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This time of year the air feels full of relentless messages about self-improvement, diet schemes, exercise routines, etc. New Year, new you. You know the drill. These messages are especially pernicious for those who fall outside the normative paradigm in some visible way: people of color, non-normatively-gendered folks, people in larger bodies, etc, all receive these messages more often and at higher volume, but they’re constantly being thrown at all of us regardless. The machine of capitalism runs on tricking us into thinking we’ve never got enough, can never be enough.
This can also be an empowering time of year, a time when we make plans and goals and promises to shift old habits, to make changes that this time, we’re sure, will stick. While there’s nothing wrong with working to improve ourselves, if we’re not careful, our work to make ourselves better can quickly become just another way to judge and criticize.
Trying to make yourself better can actually make you feel worse.
We need to approach this work within a context of our inherent wholeness, no easy task in a culture bent on making us feel small and unworthy. So I want to tell you, in case you need to be reminded:
You are already whole and complete. You are already divine. Nothing needs to be added or subtracted. No amount of pounds shed or muscles gained, no bad habit dropped or good one acquired can change the immutable fact that you are already enough, exactly as you are right now.
I’m not implying that you need to quit with the self-improvement routines. You can still keep working on yourself, but try doing so from a place of love and acceptance instead of loathing and rejection. Can you frame your inner work as self-exploration rather than self-flagellation? Can you approach it with curiosity rather than punishment? This is the work of decolonizing the mind from a lifetime of poison.
Can you approach your work with questions rather than judgments? Try these:
How else might I unfold? What might my body enjoy today? What haven’t I discovered about myself yet? How else might I keep growing?
It’s important and it’s often neglected and countered, so I’ll say it again: You are already whole and complete.
You are already enough, exactly as you are right now.
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