If you think it's harder to accept yourself than it is to say your thighs are too big or that you're too afraid to take a risk, it's time to get out of your own way! Get the five-step plan to face your "imperfections" and finally love yourself, flaws and all.
If you're anything like me, you've probably spent more time than you'd like to admit trying to fix your various flaws. Although I may pretend otherwise, many of my own goals, desires and even my motivation to grow often comes from a deep place of insecurity within me, thinking that if I can just fix what's wrong with me, then everything will be okay. I've been very aware of this dynamic, as I've been in the process of creating my intentions in the past few weeks.
I recently had an insight (one that I've had before, but this time it came to me at a deeper level) that maybe instead of focusing on fixing my flaws, it's more important to love them instead. I've resisted this notion of loving my flaws for most of my life, worried that if I actually loved the things I thought were wrong with me, they'd somehow never change, I'd be stuck with them and I'd become unmotivated or lazy about self-improvement.
Ironically, it's only love that leads to real healing and transformation, which ultimately can create the actual change you say you're looking for or a true sense of acceptance that gives you access to authentic liberation, regardless of circumstances.
At a deep level, all your flaws are subjective and based on your own interpretations, perspectives and focuses anyway. You may obsess about certain aspects of your body or appearance, your personality, your life or work circumstances and deem them as bad or flawed. But the truth is they simply are as they are—you add the meaning and interpretation to them.
Regardless of how philosophical you get about this, however, most people as human beings experience a sense of feeling flawed in certain aspects of their lives and at particular times in life. There's nothing wrong with you for feeling that way. Although, as you know from experience, feeling flawed can rob you of your energy, your passion, your happiness, your confidence and your life. It's one of the most painful ways you can allow your ego to run you, and it can have devastating consequences if you're not conscious about it.
5 steps to feel peace, love and self-acceptance
Here are some ideas about what you can do to move through your experience of feeling flawed to a place of acceptance, peace and love:
All of these things, in my own experience, are much easier said than done. And, when you're able to tell the truth, express your real emotions, forgive yourself, appreciate your flaws and bring love to all aspects of your life (both light and dark), you give yourself the opportunity to transcend your flaws in a real way. This takes a great deal of intention, support, compassion and patience. It is much easier to take a pill, get busy and distracted, whine and complain, pretend things are fine or various other avoidance techniques you may have gotten good at in life. However, leaning into your flaws in an authentic way and doing so with profound love for yourself is how you can genuinely heal and end the cycle of suffering.
- Acknowledge what's true for you. The first step in almost every process of growth and transformation is telling the truth. So often you may try to avoid, run from or pretend your flaws are gone (that never works). But, if you relate to some aspect of your body, personality, relationships, career or life in general as a flaw, you first have to get real about it if you're going to do anything about it.
- Admit and express the underlying emotions. If you can identify, acknowledge and ultimately express the true emotions you're experiencing related to this perceived flaw, you can create a real sense of freedom for yourself. If a certain aspect of your personality, your body or your career bothers you and because of it you find yourself feeling ashamed, as uncomfortable or potentially negative as it may seem, the best thing you can do is acknowledge and express your shame authentically. Emotions become positive when they are appropriately expressed and turn negative when they are denied and repressed. Although this is a different understanding of emotions than you've been taught, I'm sure you've had many liberating and positive experiences when you've expressed negative emotions like sadness, anger and fear. By expressing your real emotions, you can start to unlock and unhook yourself from the drama and suffering of the situation, which is actually caused by your denial and repression of these emotions, not the emotions themselves.
- Forgive yourself. Self-forgiveness is a big one and something that many of people, myself included, don't have a lot of experience with. Most people have been trained to be hard on themselves, and also that forgiveness has to come from someone or something outside of you. However, true forgiveness comes from within you and is what ultimately sets you free in life. When you feel flawed in certain areas of your life, you often have a lot of blame and judgment, some of which may be directed toward other people or situations. But beneath that, most of it is directed at you. When you're able to forgive yourself in an authentic way, you create the space for real change and healing to take place.
- Appreciate. The word "appreciate" doesn't mean "like," "agree with" or "enjoy," necessarily. To appreciate means to recognize the value of something. What have you learned about yourself and life by dealing with this flaw? While pain, issues and challenges are not the only ways to grow in life, one of the many benefits of your challenges is that you get to learn a great deal about yourself, others and life in the process of dealing with them. When you move into a state of genuine appreciation and gratitude for the learning associated with the difficulty, you can move out of feeling sorry for yourself (which never helps). It's impossible to experience gratitude and victimhood simultaneously.
- Love. The ultimate antidote for all suffering is love. Your ability to bring love to your flaws, to care for them with kindness and compassion (as you would for a child, a pet or a loved one), is what will ultimately allow the true transformation you're looking for to take place. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. When you love your flaws, you create an environment where you're either able to make the kinds of specific changes you truly want (from an authentic place of intention) or learn to love and accept yourself, whether an actual change takes place or not. Any issue, malady or problem that shows up in your life is an opportunity for you to deepen your capacity to bring love, give love, receive love and accept love.
Mike Robbins is a best-selling author, sought-after motivational keynote speaker and personal growth expert who works with people and groups of all kinds. Robbins is the author of the best-selling books Focus on the Good Stuff and Be Yourself: Everyone Else Is Already Taken. He and his work have been featured on ABC News, in Forbes, Ladies Home Journal, Self and many others.
How to love your imperfections and feel beautiful
11 ways to feel beautiful (and not one involves makeup!)
Are you ready to love the woman in the mirror?
Printed from Oprah.com on Monday, March 10, 2014
© 2014 Harpo Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.