Here is how we attempt to motivate ourselves:
I am so stupid. So lazy. So fat. So ugly. So undeserving. So selfish. So awkward. So unlovable. The list goes on and on.
And with each one of those unkind, unfair statements, we break our hearts; we bruise our souls; we lay more bricks in an insurmountable wall.
For some reason, we lash out at ourselves, we think we are offering ourselves a service. We think we are doing ourselves a favor. And then we wonder why we are moving through the world without fire, without hope, without conviction. WHAT IS WRONG WITH US? We lament.
And the answer is both so simple and so terrifying. We have broken our own hearts. We have crushed our own spirits. We have defeated our own minds with our lack of self-kindess.
And, for what, really? Because we are chasing perfect? Perfect- an idea whose premise isn’t even real. Perfect- a theory put forth entirely to sell us a bag of goods.
Does perfect exist? I can ask a roomful of women and a resounding “no” will meet me.
And, yet, so many of us secretly follow that no with this little thought in our minds, “I don’t need to be perfect. I just want to get as close to it as possible.”
But perfect is a moving target. Our thoughts about how to live, what’s beautiful, what’s smart, what’s funny, what’s kind, what’s good, what’s great, what’s revolutionary are not static. There isn’t just one idea. We all have our own ideas. So whose perfect, exactly, are we chasing when we get on the ride? Whose almost perfect are we trying to reach?
When I was in graduate school, I wrote a manuscript that featured a collection of personal essays and linked poetry that detailed my coming of age journey through the lenses of body image, ethnic identity, and society’s good girl standards. The title of that collection? Giving Up Beauty.
Today, if I were penning a personal manuscript, I might entitle it Giving Up Perfect (and Imperfect). If my twenties were about giving up the idea of needing to look a certain way in order to become MY best version of myself, then my thirties were absolutely about giving up the idea of having to BE a certain way in order to be as close to perfect as possible. And giving up perfect has been a profound, powerful relief in my life.
Just as there is no one beauty standard that we can reach that would please everyone (and, hence, we need to rely on our internal barometer to appreciate ourselves), there is no one definition of perfect. And so when you are on a quest for a globally consistent reaction to who you are and what you bring to the table, you are banking on dissatisfaction. You are banking on coming up short. You are not investing in you.
We all know that perfect does not exist. And if perfect does not exist, there is no polar opposite, either. You cannot be imperfect if there is no perfect. You simply are. Every single one of us? We are unique expressions in this world, just as we were meant to be.
But self-acceptance doesn’t just start with embracing the idea that we no longer have to chase some constructed idea of perfect and with the awareness that we can no longer label things that don’t fit that false standard as imperfect. Embodying self-acceptance also means that you take a whole new look at the experiences and moments that once made you label yourself stupid, fat, lazy, undeserving, unlovable and more.
Choosing to be self-accepting means you choose to no longer shame yourself, to no longer label yourself, to no longer condemn.
Suddenly, the bounced check doesn’t mean you are irresponsible. The forgotten play date doesn’t mean you are an idiot. The limited range of motion in your shoulder doesn’t mean your body sucks. The thirty minutes you spent napping on the couch when you had meant to fold laundry doesn’t mean you are lazy.
When you are self-accepting, you no longer embrace the opportunity to judge yourself. Your energy shifts and, instead, you focus on each experience giving you information.
Everything becomes, simply, information.
The bounced check might be showing you that your money management system doesn’t work for you or that that week was incredibly busy and kept you from being able to be on top of the details.
The forgotten play date may be revealing how consumed you are right now with the care of your sick mother.
The limited range of motion in your shoulder might be reminding you of just how much you have carried your children through their body and heart aches.
That nap was inviting you to just give yourself just a small bit of care in the midst of a busy time.
In embracing your self-acceptance this month, I want you to shift your energy away from judgment which does not serve you (or anyone else) and to curiosity. When you feel inclined to judge yourself, shift your words. No longer condemn your choices or reality. Instead, I want you to gently ask, what information is this experience giving me? And prepare yourself to powerfully move forward with that information as a guide.