When I was a kid about 11-12 years old, I thought perfection was something I was supposed to pursue. I read in the Bible, “Be ye perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect.” That is a high goal to set. (I know some readers may not be Christians, just read on and you may still enjoy some helpful views.)
Thankfully I found out later there was a different meaning to that verse. We are not expected to be perfect. The truer interpretation of this verse I believe is from this link: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/qas/when-jesus-says-be-ye-perfect-your-father-heaven-p/
In the first place, the word that is translated “perfect” literally means “be complete.” So often, the New Testament and the Old Testament will describe people as being upright and righteous—not in the sense that they have achieved total moral perfection, but rather that they have reached a singular level of maturity in their growth in terms of spiritual integrity. ………. For example, “Be ye complete as your heavenly Father is complete.” Now remember that your heavenly Father is perfectly complete! So if we are to mirror God in that way, we are to mirror him in his moral excellence as well as in other ways. In fact, the basic call to a person in this world is to be a reflection of the character of God.
So for years partly because my desire to be a “good girl;” partly because of my misunderstanding of the above verse; and partly because it was my nature to please, I tried with abject failure to be perfect.
Finally someone explained that the verse meant something a little more reasonable. But because of, or perhaps in spite of, my earlier misunderstanding my quest for perfection devolved into being conscientious to do my best. Many of my report cards’ notes from my teachers attest that I was very conscientious.
But in the process I became overly critical of myself. I studied hard. Worried about my grades; as a teenager I worried about my weight, my looks, my pimples, ever having a boyfriend, ever being good at anything, and I even worried about making mistakes.
I think in my head I still thought I had to be perfect. Maybe I thought I had to earn love? So this left me with a feeling of inadequacy with resultant lack of self confidence.
More insecurity was added when I learned of mistakes in judgement that my parents had made and rationalized, “Wow, if they could make mistakes like these, I could make worse mistakes!”
How could I ever succeed as an adult if I was so worried about everything and if I could make some major wrong turns in my life? How could I learn to love myself and accept the gifts and talents that I had when I was so full of doubt and fear?
I married a man who was truly brilliant; knowledgeable; and could speed read and absorb what he read. I looked at him with wonder and developed a feeling that I was ignorant and inept by comparison. Over time I found it easy to leave making decisions largely up to him. After all he was “so much smarter” than I was. Little did I realize that I was losing myself in his world. Low self esteem can lead to some poor behaviors and decisions.
But through my day to day world apart from him as a nurse, mother, and friend to other women, I finally learned that I was much stronger and wiser than I ever allowed myself to believe.
But this post is not so much about that part of my life. This is more about some of us being too critical of ourselves. Do you have trouble accepting compliments? Do you belittle your accomplishments? Why???
I believe that each of us have skills, talents, or abilities that make us who we are. They may not be what others have, they may be very unique and rare. Each one of us needs to stop looking for faults in ourselves and see the marvelous humans that we are or can become. We need to stop comparing ourselves to everyone else too!
I now see, as an older woman looking back over my life, that I have been through a lot trials, losses, triumphs and adapted to them all. I am truly am amazing person with talents, gifts, and wisdom, just like everyone else, whether they know it or not.
So what would be the first step to stopping the downward spiral of self doubt; or to climbing out of that downward spiral? We need to stop looking for the imperfections of our looks, nature, life, etc. We need to see the perfections or positive attributes of our minds, bodies, and lives.
Look at these two mirrors I fell in love with and bought at thrift stores. You are looking at them symbolically from the distance most people see us. See anything wrong with them?
Now look closely at their flaws. We look at ourselves from this vantage point. We are often looking for our own cracks and flawed corners instead of our true beauty. Just as we did with these mirrors.
Remember the way you appear to others, even your close friends is often quite different from the way you appear to yourself.
Everyday awaken and think of the things in your life that you are thankful for, or that fill your heart with joy or a feeling that your life has some really wonderful parts to it. Focus on them and stop tearing yourself down. When you do something well, allow yourself to feel a sense of pride in yourself and accept compliments graciously.
Perhaps others don’t see the real you? So find the happy medium between your and their views and you may just discover that you are not so bad, faulty, inept or dumb as you may think after all!
A sign of good friendships is that your true friends see you more truly than anyone. If they see you as you are and still love you, then you should love yourself too.
If you have no close friends, you may have walls up to prevent re-occurrences of past painful experiences. They do happen. But so do good, positive experiences. A lot of it is what you focus on and what you allow yourself to experience.
Learn to see yourself like your true friends or loving family see you and you may begin to learn to see the faults and the wonderfulness of you at the same time!