It’s been two months since I began the “Acceptance” journey and I’m learning so much, even when I’m only just scratching the surface.
The whole point behind it was to kick-start a change. I wanted to learn more about myself, become more aware & live a more authentic, grounded life. The goal was to grow, to change my life for the better by facing my shortcomings & accepting who I truly am.
In a nutshell, this is an exercise of self-love.
Tough one, indeed.
But I figure, if I stop beating myself up over the smallest imperfections, I’ll be not only more capable to tolerate & get over other people’s mistakes but go one step further and be more compassionate & loving. It will make me a better, happier person. At least that’s the plan.
In other words, my path to a better life starts with me.
One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.
With the help of some great (and not so great) books, I’ve been learning more about the complexity of human nature, why we act & think the way we do, how we relate to others & what makes us happy or miserable.
Letting Go Of Perfection
Most of us have set the bar high when it comes to our own behavior while we’re typically more understanding when it comes to others. I’m very self-critical myself. I was in denial about it until very recently.
Like many, I think of myself as a person with high standards, plenty of ambition, a person who likes challenge, doesn’t fail often and lives by “if you’re going to do something, do it right”. Those are quite positive & good traits indeed. However, I’ve been using them as a cover for my perfectionism and the need to please and perform.
Is it more important that the dishwasher is loaded right, or that it is loaded at all? Do I really have to do all these things myself, or can I learn to delegate better? Why am I getting mad at myself for failing when I’ve set myself up for failure by not having realistic expectations? Would I do that to others or would I be more understanding?
The first step of self-acceptance is understanding our own humanity.
Logically, I understand that if I set the expectations bar too high (I put too much on my plate, I insist on perfect, I overestimate what I’m capable of) I’m going to be exhausted and overwhelmed and make mistakes all while being cranky and unpleasant to those around me. I also know that nobody is perfect (except in commercials).
We are all made of strength & struggle. We all strive to do our best but we’re only humans and our lives are messy at times. We make mistakes and that should be ok.
(So in theory, I have it all figured out…)
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” ~Voltaire
(Here’s where things are different, in practice…)
Why do I feel guilty my house is messy (the dog & kids should feel guilty I tell ya), why do I feel ashamed I speak with an accent (that isn’t British), why do I feel like I have to apologize for not volunteering in school more, why do I feel inadequate EVERY TIME I fail to be patient with my kids, why do I feel I should make more money, be thinner, smarter, sexier, more popular & forever young. Why do I blame myself for everything that I’m not?
Because we live in a culture of perfection (just look at any magazine, or Pinterest, for that matter), we’re bombarded with “you should” messages, we’re challenged to go after unrealistic goals, we’re constantly pressured to fit into this mold of what life should be like: from how we should look like to how we should act, think and be. When we compare ourselves to that ideal we’re setting ourselves for an inevitable failure and a guilt-trip to boot: aren’t I failing because I’m just not enough (good enough person, smart enough employee, patient enough mother, strong enough woman…)?
And of course, we not only compare ourselves with what we see on TV or a magazine cover, we compare ourselves with neighbors, friends & people on Facebook. But I don’t have to tell you that what we see has been carefully edited & put though an “approved for the public eye” filter, do I?
We all have messy lives sometimes, we all succeed and fail, we all try to do our best, we’re all imperfect and good enough and worthy. I’m going to kick this self-blame to the curb and make room for some much more fun self-love. What about you?