“In nature every moment is new; the past is always swallowed and forgotten; the coming only is sacred. Nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit. No love can be bound by oath or covenant to secure it against a higher love. No truth so sublime but it may be trivial tomorrow in the light of new thoughts. People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled it there any hope for them.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
Recently I was reading the 7 Secrets For Successful Living By Marianne Paraday when a thought struck me. In the book, Paraday gives her annotations on the works of transcendentalist, author and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson and my thoughts spawned from his words noted in her writing: “Every man in his lifetime needs to thank his faults. Our strength grows out of our weakness.”
Paraday writes at length about giving up our need for perfection and it got me thinking: How much our lives could be enriched if we could simply give up our quest to be perfect! After all, who defines the perfect house, income, body, relationship? If we let it, this quest could cause one to log endless amounts of time on what we’re not, don’t have and so on. What’s more, what if we could actually transform imperfections and literally “grow our strength” directly from them?
In many of my other articles on self-awareness, I encourage readers to focus on the positive parts of themselves and let them expand. Yet, what to do with the imperfections? Here’ three ideas.
Practice Total Self-Acceptance:
When undertaking the quest of full self realization, take responsibility for the total you. Yes, we all have parts of our lives that we don’t envision for ourselves, but we must continue to accept them. It is always important to take full responsibility for who we are in this moment. The word “forgiveness” comes to mind. What it means to truly seek forgiveness of ourselves requires, in my opinion, an awareness and acceptance of what is. Remember the statement: It is what it is? it certainly applies here. Yes, we can seek to change what we do not desire, but first we must embrace it – take off the proverbial Band Aid and let it heal from the inside out.
Be Aware of Emotional Hide and Seek:
With this in mind, it is very easy to hide, cover up, aim to sweep away what ails us. It’s not always as large as an eating disorder or pathology, for instance. It could be the day-to-day struggle of a strained relationship, addiction or financial instability. I’m convinced (through experience, sadly) what we continue to stuff and put away will not stop growing. In fact, when not acknowledged, trouble often manifests itself in a larger way later.
I like to remind myself that it’s easier to deal with problems when they are small. Even when they are huge, it is easier to first break them down into bite-sized pieces and take baby-steps toward solving them. For example, a friend of mine actively worked to quit smoking after his heart-attack. One day he just stopped and told himself, “I can always have a cigarette. I think I’ll wait ’till later.” He told himself this from minute to minute as the urges struck him. After a day he said, “Oh, no problem, I can have a cigarette tomorrow!” When tomorrow came, he continued this dialogue in his head until he’d strung 10 years together. He told me, “I tried not to look too far ahead, I tried to stay in the day.”
Use Your Active Imagination:
It is often a healthy practice to write a dialogue to a nagging imperfection and see what it wants. When I write a fictional story, for example, I literally get out pad and pen and create a dialogue with my character to talk to him/her. My aim is to decide what the story is that he wants to tell. I often use this same technique when dealing with a less than perfect part of myself. Give this a try. First identify the imperfection, then give it an identity by “talking” to it on paper. Find out what it wants, then find a way to fulfill its need and make peace with it. Finally, say goodbye and let go.
True, it’s uncomfortable to go into the places that scare us. Yet, the reality is, our lives are the productions of our choices, unconscious or conscious. Isn’t it worth our time to carefully consider each step? Moreover, instead of stuffing, why not continue to “grow your strength” from the obstacles that lie before you. We could all do worse than to let go of our need to be perfect and seek only our own highest truth. If nothing more, remember the words of Emerson himself: “Nothing is at last sared but the integrity of your own mind.”