Many of us were raised with the over-achiever syndrome: work hard, strive for perfection, and you can get what you want out of life. Eventually.
While this work ethic may have helped launch us into the adult world striving to accomplish higher levels of success, it also has its shadow side: we become angry, agitated, bitter because life and ourselves are imperfect. Flawed.
People get grouchy. The dog growls at us. The car won’t start. Traffic’s snarled again. That extra ten pounds we gained just won’t take a hike.
As we experience these daily shortcomings, we come to realize and lament: imperfect happens. All around and inside of us.
When faced with life’s blemishes we have two choices:
Resist, grumble, and complain; or
Relax, accept and, grow.
The first choice comes all too easy. The second takes effort, intention, focus; perhaps even allowing time to mourn, lament and experience the sadness and disappointment that comes from living in an imperfect world.
Eventually we may reach a point where we become tired of the grumbling inside ourselves and ask: how do we move beyond our frustration with life’s imperfections?
First, perhaps we need to lower the bar on others, and ourselves, not to mediocrity, but rather to become satisfied with our own growth, our own progress in life. Step by step. Day by day. Gradualism.
Maybe we can also take time to ask ourselves what we’re being invited to learn from our own and other’s flaws? What’s the wisdom beneath the experience? The virtue we’re being invited to gain?
With this approach, we might even come to appreciate rather than judge life’s flaws because they allow us to grow, to gain wisdom and empathy for the world and ourselves.
As we embrace our imperfections, we become more compassionate as we stumble upon others’ flaws. We give each other room to be fully human on the path toward becoming more divine.
And isn’t that what life’s all about: gaining wisdom from experience; returning to the truth of who we are: imperfect human beings loved by a perfect Creator?
What would it be like if I accepted my imperfections as teachers, instead of irritants?
Can I infuse compassion into mine and other’s imperfections?
How might self-compassion change the world and me?
(brian j plachta fall 2014)