Updated: Nov 2
In an era of always feeling like we are not enough and we always need to improve ourselves. It seems we are all working on something. Sometimes we are seeking to improve our health, eat better, drink more water and less wine, exercise more, eat less gluten, etc. I know a number of people that are trying to improve themselves spiritually with goals like, pray more, meditate more, watch that you say or think about, don’t give into your vices, be more loving and forgiving. I too, am always working on myself. I wish I drank more water, went to the gym more, didn’t eat so much gluten and was calmer and had better control over my language. In my observation, we are all seeking to be better, to be good. I think this is the basis of so many products that are marketed to us. They promise to make us better, it is at the basis all the self-improvement classes and techniques that are sold to us.
In the years of work I have had to process life’s traumas, and the goals that I have set, I have come to a few conclusions.
1. You don’t have control over others and sometimes you don’t have that much control over yourself. Let me explain. Sometimes our habits and cravings are a product of a lifetime of training from our upbringing and our experiences. We have reactions that happen so quickly that our behavior is not completely conscious. It can take years of self-reflection to be able to identify what we do and why we do certain things in any given situation.
2. Also we develop coping mechanisms to work around the way we are wired. We are adaptable people and sometimes those coping mechanisms are not conscious and can be destructive or limiting our potential.
This concept can also be applied to our habits, for better or for worse.
3. While we are still responsible for our behavior and actions, sometimes we don’t have as much control over them as we think we do.
Yes, therapy can be very helpful. Also, having loving, honest family and friends help you work through these things is wonderful, if you have them. However, it is very hard to
“white-knuckle” your way to genuine change. It can be done, but it is a lot of work and depending on your level of trauma or the engrainment of your habits and coping mechanisms, it may be rather impossible.
What if there was a way to make all of this “self-improvement” easier and more effective.
If God is the creator of all good and you are seeking to be good or better in some area of your life, then maybe it would be most efficient to seek the assistance of God in addition to the self-work.
Let us remember psalm 107 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. …For He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”
While you are demanding perfect and goodness from yourself, and going to this class, or taking this supplement, or going to a certain therapy, maybe it would behoove you to stop and look at these compulsory behaviors. Ask yourself, is this working? Am I enjoying this? What is the point?
In a moment of awakening, I had the realization that if God is the creator of all good, and since He created me, than I am good. This train of thought brings up many questions, but if we keep it simple, we can see that it is free-will that pulls us from our inherent virtue. It is poor choices and poor behaviors that create the problems.
In Saint Paul’s letter to James(1:17) he reminds us that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
So our choices pull us from our inherent goodness endowed to us by our Creator. We use goals, self-admonishment, guilt, shame and then turn to various methods for self-improvement, but then still struggle to be good. I am finding goals and treatments to be helpful in my life, but I am finding that the biggest help is to simply ask God. Ask for His assistance and guidance that you may be the best version of yourself and do the most virtuous things.
Jesus says in Mark 10:18 “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”
Goodness comes from God!
When I turn my desire to be better over to God, I still have to put in the work, but the load is lighter and I don’t feel so bad about myself and so alone. The funny thing is that when I just grind on myself for not doing enough, I have absolutely no success. However, when I reach out and ask God for help, it is better and I am better. Sometimes subtly better and at other times, obviously better. There is a sweet assisting energy that comes in, both internally and is reflected back to me in my world. All of this helps me on the path to betterment far more than a personal, lonely struggle.
The thing is that goodness doesn’t come from you, but from God, in and all around you. Ask your divine Father to help you be better, feel better and do better. He is the creator of goodness. He is the creator of all virtue and light and He is the creator of you.