January 02, 2023
I have a confession to make… I’m exhausted.
I’m exhausted from feeling less than perfect. Exhausted from trying to fit other people’s expectations. Exhausted from playing catch up to where I think my life should be. Exhausted of feeling bad for things I cannot change. And most of all, I'm tired of making New Years Resolutions I know I'll never keep.
Are YOU exhausted?
If you can relate, keep reading. I recently decided to STOP feeling this way, and began a journey of acceptance, compassion, and self-love. A journey I’m still exploring, and one which I invite you to share.
Let’s explore, together, what it means to shed the shackles of the exhausting thoughts which do not serve us, and replace them with creativity and love. To take bigger, more meaningful risks. To sleep a little more soundly. To be a bit more productive. To be better friends, daughters, sisters, lovers. To just be better, happier humans.
Today marks the beginning of yet another year, and I can think of no better than today to begin a journey of love and self-acceptance. Join me in this 5-step process of falling in love with your flaws.
The first step in accepting and celebrating our flaws is, quite simply, figuring out what they are. This can be a scary (if not THE scariest) step, as it requires that the ego step aside and that we be truly honest with ourselves. If you are not sure where to start, break things down by asking yourself how/who you are in the various aspects of your life: How are you with your family? How are you with your friends? How are you in your career? Etc... Get it all out there. Write it all down. No holding back. Remember, no one is judging you but you.
The next steps mainly come down to two things: the willingness to change the things you can improve on; and the acceptance of the things you cannot change.
Examine your list. Look at each flaw one by one, and decide whether or not it is something you can/should change about yourself. Can it be improved on or does it simply need your love and acceptance? To help you decide, ask yourself: Does the flaw negatively impact me and those around me? Does it impact the amount of positive energy I am giving off into the world? Is there anything I CAN do to change it? Break your list of flaws up into two lists; a “Change” column and an “Accept” column. Flaws that negatively impact your life, like impatience, procrastination, laziness, etc… , can be added under the “Change” column. Things that you consider flaws or imperfections that are outside of your control (like your body type or hard-wired personality traits), can be put into the “Accept” column.
Remember, accepting your flaws and owning the ones that make you who you are is essential to fixing the ones that are holding you back. And ALL of your flaws - those you can change as well as those which you cannot - need your love. Showing all your flaws some love is not the same thing as throwing our hands in the air and saying, "Oh well! That's just the way I am!” Rather, it’s about being compassionate to yourself. Much like a disobedient child, your “need to change” list of flaws requires a good balance of discipline and compassion in order to be able to move forward.
It’s time to get real. Now that you've determined which flaws are in fact those which you can (and should) change, it's time to be brutally honest with yourself. Determine if you actually are going to do something about them. You can change it, but will you? Only you know (and you will know, deep down) whether or not the flaw that bugs you is something you are willing to work on. If you know it needs to be changed and you're going to put in the effort, awesome! Go for it! If it's something you can't or won't change, then be honest with yourself about it. Otherwise, it will continue to fester in your brain. Take a moment with your “Change” column and decide now if anything should actually be moved over to the “Accept” pile.
Great. You now have your FINAL list of flaws you area ACTUALLY willing to work on. The next step is to create an action plan of what specifically you can do about it. If you struggle with a flaw or past failure, ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do to improve this or mitigate the pain of it?” Can you make amends, get more training, learn a new skill, create a new system to keep you accountable, go to counselling, or make different choices? Create an action plan with realistic goals and milestones for the coming year. And remember to be patient with yourself. Self-improvement is a gradual process and constant work-in-progress.
Let’s go back to that pesky “cannot change” list of imperfections. It’s time to give them a makeover and send them some love.
RE-Scale: Try to look at your flaws from an objective point of view. Often our imperfections are magnified by our own perception of them. We're so close to the flaw that it seem so much larger to us. If we take a step back from and try to imagine what our flaws would look like from an outsider's point of view, the things that seemed horrible or offensive might not look so bad. Go through your flaw list again, one by one, and contemplate how you would react to your flaw if you spotted it on someone else.
Re-Frame: There is a term in psychology called Framing, which refers to the cognitive bias of the human brain. Consider the simple example of the glass of water which is either half-full or half-empty depending on how you look at it. Both statements are equivalent truths but when portrayed in a negative frame, the glass is half-empty. When portrayed in a positive frame, it is half-full. Re-Framing your flaws is about seeing them in a new light (or “frame”). After all, nothing is ever completely good or completely bad.
Think of that one thing you have trouble accepting, and see if there is some possible benefit for it in your life. You can also re-frame by looking at your flaws as a means to an end. As one wise Beatle once said, "It will all be ok in the end. If its' not ok, it's not the end.” Could it be that your current flaw serves a purpose towards a greater end? Perhaps it is here to teach you something? For example, one of the flaws I have trouble changing and accepting is procrastination. I used to really hate this about myself. I continue to work on it every day, but I also no longer loathe it because I try to see the benefit in it. If I did NOT procrastinate, my achievements would come much more easily. And if things came easily, I may not be as grateful for them, or be as proud of myself for eventually achieving them. Do your flaw serves a purpose?
