Self-Care vs Self Improvement

Welcome back to our last week of the "self-care vs...fill in the blank" series! In this episode, Taylor offers a healthier approach to the concept of self-improvement.

Episode Transcript

Welcome back to Inner Warmup, where your inner work begins. I'm Taylor Elyse Morrison, creator of Inner Workout. And you as always, are our expert guest. Thanks for being here today. We are here at the last episode in our self care vs series. And before I get too far into it, I want to know if you liked it, if you liked it, let us know, you can send us a note at or send us a DM on Instagram. This is, I'd say pretty similar to how we've done Inner Warmup episodes in the past but a slightly different take. And we want to know if you vibed with it or not.

Let's get into it, shall we? So we're talking about self care versus self improvement. And I feel like this series is also kind of turning into phrases, terminology that don't vibe with Taylor, because I get a knee jerk reaction when I hear this phrase - self improvement. Maybe you do too. And my first question is improving for who? When we say self improvement, who are we supposed to be improving for? And I know the flowery answer, the answer that is sold to us is oh, well, we're improving for ourselves, we're trying to be the best that we can be. Sure. But in my experience, anytime that I've been focused on self improvement, it tends to be more about external metrics, that has popped up as me wanting to, quote unquote, improve myself by becoming thinner, smaller, taking up less space. It's me wanting to be more charismatic, in a more traditionally extroverted way, as someone who is very much an introvert, or this more broad idea that improving myself would mean being more like them, whether them is someone I know personally, in my class, or in my workplace, whether them is an influencer, someone that I watch from afar. And I feel like I can't talk about this without also mentioning the fact that so much of the rhetoric around self improvement and personal development. It's, it's rooted in white supremacy, and it's rooted in patriarchy, like some of the text that are allotted, and we still can provide some value from them, we can still glean some value from them. But they're written by people who like weren't always on the right side of history, you know. And when you look at the the roots, the conversation, the ideology, a lot of it goes back to the Protestant work ethic. So when we're talking about self improvement, regardless of how we feel about it personally, it's worth acknowledging that a lot of it is from a lens that says, you the norm is to be white. And you should try and be more like a white man. Or you should try and put yourself in a position to be complimentary to a white man in order to succeed. And when I say all of that, it makes sense that the idea of self improvement doesn't resonate for me as a black woman. What has served me better is becoming, this idea of becoming.

Because improvement, in my experience, is often about me lacking something. I am at a deficit and I have to work to be more, find more, show up more like that other thing over there that I don't have. But becoming is about leaning into and cultivating who I already am. In my own life, improving meant that and I'll give an example for me as a facilitator. Improving meant that I needed to be like way more higher energy. Remember, I'm an introvert. And I needed to have like, I needed to be funnier. I thought that the best facilitators they were like funny, they had that class clown energy, they could keep everyone engaged and laughing. And I needed to figure out how to do that. That was the lens of improving. But thankfully, I didn't go down that path. I'd like to think I am somewhat funny, I surprise my clients sometimes because I have a rather dry sense of humor. But what served me better is the becoming. And that meant leaning into what was already true about me. So instead of thinking I lack the class clown energy, I focus in on, I already have this grounding energy that people tell me I have. People tell me that my voice is calming to them. And so I stepped into that role of becoming more of a facilitator who could ground the room when needed, and would lead people into deeper conversations, the facilitator that gets people to go there. And this isn't to say that my type of facilitation is better than another kind. Because what's great is I often work with a co facilitator. So they bring one type of energy, I bring another type of energy and it complements. Because we're not focused on creating some other type of thing that we're supposed to be, we're both focused on becoming our selves as facilitators, not trying to imitate someone else. And this really relates to the idea of inner work. I've talked about it here and there on different episodes. But my belief around inner work is that it's the work that you do to become more of who you already are. If you listen to Begin Within, you'll know that at Inner Workout, our view of inner work is that it has these three components : unlearning letting go of these mindsets and beliefs that don't serve us, learning more about ourselves, and gathering information to support us. And then continuous growth in celebration of even the smallest steps forward. And all of that has self care as a foundation, because self care facilitates that inner work. As you build your ability to listen within, and to respond with love, you can't help but become more of who you already are. Your loving response. And I'll take that even further. Your most loving response is going to be your truest response. And so, I there might be a way for self care and self improvement to work together. But for me, it feels better to let go of that idea of improving and to come back to the sense of becoming. So let me hand the mic over to you. As you reflect on this question, what would be possible if I focused on becoming rather than improving? What would be possible if I focused on becoming rather than improving?

Welcome back. Thank you so much for taking the time to reflect with me. Thank you for sharing your expertise. If anything came up that you want to share with us, you can always shoot us a note at And on that note, take care. I'll be back next week with the Deep Stretch.