It’s again time to ask yourself: Do you point out others’ shortcomings? Do you feel that nothing you do is right or good enough? Do you feel disconnected? If so, you are not alone.
Life is not always fair or ideal. It is full of lessons, happiness, loneliness, joy, and sadness. We have many different types of experiences such as loss, grief, celebrations, and love.
What gets in the way is our need to experience extremes, be perfect, and to avoid failure. There are antidotes to what we call the ‘negative’ experiences.
1. Own Our Flaws
Do you know any perfectly normal, constantly happy people who never have negative experiences or worries? If you do, I would like to meet them. Each of us has our own stories. We speak about those imperfect parents, uncaring teachers, insensitive leaders, sarcastic friends, and indifferent acquaintances who do not identify our needs, be there when we need them, or care about what we are truly feeling. A person or two may have come to your mind as you read that sentence.
The real questions are:
- Am I there for myself all the time?
- Am I sensitive to my real needs?
- Do I meet my own needs or assume others will do that for me?
- Am I accountable or do I play the victim or the bully?
- Do I love my flaws as well as my strengths?
- Do I acknowledge my shortcomings and refuse to hide them?
- Am I proud of who I am or am I ashamed of myself?
We know we are ashamed of ourselves when we tell things like this:
- I am so stupid.
- I will never have as much as so and so.
- I will never be as good as X.
- I don’t feel good about myself.
- I am so ashamed.
It is important to love our flaws as well as our strengths, because doing so gives others permission to be imperfect as well. It opens us to taking advantage of learning opportunities. We refuse to hide or hope that others won’t point out our deficits because we own them and are open to receiving help and guidance.
2. Stop Judging
It is easy to look in the mirror and see our flaws, to criticize, be negative and put ourselves down. But it is also just as easy to celebrate who we are and our gifts, see our strengths, and to love ourselves and others.
Everything can be viewed negatively or positively. I compare ourselves to trees. If we are negative, we bend in one direction. If we see the world through rose colored glasses all the time, we bend in the opposite direction.
Why not sway with the circumstances and always come back to the center accepting circumstances as they are, problem solving when things appear to go astray, and finding the lesson in each event in our lives?
It is vital to be honest, to identify our truth, to express ourselves openly and clearly without judgement, and to be patient with others.
3. Look for peace, not perfection
The majority, if not all of us, are imperfect. That does not mean we are not wonderful individuals; it means we have lessons to learn. We accept that life is a journey. We understand that failure is not defeat; we know it means there is a detour we must navigate.
Listen closely to others rather than formulating a response as they speak, hear what they are not saying, and be patient. Be open to paradox. Know what you see and hear, identify how you feel, and understand why you are choosing your specific reaction. All of us create stories about the events in our lives. Several people can have the same experience but have very different stories about it. Ever wonder why? Do you tell stories from a negative or positive point of view?
As Jean Vanier once said, “Somewhere in each of us, we’re a mixture of light and of darkness, of love and of hate, of trust and of fear.”
Accept yourself so that you can accept others. When given a choice, find the positive. Choose the constructive view. React in a manner that demonstrates how you want to be treated if you were on the receiving side.
Love every wart, hump, and bump; it is serving a purpose.
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Dr. Brenda Kelleher-Flight