The first grader
Perhaps the example of children in grade school will help us to understand this. These children in the first grade do not reject themselves because they are not in a higher grade, or because they do not know as much, or are not as capable as those children in the higher grades. They accept themselves as they are, and are happy with themselves with their present level of abilities and knowledge.
Yet, no child would accept remaining in the same grade the next year or year after year.
In the same way, there is no conflict between accepting and feeling comfortable with our temporarily limited abilities and lower level of conscious and our need to continue growing. It is natural to accept and love ourselves at his present stage of growth while we simultaneously attend to learning, evolving and improving ourselves.
Growth is a natural instinctual need. Scientists have discovered that when a person learns something new, this creates the excretion of endorphins and other positively reinforcing chemicals in the brain. Natural learning brings pleasure, when it is not connected to fear of rejection and failure.
Other motives for action and growth are love and creativity. We need to love and to create, just as we need to sleep and eat. These are basic needs, even if they are more sophisticated or higher-order needs than the physical needs of sleeping and eating.
Two broken legs
If we know someone who has two broken legs and is unable to carry out his or her responsibilities or be very productive or creative, we automatically understand that they cannot do more than what they are doing, because they have two broken legs.
What we fail to understand is that many of people who we perceive as lazy, irresponsible or negative and even immoral have in fact two of their “emotional legs” broken. They have seriously impaired emotional legs of inner security and feelings of self-worth.
Their insecurity and feelings of self-doubt cause them to behave in negative ways. We, too, might be such persons who have had their inner strength handicapped by negative life experiences. Self-acceptance does not mean that we fail to recognize and admit our mistakes. It simply means that we realize that we are worthy of love even though we are not perfect and have much to improve. The same is true of others, they too are worthy of our love even thought they make mistakes and need to improve themselves.
An incomplete painting is not yet in its perfected form. It is in the process of being perfected, of being completed. We know and accept that it is not completed, not perfect and that it can be and will be much more than it presently is. We do not reject the painting because it is not yet what it will be. We do not say that it is wrong or unacceptable. We simply perceive it as incomplete and we attend to the process of completing it.
Let us then imagine that our and others’ personalities are half-finished paintings. Let us perceive the general state of the society and world around as a painting in progress.
We can see there are many weaknesses, faults and aspects to be improved in those paintings. But they are what they can and should be for their present incomplete state. A painting must pass through a series of stages until it is finally completed. Each of these stages is a perfect part of that process of completion. No stage could be skipped or avoided.
You and I and all around us are “perfect” at every stage of that process of completion. Even our imperfections are a perfect temporary part of our movement towards perfection.
When we perceive ourselves and others as unfinished paintings, we will have patience and understanding for our common weaknesses and faults. We will perceive them as parts of our being that need to be worked on in the process of manifesting our perfect being. All others are equally in a process of perfecting their unfinished paintings.
The bud and the flower
A flower bud does not yet manifest its latent beauty. Yet we do not reject, criticize or condemn it. We realize that it is in a process of maturing and that it is what it needs to be now in order to become the flower which it is destined to be. We accept it is as it is and wait patiently for its blossoming.
In the same way, we need to perceive ourselves and others as:
1. Paintings in the process of completing ourselves.
2. Buds becoming flowers
3. Souls in the process of evolution.
We all deserve love and respect exactly as we are. Our life purpose, however, is to attend to the process of evolution and self-perfection until we blossom into the magnificent and totally conscientious and loving beings that we are destined to be.
(From the forthcoming book LOVE IS A CHOICE, by Robert Elias Najemy)