I am not perfect. We know humans are imperfect creatures. So why do I spend so much time worrying about the things I should do better or be better at, not to mention all the imperfections in my body? “If only I…” is too often a part of my inner conversations with myself, and I know I am not alone in this.
In my forthcoming book, The Art of Communication: A Librarian’s Guide for Successful Leadership and Advocacy, I cite an article claiming we “speak” over 4,000 words to ourselves each day. Too many are self-critical. It is time to recognize that these flaws are often an integral part of who we are. While self-improvement is a worthy goal, reality says somethings won’t change. For example, I am a talker. I have learned to not be the first to rush in with an answer- most of the time. But I will always be a talker.
How can we learn to accept and love who we are, who we are not, and who we will never be? Mike Robbins offers five ways to Love Your “Flaws”. Even seeing the word flaws in quotes is a good reminder of where we are judging ourselves—possibly incorrectly. To make a change, he suggests:
- Acknowledge What’s True for You—Honestly identify your flaws. There’s no need to run from or ignore these aspects of ourselves. If we want to make a change, we have to be clear about what needs changing.
- Admit and Express the Underlying Emotion- What do you feel about these flaws? Robbins says, “If a specific aspect of your personality, body, or career bothers you and you find yourself feeling ashamed—as uncomfortable or negative as it may seem, the best thing you can do is acknowledge and express your shame.” It’s normal to feel shame or embarrassment about these flaws that you think are keeping you from being your best.
- Forgive Yourself—We always judge ourselves more harshly than we do other people. Flaws are a part of all of us. As a friend of mine once said, “Don’t judge your inside by someone else’s outside.” You notice only that the other person doesn’t have your flaw, but they see the flaws and struggles in themselves.
- Appreciate—Robbins asks us to value what we have learned about ourselves and life by recognizing our flaws. Knowing and acknowledging our flaws has given us opportunities for learning and doing better. Instead of focusing on the negative, we can be grateful for these lessons and how we’ve grown.
- Love—As you don’t withhold love and caring from others, no matter their flaws, you deserve to love yourself as well. You are a whole package. Think of the friends you have. We expect and accept imperfections in others. We need to do that for ourselves as well.
Celebrate yourself. You do much and mean much to so many people. You would never put a friend down. Be a friend to yourself and offer yourself compassion and support when all you’re seeing is your flaws.