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Are you Changing to Please Yourself or Someone Else?

No matter where you are in life, you are okay. Really.

We live in a society that promises that everyone can reach the top, come out ahead, think and grow rich, earn a college degree in their pajamas, earn extra money in their spare time, pick up girls/men like a pro, "go all night," or accomplish just about anything else that might be appealing with just a little bit of effort. Half a century ago, psychoanalysis gained popularity among the masses here in the USA, but the new homegrown self-help industry has become a force of frightening proportion. Clearly, the human gift for self-awareness has created a culture of self-absorption and self-judgement rather than self-acceptance.

Self-Enhancement 24/7 ?

The self-help movement has become a path for some people to help themselves to what is in your pocket. Organizations such as alcoholics/narcotics anonymous and weight loss support groups have given way to a self-help industry that includes one-on-one trainings, print media, CDs, mp3s, Smartphone apps, and online streaming courses. The road to self-improvement can fit any lifestyle, no matter how busy it may be.

In a society where the media and multiple external references determine what happiness and success should look like, we are captive audiences to those self-help gurus who make compelling cases for how we can realize our wildest dreams by just investing 20 minutes a day and a little cash into their pockets. Even superstar Mick Jagger musically crooned plaintive questions regarding his own adequacy as a romantic partner, “Am I rich enough? Am I strong enough?”

Pick a Shortcoming, Any Shortcoming – and there are so many from which to choose!

Unfortunately, the exponentially increasing number of possible paths to perfection, enlightenment, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-acceptance, romantic prowess, spiritual nirvana, forgiveness, acceptance, inner peace, beauty, weight loss, rock-hard abs, yoga butts, or self-awareness suggest that we are all living our lives in a state of constant failure.

Think about it. We are all willing to accept that not only do we need guidebooks to show us how to be more, but we are easily willing to accept that we are less than adequate in the ways that we “show up” in our lives. There may be some truth in these assumptions – few of us truly embody or live out our lives in a manner consonant with sainthood and few of us are ever able to avoid indulgence in a vice or two at some point through our lives. Yet, what does this say about us, really?

We are Human Beings, not Infallible Superheroes

There are legions of amusing animal memes on the internet highlighting how absolutely adorable cats, dogs, hamsters, birds, and so on can be. We are bewitched by the arrogance of our felines, emotionally moved by the faithfulness of our canines, and brought to belly laughter by amusing animal antics. Virtually any critter seems capable of producing “Facebook-worthy” video footage – no matter how homely, awkward, or simple a creature it is. Isn’t it ironic how easily we embrace the wide range of varieties and shortcomings of other forms of life, but beat ourselves up for falling on the wrong end of a self-imposed continuum of external expectations of how we should be to meet the imagined goals of others?

Each of us is made up of a unique assortment of traits, behaviors, potentials, and desires. Some of us are shy; some of us are social butterflies. Some of us are born with flawless complexions; some of us wrestle with the ravages of acne. Some of us are born to be tall and slender; others are destined to be average and plump or any of a million other variations of the human body in all of its glory. Some of us are physically strong; others are strong of heart. You may be book smart, street smart, relationship smart, emotionally smart, or simply average. And divergence and variety are okay. And enough. Do not allow others to generate self-doubt – you, alone, are the expert on you.

You’re Okay . . . Really, You Are.

True, all of us should strive to make the most of who we are and the raw materials which we have been given. However, the desire and expectations for growth should be tempered by the acknowledgement that you are okay and you, alone, know yourself best. It’s okay to be human, it’s okay to be different, and it’s absolutely essential to have goals -- that are intrinsically satisfying, not extrinsically driven. We all bring a unique piece of the puzzle to the relationships we create, the professional settings in which we function, and the world in which we live. Truly, you are okay and you have what it takes to be the person you are meant to become.