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Self-Betterment vs. Self-Realization — How to Live Up To and Enjoy Your Full Potential

Insight into self-betterment or self-realization is important because we’re responsible for maximizing our potential, because what we do matters. “Your own self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world.” ~ Sri Ramana Maharshi

Don’t you think the term self-betterment is inadequate? I know it’s a common way of expressing your wish for self-improvement. However, the term self-realization is more encompassing, because it conveys the thought of getting to know yourself better and learning to maximize your strengths. Self-betterment seems to be a judgment that you’re not good enough…you need to be better. But you are good enough. And this is how I know that…

I love being a learner. I don’t read or study just to put information in my head. I want to see how it can make my life more satisfying and how I can use it to help others. Does learning make me a better person today than I was yesterday? No. I may have become more skilled in one area. Or I may have more understanding. But my worth as a human being has not become higher. I simply realize that I am capable of so much more and I want to achieve my full potential. 

Whether I’m splitting hairs over self-betterment, I’ll let you decide. The main point is that whatever we call it, we are responsible for maximizing our potential, because what we do matters. Our small steps can change the world.

Last summer I signed up for a 9-month business certificate course called InnerMBA. I decided to join because of the impressive faculty — I’m eager to learn from successful leaders whose mission is to cultivate kindness, consciousness and mindfulness in themselves and others. 

I’m almost at the end of the course now and I feel changed in a profound way. Here are some of my transforming points…

  • Being more connected with like-minded individuals from all over the world, 
  • Questioning the values that drive my daily actions, 
  • Cultivating leadership and authentic presence
  • Becoming more aware of my footprint on our planet through self-inquiry and group discussions. 
  • Creating a process of breaking apart the old notion of business and 
  • Beginning to construct a new one that’s closer to the values I embody.. 

This course has given weight to the idea that I CAN make an impact, however small, every day. It’s given me a process for creating concrete actions I can practice daily. And that’s something I look forward to passing on to all of my clients and students.

I’m also in the midst of teaching my 2021 Embodied Coaching School. This amazing group of women has courageously opened up about their struggles. All pretense was dropped and we worked hard at stripping away any self-deceptive, limiting stories we tell ourselves. As a group we shared our experiences and learned that we are powerful and can cause real change in our lives and in the world. I feel blessed to share this truly remarkable and life-altering experience with them.

It astounded me to see the power that comes from acknowledging, “I don’t know. I don’t have the answer. And that’s okay.” It opened a window for relaxing into that feeling and releasing the fear attached to it. Over and over again, I saw these women experience fear evaporating and a new sense of discovery, wonder and creativity emerging.

Leaning into our feelings is so powerful. I think of how Stephen Levine describes this, 

“We have allowed ourselves very little space for not-knowing. Very seldom do we have the wisdom not-to-know, to lay the mind open to deeper understanding. When confusion occurs in the mind, we identify with it and say we are confused…Confusion arises because we fight against our not-knowing, which experiences each moment afresh without preconceptions or expectations.” 

When we claim our role as leaders, we feel as if we must always have the answers, to be the strong, fearless one. And when feelings of uncertainty occur, we put on a mask and pretend we have it all under control, while secretly making it up as we go. 

(This is where clinging to the thought of self-betterment could stop us from moving forward. For how can it be better to admit you’re not in control, you don’t have the answers?)

I want you to know it’s okay if you’re struggling. It’s okay to stop pretending and allow yourself to ask for help. With help, patience, and courage, you can explore each situation and see how you can alter them. Perhaps Anne’s story will help you…

Anne is a brilliant personal coach. She loves in-person coaching, but she was wearing herself out trying to serve so many clients. If she could create an online course for some of the foundational training, then the clients could do some of the work on their own, and that would make the in-person calls more productive. So she started writing the curriculum, and hit a roadblock. Then she tried website set-up. Roadblock again. Every turn a roadblock. 

As we worked together, I helped her listen carefully to the way she described each circumstance. I saw her visibly tense and grow agitated. Then we explored how her body was revealing her deeper feelings. It took courage to be vulnerable, as we explored her thoughts and uncovered the stories forming those thoughts. 

She’d been holding back from outsourcing any work, because of money-shame stories from her past. She learned she didn’t have to do it all on her own. That it didn’t make her “stupid” (her word) to ask for help. Long story short, she was amazed to discover that her past stories of shame and incompetence were no longer true. 

The act of sharing her experience, freed her from the fear roadblocks that were holding her back. It improved her life and her ability to help others. 

Whether you call this self-betterment or not, at least notice the steps she took and use that formula in your own life. If you’re looking for a coach to share your experience with, please feel free to contact me and schedule a 30-minute complimentary consultation by phone or via Zoom to see if we’re a good fit for each other.   

Living Fully, Personal Growth - Professional Growth


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