Are you trying to be different?
Consider assertiveness, as a random example. People who are very assertive were simply born that way. They were the little 2nd graders bartering for extra candy from the teacher while you looked on, probably rolling your eyes.
Sure, they reap the benefits of being assertive. However, is it really self-improvement when we try to mould ourselves into those we view as “successful?” If a timid person coerces herself to be assertive, does she really reap any benefit? Probably not. On the contrary, she might set herself back, stress herself out, or worst of all, lose sight of what she’s good at. In cases like this, we’re trying to be a different person while calling it self-improvement.
On the other hand, real self-improvement would be to look at the people who have what you lack and try to learn a bit from them. That helps us become well-rounded. It’s a slight nuance from the previous scenario, but it makes a huge difference. In the first scenario, we are not respecting who we already are.
The simple fact is that all innate traits have benefits, even if you don’t see yours as valuable. The most valuable traits are not always the ones that get the most attention in society, but who cares? Mainstream society is typically behind in the learning curve anyway. If you aren’t reaping the benefits of your strongest traits, then you aren’t quite honouring who you are. If you neglect your strengths, other people won’t recognize or benefit from them either.
Carl Rogers, a long-dead great grandfather of psychology, held that if people were treated with unconditional positive regard, their automatic response would be to come to enough of a state of rest, look at themselves, abandon futile self-protection and finally start living the lives they were supposed to have had before they became so intimately acquainted with shame, fear guilt etc…
People now expect the above from a therapist – but, from themselves, they still lean towards the motivational ‘power’ of tearing pieces out of themselves.
Apparently, it’s called, “Self-help…”