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Here’s When Self Improvement Becomes Ineffective

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I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on self-help books and seminars over the past three years. I’ve devoted thousands of hours reading blogs and listening to podcasts about personal growth and self-improvement with the goal of finding the answers that would “fix” me. After my divorce I became addicted to the idea that the answer to my happiness and healing was in a book, podcast or a blog. I kept waiting to read or hear that magic “Ah Ha” tip that would change my life forever.

“Hi, I’m Jasmine. And I’m a recovering self-improvement addict”.  When I was faced with several unexpected challenging transitions in my life, all in a very short period of time, I became compulsively consumed and obsessed with self-improvement and personal growth. Don’t get me wrong, some of the most powerful breakthroughs I have had in my personal growth have been due to a seminar I attended, a book I read or a life coach that I worked with. But it was as if I was never satisfied with what I read or heard, I wanted MORE MORE MORE!

What Is Self-Improvement?

Let’s start with talking about what self-improvement is. Self-improvement is wanting to improve upon your knowledge, thought patterns, or character by one’s own efforts. The goal is to reach a point where you no longer feel the need to improve yourself.

Comparable to nirvana. A transcendent state in which there is no longer desire. It’s as if some people strive to get a Self-Improvement PhD and life will be perfect. If you find yourself picking yourself apart and comparing yourself to others when you are reading self-help books, is that really helping? Can self-improvement be poisoning your mind?

“Things do not grow better; they remain as they are. It is we who grow better, by the changes we make in ourselves.” ― Swami Vivekananda

Can you be addicted to self-improvement?

The Webster Dictionary defines addiction as: A compulsive, chronic, physiological, or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity having harmful, physical, psychological or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, tremors, or nausea) upon withdrawal.

When you think of an addict, you probably envision someone who is addicted to alcohol, drugs or sex; not a 40-something professional who is reading “Girl Wash Your Face” before she turns in for the night.

Placing importance on self-improvement doesn’t necessarily mean that you are addicted. When looking at whether or not there is an addiction, ask yourself this, do you keep repeating the same patterns and behaviors no matter how much you try to improve yourself?

According to Market Research, the self-improvement market in the United States was worth $9.9 billion in 2016 and is estimated to grow to $13.2 billion by 2022.

So, if it works so great, why are people constantly waiting for the next self-help best seller by Tony Robbins to be released or the next TED Talk by Brene Brown to go live? Wouldn’t you read one book, listen to one seminar and have achieved self-improvement nirvana?

The truth is that self-improvement, personal growth and self-care are all constant. That is why there are millions of book options and thousands of seminars with different approaches.

It is healthy to want to work on continuing to develop yourself, but do you ever take time to be in the present and appreciate who you are in that moment? Take a minute to process the tips and tools you have read and reflect on how you want to implement them into your life before you buy the next best seller.

I’m certainly not suggesting you should never purchase another self-help book again. But keep in mind, those books, blogs, podcasts or seminars, all they can do is give you ideas, suggestions and recommendations. It’s YOU that has to put all of it into motion.

Those tools are just someone else’s opinion on what you should do or they’ve done research on what “could” work for some people. They are just that, opinions.

If you have focused on self-improvement for quite some time and feel as if it may be taking over your life, I encourage you to take a break. In your efforts to continually improve, you can end up sending yourself the message that you are not enough, you are lacking, or that you are not worthy just as you are.

As you take time to slow down and look at all that you are trying to improve, it can be helpful to allow yourself to look at the ways you are succeeding in life and give yourself credit for even your baby steps.

“No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.” ― Madonna

Accepting Yourself Does Not Mean Complacency

Just as placing importance on self-improvement doesn’t mean you have an addiction; accepting yourself does not mean that you stop growing or improving. Accepting yourself simply means that you are able to look at the big picture and acknowledge your strengths in conjunction with the areas you would like to develop.

Striving to develop yourself and work on self-improvement can be positive if you are balancing it with acceptance. It becomes toxic when it becomes your addiction. Acceptance doesn’t mean that you can’t still read the books, listen to podcasts and attend seminars to develop who you are. It means that you allow yourself to also see the amazing qualities you currently have, today.  

Self-improvement can become a never-ending project; you can always find something else that needs to be changed. To break the self-improvement addiction, you have to take a step back and decide to be happy with who you are now.

Jasmine Rice is a certified life coach with a degree in psychology from the University of Kansas. After experiencing a series of challenging life transitions, including a divorce and a job loss, Jasmine went from surviving to thriving. Her experiences along the way have humbled her and inspired her passion to support others experiencing grief, unexpected change, loss, or any challenging life transition. She supports and guides you while you create your own life recipe.

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The Imbalanced Problem with Work/Life Balance

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5 Indicators of Unresolved Attachment Trauma

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Emotional Attachment Trauma

Trauma caused during specific stages of a child’s development, known as attachment trauma, can have lasting effects on a person’s sense of safety, security, predictability, and trust. This type of trauma is often the result of abuse, neglect, or inconsistent care from a primary caregiver.

Individuals who have not fully processed attachment trauma may display similar patterns of behavior and physical or psychological symptoms that negatively impact their adult lives, including the choices they make in relationships and business.

