The Hard Truth About Self-Improvement

“If you are going through hell, keep going.” – Winston S. Churchill

Ignorant, weak individuals may view self-improvement as easy. However, elevating yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally by overcoming your vices and embracing your virtues is anything but easy.

Many people are delusional because they fantasize about greatness. They imagine a better life and then “plan” to get started eventually. If they start, they will do the bare minimum, enjoy the emotional highs, and then return to the comforts they’ve always indulged in.

Such people do not understand the costs of self-improvement, but we do. We don’t have the luxury of deluding ourselves about the pain and suffering greatness brings to an individual’s life. We live it every day.

This journey of personal growth isn’t just about surviving; it’s about thriving through overcoming personal challenges.

But you must never play the fool. Today, we will explore why you should embrace the reality that self-improvement is hard and painful. Embracing this reality will enable you to deal with setbacks, be patient with yourself, and navigate the jeers of weak individuals around you.

Table of Contents

  • Overcoming Personal Challenges: Dispelling Our Delusions About Self-Improvement
    • Embracing the Struggle: The True Cost of Growth
  • Navigating the Path: Strategies for Sustainable Self-Improvement
    • The Power of Challenge: Embracing Growth with Courage
    • Rational Pride: Celebrating Your Journey and Achievements
    • Purposeful Pain: Transforming Suffering into Strength
  • Choosing My Battles: Embracing Suffering for Growth
  • Taking Action: Practical Steps Towards Personal Fulfillment

Overcoming Personal Challenges: Dispelling Our Delusions About Self-Improvement

overweight man

You only have one life. Why spend it fat, lazy, and stupid?

People usually fall into two camps: avoiding self-improvement and deluding themselves into believing personal weakness is not a big deal. Or, they experience the difficulty of self-improvement but refuse to show themselves grace.

People tend to believe self-improvement is easy because we are fed inspirational stories about people’s lives at the finish line. They also think they have time to fix their mistakes and pursue their dreams. Such delusions allow them to wallow in comfort as they grow closer and closer to death.

But when such people truly recognize the difficulty of self-improvement, nihilism is all but guaranteed. The comforts of hedonism have given them nothing. They are out of time; all they can do is regret and hate.

Embracing the Struggle: The True Cost of Growth

On the other hand, some people see the hardships with self-improvement and embrace these challenges. However, they cannot show themselves grace and understanding. We are human. We will fail and make mistakes. We will give in to vices and distractions. We must be patient with our failings instead of too critical of our imperfections.

If we don’t recognize self-improvement is difficult, we will hate ourselves for not “getting it.” Only by seeing personal growth as complex can we navigate our failures.

Navigating the Path: Strategies for Sustainable Self-Improvement

The following strategies help you mentally prepare for the suffering you will endure when you overcome your vices and embrace your virtues.

When you acknowledge the problems of self-improvement, you rob further struggles of their power.

Let’s take a look at the three techniques:

The Power of Challenge: Embracing Growth with Courage

“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Firstly, embrace the challenge. Why should you seek to improve as a person? Because nothing else is worth doing. The hedonist believes comfort will save him, but such distractions never give him more than a moment of pleasure.

Self-improvement requires immense effort and work; otherwise, everyone would do it. Personal growth is a challenging but noble endeavor that benefits you and your community. The more capable, stable, and talented you are, the easier you can accomplish goals, attend to people’s needs, and improve the world around you.

So, welcome the challenges. See them as the obstacles that lead you toward greatness.

Rational Pride: Celebrating Your Journey and Achievements

When we commit good deeds, we should experience pride. The fool refuses to see himself as a hero when he does heroic things.

This is where rational pride comes into play. Overcoming your vices and empowering your virtues is a road few people travel. The rarity of personal responsibility shows how you are unique amongst the mob.

While others cower from their dreams, you fight for yours. While others indulge in every comfort, you seek self-control. While others spew hatred and short-sightedness, you approach life with courage and confidence.

You are following the path that betters you, your community, and your life. Why shouldn’t you be proud of this?

Rational pride ensures confidence in your continuous pursuit of the challenges ahead. What you are trying to do is difficult, and you should be proud of your ability to endure. Let this pride push you forward as you remember you have succeeded and will succeed again.

Purposeful Pain: Transforming Suffering into Strength

either way, you will suffer | woman with anxiety

We all suffer. Do you suffer in meaningless comfort, or do you suffer pursuing the great dreams you have?

