One of the women’s groups I offer is based on Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection. The material addresses the struggle people experience concerning guilt and shame. Guilt is defined as “I did something wrong.” Shame is “I am something wrong.” The journey of being set free from this mindset can be a long one. It goes down a path of beginning to embrace the fact that imperfection is a part of life. And it’s a process of realizing that with my imperfections I am enough…now.
On the first night of the group I hold the book up and ask: How is imperfection a gift? The two words do not seem to belong in the same sentence. Society brings pressure to act perfectly, dress impeccably, and look successful. There is not room given to mess up. But as we read through the book and process together we discover that it is a blessing to begin to understand that no one is perfect. We each have our own walk in life with struggles, victories and yes, even failures. Embracing that concept enables us to realize that perfection exists for no one. Therefore, it only makes sense to stop trying to become perfect and to embrace every part of our imperfect selves.
I enjoy leading groups. There is something about participating in the process of bouncing ideas off one another. I love when someone talks about a challenge and another group member offers a tip that helped her overcome the same issue. A strong sense of bonding becomes a part of the journey.
Another question I ask each week is “How did you love on yourself?” Some answer that they got a massage or a manicure; others talk about taking a hot bath or reading a good book. But we also discover that loving on self involves becoming a good friend to ourselves. We learn and practice positive self-talk and self-compassion.
Many times when someone messes up the self-talk sounds like “You’re such an idiot! I can’t believe you said that to your boss!” and self-compassion is low. However, if one changes the message to “I made a mistake in what I said, but I am enough…right now. I messed up and I will be fine.”
I want to encourage you take time to notice what messages you say to yourself throughout the day. Take a moment each morning to look into the mirror and speak kindly to the person who is staring back at you. In this quest to discover that imperfections are gifts, I have learned to become my own best friend. And that is one friendship I choose to never take for granted!
Sandra B. Stanford, MS