“We need to see ourselves as basic miracles.” – Virginia Satir
Perfection means completed, finished, and without flaws. It means there is nothing left to work on and no possibility of mistakes. Sorry to burst your bubble, since you and I are human beings perfection doesn’t apply to us. We are fallible and will make mistakes. However, being the silly human beings we are, we want to have everything in our life exactly how we would like it to be. There is an apparent human condition to work at perfecting things. Yes this can be positive at times, because Improvements can always be made. But for many people, on the way to “perfecting” our life we encounter defeat, fall short, and completely flop. And instead of realizing this is a part of the path to reaching our goals, we inaccurately focus on “I’m a failure!” Which at times we perceive to mean, “I always and in every way will be a failure!” When we fall short or perform poorly it can affect our self-esteem, and when we feel poorly about ourselves we are certainly not going to reach our potential. So, here are some tools to help you deal with failure and to recognize how amazing you really are despite the mistakes you will make.
“A humans being’s first responsibility is to shake hands with himself.” – Henry Winkler
Yes you will fail, why? Because you’re not perfect. So instead of labeling yourself as a failure, recognize you made a mistake. Instead of condemning yourself as completely defected, explore why the failure occurred and what you can do differently next time. Failure is not the end of the road if you’re willing to use it to your benefit. A few questions to ask: What do I need to know to handle this next time? Where do I need to dedicate more time? Who do I need to know to get what I want? How can this make me a better person?
Appreciate your body
“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”― Marilyn Monroe
According to the Body Image Task Force, 70% of normal weight women want to be thinner, but it’s not just women who struggle with appearance. We can all get caught up in the trap of comparing ourselves to others and being influenced by societal messages about beauty and appearance. Even when we’re aware of the difference between “ideal” and “real” appearances, we still compare ourselves to others and focus on all our blemishes. Clearly this is pretty damn unfair way to treat ourselves. We can spend our entire life trying to perfect ourselves or hide what we don’t like, only to end up feeling inadequate. Instead of focusing on your imperfections, how about being grateful for the miracle your body is. The body is truly magnificent if you think about it. Your body heals itself from injury, converts food into nutrients, and allows you the pleasure of your five senses. There are some many things right with your body that helps you live in homeostasis. Why only focus on what you don’t like? After you read this, go to the mirror and repeat after me, “My body is a miracle. It is a gift from God that I will use to live out my purpose.”
When we have the same issues and drama in our life for long enough it is hard to imagine the possibility of things being different. If we aren’t willing to lower our standards and accept the way things are, we must be willing to explore how things can be different, and what we can do to change them. To do this we need to focus on our potential. Acknowledge your positive qualities and what you’re capable of if you keep growing these qualities. Develop your capacities and potentials. Keep moving toward excellence. What are your strengths and talents? How can you build on these to begin expanding what is possible?
Use loving-kindness meditation
My favorite practice to embrace my imperfections is to build compassion for myself. All of the foibles and mistakes in my life are a part of who I am and my journey to reach my dreams. So I like to use metta meditation as a way to cultivate love and compassion for myself. Take three slow deep breathes, exhaling fully and deeply. Begin following the natural rhythm of your breathe and let go of any thoughts. Now, gradually repeat these phrases mentally to yourself as you continue breathing calming and easily. “May I be safe” “May I be healthy” “May I be happy” “May I live life with ease” Download a guided metta meditation here!
Affirming thoughts – “I think I can, I think I can.”
When we only focus on what is wrong with us we are doomed to feel bad about ourselves. We must make room for positive messages, despite our rough edges. List five thoughts of self-esteem to begin using as part of your morning ritual when you wake. For instance: “I respect myself because I am more than my mistakes.” “I believe I am a likable and good person. If others don’t think so that’s okay.” “I am a helpful person and treat people well.”
Get out there and have some fun
Lastly, enjoy your life and have some fun. Without pleasure we are stuck feeling unfulfilled and discontent. What can you do that is enjoyable and pleasurable today? You deserve to be happy. You deserve to enjoy life. Make the choice to do so. Allow yourself the luxury of doing what you want to do. No excuses, no guilt. Make time for your enjoyment. If you want to feel good about yourself you have to put in the work. Our self-esteem is like a garden. It must be planted and cultivated in order to grow. Use some of these ideas to begin appreciating yourself and working toward being at your best. It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress.
“You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.”― Diane Von Furstenberg