exercise to keep myself fit and healthy. Perhaps I can accept myself so much that I accept my desire to improve. Is there a way to strive to greater heights and do so lovingly, without an ounce of self loathing? Maybe I can take a bit of the blue pill and a bit of the red. Maybe I can take a different pill on different days depending on what I need at the time. Even Neo reaches a compromise at the end of movie #3 of The Matrix series.
Maybe this is a reason I love to wear purple shoes so much.
I have many question and no answers. I am striving to figure it out. I promise to share whatever I find along the way. Both successes and failures.