The title doesn’t make any sense. Who wants to be imperfect? Well, who wants to spend their entire life being unhappy? The answer would be no one. But, that is what you are likely to do if you are always in search of perfection.
Here, imperfection is not the opposite of perfection like good is the opposite of bad. Imperfection here is rather a “freedom from perfection”. That is what we all ultimately want – to be free from the chains of unrelenting perfection. Instead, learn to fly on the wings that you have been given, not the ones that you believe everyone wants you to have. It’s time to let go and just “be”.
It’s not as easy as it sounds. Self-help books always talk about letting go but they never quite get to the instruction part. We all want to rise above the morass that is grasping day after day for an unattainable perfection in every area of our lives.
Obviously, some people have reached that point or they wouldn’t be writing books about it, right? Why can’t the rest of us join, too? All we need is a bit of enlightenment. So, here goes.
Who Are You?
How many of us have asked that question in the mirror? Throughout your life, you may ask that question many times. What kinds of answers do you get? Could it be that you have not grasped the importance of who you truly are so you keep asking? Most people think that they keep asking because they are not perfect yet. Here’s a news flash: No one is perfect. As long as you are in this human skin, mistakes will always be made. Imperfection is part of life.
We are created on the “trial and error” principle. We find things out by learning. The learning process involves trying, failing, trying again and finding a solution so we can move on. New neural pathways are created by experiences, good and bad, positive and negative. Accepting, that point will begin the journey to true self-acceptance.
Many people look to others to tell them who they are. This is a mistake. Other people can summarize their experiences with you, but that is not all to your story. Yes, every human being has a unique story. Even if you share some experiences with others, your perspective on them is never exactly like someone else’s.
In this life, we are burdened down with preconceived notions. Our parents may have believed them so we simply adopt them for ourselves. What was the American Dream that everyone came to the shores of America to obtain? It might have been the white picket fence, a spouse and 2.5 kids (that last kid has a hard way to go). In reality, that dream doesn’t fit every life.
The “dream” is supposed to be subjective. It’s whatever you feel fits your best self, not a pre-formed mould that pops out perfectly happy people.
People have undoubtedly died without realizing that they were playing a role. Who they were meant to be was lost in who they were supposed to be or who they needed to be to “fit in”. It’s sad and also unfair. We owe it to ourselves to love and be loved for who we are. When you can love and accept then you can truly “belong”. Imperfection is just being human,
Living A Whole-Hearted Life
Whole-hearted means with your “whole heart”. How many of us have ever done anything with our whole being involved? We’re not talking about pushing through when you were tired. From the beginning, you pursued a passion for something with all that you truly were at the time. You hoped you believed and you trusted.
That is really what we all want – to be satisfied with ourselves. It is not about material things, although the world would have you think so. If that were the case why do people who seem to have “arrived” succumb to drugs, alcohol, suicide or some other downward spiralling situation? They didn’t have to worry about money, so what made them so unhappy? Many think the answer is material because this is what they lack. They blame others for being weak over it but the reason is deeper than that. They didn’t feel validated or valued.
When you look outside of yourself for validation, you may find it. More likely, you will find a rollercoaster where sometimes you are in favour with others and sometimes you are at their mercy. That’s no way to live your entire life.
If you desire to live a full and wholehearted life, it’s about your imperfections and embracing them. Get started by studying on and cultivating “courage,” “compassion,” and “connection” in your life.
When people think of courage, they talk about soldiers, first responders and those who work in dangerous professions. These people do have courage and bravery. They exhibit “heroism”. It is the state of putting your life on the line for someone else. For many, it is the mandate of their job to be heroic. It takes a special person to volunteer for this type of courageous service.
The courage spoken of here is the ordinary kind that most people don’t take the time to sow into their lives anymore. It is the courage to stand up for someone else, to show your vulnerability where it might be ridiculed or to sympathize with someone else. This exemplifies the everyday courage that can impact the lives of every human being you come in contact with. That’s power, isn’t it?
Courage to be who you are allows others to do the same. What gets in the way of courage? Often it is shame or embarrassment or guilt. You want to raise your hand and ask for clarification in class but don’t because everyone else seems to “get it”. There are those preconceived notions again. You think “everyone knows what’s going on except me.” When you show courage and fight for yourself and raising your hand, others will follow suit. By the end of class, everyone is on the same page.
This is a tough one. How many of us jump on the bandwagon of blaming another because everyone else is doing it? No one wants to be singled out as different. If society had its way, we’d all look, act and think the same. It’s like “Big Brother” is here. With the absence of compassion, we lose a part of our humanity.
