One of my life goals is to be authentic. Initially, this may seem or sound simple. Being authentic simply means to be true to yourself, speak your truth, or live your values. However, one of the hardest parts about being authentic is recognizing that I am not perfect. Thus, part of being authentic is giving myself permission to be imperfect.
This has been a struggle for me at times. I strive for perfection, have high goals for myself, and push myself beyond what most would believe to be comfortable thresholds. The advantages of this are that I have become extremely discipline with how I spend my time, I often (but not always) achieve my goals, and when I fall short of my goals I am still able to feel good about my results because of the effort I have put forth.
However, the down side of striving for perfection is that when I fall short in ANY aspect of my life, then I am at risk of not being happy with myself or feeling unsatisfied.
Additionally, I can be excessively hard on myself when I don’t reach my goals. Further, I often put so much pressure on myself that it is difficult for me to enjoy the inevitable ups and downs of life, its twists and turns, and zigs and zags that come with living life and being a human.In order for me to be authentic, I must give myself permission to be imperfect and still be happy by accepting myself for who I am at this moment in time and accept the current circumstances of life. Click To Tweet
Part of the antidote for this is to recognize that in order for me to be authentic, I must give myself permission to be imperfect and still be happy by accepting myself for who I am at this moment in time and accept the current circumstances of life.
This does not mean lowering standards or not trying to change your circumstances. It is simply accepting where you are in this moment, feeling good about the progress you have made in some areas of your life and recognizing that you would prefer to change other areas of your life.
Helpful thoughts to aid in this process include:
1. My self-worth encompasses more than my external circumstances (e.g., weight, financial worth, career, relationships)
2. My invisible self is shining right now and worthy of love.
3. I am going to give myself permission to be happy, even if everything is not exactly how I would like it to be in my life right now
4. I may not prefer my current circumstances, but I am willing to accept them.
5. I am going to practice being kind and compassionate to myself today.
Plus, when we fight our current circumstances, then that often leads to unhelpful thoughts such as:
I should/must/need to have more money, improved relationships, or better body/weight in order to be happy, let myself relax, and accept myself for who I am.
This type of perfectionist thinking distracts us from being in tune with our higher self or spirit. Plus, our self worth and attraction is often viewed by others to be completely different than how we view ourselves when we are demanding perfection.
If we really want to be authentic, then it can help to learn to accept ourselves for our strengths and imperfections, even if our life is not exactly how we would like it to be.
Moreover, part of accepting that we are imperfect means to let go of our guilt or to forgive ourself for a mistake. We may feel guilty about something we have done in our past. This guilt may related to a time when we actually made a mistake or a time when we did not make a mistake, but we believe we did.
For example, sometimes people, through no fault of their own, end up doing something that leads to harming another person. For instance, in an extreme situation, someone may be driving their car perfectly safe and responsibly, but a child may unexpectedly dart out into the middle of the road and we hit them because we do not see them in time. This may cause us to feel guilt even though we did nothing wrong, but question whether we should have seen the child, were driving too fast, or could have swerved out of the way. In this case it is a tragic accident and we can let go of the guilt because we did not nothing wrong.
However, in some cases we may actually have guilt because we made a mistake. For example, someone may not intentionally try to hit a child that runs in the middle of the street, but that person hits the child because they were texting on their phone, driving too fast, or not paying attention. In this case we may feel some guilt because he were reckless or negligent and that caused harm.Even if we make a mistake, part of being authentic is letting go of that guilt and accepting ourselves for not being perfect. Click To Tweet
This case is more difficult to accept ourselves because we could have acted differently and more responsibly, which may have prevented harm. However, it is in these cases where it can be helpful to realize that we are not perfect, we are human beings capable of imperfection and making mistakes, and then forgive ourselves or let go of the guilt. Moreover, we may be using our guilt as a form or self-punishment, which does not help us or the other person involved. Thus, even if we make a mistake, part of being authentic is letting go of that guilt and accepting ourselves for not being perfect.
Dr. Matthew Welsh, J.D., Ph.D.
About the author:
Dr. Matthew Welsh J.D., Ph.D. is the founder of Spiritual Media Blog. He began his career in Hollywood working for an entertainment agency, the William Morris Agency, and then as a trial lawyer for the Department of Child Services in Indiana. He now works as a full-time life coach in US helping others with trauma, addictive behaviors, anger, depression, and anxiety.