Forgive: To truly accept our faults, sometimes we need to grieve and forgive past faults and failures. Past regrets can prevent us from practicing self-acceptance. That includes grieving the loss of unrealized dreams. Many of our problems with self-acceptance come from our inability to reconcile who we are as compared with the idealized dreams of our earlier days. Whatever your dreams or goals, mourn that they didn’t come to pass so that you can get back to being you best possible you today. It also means forgiving yourself for mistakes made in the past. Forgiveness can be hard to do sometimes, but this may help: Remind yourself that they decisions made in the bast were basted on past information. You you made what you thought was the best decision at the time with the information you had at the time. And… now you have new information, so you can make better choices moving forward.
Accept: The final, and most important shift in perspective is acceptance. I believe this starts by by setting the intention for acceptance. If you set the intention that a life with self-acceptance is far better than a life of self-loathing, you begin a chain reaction of rewiring your brain patterns over time. And don’t be afraid to get naked with your flaws. Strip them of all societal standards and internal judgments. Remove the layers of context, one by one. Don’t compare them to others or rate them on a scale of good/bad. Your flaws are what they are - a part of you. Your flaws make you who you are, so embrace them a parent would embrace a beloved child. By embracing and loving these unchangeable flaws and failures, you can begin to accept them and view them as an essential connection to the rest of humanity. Because everyone is flawed and everyone has failed at one time or another. What matters is what we do with those failures. Have you ever noticed how comforting and reassuring it is to be around someone who has embraced their flaws and failures — someone who is real about these things but doesn't let them dominate their lives? That’s because failure sucks equally for everyone, but ACCEPTED failure strengthens our character and emotional maturity.
As a wise elderly couple once told me; Falling in love is easy. It’s STAYING in love that can be the tricky bit. Much like a muscle that must be worked in order to stay firm, self-acceptance is an ongoing practice. The following exercises can help you flex your self-love muscles.
Practice gratitude daily: Gratitude can help you fall in love with your flaws in a couple of ways. One, it helps to cultivate a positive mindset overall, which in turn, can help you to accept yourself for who you really are. Two, it can help you to see your flaws as something to be grateful for in their own right. Your failures and imperfections have been the guiding light to point out things you may want to work on - showing you the path towards growth. If you acknowledge that they are here to teach you something, then they are doing you a great service and you can show them some appreciation for it. Create a daily gratitude journal and list three things for which you are grateful. Don’t forget to thank your flaws!
Look after your physical self: Eat nourishing food, move regularly, rest often, and be mindful. We too often underestimate how the mind and body work together. By looking after your body, or “primary house”, you create a sacred environment for your true being, making acceptance a lot easier.
Audit your social media accounts: We are all flawed humans. But the self that we post online does not reflect that fact. Never before in history have we been constantly reminded of how “perfect” other peoples lives are. Thanks to the blessing/curse that is social media, everyone and their mother who is more attractive, successful, outgoing and driven, is right there - staring you in your face. Don’t let yourself get pulled into the comparison trap. Only follow those accounts which bring you joy. Unfollow accounts which do not serve you or make you feel bad about yourself.
Practice vulnerability: As my wise husband recently taught me, there is great value in vulnerability. Don’t be afraid to open up to others about your faults. You will be pleasantly surprised to know that you are not alone. Whatever your trials, tribulations and trepidations, there is at least one other person out there who can relate to you. They will understand what you are going through and may help you to accept your own imperfections. But they only way to find them is to open up.
Well, there you have it. The road to acceptance, in 5 not so simple steps.
For me, it has been quite a journey - one which I will continue to explore for some time. As I move forward, I know there will always be some things that I won’t really like about myself, but as I have discovered from this process, I don’t need to like them in order to love them.
I am flawed and I have failed. Just like you. Just like everyone. And it is my imperfections which make me human. Like fingerprints of the soul, they are the unique combinations of strengths, weaknesses, experiences, perspectives, and opportunities for growth which make me who I am.
I hope that this article has inspired you to love and embrace all aspects of yourself. For like me…. you are imperfectly perfect, just the way you are.
Comments will be approved before showing up.
November 28, 2022
November 14, 2022
October 31, 2022
Growing up, I knew nothing of Traditional Chinese Medicine or what “warming” or “cooling” foods meant. But each year, when the air got a little crisper, the days a little shorter, and the nights a little cooler, I naturally longed for the warming comfort of my mom’s chicken noodle soup. In the colder months of Fall and Winter, my taste buds still seem to magically shift preferences away from crisp salads and steer towards more “hearty” foods like soups, stews, and certain spices. I also notice my eating habits move towards specific types of foods that grow in the colder months, like root vegetables, carrots, potatoes, garlic and onions. The question I wanted answered is: Why? Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) offers one explanation...