I can still remember the day I sat on my therapist's couch and felt okay with myself for the first time. Until that moment, I always felt like I needed to change something or grow in a certain area. I was constantly focused on the future and self-improvement. Some part of me believed I was flawed or deficient in some manner. If I could become better, then I would be adequate and acceptable.
It was such a strange feeling to sit there and accept all parts of myself, both the put together parts and the 'hot mess' parts. I had to get used to the feeling. What I have come to realize since that day is I will always be a mix of both, and I have learned to embrace it.
Perfectionism leads to inauthenticity and disconnection
Yesterday I was working with a client who is an aspiring life coach. They were struggling with feelings of inadequacy, which they were trying to compensate for by attempting to be perfect and all-knowing. While we need to be authentic and healthy, helping others does not require perfection. The irony is trying to do so will lead to you becoming inauthentic and disconnected.
I encouraged them to develop a foundation of being present, honest, non-judgmental, and accepting. Providing a relationship like that is no small thing. The number one thing my clients want from me is to be with them in their struggle. They do not expect me to be perfect. This will lead to either them feeling inadequate or abandoned if it becomes about me and my performance.
Wholeness requires integration
To achieve wholeness requires working towards integration. This occurs when you start to accept all parts of yourself. Moreover, there are no bad parts. There are only parts we had to dissociate from, or develop, for adaptive reasons. The process of integrating our split-off parts begins with acknowledging them, giving them compassion, and processing the emotions they are holding.
While I am a firm believer you can fully heal from anything, I believe I will also be in an endless process of healing and growth. This is not discouraging to me but exciting. Furthermore, I will find it challenging or impossible to accept all parts of you if I cannot accept these parts within myself.
Commit to self-acceptance
Make the commitment today to begin accepting yourself as you are. You do not need to change to be worthy. Stop judging parts of yourself or labeling them as bad. Every part of you is there ultimately for your good, even if you are currently conflicted with them. Working to accept and integrate all parts of you will lead towards wholeness more than anything else.
I'll leave you with the words of the renowned therapist Carl Rogers, "When I accept myself fully as I am, then I can change."
John Hawkins Jr., M.S., L.M.H.C.
John has helped thousands of clients overcome the hidden internal blocks which had kept them from achieving their maximum potential. Furthermore, he has assisted them in gaining clarity of their true life purpose, identifying their gifts and talents, and developing lives of greater meaning and significance.