Hedonism fails because of the lack of a central reason to suffer. The hedonist pursues what is pleasurable. But life naturally has pains and sufferings. Additionally, everything worthwhile requires deferring gratification and embracing suffering.

Therefore, what you must do is have a purpose for your pain. The good you wish to do, from serving your community to accomplishing your virtuous ends, are not requirements for existing. Why should you suffer if no great duties bind you to virtue?

And that is the key to acknowledging the difficulty of the good you are trying to do. You must have a more significant “why” explaining why you should embrace pain.

For example, why should you get in better shape? To help improve your longevity and make yourself valuable to yourself and your community. You acknowledge this process is painful. Yes, self-improvement is difficult, but your why helps trivialize what will challenge you.

Choosing My Battles: Embracing Suffering for Growth

I have struggled with many mental health issues, including childhood trauma, addiction, and anxiety. One mindset shift that helped me was realizing life will always involve suffering. I needed to choose the suffering that improved myself and others.

When I pushed myself away from the idea that comfort would help me, I could see my potential. I embraced the reality that the challenges before me were brutal but necessary. I wanted to improve and grow. Only by not deluding myself was I able to keep after my goals.

And that isn’t to say I am perfectly fine today. I still have anxiety, mental health issues, and other problems. However, I am better able to navigate them. Additionally, I’ve kept my expectations as realistic as possible, so I’m not burnt out or bitter.

The Journey Ahead: Embracing Failure and Finding Purpose

“All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

The path to the ideal self is full of challenges. You will experience external pushback from a culture that wants you fat, lazy, and stupid. The government will tax your productivity away. The elites will attempt to distract and belittle you. The mob will cancel any attempt to rise above the vices they enjoy.

And internally, you will struggle. Self-improvement creates pain. You will attack yourself and exploit every moment of weakness. You will drown in doubt as you fail over and over again. You will feel inadequate every day.

But this is the only path out of the darkness. Comforts offer no ease to the reality of death. Distraction cannot undermine depression, anxiety, or fear. The noise of modernity cannot remove the yearning in your soul to reach your fullest potential.

Acknowledge the pain, challenges, and difficulties. But go down that path. You will see the light, and your life will have a great purpose no one can ever take from you.

Become an individual and live a life worth living.

Taking Action: Practical Steps Towards Personal Fulfillment

  1. Your Current Path – What are you trying to do with your life? What are your life goals? What greatness do you hope to achieve? Why do you want to achieve these things?
  2. Past Experience – When was something tough that you thought would be easy? How did the change in difficulty affect you? How have you taken that misjudgment and learned from it?
  3. Easier Than Your Thought – What is something easier than you thought it would be? How did you respond to the easiness presented to you? What did you learn from the ease of the challenge?
  4. Define Your Vision: Start by clearly defining what you want to achieve. Use the SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) to create goals that guide your path to self-improvement. Remember, you need life goals to give you clear direction for your life.
  5. Break It Down: Break your larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks. This makes it easier to track progress and maintain motivation. All smaller tasks should feed into large tasks. This way, you see clear progression.
  6. Daily Mindfulness Practice: Incorporate mindfulness exercises into your daily routine, such as meditation or deep breathing techniques, to improve focus and reduce anxiety.
  7. Reflective Journaling: Keep a journal to reflect on your daily experiences, thoughts, and feelings. This can help you understand patterns in your behavior and thoughts, facilitating personal growth. When you see positives, invest in those. When you see negatives, find ways to reduce such behaviors.
  8. Habit Formation Techniques: Employ the habit loop (cue, routine, reward) to establish new, beneficial habits. Start with small habits that are easy to incorporate into your daily life and gradually build on them.
  9. Accountability Partners: Partner with a friend or family member who can help keep you accountable for your habits. Sharing your goals and progress can provide additional motivation and support.
  10. Prioritize Tasks: Use techniques like the Eisenhower Box to prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance. This can help you focus on what truly matters each day.
  11. Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries around work, leisure, and self-improvement activities. This can help prevent burnout and ensure you have time dedicated to personal growth.
  12. Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity: When faced with setbacks, analyze what went wrong and how to improve. Viewing failure as a step towards success can help maintain a positive outlook. Your failures are tools to help you improve.
  13. Resilience Building: Develop resilience by gradually exposing yourself to challenges and discomfort in a controlled manner. This can improve your ability to handle stress and setbacks.

Please remember it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.

Refer to the linked articles and studies throughout this post for detailed evidence and case studies supporting these views.

*Image credit to Unsplash.