Perfection, the highest ideal that people want to achieve. But, is it even real? Or is it just a construct to make other people believe that everything is great?
The perfection we see in social media or the expectations of other people does not exist. True perfection comes from accepting and being confident with all of our goods and bad, highs and lows, strengths and limitations.
Trying to be “perfect” can rob us of many things, including our self-identity, self-esteem, and self-worth when we get crushed by the realization that we can’t reach that ideal of perfection that we had in our head.
It is ok to be imperfect, everyone is even if they try to hide it. Your imperfections are part of you and make you who you are. They let people know that you are human like them, which makes you more relatable and opens the door to making true connections with others due to your vulnerability.
In this article, we discuss ways you can use to embrace your imperfections and live a happier life.
This article is for educational and entertainment purposes only. If you need any help or advice please contact a mental health professional near you.
Without further ado, here are 6 ways to embrace your imperfections.
1- Explore what it means to be imperfect
The obsession we have for perfection a lot of the time comes from an inner yearning or inner turmoil. Exploring what it means to be imperfect will take you on a journey to discover what is behind that need to be perfect and heal it.
In a video about embracing imperfection made by Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes for AIICEUs Counseling Education asks to consider the following questions:
- What fears does it trigger? Are you afraid of rejection? Why and from whom?
- Are you rejecting yourself?
- Are you afraid of failure?
- Is there some danger because of your imperfections? If so, what is it and how can you protect yourself?
Dr. Snipes, a licensed mental health counselor and service provider, then suggests asking ourselves how we view others who are imperfect.
“Think of your family and friends”, says Dr. Snipes, “How do you view them? Do you hold their imperfections against them? Do you reject them? Do you see them as failures?”
For most of us, the answer is that we still love these people and value them, regardless of their imperfections. We might even say that the imperfections are what makes them and give them character.
Next, Dr. Snipes asks to list anyone we know that is perfect. Is there a real-life perfect person out there? Your automatic answer is probably “no”. Because in truth, nobody is perfect. Even those who look perfect on social media have problems that we probably never thought about but they do a very good job at portraying and keeping up with looks.
After pondering whether or not you know someone perfect, Dr. Snipes asks us to find our strengths and recognize our weaknesses. Recognizing our strengths will help us know how we can be useful and what areas of our lives we can improve with ease.
Recognizing our strengths will also allow us to see ourselves in a positive light and become proud of ourselves for the achievements we obtained due to our strengths.
Recognizing our weaknesses will help us figure out what we need to improve, as well as when to ask for help.
“Recognizing your weaknesses allows you to identify places where you can allow people to help you”, says Dr. Snipes, “And believe it or not, people who want to be your friends, people who want to be in your life, often find it rewarding to be able to help you”.
Trying to be perfect takes up a lot of time from trying to decide which version of “perfect” you want to portray to the necessary tools to become “perfect”. This desire though slowly eats away at our time. A time that we could have spent doing something else that caters to our true dreams or our strengths.
“Decide how you want to use your limited time and energy”, Dr. Snipes reminds us in her video,” Think of it as a return of investment. Time being the investment”.
Consider whether or not this search for perfection justifies the time lost that could have been used for something more productive and rewarding for your life.
2- Recognize the circumstances
Sometimes circumstances and situations aren’t ideal or take us by surprise which causes us to react in certain ways or become temporarily unbalanced. Sometimes we have a bad day or a bad week. But because of our perfectionism, we start blaming or berating ourselves for not being better. For not doing that thing, instead of this other thing. For not reacting or acting in the “perfect” way.
Ideally, though, we would look at the circumstances instead of blaming ourselves. Is it true that we are not good enough and we need to do better? Or was the situation a product of the circumstances surrounding it?
In her video, Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes gave the example of burning dinner. Even though she enjoys cooking dinner for the family, she sometimes would burn it. To prevent that from happening again she decided to look at the circumstances that led to the dinner burning.
“I used to have a neighbor”, says Dr. Snipes, “that whenever she would come out, if I would see her, I would go over and have a chat. Almost inevitably, I’d lose track of time and if I had started dinner I would burn it”.
Dr. Snipes continues, “I recognized this and, around dinner time, I knew not to go out because I would probably burn dinner”.
Whenever situations aren’t ideal, it is best to focus on what you can control instead of what you can’t. Focusing on what you can control and doing it will give you a sense of accomplishment in the long run.
It is also best to forgive yourself and recognize that circumstances and people (including yourself) aren’t perfect.
3- Make it work in your favor
Once you have considered all of the above, find ways to make all of it work for you. Especially your strengths and your weaknesses. As you learn to make what you have work, you can also learn how to work with other people’s strengths, weaknesses, and circumstances.
In his article, This Is How You Embrace Imperfections and Claim Your True Worth, Tony Fahkry a self-empowerment author, speaker, and coach, relays a story about two large pots. One pot is “perfect”, while the other pot has a crack on its side that spills half of the water on the ground. The cracked pot felt embarrassed because it would arrive with only half of the water it was filled up with.
In disappointment, and after two years of spilling half its contents, the cracked pot spoke to the water bearer that carried both it and the “perfect” pot.
“I’m ashamed of myself because this crack in my side causes water to leak back to your house”, said the cracked pot.
The bearer replied, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I’ve always known about your flaw. I sowed flower seeds on your side of the path and every day on our walk back to the house, you watered them.
“For two years I’ve picked these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being the way you are, I wouldn’t have this beauty to decorate the house.”
Fahkry explains that “What you regard as limitations is good fortune clothed as adversity, yet when applied correctly can transform your life”.
