And so is everyone else. So what’s the big deal?
The big deal is that you, and I, are scared that other people will find out this inescapable truth. And when they do, we’ll experience rejection, embarrassment, shame, judgment, loss of respect, etc. And it is this fear which is actually problematic, not our imperfections.
I see it in the couples I work with. One partner is afraid to admit to another that they’ve made a mistake, that they’re imperfect. They’re scared their partner might lord it over them for years, or leave them, or even worse lose respect for them. So they refuse to admit they did anything wrong.
I see it in the individuals I work with who are frozen by this fear of being imperfect that they can’t get their work done. Or they work so hard to do it all perfectly that each day they feel totally exhausted and like no one really knows the real person behind that costume of perfection.
I see it in myself. I just moved (within Davis), and moving is stressful! I was not the perfect partner these last few weeks. I lost my patience and temper. And at the sight of my own imperfections I was gripped in shame and guilt. And that shame and guilt led me to questioning my value as a counselor and the growth I’ve pursued in myself for years.
Again, the problem isn’t imperfection. The problem is our irrational fear that our imperfection somehow means we are less than. It took my own counselor to point out to me that it is probably the moments where I admit my own short comings that I gain the deepest respect from my peers and clients. That same counselor pointed out to me that really displaying my imperfections so loudly with my partner shows how much I trust her.
Sharing our imperfections with people develops respect and trust.
Who would have thought?? If I show you the parts of myself that hold me back, the parts of me that cause others pain, the parts of me that are socially unacceptable, then you’ll respect me more and trust me more? This is one of those counter-intuitive truths that cannot be proven to you by elaborate arguments or beautiful stories. It is a truth which can only be recognized through living it out.
Embracing our imperfections is an even more radical process than sharing them. Embracing means that we acknowledge not only the presence of our imperfections but also the great gifts that they bring us. That’s right; your imperfections hold gifts for you.
How on Earth can you discover what gifts your imperfections hold for you?
Think about one of your imperfections, one of your flaws. One of mine is pride, thinking that I am superior or better than others. My pride leads to lots of pain…I can get stuck in comparing myself to others (and having to “win” in that comparison), it can lead me to being stubborn and self-righteous, and it can lead me to looking down on others. I must confess that in admitting this part of me in such a public way certainly gives me the willies!
So how can I find the gift that my pride has for me? In what circumstances does my pride serve me? Well it gives me confidence in new situations, it gives me self-assurance that I can figure out new problems, and it gives me moments of self-satisfaction, moments where I feel like I am enough.
Now of course, without a doubt, my imperfection of pride leads me into personal suffering and I’ve seen it cause pain in others. But to find the gift that your imperfection is offering you ask yourself one of these questions:
- In what circumstances does this imperfection serve me?
- What skills have I gained because of this imperfection?
- What have I learnt about myself and humanity because of this imperfection?
- How does this imperfection help me connect with others?
If you really explore you’ll find the gifts. The shortcomings and pain will still be there, but go ahead and let yourself embrace your imperfections. Discover how the flawed parts of yourself make you a more amazing and beautiful human than you’d be without them.
KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.