Desiring to be better, to learn, improve and grow is a wonderful way to approach life and has proved to be good for our health. Having goals, self-awareness and purpose in life keeps our brain focused, allowing us to achieve great things and live a vibrant and full life.

If we identify as a ‘striver’ we believe we have unfulfilled potential and are willing to work hard to become what we know we are capable of. However, in the quest to be the best version of ourselves, it’s easy to become fixated on all that is “wrong” and what needs to be “fixed”.

Unfortunately, focusing on what needs to be changed is not always supportive of our wellbeing, confidence or health.

As a lover of self-development and a striver myself, I struggle with wanting to be ‘more’ but also wanting to accept myself as I am. I want more for my life yet sometimes this constant awareness of not having achieved what I want to, leaves me feeling tired and heavy. Maybe you can relate.

I notice when my attention is focused on what I want to change, I’m less content and grateful for who I’ve become and the wonderful things I have in my life.

Lately, I’ve been wondering:

  • Amidst all the striving, where do I find stillness?
  • Within all the goal setting, where is my gratitude and the contentment for who I am now?
  • In the push for improvement, where is the joy, the fun and the ability to simply enjoy the present moment?
  • While wanting to be “better”, where is my self-compassion and the belief that I am enough as I am?

Striving less

Usually I spend a lot of time thinking about how to be ‘better’ but, one day, sitting at a cafe journaling, I wondered what my ‘worst self’ might look like. I had never contemplated this question before and at first, I admit, it felt a bit scary.

As I considered what my worst self would look like, I instantly thought, “I wouldn’t care so much about what other people thought of me and my decisions.” I didn’t realise I considered other people so much in the way I lived, so I decided to test out what it would feel like to spend the week striving to live my worst self — in complete contrast to how I normally live my life.

During that week I stopped apologising for my behaviour (unless I had actually done something wrong). I made decisions that were good for me and not just for those around me. I started to voice my opinions without worrying about what others might think.

At the end of the week I noticed that striving to be my worst self actually allowed me to be more confident, calmer, freer and happier, and I could see I was still a good person. I realised my worst self was not something I should fear but should embrace more.

This got me thinking…

Maybe healthy boundaries, happiness and confidence might come from a little less striving to be ‘better’ and a little more willingness to live as we already are.

With the push to be our ‘best self’ and live our ‘best life,’ I’ve started to wonder when ‘average’ became such a bad thing. Maybe a little less striving could be a good thing; maybe there is beauty and strength in imperfection.

Maybe we don’t need to change as much as we think we do.

What are your thoughts? Do you think self-compassion is an essential element in the journey of personal development and transformation?


This is an excerpt from an article which originally featured in WellBeing magazine.