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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Problem With A Proverb (Maxim Messing, Pt. 3)

"Who is not satisfied with himself will grow." - Hebrew proverb

Well, OK but...where is the line between being dissatisfied and being reflexively self-critical? Also, if dissatisfaction is a measure for growth, how much will our desire for that growth contribute to a tendency to gaze inward vs. looking outside ourselves? How do you reconcile either of these tensions?

Running across the proverb above recently reminded me of a modern-day shorthand I hear all the time, i.e. how we human beings are "works in progress." And I've now begun re-thinking my previous disdain for that phrase. Strikes me as an easier pill to swallow than dissatisfaction with myself, especially since mine is frequently preceded by excessive introspection.

So, look for work-in-progress to pop up here now and then, especially in any posts about personal growth. While we're on that subject - How do you measure your own growth? How much does dissatisfaction with yourself enter the picture?


  1. I've started a reply to this twice so far, and stopped for further reflection. Not sure I have my thoughts in line yet, but I'm going to submit regardless....and stop being dissatisfied with my reply. :)

    I think this proverb is along the lines, though stated conversely, of the proverbial squeaky wheel getting the oil and the never ending list of things that are not broken and so not in need of being fixed. Unless we see a need to change, we will not move toward growth. Why would we? We wouldn't need to grow or change if everything was perfect. But is there really anyone who or anything that, is not in need of improvement? Of course not, we all are. Even the great compassionate servers of the world remain(ed) in constant reflection and introspection in order to work through their imperfections. In fact, I recall reading that Mother Teresa said that the closer she got to God, the stronger she thought her Faith was, the more His light revealed her imperfections.

    However, not all of us are in tuned and self aware enough to recognize those aspects of our being that could use a tweaking. It is self-awareness that recognizes our strengths we are intended to share and cultivate as well as our imperfections we are intended to use for growth. This becomes "self-critical" only when we focus solely on the imperfections and see them as obstacles instead of catalysts for growth, as well as when we begin to believe it is only "me" who is in need of growth...this is simply not true!

    I have a hard time with this one as well because just noticing the need for improvement does not necessarily lead folks to change in order to grow. This is the difference between "hearing" and "listening". Anyone can hear the need for change, but it is those who are listening who get off their duff and figure out how to make things happen, whether for their own growth or for the improvement of the lives of those around them. When we neglect to pay attention and notice need in this way, we do a disservice to ourselves and others. "Good is the biggest obstacle to Great."

    "Whether inward or outward, let your discontent be the catalyst for change of heart and cultivation of the soul."

    Thank you for making my brain work! d.

  2. d; You're welcome - thank you for continuing to read! BTW, who is the source of the wonderful; quote at the conclusion of your perceptive comment?

  3. I'm sorry that the quotation marks were misleading...those are just my words. Often when I journal, which is also where I tend to first write my replies to your posts, I like to play around with my ideas and then put pretty words to them to sum up my thoughts. d.