Posted on July 1, 2012 in Fulfillment, Happiness, Self Improvement by Sandra Bienkowski
“Will you make the choices to enhance your spirit or those that drain your power?” –Caroline Myss
I was never cut out to be a perfectionist. I leave rejected outfits on my closet floor in my frustration to figure out what to wear. I make a mess when I cook. I trip over my own feet more than the average person. l put my Starbucks coffee on the roof of my car and I almost drive off. My husband wonders how I sometimes get laundry detergent on the wall when I am washing our clothes. I catch him smiling and shaking his head at me. He’s one of those perfectionist types, detailed, patient and precise.
Back in my early twenties when my self-image was in the dumpster, I’d use my clumsy or air-headed moments as proof that I should feel like crap about myself. Look at that dumb thing you just said or the clumsy thing you just did, I’d think. You just looked like a fool, I’d tell myself. I thought only perfect people deserve love. I was on a search and destroy mission of me. I looked for proof that I wasn’t cool or perfectly together, and I used the evidence to chip away even more at my self-esteem.
Talk therapy helped me stop the assault on myself. I learned that people are supposed to have flaws and bad parts. We all look silly or foolish sometimes. We make mistakes or have moments where we say or do the wrong thing. Chalk it up to the being human thing. I realized my worth isn’t defined by how perfect I appear to other people. I discovered striving for perfection is a pointless pursuit because no one ever arrives.
Turns out, I am totally loveable flawed. It wasn’t an overnight epiphany, but a slow evolution into loving who I am, just the way I am. But once I got to total self-acceptance, life had a sense of freedom it never had before.
I let go of what people think of me.
I used to hand the power of my life over to other people. If someone said something positive to me, I felt positive. Negative? I felt negative. If I was criticized, I viewed it as a verdict instead of an opinion. If I was dating someone who didn’t want to date me anymore (even if I didn’t want to date him either) I viewed the rejection as a declaration of my unworthiness. If I ever had a conflict with a friend or if someone acted weird to me, I’d wonder what I did.
Slowly, I stopped giving other people the power to determine how I should feel about me. I started setting boundaries left and right. If I felt mistreated by someone, I ended the friendship or the relationship. I started being authentic with my feelings, instead of trying to appease everyone in some misguided attempt to get the whole world to like me. I got my answers internally and I started to feel increasingly empowered.
No longer can anyone else control my mood, determine my value, or impact my outlook. I don’t look to other people for their approval. I must confess that I still love compliments and accolades, but I don’t need them anymore to feel a sense of worth. If someone treats me in a way that isn’t positive now, I immediately wonder what their issue is, and I often assume it has nothing to do with me. As the saying goes, “What you think of me is none of my business.”
I stop letting my blunders define me.
Today I completely embrace my little mishaps or mistakes. I laugh when I trip. I crack myself up when I walk into a room and forget why I am there. I’m okay with my temporary messiness. I don’t even work on correcting my little idiosyncrasies that make me imperfect, because it’s who I am. And it’s so dang liberating.
Don’t get me wrong, I still work on me. I work on getting fit. I work on becoming a better writer. I read personal development books all the time. I work on being a better person. I just don’t think I need to work on being perfect. People can love you (madly!) flawed.
Sharing our imperfections connects us to each other on a real level. We can cut through the superficial crap, drop the pretense and be real. Perfect is an illusion. If someone makes you think you need to be perfect to be loved, you don’t need that person. When you let go of the pursuit of perfection, you can turn your mind from a place that torments you—to the best place in the world to live.