Thursday, December 18, 2014

I am imperfect. And I am enough

Last week I went to a class on Whole-hearted Living and Loving. It was based on the book, "The Gift of Imperfection" by Brene’ Brown. Many of you are familiar with her ground-breaking work on the impact of shame in our lives. The book covers many ways to bring healing into our lives, to break the hold shame has over each us, in differing ways.

One of the things we talked about in class was how we are enough. How we are flawed, and frail, and that’s okay. The facilitator talked about the stories we tell ourselves, how we think if only we can..... we will be worthy. She invited the class to share some of their stories aloud. Some mentioned getting a better job, or losing 10 pounds, or finding the perfect partner. If only that would happen then they would feel worthy.

Of course they’re worthy now; we all are. But the lies we tell ourselves, that were instilled in us so early that they are almost our native tongue, say otherwise. We can be so quick to find flaws within us, to feel unworthy in our lives. I was speaking to a friend the other day who is struggling financially and how she felt so unequal to the task of giving the right amount of the right quality of Christmas presents to her family and friends. If only she could afford better presents, then she would be worthy. Another friend mentioned how she feels invisible with her family– as if she isn’t good enough for them. If only they would be proud of her, then she would be worthy. For me, I feel unworthy when it seems as if my best isn’t good enough– in any situation, as a friend, a parent, a minister, a sibling. If only I could be enough for those in my life, then I would be worthy.

Often the holidays can heighten these feelings of unworthiness, the bright lights and cheerful holiday music seeming to highlight even more our shortcomings, our "unworthiness." I invite you to think of those things that make you feel unworthy– that if only you had more of, or less of then you’d finally be worthy. Now imagine saying that same qualification about your best friend, your child, your parent, your partner. Probably you’d never say of your child, for example, "if he only lost 10 pounds, then he’d be worthy!" or of your best friend, "if she only got a better job, then she’d be worthy." It sounds just as ridiculous to say those things about yourself, when you think of it, doesn’t it?

As we enter the thick of the holiday seasons, mid-way through Hanukkah and rocketing towards Solstice, Christmas, and Kwanza, and the end of the year, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself, to consider trading in those old, tired, false beliefs about yourself for something shiny with joy and possibility: the truth that yes, you are imperfect. And you are enough. Write it on your hand if it helps. I did. Happy Holidays.

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