Are You Imperfect? Join the Club
Most of us want to do things well. Some of us want to be perfect. One of the perennial truths about feeling well is that at some point or another we need to make peace with our imperfections or else we are doomed to suffer. I’m not intending to paint a bleak picture, but sometimes we have to be told the cold hard truth.
The fact is we all have imperfections. Maybe we don’t have the perfect hips or biceps, or perhaps we hardly ever score the highest on the exam or are a little (or a lot) ADHD. Whatever it is, the closer we come to accepting the reality of what’s actually here is movement toward self-acceptance.
After all, from an evolutionary perspective we all just want to belong and be secure. If we’re not accepted we’re at risk and so the mind goes into overdrive to help us be more perfect so we can belong to a tribe and be safe.
We go out in search for the perfect shirt or go out of our way to say something smart to impress the right people. Or maybe we pick more destructive habits abusing drugs, alcohol, sex, or shopping as a means to fit in. Underlying all of this is a subtle belief that we are not okay just as we are.
Marsha Linehan, PhD created a program called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) that is all about the two opposing notions of “you’re perfect just the way you are” and “it’s time to change.” Finding a sense of peace in life is all about self-acceptance.
Learning theory teaches us that what we practice and repeat in life becomes automatic, so why not practice self-acceptance? A common question is, “That sounds nice, but how do I do that?”
It’s simpler than it looks. What we need to do is just start practicing acknowledging things as they are and practicing putting aside lenses of judgment. This can be many things. The moment you find yourself waiting in line and getting aggravated you can stop and begin to acknowledge the aggravation. Find out where it is in your body and begin to investigate the various contours, spikes and expansion of the feeling.
If you find yourself feeling ashamed of some imperfection, you can come down from the story and investigate the shame in the same way.
Basically, you’re opening up to understand the feeling and caring about yourself at the same time. Understanding and caring are the pillars of acceptance. If you felt understood and cared about you’d feel accepted right? That is what we’re practicing and we can do it with our emotions whether it’s fear, anger, calm, love, joy, anxiety, or confusion.
Every time you do this you water the seeds of self-acceptance and begin making peace with your imperfections.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.