Unfortunately, many people may not even be aware that they are struggling with trauma. Research estimates that 6% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetime, with a majority of males and females having experienced significant trauma.

Unresolved attachment trauma can significantly impair the overall quality of a person’s life, including their ability to form healthy relationships and make positive choices for themselves. One well-known effect of unhealed attachment trauma is the compulsion to repeat past wounds by unconsciously selecting romantic partners who trigger their developmental trauma.

However, there are other less recognized but equally detrimental signs of unprocessed developmental trauma.

 

Five possible indications of unresolved attachment trauma are:

 

1.  Unconscious Sabotage

Self-sabotage is a common pattern among individuals with unprocessed attachment trauma. This cycle often begins with hurting others, which is then followed by hurting oneself. It is also common for those with attachment trauma to have heightened emotional sensitivity, which can trigger this cycle.

This pattern can manifest in lashing out, shutting down, or impulsive behavior that leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing.

Many people with attachment trauma are not aware of their wounds and operate on survival mode, unconsciously testing or challenging the emotional investment of those around them, and pushing them away out of self-preservation and fear of abandonment.

This can lead to a pattern of making poor choices for themselves based on impulsivity.

 

2. Persistent Pain

 
Chronic pain is a common symptom that can stem from early trauma. Studies have shown a connection between physical conditions such as fibromyalgia, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, muscle aches, back pain, chest pain, and chronic fatigue with the aftermath of chronic developmental trauma, particularly physical abuse.
 
Research has found that individuals with insecure attachment styles, such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized, have a higher incidence of somatic symptoms and a history of physical and emotional abuse in childhood compared to those with a secure attachment style.
 
 

3. Behaviors That Block Out Trauma

 
Trauma blocking practises are used to avoid the pain and memories connected with traumatic events.
 
Emotional numbing, avoidance, and escape via briefly pleasurable activities that distract from terrible memories or suffering are common examples. Unfortunately, this escape habit stops people from successfully processing and recovering from their trauma.
 
Furthermore, when the pain resurfaces, more and more diversions are necessary to continue ignoring it. This can be seen in compulsive behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction, emotional eating, numbing oneself through relationships, workaholism, excessive or dangerous exercise routines, compulsive internet or technology use, or any other compulsive behaviour used to distract yoursef from intrusive thoughts and emotions.
 
These actions have the potential to prolong a cycle of avoidance and repression, preventing persons from healing and progressing.
 

4. A strong need for control

 
It’s understandable that some people may struggle with control issues in their adult lives, especially if they felt helpless or vulnerable during their childhood.
 
This can happen if someone had an overbearing caregiver who didn’t let them make their own choices, expected too much from them, or didn’t take care of them properly. As adults, they might try to control everything in their life to feel more in control and less anxious or scared. This might be because they didn’t feel like they had control over their life when they were a child.
 
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are different and it’s okay to seek help if you’re struggling with control issues.
 
 

5. Psychological Symptoms That Are Not Explained

 
Individuals with a history of developmental trauma may experience a range of psychological symptoms, including obsessive-compulsive behavior, intense mood swings, irritability, anger, depression, emotional numbing, or severe anxiety.
 
These symptoms can vary in intensity and may occur intermittently throughout the day. People with this type of trauma may attempt to “distract” themselves from these symptoms by denying or rationalizing them, or may resort to substance abuse or behavioral addictions as coping mechanisms. This can be a maladaptive way of trying to numb their symptoms.
 
 

What to do next if you’re suffering from emotional attachment trauma?

 
Everyone’s experience of healing from trauma is unique. It’s important to be aware of whether you have experienced childhood developmental trauma and how it may be affecting your relationships as an adult. Sometimes, the effects of trauma can be overwhelming and we may try to push them away or avoid them.
 
If you notice that you’re engaging in these behaviors, it’s important to seek help from a trauma therapist who can support you on your healing journey. Remember, you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start healing.
 

There are several ways that people can work to overcome emotional attachment trauma:

  1. Therapy: One of the most effective ways to overcome emotional attachment trauma is through therapy. A therapist can help you process your experiences, understand the impact of your trauma on your life, and develop coping strategies to manage symptoms.
  2. Support groups: Joining a support group of people who have had similar experiences can be a great way to find validation, empathy, and a sense of community.
  3. Mindfulness practices: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, pilates, prayer time with God or journaling can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and develop a sense of spiritual connection and self-regulation.
  4. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT): This is a type of therapy that is specifically designed to help individuals process and recover from traumatic events.
  5. Building a safety net: Building a support system of people you trust, who are there for you when you need them, can help you feel more secure and safe in your life.

It’s important to remember that healing from emotional attachment trauma is a process and it may take time. It’s also important to find a therapist who is experienced in treating trauma, who you feel comfortable talking with, and who can help you develop a personalized treatment plan.

 
 
If you desire to work with me on healing your wounds and unlocking the aspects of you that were never realized so you can achieve more success in your life then head over to awebliss.com and join my weekly LIVE online mentorship calls.
 
 
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