Self-Improvement is Self-Loathing

Dr Jason Fox
2 min readJun 28, 2019


It’s also self-love but hey: it’s complex.

Here’s a ‘paradox of self’ to consider.

If you were completely content with yourself — if you loved and accepted yourself exactly as you are — there would be no need to improve anything about yourself.

But if there were parts about yourself you didn’t admire, then well: there’s reason to want to improve. But maybe desire for self-improvement comes from a place of love — of only wanting the best for your future self?

And thus we find ourselves in a circular self-referential loop — a self-consciousness paradox. For who is the ‘I’ that is loving or loathing the self, and deciding whether it ought to improve or not?

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

I’ve opened a proverbial can of worms in the above, and committed so many offences to philosophy and good sense. I would love to rectify each of them — but I’m trying to keep these posts succinct, wherein I stick to just one main point. (It’s part of my fool quest). So I’ll cut to the chase.

Self-improvement is both self-loathing and self-loving. It’s all the things, and neither; and either—all at once.

It’s complex because our ‘self concept’ is a dynamic, nebulous, multitudinous and amorphous process that seeks fluid coherency in the patterns of interactions with others.

But we have cultural memes (ideas we ‘inherit’ from society) that insist on a much simpler notion of self: that it is singular and indivisible. That there exists a ‘true and authentic self’ to which we ought aspire to be.

And once again: you see where this leads, right? The the inescapable self-referential loop of the self-conscious paradox opens up to us once again.

Perhaps an alternative is to embrace a warm ambivalence to your own ‘selfness’. To find a kind of ‘equanimity’ in paradox. To hold in light amusement all the contradictions and inconsistencies you hold in yourself (and that exist in almost everything else). And – at the same time – to maintain the curiosity that has us ask the questions of ‘ourselves’ that lead us closer to ‘wisdom’.


I’m on some fool quest to share 50 insights in 50 days. This is day 7. More at