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Have you ever wondered what would happen if we gave up the concept of perfection? If instead of focusing so hard on being perfect, finding perfection, and getting rid of imperfections; instead our quest centered on simply being, finding, and accepting what is? That’s the idea behind today’s article, how to transform your imperfections, not into perfection, but instead into self-acceptance.
What is an Imperfection?
By definition, an imperfection is simply a blemish or an undesirable feature. Guess what that means:
What you find undesirable about yourself, could be a total out of the ballpark winning trait when someone else looks at you. Likewise, what they may find undesirable about you, could be something you are totally proud of (and should be, by the way!).
Translation: imperfection isn’t definable. There is no ‘one thing’ that makes someone undesirable. There is no one trait that makes someone less than another, and there is not one person who is flawless. That is beautiful.
So the real trick is…how does one practice self-acceptance and transform your imperfections or perceived flaws?
How to Practice Total Self-Acceptance:
Think about the last time you went to a job interview – did they ask you what your biggest ‘strength’ was? And of course, the correct response is to use your weakness to your advantage. That concept of flipping the script is the same here.
What if we simply draw our strengths from our perceived flaws?
I’m sure by now it comes as no shock that I love to reframe things, find the positive parts of yourself, and expand upon these ideas. But you are probably feeling stumped as heck right now: how do you transform your imperfections? So let’s get down to business!
How to Transform your Imperfections
Maybe this sounds silly, but if you look in the mirror (physically or metaphorically speaking), and hate whatever flaw you are focusing on, is that really any sense of self-acceptance? No, because you are still focusing on that internal hatred, you are focusing on the way that trait makes you feel, not the trait itself.
We all have parts of ourselves we may wish we didn’t have. Be it temporary: short hair when we want long; or semi-permanent: being selfish when we wish we were selfless.
The easiest way to create change, whether internally or externally, is to accept them as they are in their current state. Only then can you see the full picture to understand how best to alter (or not).
This is the time to take responsibility for who we are right now in this moment. It doesn’t matter who or what circumstances brought us to this intersection, we’re not here to play the blame game. Just accept that there is an intersection (the one you may otherwise not have seen had you continued your blind journey blowing past and ignoring who you are).
Your mind is probably getting a little wobbly about now, so what it comes down to are these three steps you need to focus on:
So how do you do all that? Here are a few tips:
1 | AWARENESS
Take a moment to do the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do. Ok maybe not the hardest, but trust me it’s about to get uncomfortable in here.
Take a piece of paper (heck, even a whole notebook) and start writing your flaws to transform your imperfections. Maybe it’s your hair color. Maybe you are a people pleaser. Maybe you suck at obtaining goals. Trust me, judgment-free zone. Start scribbling anything that comes to mind. In fact, take a day off after you finish and see if you forgot anything. Warning, you may find you fill up a notebook, or it may be a single page of the paper.
Congratulations, you are now aware of your so-called “flaws”.
2 | EMBRACING
Now it’s time to embrace these so called “flaws”.
None of these items on your list are shocking to you. You are well aware already that you hate that you are ____ and wish you were ____ instead. But instead of doing something about it, we sweep it away, hide it from plain sight, and pretend it never existed.
The problem is, just because we stuff it in the closet or sweep it under the rug, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist anymore. In fact, I would argue what is hidden likes to grow. It feeds off your contempt and self-hatred and seems to double in size daily. So of course we buy a bigger house with a bigger closet to compensate, right? What happens when the money runs out? When it outgrows the whole first floor you gave it?
OK silly visual aside, the point is – our biggest enemy is simply ourselves. Our self-inflicted resentment eats us up from the inside out. It’s always better to deal with these issues head-on, and preferably when they are new. Of course, by now you probably have give-or-take 30 years of baggage, so let’s get down to business.
This step is all about acknowledging that this flaw exists. To transform your imperfections you need to be aware that these “flaws” also bring something to the table. Go through every item on your list and individually list something positive about the imperfection. Here are some broad examples to get you started:
- You have brown hair but you wish it was red:
- Try: Brown hair tends to be thicker and more voluptuous than other hair colors, I’m so lucky!
- You are a people pleaser:
- Try: My only fault is that I care too much about others!
- You suck at completing goals:
- Try: I am an idea generator and my strength lies in the planning process!
Don’t be afraid to google some ideas to get you started. Just remember to choose a positive that you FIND positive, not one that the internet deems positive (trust me there is a difference)!
Lastly, this may take a while. Don’t expect to knock it out in an hour! So take your time, be slow and deliberate with the process!
3 | FORGIVENESS
First of all, congratulations on getting this far! This is the funnest step (ok the first two are pretty tough so it’s a bad comparison), but still!
Forgiveness can be such a buzzword at times. Sure it’s all-important, especially in regards to self-acceptance, and we all know that, but giving forgiveness is so abstract – HOW is the real question. HOW do you give forgiveness when, to be honest, you may not want to.
Here’s the secret: the best way to learn how to forgive something, is to see forgiveness in action. I know it seems kinda silly but it’s true. But before we jump there, there is another secret you need to know first: sometimes forgiveness isn’t required at all!
Here’s the thing, let’s say you’ve always wanted red hair but you born with brown. That tiny little resentment builds up, we’ve learned that already. But picture it. Give-or-take 30 years of hating your brown hair add‘s up to a lot of internalized self-hatred. Maybe you saw that on your list, and you googled some positives about brown hair, and it felt silly to even mention at the end of it all. And that’s ok, you’ve acknowledged your feelings on this and moved on. THAT IS FORGIVENESS. Or rather, you didn’t even require forgiveness to begin with!
But maybe it didn’t feel silly, and it still drives you nuts having brown hair. So try hanging out with people who have brown hair and are proud of it. See what kinds of hairdos they have, how they talk about their hair, how they carry themselves with confidence. Because when you hang around that, you will soak it up and learn to appreciate what you have. And guess what – if in the end, you dye your hair red, THAT IS FORGIVENESS. You’ve acknowledged your feelings, embraced your identity as it was, and found a way to move beyond it and transform the perceived imperfection into something more (aka self-acceptance).
Now, let’s get a little more specific; to find forgiveness, you need to understand the root cause and use a little imagination.
Sometimes the root cause can be obvious, maybe your best friend growing up had red hair and you were so jealous. But maybe your lack of obtaining goals stems from a side comment a middle school teacher made (and more annoyingly, a comment you don’t even remember but your subconscious does)! So what do you do?
Use Your Active Imagination for self-acceptance:
- Write a dialog to your imperfection, ask it what its deal is. What it needs to move on. Make it a script and have it answer back. Or make it a one-sided letter. Make it a brain dump of ideas or pretend to put yourself in its shoes before you write.
- Surround yourself with people who live the way you wish you were (specifically in relation to your imperfection – IE: those with red hair). See their own imperfections up close, notice the way it does and doesn’t affect them. Learn from that.
- Surround yourself with people who live confidently the way you currently live (IE: those with brown hair). See their confidence, their pride, their imperfections. Notice the way it does and doesn’t affect them. Learn from that.
- Find a compromise. Fine maybe you will never be a professional goal obtainer, but that positive you found – maybe you’re better suited to be a leader, to generate the ideas and delegate the tasks you aren’t great at to others instead.
- Find inner peace. Some might say meditate, or start a gratitude journal, or pick up a new hobby. Find peace within yourself and forgiveness and self-acceptance will be easy.
Time to get uncomfortable. The biggest changes (aka self-acceptance) happen outside of our comfort zones, so step out – get uncomfortable and start LIVING.
This post first appeared on ArianaDagan.com