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Embracing the Imperfect

Photo by Simón Pais-Thomas
Editor’s Note

I have only one word to summarize how I felt after editing this story from Kate: Wow. Don’t miss this powerful piece. And help me welcome Kate to the TSN family.

The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem. ~Theodore Rubin

Confession: Lately, for the past 6 weeks or so, I’ve been capital-U, “Unhappy.”

Plain. Simple. Unhappy.

Revolutionary insight? This does not need “fixing.”

It’s interesting to notice all the impulses to resist the Unhappy in life, as if the human experience were destined to be one devoid of suffering.

The messages are all around us that if we’re unhappy, we’re “doing it wrong.” So quick! Go buy something, do something different, take some kind of action, to make it all better.

Nope–I’m hunkered down with it, now. Unhappy and I are hanging out, chilling like a villain, asking what’s the haps with the craps.

The thing is, there hasn’t been anything too complex or complicated about this installment of Unhappy. It hasn’t been due to a core wound. There’s no darkness to ferret out. I even know what triggered Unhappy:

1) A running injury that forced me to be essentially immobile for several weeks has been a real challenge. I’ve been missing my exercise-induced serotonin boost.

2) Knowing that I need to back off of working quite so much, yet feeling the ever-common fear of “If I slacken the reigns and don’t work as hard, all the work that I have done will be for naught.

These could best be summarized as:

I want to buy into the illusion of control. I’m being stubborn about buying in. I’m insisting on buying in. I’m suffering when I’m buying in and then I’m wanting to control the suffering.

Even simpler? Insisting on control = Unhappy.

It occurred to me that there might be a gift in all of this for others–the gift of exposure and vulnerability.

Here’s the thing: I’ve had more than a few experiences where, when I “out” myself as imperfect, the response to that is for someone else to use that to feel smug, better-than me, or more put-together.

Perhaps they even tell others that “Kate isn’t really who you think she is” because they’ve been privy to my struggles or they’ve seen some inconsistency show up between my vision for my life and my actions on a particular day.

This is exactly why we tend not to get vulnerable and why we hesitate to claim or accept our imperfections. We’re afraid of this response.

This is also exactly why it’s the place to practice courage and to get vulnerable.

Choices

When I’ve had this experience of someone mis-interpreting (or outright mis-using) my transparent admissions that Yeah, I still experience fear, or Yeah, sometimes I don’t feel enough, or Yeah, I get frustrated when my business doesn’t perform the way I want it to, I have a few choices.

YOU have a few choices:

You can run back into yourself and hide, duly chastened and embarrassed, and go back to the exhausting role of “I’ve got it all together.”

or

You can take a deep breath, and sink even more deeply into whatever your truth is in that moment, even if your truth is that you’re not on-point.

The Most Powerful Parts of Us

The most powerful part of who I am, and of who you are, is actually not the part where I’m “put-together.”

The most powerful part of who we are is where we accept that within us which is “falling apart.” Being no-bullshit honest about being an imperfectly perfect human being creates such an enormous expanse of freedom.

That level of honesty is core-shaking. It’s freedom from the Stories about ourselves and freedom from what others think.

It’s the space where compassion begins when others judge, for the empty endeavor of using someone else’s low to fuel their own artificial high.

Your truth–even if it’s a miserable one–becomes powerful when you embrace it. Own it fully.

The great paradox is that when we embrace the things that are difficult, the things that are difficult have the space for actual change [Click Here to Tweet this].

Note: You can’t “pretend embrace.” I can’t make this declarative statement about embracing my Unhappy to manipulate my way out of the Unhappy, to fast track my way to some other feeling state. I can just keep coming back to any place where I notice myself not wanting to accept it, and breathing with that, and being with that.

When something is ready to transform, it transforms.

Last Stop: Your Job

It’s my job to own where I’m at, and to accept where I’m at. It’s other people’s jobs to own where they are at, and to accept where they are at.

So really–It’s actually not anyone else’s job to accept you, so that you can be okay with you.

Translation: It doesn’t do much good to try and wait for everyone else to be okay with our truth before we’ll expose our truth. Waiting for that moment keeps you trapped in the hell of caring about what other people think.

Waiting for other people to approve, first, is a form of wanting other people to create safety for you, but only you create safety in your life. Safety starts and ends within you.

That’s why I’m willing to expose myself, to share honestly that in this moment, as of writing this, the Unhappy has been at times a background buzz, and at times akin to despair.

Don’t know where it will be in five minutes, don’t know where it will be in five days–but this is where I am, right now.

I stand before you, open and vulnerable, yet grounded in my truth. It’s the safest place to be.

Today’s Tweetable: When we embrace the things that are difficult, the things that are difficult have the space for actual change. ?Click to tweet.

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About the author

Kate Swoboda is a life coach, speaker and writer who specializes in courage. You can learn more about her at YourCourageousLife.com, where she writes about courageous living, integrity, and ferocious love. Life Coaches can check out her resources for business and leveraging your practice over at YourCourageousBlueprint.com

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7 thoughts on Embracing the Imperfect

  1. Great article!

    No one is perfect. The sooner people realize and accept this they’ll be able to move forward with their lives. Run your race. No one knows what’s in your heart except you. Be careful about sharing your hopes, dreams, and desires with people who may not understand. Surround yourself with loving and kind people. Remember, you attract what you think, feel, and belief. Is your vibration high or low? Check it today.

  2. Beautifully written! Thank you for opening yourself to us. It is a great example for us all to be vulnerable and accept what life has to give us :)

  3. Kate! You’re an awesome writer and this seriously comes at such a great time for me. I wouldn’t say I’m stuck on having it all together, but there is a part of me that relates to what you’re saying: I want to figure out why I’m upset and fix it. Thanks for the great encouraging words.

  4. I’m not sure I totally agree. I agree with much of this – do not pretend. Accept where your are. No bullshitting. I get it.

    “This does not need “fixing.”” – that’s the part I’m not sure I agree with. My goal in studying Zen, being mindful, and fully present is to accept what is ( hence I agree with the ‘No bullshitting’). Where I disagree is that we should just stop there. When our circumstances make us unhappy, it is not the circumstances that need fixed, or fudged, or anything. It is ourselves.

    Dan @ ZenPresence.com

  5. Great article, a beautiful message to spread!

  6. I respectfully disagree with Dan’s last sentence. While it’s applicable to people who are over-controlling or have a whining problem, it’s not applicable to people experiencing abuse or social injustice. If African Americans in the 1960′s hadn’t realized that it was precisely their circumstances that were the problem, we would still have apartheid, and there would have been no Civil Right Act. Sometimes the external situation IS the problem, and the BS in those cases is to tell ourselves that it’s our attitudes that need changing.

    My favorite part of the post is the “falling-apart” insight. The protagonist in the novel I recently wrote, Revelle, remarks that sometimes things have to all fall apart before they come back together again.

  7. beautiful article :-). I think all of our days won’t be sparkles and glitter but when it is a large span of time then maybe it does need some “fixin” though… thanks for your post

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