Healing From Shame: From Self-Improvement, To Self-Acceptance

I'd like to share a little more about the concept of shame and 'shame games' since it resonated with so many people.

First off, I want to honor self-improvement. Self-improvement is beautiful and I love it and I love people who love self-improvement.

True story - when I was in high school I half-jokingly told a close friend to shoot me in the face if I ever became 'stuck in my ways' because I thought it was the worst quality a person could have.

He reminds me that I said this from time to time...

It's such a beautiful and helpful quality for a human being to want to grow and embrace change.

It keeps things fresh in so many ways. It helps keep romantic partnership from getting stale. And it means there's always something to look forward to because tomorrow is a new day where you can learn and experience something totally new.

Here's something I want to share: In my experience, self-improvement is fantastic... unless it's being used as a way of putting off, or altogether avoiding, self-acceptance.

What I mean is, a self-improvement mindset tends to look like this:

It says "my best self is waiting out there in the future, and I just need to fix a few things for me to get to it."

It's a really innocent sounding idea. But how often is this idea of needing to change something about yourself your main motivation?

If you always feel like your true-self, best-self, higher-self, or successful-self is in the future because you need to fix some things, you may be playing a shame game under the innocent looking banner of 'self-improvement.'

It all comes down to an issue of order.

One mindset that you need to improve yourself first and then you'll be able to accept yourself. In my experience, this is a sneaky shame game.

My gentle suggestion is to consider flipping this. Try acceptance first, and watch how acceptance can support you, your wellbeing and any goals you would normally set on a quest for self-improvement. Acceptance not only supports the present situation, but can powerfully inform any actions you do end up taking.

Experiencing acceptance first takes shame out of the equation.

Nick Werber