Your limitations and weaknesses (as well as your strengths and abilities) can be used in your favor once you learn how to work with them. So can the weaknesses, limitations, strengths, and abilities of other people just like in the story above where the water bearer used the pot’s crack to water flowers.
But, to learn how to work with yourself, you must get to know yourself better. You can’t do that if you are always trying to be perfect, as perfection has us try to mask or even erase whatever we or society does not deem “fit”.
4- Stop trying to satisfy others
Do you tend to people, please? According to Tony Fahkry, people-pleasing is a powerless state. People-pleasing puts you at the mercy of other people’s whims and desires, leaving no room or time for you to discover things about yourself.
The less you discover and know yourself, the less power you have since you cannot use your strengths, limitations, abilities, and skills in your favor. People-pleasing also takes away time from developing skills that might be important and useful later.
“Consider Arnold Schwarzenegger’s heavy accent which did not discourage him from becoming Hollywood’s most prominent star”, states Fahkry, “Similarly, Richard Branson’s dyslexia was not an impediment when he was established his thriving billion-dollar Virgin empire”.
One could say that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s accent was one of the things that made his Terminator movies so successful, as he made it resemble an accent similar to a machine.
5- Don’t compare yourself to others
Tell the truth, when was the last time you compared yourself to other people? Was it today? Me too. Comparing yourself to others is a true motivation killer and time consumer.
In her video, Embracing Imperfection to Improve Self-Esteem A Strengths Based Approach, Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes would like us to analyze when we compare ourselves to others.
“A lot of the times when we do that, we don’t take into consideration the different paths that both people have walked”, explains Dr. Snipes.
Different paths mean that both, you and the other person, have focused on different things and learned different skills. This means that both people are good at and have excelled in things that the other may not be very good at.
Dr. Snipes tells us to not look at what the other person is doing “right” and compare it to our shortcomings. Instead, focus on what you are doing right, look at what you have achieved with it, and keep improving on it.
If you do decide that you want to improve on something that you are not very good at then remember that the person you’re comparing yourself to probably took many years themselves to get to where they are. Which is what you will be doing, and that is ok.
Not only that, but as Sharon Martin a licensed clinical social worker, says in her article Embrace Your Imperfections, it is easy to see what others put upfront without seeing all the struggles and problems that are behind those “perfect” pictures and “perfect” lives. For example a loveless marriage or overbearing family.
Think of Britney Spears for a second. For a long time, everyone thought that her life was perfect, as she was so successful and loved. But, everyone was shocked when they learned the truth of the abuse perpetrated by her family towards her.
Many people loved and wanted to be like Britney Spears. But, after knowing what was going on, do you still want to be exactly like her?
“Through repetition, you’ve trained your brain to see what everyone else is doing right—their accomplishments and strengths and how perfect they seem”, says Sharon Martin, “But you only see your failures and weaknesses”.
Martin continues in her article, “Your thinking is skewed due to years of self-scrutiny and comparing yourself to other people’s highlight reel. Choose to stop comparing yourself to others.”
6- Develop compassion
Just like you try to find ways to relieve others of their pain and suffering, do it to yourself. Have compassion towards yourself and relieve yourself of your pain and suffering of being perfect.
No one is perfect, and that’s ok. Let go of that pressure. Realize it is not worth it, that it is doing more harm than good, and let it go.
Of course, letting go and developing compassion towards yourself can be hard. But, you can start with learning to live in the present instead of the past or the future. As well as concentrate more on things that you want to do, instead of trying to fulfill a trend or someone else’s expectations.
For developing compassion, you have to look at yourself and find out your motivation for wanting perfection. As was discussed in the first point of this article.
As you do that, you will find that slowly you will start embracing your imperfections. But what does embracing your imperfections feel like?
According to an article on Hudson Therapy, embracing your imperfections feels like this:
- Having the liberty to chase goals that you want to achieve for yourself.
- Using mistakes made along the way as part of the learning process.
- Knowing that you are a person of worth, love, and respect, regardless of your success, mistakes, or position in life.
- Accepting that while you may not have achieved every goal you have set for yourself quite yet, you can still enjoy where you are now.
- Being able to recognize and celebrate your strengths and accomplishments.
“In accepting that we are not, and do not have to be, perfect, we are not throwing in the metaphorical towel on all of our hopes and dreams”, the article states, “Rather, we are giving ourselves the freedom and permission to chase our goals without the pressure of having the outcome tied to our self-worth.”
Embracing imperfection can be hard, but it is harder to live a life trying to be perfect to the point where you lose yourself, and can no longer create meaningful connections with other people.
Can you relate to the points given above? Have you gone through something similar? Let us know in the comments and share your story. Don’t forget to follow us on your YouTube channel for more interesting tips. Thank you for reading.
Fahkry, T. (2017, October 30). This is how to embrace your imperfections and claim your true worth. Medium. Retrieved from https://medium.com/the-mission/this-is-how-to-embrace-your-imperfections-and-claim-your-true-worth-3c5619658a85.
Hudson Therapy. (2020, November 9). How to accept (and embrace) imperfection. Hudson Therapy Group. Retrieved from https://hudsontherapygroup.com/blog/how-to-accept-and-embrace-imperfection.
Martin, S. (2021, February 5). Embrace your imperfections | Psychology Today. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/conquering-codependency/202102/embrace-your-imperfections.
Snipes, D. E. (2021, October 27). Embracing imperfection to improve self … – youtube.com. AIICEUs Counseling Education. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t32r-CJMXcw.