Emotional Health: The Downside Of Self-Improvementlifestyle
Self-Improvement Pros & Cons
The title sounds faintly ridiculous, superficially at least. If you’re improving your life, then surely the entire point is self- improvement. By the very definition of the term, that means your life is going to be better. That’s the entire point of improvement; striving to make things better.
So why would something that’s going to upgrade your life in some way… actually has a downside?
A Few Examples
There are a few different ways that a woman might go about attempting to improve her life. Let’s create three simple examples:
Nurse. Nurse – we’ll use that as her name to avoid any confusion as we continue – has been working in healthcare for a decade, but feels it’s time for something new. She’s looking to take her qualifications up a level, potentially to BSN stage.
Business Owner. Her small business is thriving. As a result, she thinks that the time might be right to look into expansion.
Mom. Having had her first child, Mom is now thinking about improving her health and fitness levels, hopefully back to where they were prior to giving birth.
So, we have three examples of life-changing decisions. All of the decisions seem to be beneficial; the Nurse is going to learn more and increase her career goals, the Business Owner is going to expand her empire, the Mom is going to improve her general health and well-being. All of these are very positive steps; the kind that you could be taking for yourself.
There’s always a ‘however’ isn’t there, a little sting in the tail just waiting to catch you out.
When you embark on an endeavor that is designed to improve your life, it might not all be plain sailing. Sadly, we’re going to have to talk about a reality that many women face…
Adverse Reactions From Friends, Family, or Your Partner
In an ideal world, everyone in your life would be delighted at the news you’re trying to enrich your life in some way. However, you might find that you don’t quite get the reactions that you were expecting. While it might not always be the case, the majority of the poor responses you get might be rooted in jealousy or another selfish emotion. For example:
The Nurse is going to be taking a 100% online RN to BSN program so she can continue working. So she’s surprised to discover her Partner is not so keen on the idea. He suggests she is fine as she is, so why is she wasting the time that could otherwise be spent having fun together?
The Business Owner is going to begin her expansion slowly, yet she discovers her best friend is less than supportive of the idea. Her friend points out it’s going to take up a lot of her time and that perhaps she should delay.
The Mom is shocked to find her own Mom telling her not to worry about her own self-improvement, but instead to focus solely on being a Mom. Even though The Mom strongly feels that maintaining her health is a key component of being a good Mom, she receives a strong push back.
Are These Reactions Always Jealousy?
Not necessarily in a direct way, no. The Nurse’s partner is unlikely to be jealous she’s taking a further qualification; the Business Owner’s best friend probably isn’t thinking about expanding her business.
However, what any self-improvement you undertake represents to your family is competition. Not competition with you specifically, but more that they are in competition with whatever you’re doing to enrich your life.
So as an example, The Mom thinks she is saying:
“I’m going back to the gym and going to start eating properly again! Back to home cooked meals for me.”
But her mother doesn’t hear that. Instead, she hears:
“I’m not going to have as much time to spend with you anymore because I’m going to be going to the gym instead.”
It’s not fair that she would think that – but admit it, we’re all guilty of it. When someone we care about tells us they are approaching self-improvement, there is always the nagging feeling that we might be left behind in their wake. When we value and care about that person, the idea of ‘losing’ them in some way is tough to deal with.
As a result, you might experience bad reactions – but try and remember the root cause is likely to be jealousy. It’s not going to make it easier on you; you’ll find it upsetting – it’s still going to hurt that your loved ones can’t just be happy for you. However, trying to understand what is motivating them is a key to preventing arguments or long-lasting bad feelings from developing.
Understanding The Cover Excuse
In all of our example scenarios, the person expressing their doubts had a reason for doing so. Noticeably, that reason is not the truth. It’s unlikely your friends and family will outright say: “I don’t think you should do that as it makes me worry you’re going to forget about me.” That sounds awful; even if they think it, they’re not going to say it.
So instead, they will dress their concern up in different clothes. Here are a few examples of what you should be expecting:
The Nurse’s partner may talk about how they’re in the middle of decorating their house, and how is she going to find time to do that and this new course?
The Business Owner’s best friend might point to uncertain economic conditions, and query whether now is really the right time for advancement.
The Mom’s Mom leans on the idea that a “good Mom” is more focused on her children than she is on herself.
Be very clear with yourself if you hear these or some variation of them. They are excuses. They are the “permissible” ways of covering up doubts that come from an egocentric place.
If you do inform a loved one you’re changing your life and they react badly, then the only thing you can do is give it time. Show that you’re still going to value them and their company, even when you have an additional commitment in your life.
Importantly, don’t let it hold you back at all. You made the decision to embark on self-improvement is for a reason; it might just take others awhile to get on board, is all!