Coming Home to Myself: #A-Z Challenge
“It is easier to try
to be better
than you are
than to be
who you are.”
Coming Home to Myself: Reflections for Nurturing a Woman’s Body & Soul by Marion Woodman and Jill Mellick
Easier? I have spent a lifetime dreaming of and seeking transformation, immersing in the challenge of relentless growth. Perhaps you can relate? If so, you know that this constant striving is anything but easy.
But where I see my desire for self-improvement as positively heroic, Jungian psychologist Marion Woodman views it as a damaging form of perfectionism. She urges us to stop.
“Do not try to transform yourself.
Move into yourself.
Move into your human unsuccess,
Perfection rapes the soul.”
Of course, we don’t stop seeking perfection just because someone tells us it’s awful. In part, that is because we live in a society where are a lot of people are invested in holding our feet to the fire, keeping us on the quest for self-improvement.
The Thriving Self-Help Industry
Marketdata Enterprises’ 2017 report shows that self-improvement products and services are a $9.9 billion business in the United States alone. By 2022, it is estimated that the market will be worth $13.2 billion.
Female baby boomers are the target market. Female millennials are gradually becoming more important. Men ignore most self-improvement efforts other than work-related productivity and goal-setting.
Loosening the Noose of Self-Improvement
My quest has changed recently. I suspect that it’s a natural evolution that comes with aging. Instead of wanting to be better than I am, I want to find out who I am. And I want to be content, even happy, with what I find.
I’m not alone. Geneen Roth, in her newly published book, This Messy Magnificent Life: A Field Guide, refers to it as “dropping the Me project.” A few years older than me, Roth has only recently been willing to “stop trying to fix what had never been broken.”
But, ironically, even this quest–to find one’s true self and be at home in one’s life–turns into a weird form of self-improvement. Roth exhorts us to buy her book before deadline so we can watch her ‘Women and Power’ video free of charge (a $97 value!) Or to attend her retreat where she will “teach us to experience joy.”
I think Marion Woodman is right. “It is easier to try to be better than you are, than to be who you are.”
What do you think?