Archives for posts with tag: self-awareness

I had an entirely different idea for a post today. Then as I was closing Facebook in order to write it, I saw another one of those inspirational quotes that has come to make my skin crawl. There were examples of how potentially negative attributes have positive implications, as well. The ending of the quote was, “There’s nothing wrong with you.”

Why do so many feel it necessary to say this? I believe it is very unhealthy.

Everyone and I mean everyone has faults. Lots of personality qualities have both positive and negative implications. The positive implications don’t erase the negative or vice versa.

Why do we need to convince ourselves that we are somehow perfect?

We aren’t. It’s a lie. It’s an utter and outright lie.

The problem is not being imperfect. The problem is not accepting that we are still good and worthwhile despite imperfections.

There are lots of things wrong with me. There are mostly things right with me.

There are ugly things about me. There are mostly beautiful things about me, and I’m not talking about pretty.

There are dishonest things about me. I am mostly honest.

There are selfish things about me. I am mostly fair and generous.

If I have to tell myself that I am perfect to feel better about myself, how will I ever look at myself honestly, trust myself, value myself, and grow as a person?

Finally, let me put it this way. I am a clinical psychologist. My job is to help children and teens be happier and healthier. I know of no effective treatment that involves my telling my patients lies or teaching them to lie to themselves.

Honesty is the best policy and a keystone of self-acceptance.


I sometimes work with parents who reluctant to give their children any kind of correction or to communicate to their children they they have any kind of imperfection. Then there are other parents who criticize their children harshly. And still other parents vacillate between those two extremes.

Sometimes I tell parents that it is important not to be so reluctant to discuss their children’s less than perfect qualities. I explain, “You don’t want to give the unintended message that your child’s challenges are too horrible to speak of.”

The other unintended message is that perfection is attainable and expected. My massage therapist expresses the belief that everyone is perfect. I know what she means but to me, it seems like a cheat. If I were to think about myself that way, it would seem like a  way to avoid looking at myself fully, a way to avoid acknowledging and examining the parts of myself that underscore my membership in humanity.

I know that I write about painful topics with a good deal of candor. And I also know that I expose my faults. Sometimes I think people worry that I am too self-critical. I find that for myself, if I avoid thinking about my faults, I give myself the message that they are too bad to be observed or examined. This kind of thinking can provide a foundation for very difficult feeling states like shame and humiliation as well as the very damaging thoughts and beliefs that accompany them. I believe it can also lead to living a fragmented or compartmentalized life, the kind of life that makes it hard to see oneself as an integrated whole. To me, it is important that the way I live my life makes sense. I can’t do it unless my imperfect pieces fit together in some kind of reasonable way.

In my life, I have felt guilt, shame, great anxiety, and humiliation. It is difficult, but I try to see myself for all of who I am, the good, the bad, and the in between. In writing about myself for the past two years, I have discovered something. I have discovered more freedom from my own harsh judgment. When I confront both my positive and negative qualities, I feel better able to decide how I want to live my life and to make changes, if needed. By describing and admitting my shortcomings, I find it easy to accept myself and further to grow as a person. In turn, I find it easier to accept others.

I have yet to find anything about myself that was too horrible. I am still working on it, but almost always, I can look myself in the eye.


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