You Are Better Than You Think You Are
Accept Yourself, Flaws and All and Carry On
How many new clients do I see a week? Well, honestly it depends on the week. Sometimes only one, and other weeks I can meet three or four. The thing that many of them have in common is their experiences with therapy (as compared to coaching) and the feeling after therapy that there is something “wrong” with them. After all, a therapist doesn’t generally get paid by insurance without a diagnosis…right?
So somewhere during the conversation, I end up saying, “Relax, You’re ok.” I say it in person and I say it in emails. Occasionally I [rarely] add some explanation, but usually I follow up with questions that result in their developing some helpful insights. That being said, in these days and times when life is so blessedly easy for most people, we have been taught to identify the natural ups and downs of life as “major life problems.” Look, sometimes you are feeling up, sometimes not so much. What happened to that being ok?
It’s a Mystery
Let’s just say for a minute that you are one of those people who has low self-esteem and in general, just don’t like yourself very much (Great coaching issue). You probably think that most of what you do is shit and that you are likely screwed in the game of life already. You even wonder if thinking that you should stop believing those sorts of things about yourself is proof positive of just how messed up you really are. You say to yourself, “If I wasn’t such a fuck up, I wouldn’t spend all day wishing that I didn’t feel like such a fuck up!” You get it?
It is a conundrum for you, a Catch 22. (Tell me you read the book in high school.) When you go to improve yourself your level of desire is important, you want to jump higher in the hurdles? You set your goal, modify your training, and achieve it. You say you want to grow your business? You develop some measurable goals…reachable ones…and work until you reach them. You have to want it; you need grit and determination, but mostly grit. But now you decide one fine Saturday that you are tired of feeling anxious and want to stop putting things off until the last minute where your goals are concerned. Great thought, but here is the rub. Wanting to stop feeling anxious about your goals is very likely going to make you even more anxious—a Catch 22.
You have to want it; you need
grit and determination, but mostly grit.
Blessings of Self-Approval
Self-approval or acceptance is the way out of the conundrum. You say it is counterintuitive; well, yes it is. Nevertheless, accepting that you’re not as confident as you would like to feel and that you’re always going to feel a little off around people starts to make you a bit more comfortable and a little less anxious around others. As your self-judgment lessens, you’ll feel judged less often by them, too. When you accept that you have an inclination to get bummed and that you know people who are often happier than you will, quite ironically, make you a happier and more accepting person. Many of the most famous people in the world suffered with various degrees of depression. From John Adams to Boris Yeltsin, they all had their turn at it…look it up!
So many of us are so bombarded with piles of information at all hours of the day and night it’s easy to get a jaded vision of what is happening out in the “wet, wild woods.” Heck, doesn’t everyone else seem more fit than us? Everyone else is happier? Someone else is getting the good jobs, the good dates, all the sex? But for some reason, you chastise yourself, because you aren’t. Bad you.
When you watch TV you get a silly situation, easy solutions, and quite frankly, some of the worst choices imaginable to man and things just work out with them with the money and the girl. Really, all you want is just one of those “magic beans,” right? Folks, it’s normal to always seek improvement, even perfection, or for something greater and better than just our lone self. But when you see over and over again on TV, social media things and experiences better than your own, 24 hours a day, it’s easy to assume that something is screwed up with your life. There just has to be something wrong with you…right?
Oddly enough, the self-help industry and lots of coaches are to blame here, too. They tell you that you can end all fear and sadness… you can be loved by all… you can be more popular than James Bond… you can be James Bond if you visualize it clearly enough…you can be rich by 32 and retire to a lovely Caribbean Island populated by lovely women (or men if you like) by 35… working on four hours a week.
Bullshit. It is a load of crap.
Look, we are all flawed creatures to one extent or another, just ask Jimmy Buffett in his now famous song “Fruitcakes.” Guys, I spent years alone out in and around trees, I accept that meeting and networking with people is harder for me than someone who has spent their life doing just that. I joined BNI and have improved dramatically, but that doesn’t mean that I have “conquered my social anxiety” or that I even like it. I am just not gregarious with strangers and I no longer expect myself to be. I can live and have a great business without working every hand in the room. It isn’t me and I am really just fine with it.
I have accepted that even though my relationship with my brother has improved a great deal since the death of our mother, it’s never going to be great. I have learned to be ok with that. I was divorced after 25+ years of marriage and had to overcome a lot of irrational—and some rational ones— attitudes about commitment. I have worked really hard and will probably never be completely at ease with it… and that is ok, too.
I know that I am ok. Just as I know that most of you are ok, too.
Since I have expanded my website, I have been getting a great many emails from readers. Some of them, a lot actually, come from younger people with problems that are by all measure, completely normal things. They are healthy, well-balanced folk who have just never actually encountered problems on their own. Sometimes I hardly know what to say.
What they haven’t learned is that most people feel insecure from time to time. All of us have been dumped at one point or another and have problems getting over their ex. Some of us are insecure about sexuality, and we all have family problems… all of us. Millions don’t think kindly of themselves, commonly known as low self-esteem, and many have chemical dependency problems.
I have never met a soul who doesn’t wish they were more successful or better motivated to achieve their goal. All of these things blow, none of them are new, and even fewer of them are unique to any one person. There is a saying that goes like this:
“The most personal and private issues in your life
are the most universal.”
Don’t misunderstand me; this isn’t an excuse for doing nothing. It just means that if you are working towards perfect, you are never getting there…but don’t stop!
Here is an old Buddhist quote:
“You are already perfect as you are,
yet you can always be better.”
Perfection or enlightenment isn’t something you achieve, but is rather a way of life, it is a life of self-improvement. It isn’t a spot, but rather a life.
There is a Zen quote that says:
“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”
Look folks, it is all about life… just life. There is always room for more improvement and less pain. But there is no final goal or prize. The perfection we hold as our ideal doesn’t exist in this life. What changes is whether or not you accept with grace your own imperfections. Acceptance is recognizing your place in what we call life and what we make of it. It’s like saying something along this line…”I’m not very good at this and that’s really ok for now. I am working on it and as long as I keep working on it, I have not failed.”
The perfection we hold as our
ideal doesn’t exist in this life.
What changes is whether or
not you accept with grace
your own imperfections.
This whole thing—this search for perfection—is really the process of improving oneself. It is that basic drive for continuing expansion, growth, and completion that makes it all good. When you think about it, you realize that you are there already and even though you aren’t perfect yet, it’s ok. You are ok, you can be better still, but you are ok even now.
I would love to hear what you think about all of this so if you’re inclined you can write me a [email protected].
SPEAK WITH A LIFE COACH IN BATON ROUGE
Frank Hopkins is a life coach in Baton Rouge who is certified as a Professional Coach (CPC) by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). Frank has helped numerous people to go through emotional change in a way that is positively transformative.