We all want to belong, be accepted, and feel loved. Often, we come to believe that if we are flawless, then others will accept us, and we won’t be rejected or abandoned. Unknowingly, we begin striving for perfection, creating unreasonably high standards for our Selves, rather than accepting where and who we are in this moment. We are a mosaic of wonderful qualities, talents, strengths, quirks, passions – and vulnerabilities, limitations, and flaws. However, wearing the lens of perfectionism, we often only see what is not 100%, what is not “right” with us, and that is the opposite of self-acceptance. As we focus on this, we move further away from embracing all of who we are with acceptance and compassion.
What if, instead, we choose to strive for our best, instead of perfection, and allow our Selves to accept where we are? We can give our Selves permission to be human and make mistakes, to take imperfect action, to fall moving forward – and learn from it all with humor, kindness, and even appreciation for the process. What if it was okay to fail, to flounder, to be vulnerable, to look silly, and to just be and not do sometimes? Can you sense the freedom and acceptance in this and the gentle and loving regard we might come to feel for our Selves?
A PATH TOWARDS ACCEPTANCE
Reflect on where you might have first observed and experienced perfectionism. For many, including myself, it was often in childhood where we learn to have such impossible standards for our Selves. In my family, getting A’s in school was just expected, not perceived as any particular accomplishment. Consider some implicit or direct messages you may have learned in your family. What more realistic, human standards can you begin to replace them with?
Identify one area of your life perfectionism may be present, perhaps parenthood, marriage, career, Self, or friendships. A hint: Notice which area elicits the most judgment and pressure on your Self, what feels like the opposite of self-acceptance. Bring increased awareness to when the judgments arise, notice them with compassion, and then ask your Self what would be a kinder way to view this moment. What would doing your best – exactly as you are now – look like, rather than perfection? Then go ahead and make that your new standard! ????
This week, consider how being perfectionistic or the opposite of self-acceptance might be serving you in your life. Reflect on any benefits you can see, and in what ways they may be holding you back. Is perfectionism negatively affecting your sense of Self and relationships? Identify one perfectionistic tendency you do now, and allow your Self to give 85% instead. You have my permission. ???? What would that look like? Imagine the incredible freedom and joy you’ll experience as imperfect action becomes your new way!
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