The Courage to be Imperfect

Self-acceptance is recognizing that “who I am is okay.” Many people, especially those who are conscientious and internally motivated, have an ideal in mind of who they are supposed to be or what an ideal person is like. Your list may include being intelligent, slim, kind, charming, trustworthy, friendly, young, courageous, frugal, exciting, well-groomed, cheerful, wise, a good conversationalist, witty, loving; the list can go on and on.The problem occurs when we accept the belief that we must measure up to this idealized self in order to be a worthy human being. We then strive to become this person by attempting to be more or better or different. Inevitably, we fall short of our ideal.  As a result, we feel inadequate and guilty which only further increases our desire to attain this idealized self. And around and around we go, always striving yet never fully arriving.

The culprit is not striving or improving. It is the harsh judgments that we inflict upon ourselves whenever we fail to measure up to our ideal. The cycle becomes a never-ending whirl that repeatedly sweeps us through doubts and guilt and unreasonable expectations and wasted effort, but fails to help us find inner peace and joy.

The way out of the cycle is the willingness, even courage to be imperfect. I love a quote by Warner Erhard:

If you could accept that you are not okay,
You could stop proving that you are okay.
And if you could stop proving that you are okay,
You could get it that it is okay to not be okay.
And, if you could get it that it is okay to not be okay,
You could get it that you’re okay just the way you are.
You’re okay,
Get it?

So you have to get over yourself. (It’s quite self-righteous living from the belief that you either are or have to be this magnificent person in order to feel okay.) You are far from perfect. You have plenty of faults and weaknesses.  So don’t withhold love from yourself until some magical, mystical moment when you finally arrive at perfection. It won’t happen in this lifetime.

Far more important is to come from a deep and abiding knowledge that it is good to be you and that you are okay in spite of your imperfections. This is, like so many aspects of self-esteem I’ve been writing about the last few weeks, a decision.

DECIDE! Make it a stand. Certainly it will be one you have to revisit and reinforce from time to time, but it is a far better place to come from than believing you will only measure up when you achieve some idealized image of who you “ought” to be.

Do you realize that you could not be any different at this moment than you are? You cannot rewind time. It is impossible to go back two years, or five days or even one second and make different choices. In reality, there is no such thing as “could have,” or “should have.”  From this moment forward, there is only one way you can be different, and that is by accepting who you are, self-perceived warts and all. Self-acceptance is your willingness to meet life the way it is right now and the way you are right now, and to do it by your own choice.

Here’s an exercise to embrace your imperfection. Complete each of the following sentences with five or six responses. Don’t take time to deliberate on your answers. Write down quickly what first comes to your mind.

An imperfection of mine…

Things at which I am mediocre…

Mistakes I have made in the past are…

How would it feel to accept all of these as a part of who you are? To know that they are okay because they are truly you?

EMBRACE YOURSELF! It’s a decision.



  1. Glorious Messy Imperfection | Jean Grant-Sutton, Integrative Yoga Therapy - Here is a great article by Roger Allen on this topic- Hope you enjoy it.-http://www.theheroschoice.com/2011/05/13/self-acceptance-imperfection/ […]

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