There is more and more conversation these days about how we perceive ourselves and how we present ourselves. We are greatly impacted by how we perceive others and the access we have to view their lives and compare the two. Seeing these snippets of other people’s existences can create a false narrative that they do not struggle and that they are flawless. It can make us feel that we have a ton of work to do to make ourselves “better” and that we’ll never be successful or impressive while we have “so many flaws’.
There is pressure to be organized and efficient, and unshakeable. There is pressure always to be “working on yourself”; you will always be a work in progress, but that doesn’t mean that you owe anyone or anything any sort of extended effort to “improve” who you are. There is pressure to be “perfect” – as if that even exists. The truth is that everyone has flaws. And while we’d like to believe that there will be some magical time when all our flaws go away in the future, that’s just not reasonable.
By making friends with your flaws, you can uncover healing powers that you otherwise would have been blind to. Our flaws can teach us about humility, gratitude, and humor, which have healing components for our mental health and our self-image. Befriending our flaws introduces us to a world where we can value acceptance over avoidance and flaws over perfection. Life is not predictable and will never be cookie-cutter. Expecting flawlessness of ourselves makes it more challenging to navigate our time on this earth, and why would we want to do that?
Why Should You Befriend Your Flaws?
1) Your flaws will never define you. Instead of allowing your flaws to represent the entirety of your identity, accept them as a part of you. Everyone has flaws, and those flaws are precisely what makes each person unique and special. When we adopt our missteps and mistakes as the main part of our identity, we can become mired in shame that plagues our thoughts and impacts our choices. This can leave us unable to move forward, unable to heal. Nothing is perfect, and everything and everyone you love has flaws, just like you do.
2) You begin to measure things with the right perspective. When you start to embrace your flaws, you begin to be more true to yourself by accepting the fact that you are not perfect. By doing this, you allow yourself to measure things with the right perspective; without your reality is based on a false notion of yourself. You begin to measure disturbance in life with perspective instead of panicking or being confused. Accepting your flaws means that you accept reality, which also includes the reality of all your strengths and positive attributes.
3 Ways to Befriend Your Flaws
1) Embrace your individuality
To effectively do this, you must start with Acceptance. We must accept not only our favorite parts of ourselves but also our least favorite parts. Both of these parts equally play a role in who we are as a whole, and that combination of attributes is unique; there is only one of you on the whole planet.
Who you are as an individual is composed of your thoughts, your words, and your actions. Have you ever noticed that the most confident people you know tend to be those who are the most accepting of and familiar with themselves? They aren’t trying to be like others; this can only lead to comparison, competition, and letdowns. They are solely striving to be their most authentic selves. When you are settled in who you are, your goal is to remain true to that. The actions of others cannot bring you down or set you back. You are who you are, and you know there is no one else in the world like you.
This doesn’t mean that you think you’re perfect or better than anyone else, just that you’re the best version of yourself. This kind of self-awareness and self-acceptance allows you to feel confident in your choices and actions because you know that no one is making decisions for you.
What is it that makes you tick? What matters the most to you? What matters least? How you rank your priorities, what your hobbies are, and what your strengths and weaknesses are, these are all factors that can influence how you live your day-to-day life, how you set and pursue goals, how you care for yourself, and more. The road to happiness is a road of self-exploration.
When you accept that you are an individual, you become curious about yourself without judgment. You might have been teased as a child for one of your hobbies or passions if the other kids didn’t think it was as cool as you did. As we age, we recognize that anything we like is valid (so long as it’s not harming anyone else). The best thing about being alive is the things to enjoy. Whether it’s people you like spending time with, activities you like participating in, your favorite food, your favorite sport, or any other activity or passion that makes you smile. When you accept that your wants and pleasures are unique to you and don’t need to be apologized for, you can recognize that they are a part of you.
This kind of honesty allows you to paint an entire picture. The more self-aware you are, the more you give yourself permission to lean into the things that bring out the best in you, and the easier it is also to accept that you have flaws as well. This is because you have created a complete portrait of what you bring to the world and understand your value, regardless of your flaws.
If you make a list of all the things you know about yourself, how important do your flaws seem? What you will come to find is that the only “flaws” that begin to matter to you are the discrepancies between your purpose and your actions. And you can only identify those and begin to adjust your choices accordingly if you are aware of and accept every part of yourself as an individual.
2) Set realistic standards:
Given the fact that we are often our worst critics, it is common for us to hold ourselves to standards that we would not impose on others. If you would not hold a friend or loved one to the same standards, then you should not set yourself to those standards either. Avoid perfectionism at all costs to help you stress less about your flaws.
Many people feel that “being realistic” means they shouldn’t be optimistic, but that isn’t true. What it means is that you cut yourself some slack sometimes. You accept that you will never be “perfect” because it doesn’t exist and would be impossible to achieve even if it did. Be realistic about your standards by basing them on your values and priorities. Cheer yourself on! There is no reason not to.
