Last month we talked about mindfulness and how it helps us take action and make decisions according to our values, rather than reacting in the moment. We considered those times in which we thought, “This is not the behaviour of the person I want to be”. However, while taking a mindful approach to stressful situations, and working to bring our thoughts, feelings and behaviours in line with our values and the person we want to be, it is also important to do this with self-compassion. Too often, we take the next unfortunate step of criticising ourselves when we fail at being the person we want to be. Instead of mindfulness, we then turn to self-blame and judgement when we don’t quite make those values-based actions and decisions that we aspire to.
So, an essential ingredient to living with a mindful approach to life, is including a heavy dose of self-compassion and a belief in the gift of imperfection, as well-known researcher and writer Brené Brown suggests. “(_)www.brenebrown.com”:http://brenebrown.com The gift of imperfection is that in accepting that we humans are imperfect, we can embrace this as part of ourselves without judgement. Rather than constantly measuring ourselves up against some perfect version of the person we want to be, we can instead begin to feel comfortable in our own authenticity.
Because perfectionism is not about striving to be our best, or challenging ourselves to greater heights, it is actually about believing that if we live and act ‘perfect ‘we will be more likely to avoid pain; the pain of other’s judgement or disapproval, of shame, as well as the pain of our own judgement and blame. So when I have that “I’m not good enough” or “I’m a bad mother” thought racing through my mind, trying to be the perfect version of myself is not actually going to help.
Mindfully acknowledging these thoughts and feelings, and accepting that these are a part of my world, helps me to live more authentically, with compassion and acceptance of myself as an imperfect being; just as all humans are imperfect beings. So, living a mindful life, focusing on taking values-based actions, is also about living authentically with our imperfection. Knowing and accepting that being human means we will sometimes fail at living according to our values; but also knowing that this is OK, that this is the stuff of life, of being human. This is the gift of imperfection.