Wholeness does not mean perfection. It means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life.

Parker Palmer

Welcome to Day Two of Embrace Imperfection

Are you hardest on yourself — quick to be generous with others about their imperfections but unable to offer yourself the same? You’re not alone.  After all, perfection is a well-honed lesson we’re taught, offered in a continual loop, whether by family, school, religion, or simply the larger cultural messages urging constant improvement: “You should….” Even if you know intellectually that it’s impossible to be perfect, you may still, through well-ingrained habit, be holding yourself to an unattainable standard in some area of your life. 

The problem with this isn’t only that it leaves the door open for stress, anxiety, and burnout; the problem is that we miss out. We don’t invite friends over unless the house is perfectly clean (less connection), we don’t wear the beautiful dress or suit because we think we’re too heavy or too thin (decreased joy), we don’t apply for the dream job because we see our imperfections as flaws that must first be overcome (missed opportunity). Accepting your imperfections is actually a beautiful expression of gratefulness for who you are right now. It doesn’t preclude striving for excellence in life, but it does mean letting go of the idea that you can somehow be perfect at all times, in all you do.

To set the stage for today’s practice, watch this beautiful 5-minute film by Reflections of Life.

  • What would it look like for you to “break free” from external expectations in the way that the young woman describes in the film? 
  • How might embracing yourself, imperfections and all, actually be an expression of gratitude for what you’ve been given?

Today’s Practice: Release Perfection

In his introduction to this guided practice, Grateful Living CEO Joe Primo shares, “Every day for more than a year, I read a sticky note I mounted to my computer monitor with a quote from Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: ‘The beginning is always today.’  It is my ode to imperfection, an acknowledgment that nothing will ever be complete and I can always start again.” He then invites us on a liberating journey to release our expectations of perfection as if it were our last day on earth.

Click here for an audio transcript.

At the close of the guided meditation, take some time to reflect on the following:

  • What perfectionist expectation of yourself do you want to release? What habit is no longer serving you?
  • How would you be different, how would you walk through the world, if you were no longer carrying this specific burden of perfection?
  • What delight, contentment, or peace might be waiting for you?

Today’s Action to Embrace Imperfection: Commit to one specific step you can take to soften to imperfection in yourself and be grateful for who and how you are — right now, in this moment.

Scroll to the bottom of the page (or click here) to find the Community Conversation space where we invite you to share your reflections.

Deepening Resource

Dr. Brené Brown on Faking It, Perfectionism and Living Wholeheartedly

In this 5-minute conversation, Brené Brown and Oprah distinguish between perfectionism and excellence. Striving for excellence is healthy, while expecting ourselves to be perfect is not. Brené Brown also shares her research about the ways that shame and fear — what will other people think? — are often at the root of perfectionism.

Research Highlight

Perfectionism — which is distinct from striving for excellence — can cause or contribute to:

  • Chronic disappointment
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Poor physical health

Signs of problematic perfectionism include excessive negative self-talk, self-worth that is highly dependent on achievements, and “persistent thoughts of not being good enough.”

Psychology Today, Sept 29, 2021, Kailey Spina Horan, Ph.D., LMHC

Photo by Ali Abdul Rahman