The Constant Need to Do Better…

selfHave you ever thought about how many people in the world find themselves constantly plagued with the need to do better? You can’t go very far without hearing someone explain how they need to get better in some category of life. Sure it seems honorable and like the right thing to do, but is it? Do you really need to get better and if so in comparison to what? What is the better that you and I are trying to reach? Even the word itself implies a moving target with better being a little further along than you actually are. There is a reason that the Self-Help industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. Now don’t get me wrong, I love learning about new things and new ways to approach life. But at the heart of all self-help is a pervasive notion that something about us is broken and in need of repair. It addresses a negative core belief that there is something wrong with you and I and that we need to figure out a way to fix it. But, and forgive me for this one, aren’t we all actually very similar? I’m guessing that if we were able to get inside other people’s minds we would find many of the same foibles and flaws in common. Maybe we wouldn’t be so quick to judge ourselves so harshly as a result. Perhaps our focus shouldn’t rest so heavily on what is wrong with us but rather on what is right about us. I heard a great line from Matthew McConaughey at a virtual self-help conference I attended recently. (Oh, the irony…) He said, “Instead of trying to be good at what you’re bad at, why not try to be great at what you’re good at?” Grammar violations aside there is a lot of truth in that little one liner. The world has coerced us into thinking about and focusing on what is wrong with us perpetually. We foolishly have believed that we can “get better” by honing in on; getting serious about; applying the necessary discipline towards; fixing what is so wrong with us, which produces the exact opposite result to what we intended. Life will get immeasurably better for you once you are finally able to escape the need to get better.

At the foundation of the need to get better lies a conclusion we have made. Interestingly when we were children we were not so preoccupied with improving ourselves. Yes, we wanted to get better at sports maybe or earn better grades, but inside we didn’t think there was anything wrong with us or who we were. It wasn’t until some time later that we began to internalize the message being promoted. Instead of viewing mistakes as mistakes we started buying into the idea that perhaps there was something wrong with us; something deep inside that no one else could see. As this lie took many forms and came at the hands of a multitude of teachers, we eventually came to the conclusion that we needed to get better. We bought in. We accepted it as true. Do you ever wonder why we analyze ourselves so throughly and often ruthlessly when we make an error? Because inside, deep inside, hidden from view we just aint right man! And it’s only a matter of time before we get found out. Crazy huh? This treacherous deception works so well because we have only got our own heads to compare. I’m skulking around trying to hide my crazy from you and you are skulking around trying to hide your crazy from me. It never dawned on us that we might share the exact same crazy; that all people might share the exact same crazy. Who says that makes us flawed? Who says that makes us so unworthy? What talked us into thinking like that? This is why people don’t want to get involved with church. We already are well aware of what we’ve got going on inside and we don’t need someone up front adding to the list! At the end of the day, being “what is wrong with me?” conscious does not help us to actually get better presuming that we even need to get better to begin with. It is an unhealthy way to think and a terrible way to treat ourselves. What we actually are is imperfect creatures living out or lives the best we can.

Have you ever considered that what the world needs the most from you is you? You and all of your so-called insanity and individuality. People won’t benefit from the sanitized, white-washed version of you that has been carefully nurtured by societal norms and reportedly acceptable ways of being. There ends up being no benefit in that version of you that isn’t really you. Further living that way is not going to make you happy. All that time you spend fixing yourself does not produce a finer version of you, it produces a lesser, demeaned version of you. You become your own worst enemy. Instead of enjoying this life God has given you, you find yourself consumed with “what you’re bad at…” And the worst cruelty of all, you cannot, with your human efforts, ever make yourself into that false ideal you have been pursuing. You are going to come up short somewhere. You’re going to miss it at times. You are going to stumble and you are going to fall a lot! Why not just brush yourself off like little kids do and leave the introspection and soul searching for someone else? Why don’t you just embrace who you are? Love yourself flaws and all. You have got one run through so you may as well run through it. You are a human being and you are okay.

If you can learn to shift your focus away from “what you’re bad at” and focus instead on your strengths you will go far. We all have certain gifts, certain capacities, certain abilities that God has given us; all of us. There are things you can do and to which you have no rival. Do those things. You know by now, I hope, where you tend to excel or if that’s too strong for right now, where you have the easiest time doing or being. That is the good you need to focus on and that is the good you can work to “be great at.” Don’t you love and admire people that have mastered some aspect of life? No one ever became great at anything by focusing on what was bad or where they had the most trouble. Instead they focused on some good they enjoyed. They decided to pursue things that made their heart sing instead of something in which they sought escape. Well how about you deep down inside your own heart? Don’t you want to be happy and fulfilled in life? Don’t you seek to experience joy and blessedness? Well, you’ll have a hard time finding any of those things while your focus is on a perpetual need to get better. You may not know this, but God solved that human foible focus problem once and for all. He provided a perfect solution to imperfect people. He gave His son for you (and me). He gave the perfect for the imperfect. Further He gave us a perfect spirit inside that never goes south, never blows it and never suffers any damage or corruption, no matter what we may do. Why do you ask? So you could once and for all let go of everything you ever found wrong with yourself and rest in what He did for you. You could live by the works of another man. (Jesus Christ) God knows you and God knows me. He knows how easy it is for us to get tricked into sin-consciousness and feeling bad about ourselves. He also knew we would recognize our flaws and where we come up short. So He solved it for us. He did for us by His spiritual effort what we could never do for ourselves by our human effort. Why not be a great person shining your gift onto other people? Why not?

Life is too short to spend another moment consumed with what is wrong with you. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU! You are an imperfect person and so am I. You are going to make mistakes. There are things you will learn that you wish you knew earlier, but you didn’t know. It is okay, you are a person. There are choices and paths you wish you would have taken but you didn’t and it is okay. Excuse yourself from the madness of trying to perfect your human flesh. You can’t do it. But, what you can do is to embrace who you are inside. Focus on your good bits. Dwell on the best parts of you and share those parts as often and as much as you can. Love yourself (again) for goodness sakes and give that love to other people. I’m sure in the end of times you and I will find out that we weren’t so different from anyone else on Earth. Maybe we weren’t as crazy as we thought we were. And instead of God judging us like we feared all of our lives, we will have the joy of living together with Him forever because we believed what He said about His son. If God isn’t asking you to constantly get better, then why are you asking the same of yourself? Live your life. Enjoy your life. When you are gone people won’t remember how ideally you managed to live or how much better you became. They will only remember your love. Love doesn’t need to get better…

Just some good thoughts…


2 thoughts on “The Constant Need to Do Better…

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