For good or bad, one of my driving forces is perfectionism. Because of this, I am very focused on solutions, searching always for a tool or a way of being that would lead to right choices and perfect ways of living. My focus had been on the ideal, the end goal of perfectionism. It wasn’t until recently that I began to see the importance of the dark before the dawn. Before we can strive for perfection, we need to be utterly imperfect.
One of my daily readings is from The Language of Letting Go. This week Melody Beattie shared the concept that “denial is the first step toward acceptance.” I am a big fan of acceptance, so much so that I devoted a whole chapter in my book to acceptance. What this quote pointed out to me is that before acceptance, we are first in denial. If we were not in denial, there would be no reason to learn about acceptance. It is the painful place of denial we start in that gives us the ability to strive for better.
This reminded me of the Inside Out movie that came out many years ago now. One of the biggest lessons it taught was that before each of the happy moments of our lives, there is sadness. It is in the darkness that we begin to value the light. It is in our difficult moments that we learn there is a different way. It is in the hardships that we learn to value and be grateful for the good.
Over the past years, I have loosened my desire for perfectionism. Perfectionism is no longer my goal, mostly because it is not attainable, but also because it is not enjoyable. Life is not about perfection. Life is about continuous improvement. And to have improvement we first need to start with the difficult. We are not here to become some ideal physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. We are here simply to improve, to become just that little bit better than where we started. We are here to learn a lesson, to experience the journey.
When I am challenged these days, I do not fall into a pity party or launch into a mad rush for solutions. Instead, I step back and ask what I am to learn from this experience. What is this challenge here to teach me? These questions help me rise above the challenge itself and see this as an opportunity to learn and grow. And I thank the challenge. For without the challenge, I could not grow.
2020 has given us many things to fear and worry about. It helps me to see them as the platform for our growth. Issues with America’s politics, race relations, and institutions have come to light. It is in this negativity that we are given the opportunity to make a change. It is through the awareness of what is off that we are given the incentive to transform.
Look around you. What are your current struggles? Instead of feeding them with fear and worry, ask them how they are here to help. Are you having challenges relating to family members with differing political views? Perhaps it is an opportunity to learn compassion and acceptance. Look at each of your challenges and your fears then explore how they can be a gift to you. What lesson are they presenting to you? Next, take action. Even the smallest step can begin to make a difference for you and others.