Are You Okay with Not Being Perfect?

I’m not. Okay with it.

The cliche phrase is “your own worst critic,” and I certainly am. But I rationalize by saying I have high standards for myself, that I know what I’m capable of, and if I don’t live up to my standards, I’ll feel as though I’ve wasted parts of my life.

One of the things that exploring yoga and other spiritual traditions has taught me is that we’re supposed to love ourselves unconditionally, regardless of what we do or say–or do not do, or do not say. We have to love ourselves the way we love our children. That means loving ourselves even when we’re not perfect, or even close, or even ten million miles away.

For me, this practice of self love is very hard, and there are many levels. If I accomplish something, I can love myself. If I get through a hard time and see myself rise above on the other side, I can love myself. If I make all the “right” choices, I can love myself. But what if I don’t succeed? What if I’m naive or irrational and make mistakes? Can I love myself when I have a big mess to clean up that’s my own making?

It doesn’t help that the critic in me wants everything to be just right on the outside too, which has become harder after divorce and financial stress. I’m a single working mother now, but I beat myself up over having an apartment instead of a house. I want to have healthy meals on the table for dinner. I want to be 5-7 pounds thinner. religiously wake up at 5 every day to do yoga in the morning, mediate for a half hour at night. I want to write for at least an hour a day, have a “0” next to the number of emails in my inbox. I want to make sure my kids have their homework done, and done well, and be involved in their school, and have all the laundry clean and folded and put away. I want to have all my finances in order. Oh, and I want to reach enlightenment.

It’s a tall order, impossible. I’m not a robot. But with all these desires, sometimes it seems it would be easier if I were.

The thing I have to find instead of perfection is balance. Realizing that peace comes with good enough. But getting to that place isn’t easy, and good enough changes depending on the day.

That’s something I’m working on these days. Loving myself in the midst of chaos, even when I take a wrong turn, when I fear I may not meet any of the goals I’ve set for myself. Loving myself the way a divine mother loves her child–without expectation, without fear; unconditionally. Simply because I was born. Simply because I’m here.


Image: 6 Beach and Pier