Part of being realistic is being honest with yourself about your flaws. When we think about affirmations, we often think that they “should” be positive. “I am amazing,” or “Nothing can stop me.” In actuality, an affirmation simply has to be honest and reassuring in some way. For example, “Everybody makes mistakes” is a great thing to remind yourself of. Accepting that you cannot get through life without errors is realistic. This is especially true if you want to grow. Growth takes trial and error, risk, and negotiation. None of these things make for safe, predictable journeys. The truth is that exploration and change can be messy. It isn’t realistic to expect anything else. And you won’t achieve most of what you want to achieve if you’re not willing to make mistakes and experience failure.
When we talk about standards, we have to consider that our highest values will be the most natural to uphold. This doesn’t mean that they will always be easiest, but that trying to go against them will feel more uncomfortable than any work that has to go into them. This is a great thing, as it means that what we value and the actions we take that align with our values form a team effort. Acceptance of our values also allows us to fumble along the way, as we know that we will ultimately get back on track with our highest purpose in any situation. It also allows us to let go of flaws or missteps that are made with our lowest-priority activities. For example, if you feel like “a bad mom” because you don’t deep-clean your house as often as someone else you know, but your highest priority is quality time with your kids, then you are upholding your values. Yes, you would hypothetically like to clean your house more often, so you could see it as a flaw. But how important is that flaw? Are your children living in sanitary conditions? Yes? That is what matters. You are not a terrible parent if you don’t sanitize every door knob and cupboard handle every morning (though that might actually help out during cold and flu season!) if that is not what matters most to you.
Being gracious and patient with yourself is an ongoing practice. Some days, it will be easier than others. Sometimes, there will be an area of your life that takes extra work to deal with, even though it’s usually simple for you. Don’t expect constant progress and success from yourself. Be your biggest cheerleader in continuing, no matter what.
3) Don’t compare yourself to others:
Everyone’s path in life is different, which is why you should never compare yourself to anyone else. Hold yourself to your standards, not anyone else’s. Not only is comparison the thief of joy, but it’s also highly inaccurate. You have no way of knowing what anyone else’s life experience is actually like. You don’t know their daily thoughts, struggles, schedules, or any of them. The most accurate and beneficial data you can compile about how you are doing is your own.
Figuring out your path and needs without being influenced by others takes practice and patience. We do this kind of work in our therapy for young adults here at our therapy practice in Woodland Hills. By all means, being inspired by people you admire is positive. You may regard a public figure’s actions as impressive and strive to emulate them. You might be motivated to learn a new skill or join a new cause because someone you value sparks your interest. That kind of information acquisition is how we continue to grow and learn throughout our lives. It doesn’t serve us when we cast ourselves in a negative light or ignore our true desires and/or values because of someone else’s impact.
If and when you feel compelled to start comparing, you may want to check yourself with some gentle reminders, such as, “I only know this person from the outside” or, “This person and I are completely different people.” You deserve to be curious about yourself; keeping an eye on other people is like sending a message to your brain that you aren’t very interesting or engaging. Investing time and energy into yourself is more beneficial and serves as a better affirmation of your self-worth. All people have flaws and strengths. Your quest is to determine what yours are and build a life and goals for yourself that works best for you and your happiness. You are worthy of pursuing exactly what serves you, regardless of how it might compare to someone else’s. Focusing on your goals makes you the protagonist in your story; we root for the protagonist, flaws and all. Why shouldn’t the same be true for you?
While social media and the internet have provided us with more access to information and exposure to the world than ever before, there is also a lot of curated content that impacts our ability to let ourselves make mistakes. Young people who have spent more (if not all) of their lives with access to the world have not only absorbed other cultures and cultivated a deep sense of compassion and empathy but unlimited access to the lifestyles of people who never seem to have a bad day. An idea begins to form that there are millions of people around the world who are thriving and succeeding and have never had a setback in their lives. This kind of pressure can begin to feel unbearable. It is also completely untrue. Everyone has flaws, just like everyone has strengths and admirable attributes. Befriending your flaws is about learning how to live with them. How to ensure they don’t take over your life, thoughts, and self-image. Knowing them allows you to care for yourself when they bring you down. It allows you to connect with all of yourself, which is the key to self-acceptance and self-love.
Therapy for Young Adults at Embracing You Therapy
As a teen or a young adult, life can feel challenging. There can be a lot of pressure to figure yourself out, know your likes and dislikes with certainty, and create the path for your future. Here at our therapy practice in Woodland Hills, CA, Therapy for Young Adults is a place to address emotional challenges, identity crises, and school/work-related issues. We want therapy to be a place where you can be your vulnerable self, have safe conversations that grow you, and create solid action plans with compassion.
Contact us today for your complimentary 20-minute phone consultation with our Client Care Coordinator.