What is compassion anyway? It is acknowledging the light and dark places in our lives (mostly the dark places, we don’t mind if people stare into the light.) Then we are free to be there for someone else when they need a listening ear. Instead of holding a mistake over someone else, we can let them into our vulnerable places by sharing an experience that could help them. It gives way to understanding. We are taken into the breach with someone else without judgment, only to share their experience for their sake.
Compassion also works when coupled with boundaries. Holding people accountable for their actions shows a desire to help them to achieve their best. It helps you to separate what they do or doesn’t do from who they are. The opposite is often the case when we “shame and blame”.
Have you ever ridiculed someone for something they did? It could be a friend, a spouse or even your child. In sports, shaming is supposed to toughen up players by making them take criticism to whip them into shape. You might as well put their hands and head in the stocks and throw rotten tomatoes at them. The results would be the same. Ridicule demoralizes the person at the deepest levels. It attacks who they are – their identity.
Instead of helping it hurts them. You don’t look too good either. Your conduct is brought into question for haranguing someone in this way. When you set boundaries, people know you are serious. Kids that can’t watch television if they don’t clean their rooms are more likely to do so.
Their motivation is something they want or praise or reward. Boundaries also show confidence in another person. You don’t want to dish out consequences so you do all you can to assist them in completing the task.
Social media is no excuse for true connection. It is communicating with others but not really getting to “know” them. That takes effort, courage and compassion. From miles away, you can say you would help another but what would you do when actually faced with a situation? Want to develop great relationships with coworkers, family, spouses and friends? Practice getting and staying connected.
When we take the time to invest in another life, our own lives are enhanced. What does it take to invest? It could be asking someone about their family. Show interest and actively listen when another speaks. See yourself in their situation. Suspend judgment as you listen.
A connection also means offering help. Did you know that there is a stigma placed on getting help? Just look at the number of mentally ill people on the streets. Families are reluctant to admit they have mental issues for fear of how others will treat them. In the same way, people who offer help can feel in some way superior to those that ask for it. This prevents them from getting the help they need when the time comes.
To live freely, we have to be able to embrace all areas of who we are. When you can accept it, then asking for help seems logical and necessary to live wholeheartedly and with purpose. And, you give all of yourself to help others without thinking any less of them for needing a hand.
Tips For Living Your Best Imperfect Life.
Now that you know what you need to begin living a more fulfilling life (courage, compassion and connection), here are some tips to put those traits into practice. The only way to get them is to experience them.
Let go – This is not the same as giving up. What you need to let go of is the expectations of others for your life. Set goals for your life and challenge yourself. But, do so with goals that satisfy how you see yourself living. Don’t use someone else’s measuring stick to chart your path.
Love everyone, beginning with yourself – This is the biggest tip. Shaming and blaming, jumping on the bandwagon, trying to fit in and other actions stem from not wanting attention paid to our flaws and shortcomings. Some people will compromise their values and beliefs to fit in and not be ridiculed by others.
What is the cost to your life? Is it worth trading in for the opinions of other human beings just like you? Invest in yourself by taking the time to accept who you are in love. Then and only then can you find places and people to whom you “belong” as an authentic “you” and not a cardboard cutout.
Forget perfection – It is a pipe dream. Each person has their own vision of what’s important to their life. Your vision is the one to hold onto. Find ways to live your life around it. Share it with others. Be vulnerable with it. Find out how to be the best person that you can become in the time you have on this planet.
Transform yourself – Everyone evolves over time. The person you were yesterday is not the person you will be ten years from now and that is how it should be. What it shouldn’t be is you chasing an unrealistic expectation based on society or friends who would rather you reflect them instead of who you are. If you desire changes in your attitude, your body, your career or your family life, do so from a position of acceptance and love of the current state of things and not to impress someone else.
Trust yourself – Who knows you better than you? Take a step in a direction. If it doesn’t work, then change course. Have faith in the process that is your life. Take the time to get to know your likes, dislikes, dreams, hopes, pet peeves and the rest. All of your other relationships stem from the one you have with you. It is hard to truly give to another person if you don’t first have these things within yourself.
We have a fascination with perfection. Instead of finding nirvana, most people find disappointment, anxiety, judgment and a face in the mirror that is not truly their own. Who you are is more important to live (yours and that of others) than trying to fit a certain shape or mould. The world is waiting for you and your unique gifts, talents and presence. It would be deprived of a shining light if you sell yourself short by conforming to the wishes of the world instead of the God-given potential that is waiting inside of you to burst forth.
Living imperfectly is not a flaw but a privilege. When you take the courage to be free and present yourself as you are, with all your imperfections, you unconsciously, you give others the permission to be themselves as well. And that’s a win-win for everyone.